Jonah (the “Jeep Hunter”) from Kaiser Willys Auto Supply and fellow Willys Jeep enthusiast / blog contributor Steve Salzman recently returned from this year’s exciting Midwest Willys Jeep Reunion and, wanting to share their experience with all, Steve has written a great commentary below. We’d also like to mention that if you missed seeing us at the Midwest Reunion, several members of the Kaiser Willys team will also be present at the upcoming Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival from June 14-16.
Story below written by Steve Salzman:
The town of Hudson, just south of Cleveland Ohio, was the site of the 21st annual Midwest Willys Reunion. This is something I’ve run across on the internet for the last few years and always thought it would be interesting to see. A variety of factors: lack of time, money, and a traveling buddy, meant that several years would go by before I was able to attend my first show. As with a lot of life experiences, I now ask myself, “why did I wait so long?” It was great! The event was held in the parking lot of a local motel and the convenience of being able to walk out of your room right into the festival was an indescribable pleasure.
The promoters stated that there were over 100 entries. Most were flat-fender Willys, but quite a few were not. I was pleased to see an abundance of CJ-2As, as well as several CJ-3As and CJ-3Bs. In the mix were several pickups and wagons and an unusual 1946 Jeepster. That’s not a typo – Jeepsters were produced from 1948 to 1951 but this was a prototype with a rather CJ looking back half. This is one example of the pure fun of these shows, discovering unusual and obscure facts about something you thought you already knew quite a bit about. Like the Empire tractors made from surplus Willys engines and transmissions. Who knew?
Most of us, when talking to our friends about our Jeep obsession receive a pretty ho-hum reception. They’ll put up with it for a while. But the people at these festivals, they live for this stuff. Sure, some selling and swapping takes place but the real reason everyone is there is to talk Jeeps, telling your story and listening to theirs. Finding out they’ve had pretty much the same experience and gone through most of the same hurdles and barriers that you’ve faced. I thought that spending three and a half years on my rebuild project was rather pathetic – I find that it’s actually pretty normal. And I found that some people had problems that made mine seem simple in comparison.
It’s great getting together with a group of people that share your passion, not having to explain why it’s exciting to you, not having to justify spending time and money on some old vehicle when you could buy a new one with a whole lot less effort. Old and young, biker or nerd, the outer appearance is irrelevant, once you start talking there’s an instant bond and you find you’re just having a good time. It was a great way to spend a beautiful weekend. So why did I wait so long?
Kaiser Willys Auto Supply will also attend the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival located in Butler, Pennsylvania from June 14-16th. Come see us!
Click for more information about the 2013 Fall Midwest Willys Jeep Reunion.
Kaiser Willys Jeep Blog Story – written by Steve Salzman
If you would like to share your Willys Jeep Story please send us a line. We ‘d love to meet your Jeep.
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