The story starts in 1951 when my dad bought the rig, he was 23 at the time. This 1949 Willys Station Wagon is well known in southern Oregon, many deer hunters have stories of my dad driving with a buck across the hood, my dad holding deer tag in his hand out the window till he found a bigger one to shoot, so the stories go. Dad met mom and the Jeep was put on the ranch to be used as a ranch rig, dad got a family car. In 1962 our family went camping with the Jeep, my brother and I had a blast bouncing around in the back seat, we still talk about that trip to this day. I tried to buy the rig from my uncle (ranch) in 1976 when I was in Japan serving in USAF. He said no. Later that year my dad got a call from him saying “come and get your Jeep”, dad drove north from Medford, Oregon, motor blew, had it towed to Portland, Oregon. Dad finished a cosmetic restore, paint in and out, Chev 283, Muncie 4 spd in 1992, it was parked after 100 miles.
I got the rig when dad was dying and nobody in the family wanted it. I got it for a shot of whisky, dad said don’t sell, this was in 2006. I started work on the rig in 2012 after my dog had to be put down from old age. The body was removed and frame taken down to basics, blasted and detabbed, boxed frame and hung custom suspension, new 1977 Jeep Wagoneer front springs, 02 F150 rear springs, custom install, 1977 Wagoneer axels built 4.10 powerlok, rear axel is widened 2 inches to match front. All brake lines made from scratch, all hoses scratch made. Restored stock 49 fuel tank, custom EFI fuel tank installed. Motor is a AMC 401, .030 over bore, stock heads with hardened ex seats, performer cam, pro flo2 fuel injection, Thorly Tri Y headers, black ceramic coated, march serpentine system, hydroboot brake system, AGR steering box, borgeson shaft. Tranny is a 700R4 heavy duty build, transfer case is 241C. Custom mounts were fabricated to allow installation of these items. Cooling system is a brassworks custom radiator with two 11 inch spal fans, custom hand made radiator hoses, custom install. 18 circuit painless wiring kit installed, two ignition switches, mains, efi. Manual switches for fuel transfer, cooling fan over ride, trans cool, torque converter lock, efi controller all in glove box.
Probably some things I am missing but you get the point, all new parts throughout, not one old bearing anywhere. Up top its pretty stock, I did put a nice hi dollar gauge kit in it, stock gauge panel is for show only. It has a cigarette burn poorly fixed on the rear bench seat, that’s dad, some weather striping adhesive smears here and there, that’s dad. I have done nothing to “sanitize” this rig for shows, it is “hit you between the eyes” honest, every ding and bump has been done by our family, hard ranch life in fields back in the day.
Willys Jeep Life Story – Russ Hueners
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