My ol’ girl is still fresh. 35k miles fresh, although she does not shine on the outside, she glows with character. The original 4cyl/3spd drivetrain is still intact minus the Saturn OD it came with. The only mechanical upgrade to 11″ brakes was made some thirty-plus years ago. The stock seats went long ago in favor of something a bit more cushioned and the hard top, added after I purchased the CJ-6, is also not original. It’s a Koenig, that, according to the serial number, was manufactured in 1957. So it’s period correct. What makes this CJ-6 special to me is the meticulous loving care with which the previous owner engaged in for the 38 years he’d owned it. That is not to say it wasn’t used. This little truck has been VERY well traveled.
A retired engineer, the previous owner had a young son going to the same school as my own young daughter. He’d noticed that I frequently drove one Jeep or another to school (CJ-7, Wrangler YJ, and an absurdly over-built Wrangler TJ), ferrying my daughter to school. We’d briefly acknowledged each other but never really talked. One day, he passed in front of my Jeep looking anxious and dejected and and harried by something. He u-turned, shuffled up to my door rather abruptly and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in his Jeep, described it as an old CJ type that he’d had a long time, and was thinking it was time to move on. I said I might (most certainly not me, my wife would kill me if I brought home another Jeep orphan). Over the ensuing weeks, we’d had several conversations about Jeepin’, various aspects of Jeeps, build philosophies, etc, all the while he’s (turns out he’s a “Bob” too) hem n’ ha’n about whether or not he really, truly wanted to part with his truck. It became quite clear, there was a LOT of history there between Bob and this little truck. I’d still not inquired much about it, so I still knew only that it was a CJ. CJ-what I never pressed. I told him of my other Willys, a 46′ CJ-2A with 32k on the odo and acquired from the original owner’s grandson, still pulling well duty on the ranch it had been acquired for. I guess Bob finally came to the conclusion that I was not a hatchet man. I had stock Jeeps and crazy Jeeps and we both had a parallel notion of what not to butcher because it was just cool, as-is.
Bob came to me one day in the school parking lot and asked if I would come over and take a look at his little truck and help him value it and maybe find an appropriate home. Sure, no problem. At Bob’s house, HOLY FREAKIN COW. It’s a CJ-6. The only beast my lovely wife couldn’t – WOULDN’T – stop me from dragging home. It’s her favorite model. Yes, Bob. I’ve found a buyer. Bob seemed to be relieved that I was interested in his little truck and that it might well go to a loving home. -Of course, Bob, why didn’t you tell me months ago it was a CJ-6? He could’ve saved himself the grief of fretting over whether or not to sell it and I could’ve begun the pride of ownership much earlier. Bob and I still meet on Friday mornings at a little coffee shop to chat about all manner of things from geology, to guns and politics, to (of course) old Jeeps and classic motorcycles. Jeeps are more than just a way to get off the beaten path. I think they are a way to connect with just about anyone on a visceral level.
Thank you, Bob. I love your truck. Well… my truck now.
Kaiser Willys Jeep Blog Story – Robert Stapleton
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