1950 Willys Jeepster - Factory Powered Straight 6 - A/C - America's Last Phaeton

Price: US $5,000.00 Item location: Charleston, South Carolina, United States
  • Condition: Used
  • Make: Willys
  • Model: Jeepster
  • Type: Convertible
  • Year: 1950
  • Mileage: 72,940
  • VIN: 673VJ10096
  • Color: Gray
  • Engine size: "Lightning" Straight Six
  • Number of cylinders: 6
  • Power options: Air Conditioning
  • Fuel: Gasoline
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Interior color: Tan
  • Options: CD Player, Convertible, Leather Seats
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1950 Willys Jeepster

Can there be a more American car than the Willys Jeepster? Imagine the post-war American automotive world: the big three are still getting used to civilian production after a multi-year hiatus producing for the war and everyone else is more or less in the same boat, but without government backing. Though Ford ultimately picked up most Jeep production for the war, Willys still owned the name when things got commercial. This left Willys with a golden opportunity to jump start their market share with the image of American victory still fresh in everyone's mind. What was one of the most recognizable pieces of equipment during the war? What piece of equipment was as clear of an indicator of friend or foe as any flag? What vehicle still, to this day, brings smiles to the faces of those where that simple, yet persistent little contraption meant the “Good Guys” had arrived? This is none other than the American Jeep.

So this makes it very clear as to why Willys was on such a good position. People new about the *American* Jeep. Sure, Ford may have tried their hardest to have every piece of their Jeeps say “Ford” on them, but when it came time to do business, Willys was the one in control of the name. This meant that CJ (Civilian Jeep) production was just the most logical decision for Willys. After a few years of CJ production, Willys set their sights on the passenger car market and more specifically the market of war veterans looking for a new car. While the Jeepster may have been received with mixed reviews (Jeep fans didn’t understand the purpose of a two wheel drive Jeep and everyone else picked other similarly priced cars with V8 engines and better dealer networks), there is no doubt it was the most American vehicle on the market.

The Jeepster was built using several components from CJ production (out of necessity because Willys was incapable of producing much else at the time), but designer Brooks Stevens was able to make the Jeepster very sporty with features like white wall tires, lots of chrome trim, and a bit more luxury inside than what most people were used to seeing in a Jeep. By the time production cars were ready, Brooks Stevens had created what is often regarded as “America’s Last Phaeton”

Up for sale is a 1950 Willys Jeepster with the especially desirable “Lightning” straight six and a three speed, column mounted shifter. This car was purchased by my father out of Hemmings Motor News about a year ago. The car was owned by a hedge fund manager from New Jersey and was only used for getting ice cream on nice summer evenings. The previous owner had the car restored in 1998 that included paint, an engine rebuild, and refurbishment of the interior. During the restoration, air conditioning was added to keep things cool during those summer cruises. Photographs and some documentation from the restoration have been retained and are included with the car.

As it sits now, the car is in what most people would refer to “driver” condition. The car starts, runs, and drives quite well with a bit more power than you'd expect from most four cylinder powered models. The brakes are strong and the steering feels tight. The suspension does not sag and the ride could be considered comfortable for a nearly 70 year old Jeep. The column-mounted shifter has long throws, though each gear reaches a satisfying and purposeful actuation. Remember though: while this may be a glammed up Jeep, it’s still very close to its military history and drives as such. The electronic system in the car is mostly functional with only one turn signal and the horn coming to mind as not operational. The interior of the car is functional, yet still comfortable on account of it being replaced during the 1998 restoration. The front seats fold forward to grant easy access to the rear seats. Riding in the back seat of this Jeep with the top down is akin to riding in a speedboat. Not really for the speed, but rather for the wind induced smile combined with the comfort of draping one's self along the edge of the body while road slips by. Seat belts were installed during the restoration should you choose to use them. The stereo system works well, though it hasn't been used much. Since my father has owned the car, he has replaced the battery and the carburetor. The car has been stored in a warehouse under a car cover while not in use.

To bring this Jeepster to top shape, a few issues would need to be addressed. Firstly, there is a rip in the top that is along the rear-most bow of the top. It is along a seam where the fabric came undone. This should be a straight-forward repair for any upholsterer. On the same vein as the top, the carpets are a bit tired from years of top down journeys and sunlight. The side curtains (all of which are accounted for and in good shape) fit as best they can, or likely about as well as they came from the factory. Either way, this Jeepster is meant to be enjoyed with the top down. The A/C blows cold, but isn’t very relevant with the top down and cruising at speed. The paint is also “driver” level, though there appears to be no serious rust anywhere on the car (the previous New Jersey owner obviously did not use this car in the winter time). Beyond this, there are only minor quirks associated with most 66 year old cars.

I am selling this Jeepster for my father because his health is not what it used to be and he cannot enjoy the car as originally intended. I will handle all communication with any interested parties, but all of the documentation will be in his name. As normal, the car has been described to the best of my ability and is in “As is” condition with all further questions being the responsibility of the buyer. Shipping of the vehicle is also the responsibility of the buyer though we can store the car for up to 30 days at no charge while shipping arrangements are made. The car has a clear South Carolina title ready to transfer to the new owner. Payment in full is expected before the title is transferred and the car is released to the new owner.