I've Got The Willys


This is my custom built 1948 Willys Jeepster VJ2. I found it in Joplin, MO while on a business trip in 1995. I inquired about it at the time, but the gentleman who owned it wanted too much for it. A year later I was getting an itch for another Willys build and wondered if the guy still had the Jeepster. I searched back through my old phone bills and found his number. Much to my surprise he still had it. Better yet, the price had dropped from the $4k range to an even $1,000. I told him that I would take it and would get there as soon as possible. Since I live in Utah I needed some time to coordinate the trip. He said, “No problem and that he would hold it for me.” A couple weeks later with many miles racked up on my buddies truck, it was safely back to Utah.

The Jeepster was 100% stock at the time I purchased it. However, I had a custom 4x4 build in mind for it. Being that roughly 17,300 48-51 Jeepsters were ever built, they are considered fairly rare. I therefore took a bit of flack for what I was planning to do to mine.

Fast forward 20+ years later and it was finally licensed and on the road. It now has a fully boxed Willys wagon frame under it complete with Dana 44 front and rear differentials donated from a '78 IH Scout II. The engine is a stock build '72
4-bolt main Chev 350 with Edelbrock Performer manifold. Transmission/transfer case are SM465/NP205 from a '74 Chev truck. Steering consists of a tilt/telescopic Cadillac column mated to a Saginaw heavy car power steering box. Power brakes were also installed.

Special features include orbital (robotic) welded and then polished, 3" stainless steel exhaust with stainless mufflers/exhaust tips, hand bent and double flared stainless steel brake lines and fuel line, custom built full cage roll bar,custom aluminum radiator/hand built stainless fan shroud, custom built rear seat and nearly 100% polished stainless steel fasteners from tip to tail. All of this is rolling on 35" BFG Mud Terrain tires.

All work, including metal/bodywork was completed by me. Over a thousand hours went into fabrication, welding and stainless steel polishing. The only things that I did not do is the upholstery and painting.

Mike Howland
Kearns, Utah


Since I’m new, the site limits me to 1 picture per post. Here’s a before shot of my Jeepster.
Joplin, MO (2)


Wow! That came a really long ways. Nice work!