FRAME-OFF RESTORATION, STOCK BUILD, 161 I6 LIGHTNING, 3-SPEED, BEAUTIFUL WAGON!!
First of all, it's pronounced "Willis" and there's no apostrophe; if you're going to own something as cool as this frame-off restored 1951 Willys station wagon, you may as well get it right. Stylish yet built to work hard, these tough little wagons provide the kind of nostalgia that drives the hobby, yet still make sense in today's world, something that can't be said of many hobby vehicles.
It's impossible to ignore the Jeep DNA running through this wagon's veins, although it was the upscale, suburbanized alternative to WWII's favorite 4x4. The light-colored inserts were perhaps meant to recall wood wagons of the past, although this one is 100% steel, so no worries about maintenance. Flat-top front fenders and the traditional Jeep grille were part of the deal, too, lending this wagon a tough, can-do attitude that remains appealing even more than half a century later. The restoration is a few years old and it never makes sense to turn something like this into a trailer queen, so it's not perfect. However, if you want one that you can use on a regular basis but that will also be welcome at any show you attend, this is a fantastic choice. The blue paint shines up nicely, the bodywork is in good order with no signs of rust belt issues, and the chrome is far nicer than you'd expect for a commercial vehicle like this. The spare tire moved inside, but you do get two taillights out back which pivot on their mounts so they're still visible when the tailgate is down.
You can fit six inside on the split bench seats, which are neatly divided to allow good access. The black vinyl upholstery is tough enough for everyday use and has a pleated pattern that works well in this 1950s hauler. There are carpets up front, which were a real luxury in something like this, while the rear area has wooden rub strips for durability. The oversized steering wheel makes the unassisted steering feel light and agile around town and all the gauges are clustered in the center of the dash, Jeep-style. It's basic, yes, but basic is good when you need uncompromising reliability. Three-on-the-tree shifting frees up room for a center passenger and this was a bare-bones machine, so no radio, no heater, and even the turn signals are an aftermarket addition, but all of that adds to this Willys' appeal.
The engine is the upgraded 161 cubic inch inline-6, called the "Lightning" for reasons that aren't altogether apparent. What it is, is durable, reliable, and torquey, perfect for the Willys all-purpose mission. It's rebuilt and nicely detailed with bright green engine enamel, an oversized air cleaner designed for harsh environments, and easy service access. Parts are still plentiful and if you can't keep this thing running well, then you probably shouldn't be playing with old cars. A big radiator keeps it cool even in the hottest weather and the 2-barrel carburetor adds a few horsepower. The 3-speed manual transmission shifts easily and there are gears in back that are a nice compromise between working in the field and going into town. Rigid axles, leaf springs, and a grumbling single exhaust are ties to its military, but this one is so clean that it's hard to believe that it ever worked for a living. Steel wheels with Willys hubcaps, trim rings, and great-looking knobby 235/75/15 truck tires complete the look.
This is an easy machine to like. Practical, attractive, and there's probably nothing more American than a Jeep-based station wagon. Call today!
- Vinyl Interior
- Restoration Photos
- Build Receipts
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