The civilian Willys pickup truck is perhaps not as well-known as the ubiquitous Jeep CJ Universal Utility Vehicle, but it is nonetheless a very important machine that helped set the stage for the pickup becoming one of America’s most popular vehicles. Willys Overland wisely capitalized on the “war hero” status of the Jeep, expanding the line into pickups and utility wagons proved a very wise move. Introduced to the market in 1947, the Jeep Truck shared the same basic architecture as the Station Wagon. Willys offered a Pickup, Stake Bed and Cab & Chassis configuration to buyers with either 2wd or 4wd. The 134 cubic inch “Go-Devil” F-head four-cylinder engine was standard, and while it wasn’t much of a powerhouse, it was virtually bomb-proof, having proved itself in harshest conditions imaginable during WWII. An equally tough 3-speed Borg Warner T-90 backed the engine, and four-wheel-drive models got a two speed transfer case. The 4WD had a 1-ton payload rating, and buyers could even opt for a power take off which could operate an endless variety of specialized equipment for farming and industry. Like the mechanical layout, the styling borrowed heavily from the classic Jeep CJ, with its iconic vertical grille and separate flat fenders up front. It was no doubt utilitarian, but it also had a particular charm that captivated buyers. The Willys Jeep Truck was built through 1964, and its DNA lives on in today’s ultra-capable Jeep vehicles.
This 1948 Willys-Overland Jeep Truck is far and away one of the best we’ve ever encountered. It has been treated to a full nut and bolt restoration with careful attention paid to detail and accuracy. Awarded an AACA Senior National First Prize in 2011, it remains in outstanding condition from top to bottom. The attractive two-tone light blue paintwork is a factory correct color scheme, the darker blue main body and bed highlighted by light blue panels on the doors and roof. Body color steel wheels are unadorned with hubcaps or trim rings, with subtle red pin stripes being the only nod to decoration. The wheels are wrapped in chunky, period correct off-road tires that give the Jeep a fabulous, purposeful look. A single spare wheel is mounted to the bed side as original, allowing for an unobstructed cargo area. It is equipped with an original Power Take-Off on the rear bumper, complete with the original safety guard. Paint finish is outstanding, and the body fit is appropriately consistent with a utilitarian machine such as this. The bed appears to have never been used since the restoration and is straight and free of dents, dings or scuffs and features a fabulous “WO” logo tailgate. Chrome plating is limited to just the front bumper, headlight rims and some exterior hardware, but it is extremely nice, having been restored to the same high standard as the rest of the truck. This Jeep Truck truly is a beautiful beast.
The cab is trimmed with maroon vinyl upholstery piped in white on the split bench seat as original, with tan cowlboard door cards and a red tweed headlining. Like the rest of this wonderful truck, the work impeccably executed. Being a workhorse means there’s little in the way of creature comforts, but it does have an original heater and a quintet of fully restored gauges to keep the driver in tune with happenings under the hood. The dash features a two-tone scheme that mimics the exterior, and the paint finishes, chrome plating and switchgear are all in excellent condition. The transmission is shifted via a column-mounted lever, while the three floor mounted levers control the transfer case in/out, high/low ranges, the in/out for the factory equipped PTO. The jack remains in factory location behind the seat, and a basic rubber mat lines the floor.
The undercarriage and engine bay are equally well-presented, in basic black finishes on the chassis, axle and suspension components. It is exceptionally clean and tidy underneath, with paint work in the wheel wells as nice as that on the body. Willys’ Go-Devil four-cylinder engine runs very well and is fully detailed, showing some light use on the finishes but otherwise in excellent condition and very correct in terms of hardware, hose clamps and fittings. We can’t help but be big fans of this delightful Willys Overland Jeep Truck. It is basic and utilitarian yet so well detailed and beautifully restored that you can’t help but fall for its rugged charm. A true show-quality example of this rare and desirable Willys Overland, it is ready for further show duty, or for regular enjoyment on the road – or anywhere else you may dare to take it.