I have had many Jeeps… a 1972 CJ-5, 1970 Bronco, 1986 Grand Wagoneer, and my latest…1972 Jeep Commando. This 1953 Willys Station Wagon is by far my favorite! I found it in Escondido, CA, while attending a funeral. I went to see a 1969 Vette that had won best of show at a local street affair. I had to pass by a ’04 Vette and a ’69 restored Vette, but my eyes went right to the ’53 WILLYS WAGON!!! My first words were: “You probably want to hold on to this…” and Wayne said, “No, I think it is time to let this one go.” I immediately started the process in my mind of how to acquire this fine specimen! I had to have this! I thought there were some things missing, but this was really clean for the years on it. It turns out that my friend Wayne’s Wife Sheila’s father had purchased it from Homer Hellr Ford in 1953, after it had been turned down by the department of forestry, not being a 4-dr. I have since learn that a very few were 4 Drs, and mostly those few were with the RR COS! I am learning all the time!
After we agreed on a price, some time later, I made the trip to S.D. to pick up my wagon.
Many things had been slightly modified. I am slowly getting everything back to original, with exceptions! Although I am the 2nd owner, The Willys did get handed down to the son, A senior, who pulled the original F-134, for a 302 from a ’68 Merc cougar. Also, was converted to 12 volt. The Willys has 72k on the vehicle, 8k on the new motor! Since everything was already changed over, My job is to freshen everything else up! I like the original rims, along with the gauges. I have gotten rid of the after-market gauges, and after finding the proper resisters, have all the original gauges working. The front grill needed the proper chrome, as with the Deluxe bumper! I found one hanging in the attic for 58 years! Along with the rear corner bumpers!
The biggest part of my process is finding out what is appropriate for the correct year! There are so many variables. I find that if all vehicles didn’t sell in ’52, They became ’53’s!!!@#$%^&*!
This fact became apparent when I replaced my speedo, and my original was a ’52! All part of the process… All this is secondary to the function of the Willys! The brake system has been gone through…The oils have all been flushed and replaced, cooling flushed and replaced. Of course the heater core failed at this point, and had to be re-cored. Always an on-going project! I know that with the 5.38 gears, something has to change. I believe this will climb a tree, but I can’t get on the freeway. Even with the Husky overdrive, I have to raise the gears to 4.27 or close!