Should I buy a Willys?

I have basically no mechanical ability. I want to buy a WWII era Willys, just because I think it would be cool to bop around in. Is this a bad idea?

As long as you are ready to pay someone else to work on it…yeah, go ahead and buy it. I have a friend who has a 1942. They’re slow and dangerous on the road. Cool to knock around in off road, though.

You have no mechanical ability and you want to buy a 70-80 year old vehicle?

Sure, go right ahead IF

  1. You are rich enough to pay for the significant amount of service this older vehicle requires AND you have access to a specialty shop that can and will do the work


  1. You are willing to learn now to maintain the vehicle on your own, buy the tools required, and love searching for parts for a vehicle not made in many decades

If not 1 or 2, No, I do not recommend it. It will end in disappointent. If you don’t do your research into what you are buying, it will start in disappointment


There is probably another vehicle easier to work on. Doing your own maintenance is a good way to save money and learn. A timing light, gap gauges, point wenches and a dwell meter would

If you have the funds to pay for the vehicle and realize that you may have to just give up at some point and the money spent will not keep you awake for nights afterward then do it.


A waste of time and money.

As are most things that are fun.


So that’s why I have no fun. I’m just too cheap. Here I thought it was because I’m too old and everything hurts.


It’s He&# getting old.

Many years ago, I saw a brief interview with the man who was then the oldest person in The US, and I think that he was something on the order of 106 years old. The reporter naively asked, “What’s it like to be so old?”, and his response was, “Everything hurts–all the time”.


Old Jeeps are mechanically very simple and can be a lot of fun. I seem to be above average in experience working on vehicles and long ago bought 3 junked out Korean War vintage surplus Jeeps, rebuilt an engine and transmission and replaced whatever was needed to build a nice vehicle for myself and 3 boys to play with. I added a roll bar and seat belts and we had a lot of fun getting stuck and dirty. It was safe to drive at speeds up to about 40mph on less traveled roads but neither the brakes nor suspension were capable of operating any better than an old farm tractor… and that’s no exaggeration.

If you can afford an expensive toy with virtually no purpose other than working to keep it operating and scrubbing the mud off more power to you. I regretted selling my old Jeep for years.


Could be fun. I’d like to have one myself. Former neighbor kid has one restored to full military quality. He’s more of a gun guy than mechanical. Parts are readily available and you can even buy an entire body from someplace around Ohio.

I was at a parade some years ago and there was one in the parade. I think there were four guys. Stopped the Jeep, pulled the engine and other parts with the thing on jack stands. All the parts in the street. Put it back together again and proceeded in the parade in about ten minutes time. They were built for durability, ease of repair in the field, and flexibility. Don’t expect luxury though.

Never saw a picture or could actually pin him down to what exactly it was but my dad had a Willys car I believe, during the war. Talked about driving it from the shipyard in Wisconsin home to Minnesota at night with no lights. Worst part was that curly Q bridge over the Mississippi at Wabasha if any of you old guy remember that. Just barely remember as maybe a 5 year old. Like driving the approach to a parking ramp and at the top the bridge started. No lights Ma.

I just did a little web searching and there is almost any condition Willys that person might want . Even ones that have had a lot of restoration can be had at what I think are resonable prices .

I thought you had some, or at least one classic car? Maybe that was someone else.

Try to find one fully restored in excellent condition. It will be more fun to drive that way, won’t have to worry so much about breakdowns all the time. Plus you may be invited to drive it in your town’s parades :slight_smile: So sure, buy one, but only if it is fully restored and excellent condition.

Why an antique Willys? Why not a more recent one, like a CJ-5 or a CJ-7?

The other evening I watched the Peg Leg Mine episode of Death Valley Days (Season 1). At one point there’s a sort of race between a horseback rider and a WWII era Willy’s Jeep covering rough terrain. Riding the jeep definitely looks like it would be fun. Somewhat dangerous too. I presume the OP knows this already and will take some common-sense pro-active safety measures.

I remember as a young guy going into a gas station in TX back in the 60s and the owner had a side lot with about 20 WWII Jeeps there. The sign said 50 dollars each. Many had been cannibalized for parts, others shot full of holes and so on, but half a dozen were pretty complete.

Not widely known is that Harley had a contract with the Army to produce military vehicles at the start of WWII. These were 3 wheeled Knuckleheads called a TA model. They lost out when the Jeep appeared and which made more sense actually. I think (?) there may be 2 of those TA models in existence; one in the HD museum. Prototypes is as far as it got.

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You should probably look for a “Willis Club” either locally to you or on the internet. You could also check for a “Willis” group on facebook and also google for Willis forums on the net. Join one or more and listen to what these guys have to say and see if you still want one.

You will get an idea for the cost and maybe some lines on any “good deals”.

I ran across this group at Gila National Monument in 2018. All of their Willis’s and Jeeps were left as found, only doing the necessary to get them safely running. No mods, no fancy paint jobs or interiors. The were wat is often called “barn find” or “ran when parked” even though they may have been parked fourty ot fifty years ago.

I can only post the picture, it wouldn’t let me post the video. These guys and gals were on a cross country road trip and had a photographer from some travel magazine traveling with them. Top speed for them was 45 mph.

Three. One I was using as a daily driver until I quit driving altogether earlier this year, one I parked in my garage 35 years ago and it hasn’t turned a wheel since, and one that I bought because it’s rare and unusual but found that I liked it a lot better when it was just a memory. I didn’t spend much money purchasing them, or restoring them since I was able to do everything myself, except bodywork, and none of them needed body or paint work. I also have a fully equipped garage with a lift and a 5hp 80 gallon compressor.

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