1950 Willys Model CJ-3A Jeep

As World War II drew to a close, production rights to the heroic GPW “Jeep” reverted solely to Willys-Overland on July 31, 1945. Already under development and announced just 13 days earlier, the CJ-2A debuted as the first in a long line of Civilian Jeep models that continues uninterrupted today. While little changed from its military predecessor, the CJ-2A was subtly updated for civilian use and a wide array of accessories and amenities were optional, including a power takeoff and heavy-duty implement hitches for farm use.

The revised CJ-3A appeared in 1949, continuing with 60 horsepower delivered by Willys’ rugged L-head “Go-Devil” 4-cylinder engine, designed by noted engineer Barney Roos. Heavy-duty driveline components included a T-90 transmission and a Dana 18 transfer case, plus a Dana 25 front axle and Dana 41 or 44 rear axles. Welcome updates included beefier underpinnings including 10-leaf springs,  plus a one-piece windshield with a vent and wipers at the bottom, shortened rear wheel wells, and more rearward placement of the driver’s seat.

As the postwar seller’s market waned and the Korean War erupted, CJ-3A sales were lower than those of the prior CJ-2A, a still-robust 131,843 examples of the CJ-3A were produced until the advent of its CJ-3B in 1953, the year Willys-Overland was acquired by Kaiser Motors. The CJ-3A entered the international market in late 1952, with about 550 assembled by Mitsubishi to early 1953 as the J1/J2 for the Japanese police and forestry services.

Most famously, the CJ-3A served as the basis for the next-generation military Jeep, beginning in 1949. Designated the Willys MC or in military parlance, the M38, the new military Jeep was produced by Willys in Ohio and at Ford Motor Company’s Windsor, Ontario factory. The MC/M38 gained enduring fame for its adaptability and ruggedness on the extremely harsh terrain of the Korean Peninsula during the 1950-1953 conflict and the long Vietnam War yet to come. Millions were reacquainted with the CJ-3A-derived M38 during the 1970s and 1980s by virtue of the vehicle’s prominent use in the star-studded 1970 movie M*A*S*H and the long-running, critically acclaimed TV series of the same name.

A truly delightful example of an early post-war Civilian Jeep, this 1950 Willys Jeep CJ-3A is the highly engaging product of a body-off-frame, nut-and-bolt restoration completed to a high standard of detailing and authenticity. As with similar hard-run utility vehicles, attrition rates are high, making such beautifully restored early Jeeps a rare sight, indeed. Handsomely finished in Pine Green over Tartan fabric-covered seats and equipped with a striking, top-quality Natural Tan canvas top, this jaunty Jeep is authentically detailed with period-correct fittings, equipment, and identification logos throughout, plus a proper side-mounted rear spare wheel/tire. Paint quality is excellent, with the same finish quality extending to the interior and underside of the all-steel tub. Cream colored wheels provide a pleasing contrast to the body, and are nicely detailed with green pinstripes and period-style off-road tires for the perfect rough-n-ready look. The chassis and running gear are refinished and fully detailed, with the flathead inline-four nicely presented with the correct oil-batch air cleaner, Fram oil filter canister, and period-type fittings.

As offered, this delightful and rare early Jeep is equally ready for the show field or the farm field – the choice is yours!


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