Sunday, October 19, 2014
Quite a few years back now I stumbled across the Toledo Lucas County Library’s online collection of photographs and its what you’d expect of an online collection based in the hometown of the jeep. Its a true treasure trove of images. When I began looking it was far more than I had ever hoped to find and it was hard to pull myself away. There’s everything here from the turn of the century historical images of a young Willys-Overland company straight through and detailing alot of early jeep images that are hard to find anywhere else. There is a ton of jeep stuff here and so I want to slowly present it to you guys, starting today with some of the earliest images, the pre-jeep Willys-Overland that emerged at the turn of the century to sell some 4,000 cars a year by 1910 and was one of Toledo’s largest employers. Willys-Overland and its subsidiary and auxiliary businesses that supplied it at the time employed a full third of Toledo’s workforce! That amounted to 18,000 employees in Toledo alone with a further 20,000 in Elyria, Ohio, Buffalo, New York and Flint and Pontiac, Michigan.
John NorthWillys grew up in Canandaigua, New York, in the western end of the state. He was an enterprising young man who eventually started out selling and manufacturing his own line of bicycles. That is, until he saw his first automobile in 1899 while on a business trip in Cleveland and grew convinced that this was the future of transportation. He became a dealer at first using a Pierce that he bought to use as a demo model. He eventually sold Ramblers as well and being the turn of the century it started off slowly with only a few sales per year. Ever onward, Willys began selling Overland autos until he took advantage of financial difficulties in that company and acquired it in 1907. It became of course, the proto-Willys-Overland Motor Company.
Willys shifted his production facilities to Toledo when he bought yet another bankrupt car company, Pope. It was a success. He sold more than he could nearly produce and by 1909, the very same year that Henry Ford introduced his Model T, the Willys-Overland Company unveiled the Overland Model 38. “For the model years 1910 through the end of the Ford Model T production in 1927, the Overland car was second in production only to the Ford.” (Allpar.com) By the end of 1910, Willys-Overland was producing over 4,000 cars per year, all of which were pre-sold as they were produced. He ended with a profit of $1 million within one year of nearing bankruptcy. In the five years between 1910 and 1915, production increased by tenfold from 15,500 cars to 150,000. Its pretty amazing what he accomplished- and all this way before the jeep was dreamed of.
Things went on from there in a pretty steady rate. It was in 1913 that he acquired the rights from a British manufacturer, Charles Knight to produce under license an engine that used something called the sleeve- valve that replaced the traditional valve system still in use today. It was innovative, but not as efficient as what it led to, the Go-Devil 4. By 1917, Willys-Overland Motors (as it was now called...) produced 1,000 cars in a single shift!
Willys was incredibly active, gobbling up smaller and less successful companies and adding to his holdings. Among them, were the Moline Plow Company (which later became Minneapolis-Moline and during WW2 made tractors which the Navy used as tugs moving aircraft, which were coincidentally nicknamed ‘jeeps’!), Duesenberg and the New Process Gear Company of Syracuse, NY (which, of course, also coincidentally produced many, many transfer cases which modern jeeps used... he later had the sell the NP company. But this leveraged debt and labor troubles forced him to dump off alot of it as well, but there are interesting connections.
John North Willys never seemed to slow down. He died of a heart attack in 1935 at the young age of 61 after saving his company from bankruptcy. He was driven, working 12-16 hours a day sometimes seven days per week. After his death, the company was reorganized as the Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. and was helmed by chairman, Ward Canaday, who along with Joseph Frazer as president and Barney Roos, the engineer became familiar as some of the early names behind the jeep.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Just a short update today. I was planning on a longer article along with a short history, but that will have to wait until next week. I was battling through an early fall season cold yesterday and the usual assorted weekend responsibilities and just ran out of time after starting the project. But we’ll shoot for next week on that. Today is another website find- WW2Jeep.GPortal. I’m not exactly sure if its independent of or linked up with the always excellent all military G503.com site or not, but WW2Jeep is a wealth of photos and info. There is a ton of stuff there though the site is a bit difficult to navigate unless you speak Hungarian or allow Google to translate it for you, but check it out.
These images are a smattering of what I started to find there about 5 years ago or so. Well nowadays there is a ton more! This is mainly Bantam stuff and alot that I hadn’t seen before (and some I have) so I thought it was pretty neat. Bantam photos are always fairly rare when compared to the standardized MB and GPW shots that you find. There are standardized prototype BRC-40 photos (the 1,500 units that the Quartermaster ordered from Willys (the MA) and Ford (the GP)) as well as photos of the original Pilot/ Old Number One that Bantam turned out first of all back in 1940 and as well a four wheel steer model. Most are original photos with some screen shots from a film thrown in here and there. Check out the full album here.
Come back next week when I’ll plan on having a fairly more substantial update. until then don’t forget to visit and support our sponsors, Extreme Terrain and Montana Overland. Have a great weekend!
Sunday, September 21, 2014
On this dreary rainy early fall day and the last day of summer I’ve decided that I needed to dip into a special folder that I’ve kept that has sorta surprisingly filled up not so slowly over time. The jeep and its near invincible reputation has lent itself to humor and exaggeration greatly over the years. Its ability to do near anything has been a great source to poke fun with in these images. Hope that you enjoy and get a laugh or two. Come back next week and I’ll try to have a longer writeup. You can view the entire collection in the Website Finds folder here.
