The Anti-Land Rover: 1941 Willys Hardtop

In the legions of Toyota FJ40s and Land Rover Series 1s, there’s a new contender: a hardtop-bodied Willys Jeep, which I am admittedly having a hard time pinning down to an exact year and model. The body looks all the world like a Willys Wagon, but it is short two windows and I can’t see how the rear hatch opens. Can someone shed some light on the exact model and year? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find, and check out this intriguing FJ alternative here on craigslist for $2,750.

While there was a hardtop option for the CJ2A, this is not that vehicle. On those trucks, it’s very clear where the tin top roof and doors begin, and this is clearly not a detachable hardtop. The pictures aren’t great, but most of what we can see appears to be bad paint and surface rust as opposed to any serious corrosion – at least on the upper body panels. I’m guessing glass is quite rare, so good to see it’s all here.

The seller notes the drivetrain as being original but not running. The seller notes the Willys has suicide doors, which is typical of an aftermarket hardtop installation, such as the Boston Top option. Other companies made hardtops, including the Koenig “Tin Top”, but again – it’s clear there’s no “line” where the removable hardtop meets the body.

The interior will need some work as the seats are missing, and I’m sure there’s plenty else that needs sorting given what the limited photos reveal. The Willys identity will remain a mystery until one of our readers can confirm the exact model. The bottom line for me is that this a very cool looking rig that would make a nice alternative from the many over-priced FJ40s we see listed for sale. Lodge your answers below!

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Comments

  1. IkeyHeyman

    I was scratching my head on this one, so I called the seller – he doesn’t know what it is exactly, and nobody who has come to look at it knows either. One person told him this Jeep may have come from Brazil, but the Brazilian subsidiary of Willys wasn’t founded until 1952. Could this have been some kind of prototype?

    Like 3
  2. Evan

    I don’t know much, but I do know this can’t be a 1941 anything. Civilian Jeeps didn’t exist until after WWII.

    Like 6
  3. Eugene m Meyer III

    David Tracy all over this one!

    Like 3
  4. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    I know when I read 1941 Willy’s coupe this is not the first thing to come to my mind but it will from now on. I also believe it is post war and rare but that’s all I know.

    Like 5
  5. George

    Philippine custom? Can the fenders/grill help date it?

  6. Chas H

    It doesn’t look very military to me, so it’s not a 1941 model

    Like 2
  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    This is an odd one. I’ve seen lots of Jeeps, but not this. The closest thing I came upon , was this was some sort of dispatcher, like a mail Jeep. I can’t find any other Jeeps with a one piece body like this.

    Like 1
  8. Warren

    Notice the strip along the top cover – carb side – The original engine top cover on 1940/45 Willys jeeps was flat. This one has the later engine top cover – so imho it is nowhere near 1941

    Like 3
    • Keith Johnson

      I worked for a Jeep-only dealership in the 80’s. They dated back to the Willys days and never threw anything away. I recall looking through a Kaiser Jeep parts book (much later than this vehicle), they listed all sorts of body variants similar to this for the North African markets.

      Like 6
    • CapNemo CapNemo

      A top cover. Yep.

      Like 1
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    My Jeep was as ’42 Ford and nothing about the front fenders matches what I had. Trim around rear wheel cutouts nothing I’ve ever seen either. Out of my wheel house. Love the package though.

    Like 1
  10. Brent

    Interesting! A pillars forward it’s like 1948-50 jeep truck with early CJ2A hood and grill. Around Jeepester 48 to 51 Go Devil 4 banger. Full floating rear axle like WW2 Jeeps. My guess is some company had the cab stamped and put all the parts on a surplus WW2 jeep frame. Which would account for the clean 1941 title. Interesting— one of life’s little mysteries.

    Like 1
  11. lc

    The ID plates would be a good place to start. If it is indeed an after market body the should be a an identifier on the car, somewhere, as well. The pics really don’t reveal the unique body details. There doesn’t appear to be a rear door which kinda defies utility. Interesting machine! Love the forward shape of the doors. They indicate a more expensive build than your basic right angle Willys fare, almost French like.

    Like 3
  12. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Wow! This is a huge mystery for sure. I agree with the fender comments also. Interesting radio install and the roof rack. Mr. Willys was not afriad to build some one off stuff. That streched wagon they used in Hawaii comes to mind. My guess? A prototype that was to expensive to produce. Looks like aTR3 parked in front of it. Fun stuff.

    Like 1
    • minute-man

      tr 4

      Like 1
  13. stevee

    The CL post has one pic of the interior rear, with a roll down window and a door handle to the left, hinged to right. The front fenders and suicide doors are like no other I have seen. My vote is for a foreign model. Flat hood, flat grille would be pre- 1950.

  14. Piros1

    I agree with it not being a 1941. Everything built during the war by Willys to my research and knowledge all had 9 slot grills. The 7 slot didn’t come about until post WWII. When I look at the interior photos it looks very aftermarket on the dash. Possibly someone had a custom conversion body. Definitely has me stumped as well. I know if I had my new garage built I would e trying to make a deal with the seller just because it it the only one I gave ever seen and it is kind of cool looking if you like old Jeeps. From what I see it does appear to be Willys Jeep based. I think it is definitely a mystery vehicle I would love to own.

    Like 2
  15. BTG88

    Listing deleted. Hopefully, the buyer will let us know what he bought!

    • C180bill

      Late to party, missed the adv.
      From the 3 pictures>
      ..Engine: MB or CJ. (< -3B)
      ..Hood, hood hinge, and Grille are CJ. (MB & CJ all had fold-down windshields.
      >Pickups/utilities(wagons) and jeepsters:
      ..All had a cowl vent and ..Wipers below windshield. ..Cowl and visor-area radius was tighter.
      ..Glass is different shape.
      ..A-pillar carries door.

      Rest I do not know or do not see.

      Drop-down door glass?
      Dispatchers typically had sliding doors

      IMHO

      Like 1
  16. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    First thought was Mahindra, but they didn’t get their Willy’s Jeep license until 1947, though their grill is 7 slots..It really does look like a Mahindra (Major?) I saw in a magazine about 12-15 years ago, modeled after the CJ-3..

  17. Dan B.

    Here’s what Dave at eWillys said:

    “It looks to me to be a highly modified MB (MB body, MB frame, MB full floaters).”

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