Saved From Falling Barn: 1942 Ford Jeep

Things were very different in 1940 when the Army realized it needed a light (1300 pounds or less), four-wheel drive cross country vehicle. They sent out a proposal to 135 domestic car manufacturers with some very tight deadlines. Companies had 11 days to submit a proposal, 49 days to present a prototype and 75 days to build 70 vehicles. That would be impossible today, of course, and seems impossible at any time. The Army likely went to someone for help writing the proposal so someone no doubt knew what was coming. American Bantam submitted the first prototype which did well in testing. Because Bantam did not have the production capacity, the War Department provided Willy and Ford with the blueprints. Ford eventually produced over a quarter million Jeeps similar to this one. Willys built about 360,000 Jeeps. Ford designed the familiar Jeep grill which Willys adopted after a couple of years. This Jeep is listed on eBay in Dayton, Tennessee. Bidding has reached almost $9,000 at this time with a day left. It has been sitting since the late 1960s and is completely original.

It looks like this Jeep is all original. The gas tank is under the driver’s seat. The seat covers are tattered but useable. It looks like it might be missing a few small bits, but is otherwise complete.

Here’s the Willys four-cylinder engine exactly as it was built. There is no word on its condition, but as long as it isn’t seized, it should be easy to get running.

This will be a great buy for someone looking for an original Jeep. They certainly aren’t rare, but most have long since been modified. These are their own kind of fun to drive. Last weekend, I drove a very similar Jeep to an event and had several hours bouncing along enjoying the windy adventure, glad I don’t do it often. Perhaps the buyer will do the mechanical work necessary to get this Jeep running and enjoy the appearance just as it is.

Fast Finds


  1. stillrunners lawrence Member

    It’s bid to $9000 already…..those that know are in….

    • packrat

      The comment thread here was quite an education on how much there is to know about the nuances of these ‘simple’ vehicles! Archived page for future reference for these comments:

  2. S Ryan

    Merica. Got to love it. Thanks to all that Served.

    • Dick in SoCal

      There are very few left who served.

  3. Old Car Guy

    I hate that all the profit from this sale will go to a flipper who probably beat the the previous owner or owners family down to a low ball price. I think there will be a special place in h**l for these people. Most flippers are soulless creatures from my experience.Not picking on this particular seller, just saying in general.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I’m neutral when it comes to flippers. Yeah, they want to make a profit and it might be that they took advantage of someone. But without them being at the right place at the right time and then wanting to sell their find, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to see it, talk about it, and maybe own it.

  4. craig sibert

    Actually willys won the contract because of its 65 hp (go devil) engine all the other jeeps were underpowered ,your right about the grilll.that ford designed the first were welded pieces of metal called slat grills very rare and valuable. I own a 42 willys jeep with a gpw powertrain all original 6 volt and all .

  5. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Would love to see this in person and could be at the Seller’s location from Chattanooga in 45 minutes flat. Just no time before auction ends. I’m no fan of flippers, but another way to look at the whole “flipper” difference of opinion is that if it weren’t for some flippers, the vehicle(s) might not have ever been brought to the attention of John Q. Public in the first place.

  6. Luki

    Love the VW bus fuel gauge.

  7. Mike C

    We all need to remember that on Ford Jeep, Ford put the Scriped “F” of Ford on every piece of the Jeep. I find this interesting that someone wouldn’t at least take a picture or two, to authenticate what he is selling. All other Jeeps of this period that were made by the other manufacturers did not do what Ford did in marking all of the parts.

  8. RoselandPete

    Quite a gem.

  9. Francisco

    Remember when these were for sale for $50 in ads in the back of magazines?

    • Howard A Member

      I heard that was an “urban” legend. However, some folks have come forward saying they had relatives that bought several of these. That ad was in Popular Mechanics for years. My uncle got PM and I always wondered. Could this have been one of them? Dave would know!!

    • Rentalbarn

      My M38A1 was purchased directly from the Coast Guard in a DOD auction. That floorless A1 cost me $1200.00 plus I had to snake my rollback through Manhattan to get out to Governors Island to pick it up

  10. Mike

    Totally factory? The seller might want to look at the VDO gas gauge. Just like the comment above, glad to see the Germans were helping out with the war effort.

    • RayT Member

      Perhaps swiped from a Kubelwagen in the African desert????

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Mike, Ha. Good one. Not one of those gauges is stock (speedo is, I think) As usual, I don’t believe the miles. Looks a bit tattered for 421 miles. I suppose it could have been 421 miles through Heck. :)

  11. Paul

    Would love this … one day

  12. Sunbeamdon

    With reverent apologies to Audie Murphy – “To Hell and Back”!

