Pity the Willys Jeep Station Wagon

jeep willys wagon hot rod for saleSpend enough time looking at project 4x4s, project muscle cars, project station wagons, or super cheap project cars and you’ll come across countless Willys Wagons. Not talking about Wagoneers here, but the vehicle officially known as the Willys Jeep Station Wagon. The Brooks Stevens design sold over 300,000 units in its nearly 20 year run from ’46-’65. It’s important to remember these were marketed as utility wagons for the likes of park rangers, painters or handymen (remember them?), so they offered only the barest of options: most were two-wheel-drive and no factory V8 was ever offered. Oh, and think they make great sense as a family wagon?  Not so much with only two doors. There was a run of 4 doors made. Something like a dozen remain.

Hit the jump and we’ll get into the three species of surviving Willys Wagon.

You’d hope the surviving members (The Surviving Members would make a great band name) would all look about like these: mild-to-moderately build 4x4s capable of various offroad shenanigans, in-town errand running and miserable highway driving.

  • Here’s a ’58 with a few minor issues, but generally free of crapification with a $7,800 Buy It Now
  • $4,900 buys a running ’59 with 226-6 flat head, overdrive and “all the important stuff is there”. Don’t know why but the “LEG 701” black plate completes the picture.
  • This ’59 gets it right with a 327 (if only it were AMC…? probably not, though) and other drivetrain updates. Seemingly updated to 70s-grade technology and in decent shape, it’s make a great addition to your Christmas Tree Farm fleet. At $9,500, it better be well ahead of the typical condition of “has a bunch of stuff done to it” classics/projects.
  • Lastly, this guy thinks he’s ICON.

Instead, the most common example is the wannabe hot rod. Their generously proportioned, simple ladder-frame chassis leaves landing room for all manner of drivetrain swaps…but to what end? They’re as sexy as a size 14 USPS uniform, with crap aerodynamics and front suspension. Though, this assertion about taste is coming from a site known to gush about Pinto Cruising Wagons, i.e. maybe not the most credible source. 

  •  This one gets respect for skipping the typical Chevy swap in favor of a Mopar 383. The ox-cart front end suspension’s been swapped for that of a 62 Falcon (of all things to “upgrade” to…). It still keeps the mandatory dumb wheels and other “hot rod” touches.
  • This green example makes a good case for itself with a ‘Vette 327 and 4-speed combo, riding on chome-capped steelies. …but then it’s 1995 all over again on the inside. Oh, and S10-chassis. Because…well, of course it’s an S10 chassis.
  • This one’s still got its front drive axle (note the hub in the front view), but seems well on its way to slow hotroddom with a 350 with “lots of chrome” and TH400 transmission. Just no glass, carb or interior.

Which makes a great segue to our last category, the Aborted Project. I suspect many are lured in with the prospects of a dirt-cheap, dirt-simple example like this, only to realize that for their money and time, they’re better off staying non-homeless and married building or buying something else. Also, they’re almost all missing glass.

  • This guy interprets pictures being worth 1000 words as an invitation to write 1000 words and include no pictures. It may or may not need a new motor, suspension, differential(s), glass or…I dunno. But I get the feeling no conversation with Mike the Seller will conclude in under an hour. $4250.
  • It’s not an “Overlander”, but it does have a running big block and “power break”. Needs paint and a hojillion other things. $1,500 obo
  • No motor, or side glass, but looks a little more complete…? $2,300 and $700 for parts car as well.

The moral of the story? Not sure there is one, aside from a request to not turn what should be a backwoods beater into a Good Guys/Beach Boys cliche and a warning that there’s a reason these things can be found cheap. Can you think of another potentially likable classic that tends to be ruined by overambitious owners?

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