In the back of my mind I always thought someday I would own a Willys Station Wagon. Something about the classic profile and clean lines was appealing to me. Years went by until by accident, I spotted one for sale on the internet. It was just what I was looking for. A 1951 Willys Station Wagon, complete, original, and only one owner. On a whim, I called to inquire a little more about the car, and before I hung up, I had struck a deal to buy it, sight unseen, except for a few photographs. The car had been in stored in a warehouse full of classic cars for almost 15 years. After waiting three weeks for the owner to move enough cars to get the Willys out of the warehouse, I loaded my trailer, and headed out from Modesto California to Long Beach California to pick it up.
A little fresh gas, oil change, and it started right up. Once home, I begin cleaning, and pondering the next step. My first inclination was to drop in a V-8, but quickly changed my mind and decided to keep the stock 4 cyl running gear. I put about 400 miles on the Willys and the oil pump failed, which was a perfect time to start the restoration. First stop was Kaiser Willys Auto Supply. After receiving their catalog, and talking to the very competent staff, I begin ordering the parts I needed. Everything from the engine parts, wiring harness, fuel tank, radiator, springs, shocks, overdrive parts, steering wheel and too much more to mention. Six months later, running great, but paint started to look a little worn out, and the rubber was cracked and deteriorated. Stripped it down to the body, and off to the paint shop. While in the spray booth, it was back to Kaiser Willys for new rubber, and weather seals, windshield wipers, hub caps, and so many other small parts I can’t remember them all. Back from the paint shop looking better than I expected, I begin the transformation of putting it all back together. This was without a doubt the most rewarding part of the restoration. All done except for the upholstery.
Three weeks later, upholstery complete and time to put it on the road and enjoy the finished project. Thanks again to all the folks at Kaiser Willys for their knowledge, assortment of parts, and excellent service!!
Kaiser Willys Jeep Blog Story – Jim Burden
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