  13. Rentalbarn

    Back in the 70’s I had 2 Ford GPW’s one was a rusted and patched hulk that was road worthy, the other was an almost pristine body with some engine issues. At one point after engine issue headaches I sold it too cheap. After that I had a long time relationship with a M38a1, but to this day selling the nice GPW still haunts me.

  14. Warren

    IMHO this MB is missing it,s original engine, tranny, blackout, gauges and combat wheels.
    Perhaps this info is useful for someone.
    I know very little about muscle cars but a bit more about the mother of all jeeps!
    The nicest sports car America has ever produced.( imho)

  15. Wade

    Definitely not “all original”, and I love the sellers claim that “this thing is factor (sp) all the way down to the seat covers and tires” since none of the tires are oe, and all but possibly one of the wheels are from a ’70’s Ford half ton. As has been noted, the gauges are wrong, bubba has been heavily into the wiring, the paint is not original, engine is from a post war CJ, shift boots and possibly trans are also wrong, etc. Oh, and it’s a Willys, not a Ford. I don’t mean to pick it apart, its a very good jeep, but definitely not what it’s being portrayed as.

    Caveat Emptor, as they say.

  16. Dick in SoCal

    Plastic wire started in the early ’50’s. Gauge face lettering and style varies; plastic ducting is more recent; firewall grommet is missing. “Ford” appears on a data plate although Willys is painted on the rear. Low mileage is feasible if it was all off-road.

    • Wade

      Yes, I did see that as well. I should have said that the frame was a Willys frame, and that the body is a composite body, which means that it is at least a ’44 which calls into question the data plate info. Additionally, the dash is missing the original switches, and has what appears to be a ’70’s era civvy light switch in it. Now, I would venture that it was a depot rebuild at some point, and that it was pieced together from multiple jeeps prior to sell, or during its prior restoration which it has obviously gone through judging by the incorrect paint and many other modifications
      . I don’t however believe those to be the original miles. While it is possible, the fact that none of the other gauges are original would make me very suspicious of the speedo, but moreso the fact that it is from a much later M-Series vehicle, and not from a WWII jeep. I think we can safely assume that like most of the rest here, it is a misrepresentation.

  17. Sunbeamdon

    WOW! Warren, Wade and Dick – you guys are educatin’ us old farts. Well done; but it ain’t a sports car – although the typical Brit sports car of the era probably rode (road?) worse than the ’42 Jeep

    • Wade

      Sunbeamdon, I think he’s referring to the famous quote from Enzo Ferrari that says “The jeep is the only TRUE American sports car”. ;)

  18. Warren

    Correct Wade, that’s what I meant :)
    However i think the frame and body are an original combination. During 1942 Willys frames and ford tubs were mated. This happened during 3 months production and ended October 42
    So it could possibly be a one of a few.

    • Wade

      That is true Warren, but if you look at the specifics of this tub, it is a composite tub and not an early GPW. It has the round toolbox buttons with the Ford embossed lids, composite style gussets, late spare tire carrier, etc. It does appear to be a GPW body in that it has the Ford style toolbox lids, or those lids were added with the glove box door and other bolt-on’s during depot rebuild, but it would not be a ’42 tub and the frame is definitely Willys, also, I believe a May of ’42 GPW tub may still be a script tub, which this is not. These things considered, I stand by my assessment.

  19. Sunbeamdon

    Wade – good on Mr Ferrari! I gotta stop reading this thread – can’t bill my client for this diversion (or can I???)

  20. Anthony

    Another nice find..
    My all time favorite Military vehicles are the M715’s and early Humvee’s

  21. Ed

    What is meant by ( Composit body ). ?
    I thought the 40’s were all steel.

  22. Wade

    Both Willys and Ford used bodies built by 3rd party coach builders to their own specs for their jeeps. In early 1944 American Central Mfg. Co. Began producing bodies for both companies. These bodies are the same for both companies and used elements of each companies design hence the term “composite body”. These bodies are only distinguishable by their bolt on accessories which were still unique to the manufacturer.

    Sorry, I forget that not everyone has this olive drab sickness.


    That is what I like about this site. We can all learn something new every day. While we each most likely know a fair amount about one certain car or marque none of us knows every thing about every vehicle ever made. I had looked at the auction and did notice the mismatched instruments and the WILLYS on the back of this Jeep. I was wondering if those items were correct or not, now I know. The other items pointed out I did not even notice. Thank you to all who are willing to share.

  24. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Owning an old Willys Utility wagon, I never thought this would sell for $12,100.00 with 35 bids!

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