Restomod Project: 1945 Willys-Overland CJ2A

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In 1945, Willys made the first mass-produced four-wheel-drive vehicle for civilian use – in fact, “CJ” stands for civilian Jeep. Producing the Jeep was a struggle thanks to post-war labor strikes and Willys’ reliance on outside suppliers. Fewer than 2000 CJ2As were made in 1945, and early 1946 production lagged too. But as the model took off in popularity, over 1.5 million copies were sold through 1986, with very few changes over the production run. The early low-production Jeeps are particularly collectible if in factory condition. Here on eBay is a 1945 Willys-Overland CJ2A Jeep, with a starting bid of $7000 and no activity so far. Located in Bel Air, Maryland, this Jeep doesn’t run, so plan to bring a spare motor – or a trailer.

The powerplant is the original 134 cu. in. in-line four-cylinder Go-Devil, and the transmission is a floor-shift three-speed Borg Warner manual. Per the seller’s description, the motor is blown and the head studs are broken in the block (oh, yay); no word on the transmission’s condition. But fear not, a new block is just a click away! Or, there’s always the SBC swap, which would provide a vast improvement on the theoretical but frightening 60 mph of the Go-Devil. If you got the “go”, you need the “whoa”, and on that score, the Willys also needs improvement: the rear brakes are not hooked up. That said, until the motor gave up, the seller was driving the Jeep regularly. The rear end is from a late ’46 Jeep and the suspension has been substantially reworked.

The interior has also been altered to suit the seller, with Cordura seat fabric and an extended driver’s cushion to accommodate a 6′ tall person. The body has also been altered to fit the seat. The soft top frame, custom console, and two ammo boxes are included. The two-part windshield lasted through 1959. The lights have been swapped to LED bulbs.

The seller says the Jeep has matching body, tailgate, and frame numbers. In these early years, American Central Manufacturing was producing Jeep bodies. Though you’d never do it since this is an early Jeep, brand-new bodies are available. The winch plate is Warn as are the locking hubs; the winch itself is by Quadratec. The wheels are 15″ and the tires are Super Swampers. This Jeep has seen plenty of fun over the years. That won’t help its value, though. Running and driving early CJ2As sell around $12k with some upside if the cosmetics are great. I’m thinking the seller needs to compromise on price; what do you think?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Agree on the price and the thought of a larger engine. My ’42 had a decent engine but you had to carry a lunch with you if you were going any distance.

    Like 6
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Ha ha, that is pretty funny! I used to run a Bugeye Sprite vintage race car at PIR and I used to joke that I could do my nails in the time it took to get down that long straight.

      Like 4
      • bobhess bobhessMember

        You ought to come on down and drive our H Production car with over 100 hp. Quite a difference from the old almost stock versions that ran in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Would your nails be dry by the time you got to the curve at the end of the straight? These old Jeeps are about just as much fun.

        Like 3
  2. Melton Mooney

    Brutally masculine. I love it.

    Like 5
  3. Todd Zuercher

    The two piece windshield didn’t last until ’59 – ’49 was probably its last year. This looks like a great Jeep with a lot of cool mods done to it. Just need to get the engine rebuilt/repaired/replaced and you’re good to go!

    Like 5
  4. Evan

    IMO, this one is best left for a top-level Jeep collector/restorer. To “resto-mod” this would be a disservice to the rarity of this particular unit. There are 50,000 CJs out there – do your modifications to something less significant than this one.

    Like 8
    • jp_kleist

      I hear you Evan. Those few & rare survivors should be preserved!

      Like 0
  5. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Many years ago, the father of a friend of mine started Jeeping off-road annually with his other Jeeping pals from the little tiny Northern California village of Georgetown to Lake Tahoe with an overnight or few at The Springs. Mr. Krabbenhoft lived in Carson City and decided he needed a little more speed so as not to get run over by the then spawning twits traveling over Hwy 50 to Sacramento, and slipped in a nice Buick V6.
    Perfect compromise..
    Needless to say, their annual trek turned into a worldwide recognized event, for better or worse.

    Like 1
  6. Mike

    How does one stay in the seat? Looks like you could easily fall out of it when things get bumpy. Maybe you use your posterior muscles and clench the fabric like suction cup?

    Like 3
    • Brad Spencer

      Those sorts of fears are why minivans were invented. Stay safe and leave the Jeepin’ to us!

      Like 4
  7. Merlin Hanson

    I have worked on this Jeep a few times. The transmission is good. I don’t think the engine is actually blown, last I remember Mike was having a head gasket issue and that’s probably why he took the head off. Though those cylinders obviously need to be honed now.

    Like 2
  8. JONATHAN DAVID BIEDERER

    the guy says it is drivable and is a daily driver. Really, what a pile of crap.

    Like 0
    • John L.

      Jonathan, finally someone speaking the truth about this Jeep. Just because it is an old Jeep, doesn’t make it valuable. This thing has too many things wrong with it. This is a $1500 Jeep, its only worth whatever the winch, and some of the accessories are worth.

      Like 3
  9. TheOldRanger

    I remember as a kid (about 7 years old I think) that a guy in our neighborhood got a new Jeep. It came in a big crate, and when he opened the crate, the whole vehicle was packed inside. The wheels had to be put on and a few other minor things, but he had that thing rolling in able 4-5 hours after opening. Can you imagine receiving your new vehicle in a crate and then it’s up to you to finish the assembly??? LOL

    Like 2
    • Matt Saunders

      Had a friend in HS that ordered a couple of the last crates easily available at the time (early ’80’s) with the thought that between the 2 of them he’d have enough for a complete 1 & then parts for the inevitable breakages. Well he ended up with 1 complete & 1 missing enough parts on the to be a roller. He used a diesel from a piece of farm equipment (his father was a machinist so adapters were easy) & that 1 became the equivalent of a side by side on their ranch. He drove the other to school.

      Like 0

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