Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014- 1950 CJ3-A Camper Conversion

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 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 @ 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!

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