Mark N 1948 Willys Overland CJ2A

Willys Jeep Fever...The Little Blue Jeep.

My father, Mack O. Newby, is 93 years old. He purchased the 'Little blue Jeep' at the Willys Overland dealer in Kansas City, Missouri in 1948. The dealership was located in what is now the Zona Rosa shopping center south of the Kansas City International Airport.

The Jeep is a CJ2A model with: 134 cubic inch Go Devil engine (four cylinder), T-90 three speed transmission (Spicer drivetrain), 5.38 axle ratio, two speed transfer case, four wheel drive, draw bar, 16 inch wheels, and 6.00x16 non directional tread (NDT) tires. It was his first 'new car' and cost approximately $ 1,200.00 (relatively expensive). He added a few options including a passenger seat, spare tire, half top, heater, and a hitch. Dad said the hitch option was $ 5.00. The original colors are the same as today (Normandy blue with red wheels). The deep blue color reminded Dad of the Hellcat fighter planes on the USS Lexington in World War II.

For two years, Dad commuted in the Jeep from Platte City, Missouri to Armco Steel in Kansas City, Missouri. He drove to Colorado each year to go skiing. The Colorado trip took two days each way across US Highway 24/40. In 1950, My grandfather, traded Dad shares of Bendix stock for the 'little blue Jeep'. Granddad drove the Jeep through the summertime around Newby farms in Platte County, Missouri. Through the years, the Jeep's title went from family member to family member while the Jeep stayed in Platte County. I was nine years old when we moved in 1976. I rode in the Jeep with Dad on the last day of move as he parked it in a corner of a large barn where the Jeep remained until 2000.

I was trying to move a hay mowing machine out the barn while cussing the little blue Jeep that had been an obstacle and a junk pile magnet in the corner of the barn since 1976. I crawled under the Jeep and got the transmission levers in neutral. After removing a rather large pile of 'stuff' off of the Jeep I pulled it out of the barn with a tractor. Curious, I started to hose off decades of dirt. A little faded, the deep Normandy Blue color began to reveal itself. That is when I got 'Willys Jeep fever'. Readers should beware of Willys Jeep fever, it is very contagious and you will quickly become obsessed with the amazing ‘1/4 ton Universal Vehicle’. Dad came outside, asked me why I was messing with the Jeep. I had to honestly answer, "There is no logical reason why I should be wasting my time or money on this..." He went back into the house and returned with the original owner's manual in his hand.

We tore the Jeep completely apart and rebuilt it from the ground up. The original spare tire is still on the rim. The little blue Jeep has won the Midwest Truck Nationals as well as Outstanding in Class at the World of Wheels. I use the little blue Jeep regularly. It rakes hay, seeds fields, pulls harrows, hauls firewood, hauls construction supplies (that's a concrete mixer in the picture). We even use the Jeep to haul beer and ice at the Platte County Fair.

My Dad got Willys Jeep fever in 1948. 52 years later he had it again. He even lost weight to be able to get back behind the steering wheel. The smile on his face when he drove away is unforgettable.

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