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Willys Forest Find: 1948 Willys CJ-2A And Early CJ-5

After World War II ended Willys began selling a modified version of its military MB model jeep to the public, dubbed the CJ (“Civilian Jeep”).  These vehicles were widely used for just about everything and a good number of them, after having been retired from some other purpose, were converted by hunters into woods vehicles.  Nowadays forgotten examples can be glimpsed abandoned on the edge of a field, tucked away in some old outbuilding, or in this case resting peacefully near an old hunting cabin deep in the Catskill Mountains of New York.  Likely replaced by the modern ATV, this 1948 CJ-2A and what looks to be an early model CJ-5 appear as if they are slowly being swallowed up by the forest floor.  Don’t be fooled by the pictures though.  These things seem to attract the most talented tinkerers – guys with the innate ability to resurrect a famed Willys L Head “Go-Devil” engine in a very short time and with very few tools.  There might be life left in these jeeps yet.


The flat-fender 2A can be identified as a ’48 by the top bow holders which are mounted just behind the passenger side rear wheel.  And although hard to tell from these photos, the spare tire carrier is on the driver’s side.  More info about this jeep would have been nice to have but the serial/body number number plate is mysteriously gone from the firewall.  Attempts to read the body numbers stamped on the inside of the tailgate were unsuccessful due to rust and layers of old paint.  Perhaps the driver’s side frame rail tag is still there?  Oops…forgot to look for that.  The most intriguing feature of this jeep is the aftermarket half cab which is still in one piece.  The trademark split windscreen (not seen in the photos) is still present on this 2A with glass intact.  The rims are of the less valuable slotted type but feature an interesting aftermarket chrome ring on the passenger side rear wheel.

Here’s the L134 “Go Devil.”  Some hoses are gone and mice have predictably had their way with things, stuffing every corner and opening with surplus seeds.  The motor is no longer free but again, rather than regard it as a boat anchor I am confident there’s a 2A fanatic out there ready and willing to bring it back to life.  Developed by Willys chief engineer, Delmar Roos, the L134 was a straight 4 and produced 60 hp.  Willys stuffed it in a variety of models from 1937-1965 but eventually phased out the old cast iron workhorse with the F Head “Hurricane.”

At first glance, the round-fender CJ-5 looks like an old mail jeep (DJ-5), but there are a few things that discount it from being a “Dispatcher.”  For starters, DJ-5’s were right-hand drive (this one is not).  They primarily came in two-wheel drive but this jeep has locking front hubs. And finally, even though the aftermarket hard top looks similar to those on mail jeeps this one does not have sliding doors.  CJ-5’s were produced from 1955 until 1983 (switching from Willys to “Jeep” with 1964 models).  Since the tailgate on this jeep is stamped “Willys,” that makes it an early model CJ-5 (prior to ’64).  Early CJ-5’s featured the aforementioned Hurricane F Head 134, and the motor is pretty much all there but not free in this case either.

So what’s the most intriguing aspect of these jeeps?  Is it the half cab of the 2A or the mail jeep style hard top of the 5? Is it the Go-Devil or the Hurricane? To me, there is nothing like an old flat-fender, especially one with a split windshield!

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