Army Jeep

I’m thinking of purchasing an old Army style Willys Jeep, either to restore, or already/ nearly restored. Does anyone know if parts are still readily available for these? Is there a good source or website anyone knows of for these old workhorses? Are some years better than others? Thanks for any help!

Try asking on this site:

Buy one already restored – it will be cheaper and more satisfying in the end. You will spend many times the cost (and effort) trying to do it yourself. Be careful when and where you drive it – they are far from safe.


Be careful when and where you drive it – they are far from safe.

Very true. Our medic was injured in one during training and neither he or the driver were doing anything wild.

I have heard about the safety issue. This would not be an everyday driver…more or less a hobby car to run errands with in town, and drive in parades & the like.

Are you referring to an M38A1? If so it would be worthwhile to get acquainted with some of the Jeep groups. Years ago I built one from 3 junkers. At that time everything was available if you were determined. Most parts were somewhat generic. They don’t have ball joints but industrial tapered roller bearings. The transmission is as simple as there ever was and unless it is rusted out a few industrial bearings and one synchro hub and one seal are all that is needed. The engine is a morphed flat head. The exhaust valves remain in the block as side valves and the intakes are in the head. Sealed plugs are available if you wish to do some fording. Many had 24v electrics for communications systems but it is easy to retrofit a one wire alternator and install 12v bulbs but a 12v starter will be required. The brakes are very poor and even dangerous above about 45 mph. I would advise installing a roll bar and seat belts. When my kids got too old to enjoy it I sold mine and often wish that I hadn’t.

I did restore one myself. The valves on the block was a big problem for us. The previous owner had converted it to 12v, they don’t have a brake booster, so if I was waiting for a green light on a steep road sometimes I would get leg cramps. Then you just put it in gear and turn it off. Also mine came with a 3 speed manual transmission and if I am not wrong it did not have any syncronizers. I took it off road and never got stranded, but I was 20 some at the time and really didn’t care either.

The biggest safety issue with these jeeps was thair tendency to suddenly flip. The suspension was so stiff as to provide no feedback to the driver that the vehicle was on the verge of going belly-up. They lack the typical understeer that most drivers are used to.

This needs to be respected even if the jeep is only used for local driving.

The Jeeps are easily tipped up on 2 wheels and control is lost even if it doesn’t flip. They are much more a tractor than an automobile. But I would guess that the old Willys M38A1s are less prone to sudden flipping than the later Ford M151s which had a much softer ride and somewhat better brakes. The Ford Jeeps would fold the wheels under in a hard turn and there would be no chance of recovery from the mistake.

Does anyone remember the television series “Rat Patrol?”


My understanding is that the old Willy’s jeeps are the ones that flip suddenly. While the Fords could be flipped, the softer suspension provided some feedback that the driver was pushing the edge. The Willys didn’t lean or understeer, they just siddenly flipped.

I saw many of the M151s flipped and rolled but never an M38A1. The M151s had independent suspension front and rear and they seemed to fold the outside wheels under in a hard turn. But we had many of the Fords and only 3 of the Willys which were all Comm Jeeps.