This project spawned when I found out that my grandfather (who passed in 2009) had one in his M.A.S.H unit when he was in the Korean War. I had obtained an M38A1 and wanted to restore it as a memorial for him… this is where my special story begins. I asked my grandmother if she had any pictures that he may have taken while in Korea hoping to see a Jeep in the background so I could see the markings. She handed me a bag and said “I was just about to throw these out”. Thankfully she didn’t. Low and behold, the second picture I came to was a posed picture of a Willys MB in front of White House Mountain. On the back was a letter to my grandmother stating that this was his Jeep and “did she think it was cute and that he took the pic well away from enemy lines”. There were several more pics of his Jeep and others around the unit. It was an amazing discovery for me, except that I had to find a Willys MB now.
So I set out to mutt one together with a Ford GPW body I had and parts from other civilian Jeeps I had. Luckily I had told a neighbor of mine about the project. He came by and said “I think I found the Jeep you’re looking for”. He had gone to a yard sale down our road and saw a chassis that had been restored that was waiting on the body to be done. The owner was not actively trying to sell it or work on it, but I tracked him down anyways and left a note on his door. He finally called me back. He expressed concern that I had many other Jeeps and that if I bought his that it would rust away in my yard, so when I went to meet him and see the Jeep, I took my grandfather’s war uniform and several other items to show how adamant I was about wanting his Jeep and that it wouldn’t waste away in my yard. He seemed to believe me but said he would have to think of a price. The only problem with this Willys MB was that it was a Slat Grille model and my grandfather’s wasn’t, but I certainly wasn’t going to let that stop me. The owner finally called back after 3 days of me convincing myself that he was going to ask to much and I wasn’t going to get it. He made me an offer that nobody could refuse. So I took him a check that day before he changed his mind and I picked it up that weekend and started the process of finishing the frame-off restoration. I know most medical Jeeps don’t have .50 cal’s mounted in them, but it came with the MB so I couldn’t leave it out. It was a great project that my, then, 4 year old son got his hands into and started wanting to be in the Army himself. My grandfather’s Jeep was named “Kazuko#1″ so naturally, mine is “Kazuko#2″. My goal is to keep this piece of history in the family forever and looking forward to celebrating it’s 100th birthday in 30 years or so with my grandchildren.
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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