113: Eric’s 1953 Willys CJ-3B
Eric’s Willys was a project that he started 10 years ago, and eventually gave up on when he found the engine block / oil pan full of antifreeze and suspected that the block was cracked. Soon after I met him, he mentioned the Willys to me after seeing a few of the old farm tractor restorations that I had done as a hobby at my home. I love to “tinker” on old machines, and since the company I manage has a full engine machine shop, I offered to take on the project. Over his 10 year failed effort, he had accumulated nearly all of the new components for the restoration from bumper to bumper, so all the little Jeep needed was a little TLC.
Although it was a body off project, it was not meant to be show quality, as the end destination was to return the Willys to the ranch as a hunting, and recreation vehicle. Another friend of mine who is also an “old car guy” helped with welding in patch panels for all of the rusted body parts. We completely rebuilt the 134 Hurricane engine, transmission, transfer case, and differentials. Replaced all of the leaf springs, and steering linkage.
Except for new seat cushions the project was completed this past winter. It may not be good for another 60 years, but it always makes me feel good to give an old vehicle another useful life. As for Eric…..he couldn’t be happier, and has given the Willys to his son, who is now thinking about driving it while away at college.
Gotta love an Old Willys! Truly a “Universal” vehicle.
-Keith Searcy, Ellis County Texas
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