Following World War II, Willys-Overland was in need of a civilian passenger vehicle that would hopefully appeal to a broader audience than its line of highly functional, but very utilitarian Jeep vehicles. The CJ (Civilian Jeep) utility vehicles had the benefit of a war-proven heritage and were popular with farmers and outdoorsmen, but not so much with the general car buying public. Industrial designer Brooks Stevens was commissioned to design Willys-Overland’s new postwar lineup and hopefully add some flair along the way. Alongside the traditional Jeep CJ, Willys-Overland added a pickup and a station wagon utility vehicle. Stevens also drew up a vaguely Jeep-looking crossover car that he envisioned as a sports car for returning servicemen. The Jeepster, as it became known, was distinguished by quirky open styling that drew heavily on Jeep tradition. Willys-Overland lacked the ability to tool up curvaceous bodywork, so for practical purposes the Jeepster relied on the sharp angles and slab sides of its stable mates.
This 1949 Jeepster is from the second year of production and shows in extremely nice condition, benefitting from a comprehensive driver-quality restoration. The attractive primrose yellow and black paint is correct for this era Jeepster and is in fine order. Red painted wheels and chrome beauty rings offer a nice highlight and are a great tie in with the restored red interior. Fine details abound – red upholstery is piped in black, and the contrasting canvas top is trimmed in red. A full complement of matching side curtains is also included. The 2.2 liter “Go Devil” inline four is pleasingly detailed in red and black and has been sensibly upgraded with a modern alternator for enhanced usability. It is mated to a 3-speed manual gearbox with the highly desirable overdrive option. Above all, this Jeepster has been lovingly restored to be enjoyed. It would make the ideal machine for family ice cream runs, or a fun runabout at the beach or lake. This Jeepster radiates fun, and while it may not be the sports car that Brooks Stevens originally envisioned, it is sure to bring a smile to the face of the driver and onlookers alike.