Road Ready! 1945 Willys MB

These days, you go to the store and you’ll see at least a dozen Jeep Wranglers on the road. These modern SUVs are extremely popular for urban driving, but it wasn’t always that way. There was a time when Jeeps were serious offroaders with military-level dependability. They still seem to be capable 4x4s, but they lack the simplistic and utilitarian design of their forefathers. If you are looking for the simplest Jeep you can find, the original Willys MB is the vehicle for you! This 1945 is an actual former military model and proudly wears its original registration number on the hood. You can find it here on eBay in Lebanon, Texas with a current bid of $15,600.

The Jeep came about from the US Military’s need for a small 4×4 that could traverse all kinds of terrain while being simple to build, easy to fix, and absolutely dependable. Willys did their best to try and take full credit for the creation of the Jeep, but it really was a team effort and that team involved Bantam, Willys, Ford, and Army officers. Both Ford and Willys went on to manufacture these vehicles for the US Military, but in 1943 Willys filed to trademark the Jeep name. There was a legal battle over the name, but when Bantam filed for bankruptcy in 1950, Willys got the trademark and went on to produce civilian Jeeps. Their early production Jeeps weren’t much different than the MB, but some collectors will argue that the Military model is still the best one to have as it lacks the few creature comforts Willys added to the civilian model. For most MB collectors, their real interest in them is tied to the War. In the case of the seller, it’s clear their link is tied to their Grandfather who served in the War. Besides wearing it’s registration number, they also added their Grandfather’s unit information on the bumper. It’s a great way to pay tribute to their Grandfather and the men whom he served with.

This 4×4 has already had all the major work done to make it roadworthy. The restoration was completed in 2012 and included replacing the floors, sourcing a new engine, and replacing all the consumables. If you are going to do a restoration, an early Jeep is a great option as they are incredibly simple and easy to work on. The seller provides a list of all the work that’s been done. They do note that it could use a reproduction wiring harness, it sounds like the wiring is a home job, and the fuel gauge isn’t working. These are pretty minor issues that you can attend to as you go.

There is something that is incredibly cool about these MBs. Few vehicles are as recognizable as a Jeep and none are as simple as a military model. Add in all the history surrounding their development, construction, and deployment and it’s easy to see why people appreciate them so much. It’s certainly not a vehicle your going to want to daily drive in heavy traffic, but for weekend drives and offroad adventures, it sure would be fun! Would you hit the trail in this Willys or will you be sticking with your modern Jeep?


  1. Beaner

    My Dad used to talk about how much fun these were to drive. Too bad it took a war to make them a reality.

    Like 5
  2. Rw

    So tell me Josh what is the difference between a 9 slot grill and a 7 slot grill ???

    Like 1
    • RodL

      2 slots.

      Like 8
    • Danny V. Johnson

      Rw, I saw that as well. Nine openings make me think it’s a FORD “Jeep” 1/4 General Purpose Truck.

      Like 1
  3. Scott T

    I’m not josh .. FORD 9 slot grills on its GPW during ww2 … and they had a ford script stamped onto the body tub… willy’s and bantam had 7 slot grills … but these where interchangeable so not uncommon to ser restored GP jeeps” with incorrect parts

    Like 8
    • NHDave

      Respectfully, the Willys MB and Ford GPW both had nine-slot grills. That stamped grill was a Ford design adopted when the Willys and Ford models were standardized (although with some minor differences that did not effect interchangeability). Post-war civilian Jeeps, such as the CJ2A, used seven-slot grills. Also, Willys and Ford brand stampings on the rear panel of the body tub ended by mid-1942, as required by the War Department.

      Like 2
      • Danny V. Johnson

        I was misinformed and now I’ve, in my ignorance, have shared misinformation. Thanks for the info, NHDave. I guess the only way to quickly tell is to see the plate that’s riveted to the “Map Box.” that is, if the plate is still intact.