I’d also like to take this time to thank our sponsors, Extreme Terrain and Montana Overland for their continued support of This-Old-Jeep.com. Both have decided to renew their commitment to helping me bring you the best of the jeep since 1940. Please take the time to check them whether you need a part for anything from the full sized jeep pickups, wagons and Cherokees and Wagoneers from 1946 through 1988 to your YJ, TJ and JK parts. Whatever you’re driving, restoring, wheeling, working with or on, check them out. Extreme Terrain and Montana Overland have you covered! Click on their links above or call 1-406-741-5337 to reach George at Montana Overland or talk to Extreme Terrain’s Jeep enthusiasts at 1-855-556-8044 Mon-Fri 9-8 EST. Remember, their support is what keeps this site online, so please support them.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Like so many things in life and in the history of the jeep there are mysteries. This, for me is one of the big ones. The first half dozen negatives showed up on Ebay about last year or so and it was intriguing. They showed a converted CJ3-A that looked as though it had its front end grafted onto a large camper trailer. There was no further info in the listing other than its date 1950. It was a mystery. Who made this? Where was it and why? Did it still exist? How did something like this handle on the road? What was it powered by? Certainly I would think not the original flathead Go Devil 4? Inside the photos showed a pretty standard camper with sleeping berths, gas stove and a refrigerator with a basic utilitarian driver’s cockpit. It was pretty unique to say the least.
A few months later another contact sheet of negatives showed up again on Ebay. They showed a further ten negs with people inhabiting the camper making it look like posed commercially shot photos for a future advertising campaign. The only other info that was supplied was that it was again from the 1950’s, but also that the camper was pictured in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. Certainly this wasn’t the first time that someone envisioned a bit more comfort while using the jeep in the wilderness or as a camping/ hunting vehicle. A 1952 Motor Trend article shows off one hunter’s modification of his Willys pickup.
Much later on in 1969, Kaiser introduced the short lived Jeep Camper which was designed to be piggybacked on the back of a modified CJ-5 (that is with the Buick 225 V-6 and 4.88 gearing... but they would fit any CJ-5.) They made only 336 of them and are pretty rare nowadays. You can read a bit more here @www.cj5camper.com/. Was this a mockup of something that Kaiser was envisioning a decade before the production camper? There are many good questions and if anyone can supply any answers or would be willing to share higher resolution scans of these negs please contact me @ email@example.com. You can view all of the negs in the website finds album here. Enjoy this end of summer fun and come back next week for more of the best of the jeep since 1940!
Monday, September 1, 2014
Happy Labor Day to everyone! I had wanted to get this up yesterday, but it was a very long day trying to squeeze as much as possible into a three day weekend. Regardless, today is more fitting as I wanted to bring to you a selection of new images that I’ve found of the jeep hard at work. Specifically of the jeep at work on the farm. Post-war, Willys-Overland targeted farmers as an important market for the new jeep CJ2-A. I won’t go into a whole history lesson, but W-O test marketed the jeep in farms across the country and had them photographed by the press while performing various tasks such as hauling hay and milk to running agricultural devices with the rear power take-off. Many of these jeeps were the first CJ’s, the CJ-1 which were slightly modified MBs and then the next incarnation, the CJ-2, the famous “Agrijeeps.” These photos represent them and mostly the years of 1944-45, though some are undated and represent the years of the CJ2-A production. There are also a Bantam BRC-60 being used to tend to the cows and a Ford GP hauling milk cans as well as a couple of GIs lassooing cattle from the seat of an MB. There are also some fanciful photos of a CJ2-A and as well the first introduction of the CJ-5 in 1954 being shown in a pastoral landscape. You can view them all right here in the album section of Website Finds.
I’d also like to take the time to thank Extreme Terrain for their continued advertising support of This-Old-Jeep.com. Its due in part to our sponsors like Extreme Terrain that I’m able to keep this site up and running year after year. Please take the time to support them by clicking through their link at the bottom of the page. Enjoy your holiday and we’ll see you next week with the best of the jeep since 1940!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
As August is very nearly coming to an end and as well with it, the symbolic end of summer, I want to hope that everyone has had a great summer. Not that the year should all be downhill after summer, but it has always seemed like a big turning point when kids start going back to school and the days are shorter and crisper and somehow sweeter. Its time for apple picking and seeing school buses on the road and possibly even putting up the top on your jeep. So at this crux of the season I thought it appropriate to dedicate this update to more wrecks and stucks. I started this topic last year and for many reasons its always easy to find more whoops! moments with the jeep. I think that it has something to do with the fact that while the jeep seems unstoppable, we’re all human and the jeep, too is unfortunately fallible.
And so I hope that you all have had no wrecks, and only as many stucks as it took to learn something from it and maybe even have a little fun laughing at yourselves. Click right here to see all of the images plus everything from the original post in the Website Finds section. See you guys next week!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Hi again everyone. Sorry about the delay over the last couple of weeks. But I’m back today with a short update for your enjoyment. There is SO much over the last couple of years that I’ve discovered online relating to the jeep. Its not hard, they’re beloved and ubiquitous, just everywhere and a part of alot of people’s everyday lives, so its no wonder. But sometimes they pop up online in unexpected places and the focus of today’s update is the website find of Ipernity.com. Ipernity is to be a photo sharing site and so you never know what you can find there. Last summer I found a number of really interesting photos that I had never before seen. They seemed to be someone’s personal collection or maybe what they had found online and posted there. Its hard to tell, but it was a nice little find that mainly focused on military men posing around a multitude of jeeps. Like I said a short update, but some interesting photos!
My wife and kids and I went to a friend’s wedding yesterday and the reception was held at the local AAA baseball team’s stadium with a game following (which the home team won in the tenth inning with a tremendous home run with bases loaded!). So its a bit of a quick update today but I hope that you enjoy it! See you next week and you can view the entire album right here.