One day last week, I received a text message from a fellow VCA (vintage car aficionado), John Cook of Carlyle, Illinois. John is a FIN MAN fan and an avid reader of The Old Car Column. And since you are obviously an OCC reader, you no doubt remember the story I ran on Sunday, August 30, about a semi-private, invitational car cruise which John held at his “building” as he calls it, a week before I ran the story about the event.
John’s “building,” as he calls it, is a 14-plus car garage, filled with some really sweet automobiles – mostly Chevrolets – but with a few special cars John bought just because he liked them. And I say, “why not?” Such is the case for John’s most recent acquisition, the 1950 Willys Jeepster you see featured on this page. He bought the nifty little ragtop, sight unseen, from an auction in Florida – hence the reason for his text message. In his final message John said, “I think it will be a show winner at these local shows. I can hardly wait to show it to you!” After seeing it, I think I would agree with John’s prediction of its success at local events.
As Jeepsters go, this one appears to be “loaded” – having options such as whitewall tires, wheel trim rings (commonly known as ‘beauty rings’), front- and rear-bumper guards, dual-wipers, cigar lighter, special paint, inside and outside rear-view mirrors and a spotlight.
Riding on a 104.5-inch wheelbase and with an overall length of 176.25 inches, Jeepsters were available with one of two engines: the F134 Hurricane I-4 or the L161 Lightning I-6. In both cases, the 134 and 161 in the engine nomenclature referred to the cubic-inch displacement. Engines were made in a first and second series with slight power increases. The Hurricane produced 63 and then 72 horsepower for the first and second series, respectively, and the Lightning produced 72 and 75 horsepower. Willys (initially pronounced WILL-is) used Carter carburetors to fuel all of their engines.
Fifteen hundred or so dollars would give you the right to ownership of a brand-new 1950 Jeepster back in the day – that being before any optional features or accessories.
The Jeepster appeared on the scene as a 1948 model, not being introduced until May 3 of that year. Production ended in model year 1950, however, a number of left over Jeepsters were sold as 1951 models.
A mere 19,122 total Jeepsters were produced for all three years combined, making them somewhat rare at car shows today. The “cute” factor is definitely a draw for many Jeepster admirers, and that’s a hard one to argue against.
A wide variety of colors were offered, many available in two-tone style.
John’s Jeepster is near pristine from front to back, top to bottom including the undercarriage. I was wishing the weather had been warm and sunny the day Bill Hannah, Eddie and I went to John’s “building” that day, thinking perhaps John would offer to take us for a topless drive. But since it was cloudy and chilly the day we arrived, John did one better. He offered not only to take us for a ride when the weather warms up and Covid calms down, but to let The FIN MAN get behind the wheel! I’m looking forward to that John and holding you to your offer! And I don’t think reneging would be a good idea, because now I have made your offer public!
John’s sassy little Jeepster is decked out in emerald green, which is a very appropriate name, for this little car truly is a gem!
Meanwhile, Keep on Cruisin’ and please follow medical experts’ suggestions regarding safe practices during the COVID-19 crisis. Drive and live safe and be healthy!
“Feliz Navidad” … “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,” a Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all of my friends, family, readers, and those who are all three!