        Like 1
  4. Howard A Member

    Weeeeell, the authors statement is a bit misleading, it’s ready, just not “paved road” ready. I’ve said many times, but simply can’t be forgotten, we owe a lot to this little vehicle,,like our freedom? The Jeep dramatically improved mobility, and any vet you talked to, each had a “Jeep” story of their own. It’s great the owner acknowledges their grandfathers efforts.
    It’s a great toy, a bit pricey for a limited use vehicle with a top speed of 42 mph, but when the road stops, these were the only things that made it. Now, whether your wallet can handle a 5 figure toy to drive around the yard, up to you, unless you live near me in the “Rockity Mountains”( if you do, give me a shout, we’ll have coffee, no big whoop,) it’s more of a reminder of our freedom, and what it took to get, practically SOLELY because of the Jeep in the ground war. It’s why I have one( with a big American flag decal in the back window), it’s my way of showing everyone, despite where we are today, it’s still the best country in the world,,and the Jeep was front and center through it all,,Amen.
    Oh, just one more thing, when I bought my YJ, it had one of those cheesy aluminum grill coverings, and was the 1st thing to go. It hid the slots,,,not on my Jeep it won’t,, a Jeep trademark, even to this day.

    Like 11
    • Johnny

      The day Chrysler bought Jeep out—Jeep ended—the only thing Jeep about it is the NAME ONLY —AND NOTHING ELSE. I wouldn,t have one I like this old jeep–but not the Chrysler Jeep. I am very proud of those that are serving and those who have served. THANK YOU ALL. Howard,did you serve in South east Asia ? Welcome home brothers and thank all of you for our freedom we have.

      Like 3
  5. Cam W.

    During WW2, Willys built about 360,000, and Ford did about 250,000. They all looked the same to the unpracticed eye, but there were a number of subtle differences between manufacturers, and updates continued throughout production.. Almost all parts were interchangeable, so military mechanics mixed and matched parts, as necessary to keep them going.
    After they became surplus, people also began interchanging parts with later civilian Jeeps, and even modified them with non-jeep components.
    I have restored and collected military vehicles for almost 50 years. I have often seen “Army Jeeps” for sale that were actually civilian models painted khaki, and others that had had so many parts replaced they were like “Grampa’s Axe” (but with new handle and blade)!
    The Willys here looks to be a legit, collectible, military model. The owners description indicates a solid knowledge about military Jeeps. Decent restored examples of this type usually sell for about $25K+. As always, if you want one, do your homework. There are lots of bad ones (and fakes) for sale. It is worth joining the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA). They host fabulous events, and publish excellent publications (some specifically deal with buying/restoring Jeeps).

    Like 7
    • Ross Murphie

      Hey Cam
      You are an interesting fellow!
      I would like to talk to you some more on this subject.

      Like 1
  6. Thom

    My Jeep story: I was in the infantry in Vietnam in 1971. At the base camp one day, I jumped up and sat down on the hood of a Jeep. Now I should tell you, we guys in the infantry would go out for three weeks at a time. The first thing we ditched was our underwear. That jeep had been just sitting there in the hot sun. Whereas normally I could have tolerated the heat, without underwear, it was damned hot. End of story.

    Like 3
  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I have had a hankering for one of these since the local water district where I grew up bought one army surplus. That thing was a Billy goat, it could scale steep hills and cross streams drive through flooded fields. Somehow it never became a top priority for me. When I was in the army (64-67) we had the MUTTS a Ford built Jeep with full independent suspension. They were said to flip over easily but I tried spinning donuts and all types of crazy things, never could flip one. I wonder how long this will be listed before it sells.

    God Bless America

    Like 1
  8. Kenn

    I had heard the 7 part grill was in honor of the jeep being the first 4 wheel drive vehicle to travel all 7 continents. Interestingly, there is a restaurant called the 7 slot grill in Reed City, Michigan. Jeep-themed of course!

    Like 2
  9. bobH Member

    BF never posts my comments. So, briefly, I like this one, and the price appears good. I’ve owned quite a few GPW’s and MB’s during my 60 plus years of being a jeep-nut. And, still today, in my twilight years, I’m still futzing with a 2A. My last GPW went to a local VFW, and is enjoyed by many in local parades.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      The only reasons your comments wouldn’t get posted are if you broke one of the rules or our spam filter caught them.

  10. DON

    I have read that Ford was not too happy to make the Jeeps as it wasn’t their design , so just to make sure you could tell a Ford built Jeep , they changed all the bolts to assemble them with bolts that had the Fords script “F” on the heads .

    Like 1

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