Our story begins in Chicago, where Steve and I went to pick up a 1972 Grand Prix. It happened to need a battery, so we stopped in Bloomington, IL at a service station. The owner had this CJ-2A sitting in his garage, and it was for sale… I had ALWAYS wanted one, so to make a long story short, my husband bought it for me! It’s a 1947 CJ-2A, but I had always said that if I was ever gonna have one, I wanted to turn it into a Surrey, like Elvis Presley had in the movie Blue Hawaii.
And there you have it! Yes, I know some purists might take issue with this restoration, as Surreys were 1959-1964 DJ’s, weren’t 4×4 and the seats weren’t bucket-style, but it’s my belief that you should build what you enjoy. We are the owners of Center Line Auto Body, a body shop in House Springs Mo. For our personal cars, we usually build “drivers”, that is to say we personally like to drive our cars all over, not just to shows, and the only time they are “trailer queens” is when we go to the Emerald Coast Cruizin show in Panama City, FL in November.
We had to buy a new tub for ours (because the one on it was just too far gone), new gauges (for asthetics), new e brake, shocks, front end parts along with the normal things that a Willys of this age would need. I’m happy to say that when we bought it, it ran and drove, and I’ve pretty much left it like that, with the exception of a thermostat. I plan on tearing into the tranny and drivetrain this winter, because, lets just say, she’s tired!! Our motto is “Run it may, Shine it Must!!” so out she went, tired, but shining all the way!!!! Mechanics can wait till wintertime when she wouldn’t be out anyway!! Luckily, 2 of my 3 boys are mechanics!!! The other works here with us at the body shop.
The hardest part was probably the surrey top, (terrible time getting the right material), but we have the most awesome upholstery guy, named Bill Berger, that I just gave pics to, and he went at it and made it perfect!!! Of course all of the body and paint work was done by us, and we’re very happy with the results. We take pride in our work, and we build ‘em how people want ‘em, it just happened to be mine this time!
Kaiser Willys Jeep Blog Story – Debbie Pilgram
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