Believe it or not, many Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts aren’t interested in a brand new, just-off-the-lot Jeep that’s chuck full of the newest and greatest in digital electronics, ergonomically designed leather seats, and hybrid-engines that make the Green New Deal folks smile. They are instead searching for old Jeeps. Preferably old, gas guzzling, oil burning Jeeps with no mod cons that no longer run. Yes, you read that right.
Collectors and “Jeepsters,” seek out old Jeeps that might date as far back as World War II where the closest thing you might get to high performance transmissions is a four-cylinder, four-speed, floor-mounted gear shift that grinds as you punch the clutch and go from first to second at harrowing ten to fifteen miles per hour.
But hey, it’s a Jeep, and if it’s really old, it’s considered a classic Jeep, like an original Jeep Willys. That’s the kind of thing Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts dream of when they sleep at night. The more broken down, the rustier, the older, the better.
According to a recent report, if you love Jeeps and you have the opportunity to grab an old model Wrangler or Willys that needs a ton of work, do not despair. The availability of Jeep transmission/engine and body parts is said to be nothing short of incredible.
In a word, because Jeeps are built to last, people sometimes hold onto them forever. It’s because of this that the market demand for Jeep parts is so high. An entire industry “aftermarket supply-chain” has sprung up in order to keep Jeeps that are upwards of 80 years old, running on today’s roads and trails.
In fact, you are brave enough to take on a Jeep reconstruction project on your own, you can download a manual that will get you through it. So, if you’re ready to get started with your Jeep Wrangler or Willys restoration, read on.
Jeep Restoration is Well Worth the Effort
Says one Jeep enthusiast and writer, he’s been restoring Jeeps for more than 50 years. In fact, he claims to have only driven 4X4s as far back as the very early 1970s. His dad bought a brand new CJ2A immediately after World War II. This was a time when Jeeps first hit the commercial market due to a huge leftover of army surplus combined with a war production shortage of new cars available for purchase.
What was Jeep’s pitch to the general public? It was originally advertised as a “dual-purpose piece of agricultural equipment.” In other words, it was the perfect compact 4X4 for pulling equipment such as plows while performing other necessary jobs around the orchard or farm in the pre-suburban sprawl days.
Ideas for Jeep Rebuild Projects
For decades, Jeep engineers were said to have held the believe that upgrading its design wasn’t worthwhile since it was already so rock solid. Changing the mechanics of the all-terrain vehicle just for the sake of change didn’t make much sense.
What that means is, the Jeep’s mechanics and drive train tech didn’t evolve as fast as other vehicles. That said, contemporary Jeeps, minus the fancy electronics, are essentially very similar to the Jeeps engineered back in the 1940s.
For example, the original 4-cylinder engine with its power passing through the transmission and followed by that, the transfer case that contains drive shafts that go to rear and front axles, is about as simple a 4X4 setup as you can get. It’s because of this simplicity that if you want to dig into a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Jeep restoration project, the condition of the Jeep doesn’t matter. Replacement frames, bodies, and parts are always available for all styles and production years.
Building a Jeep from Scratch
Parts availability is said to be so good in fact, that it’s said to be possible to build a Jeep Wrangler or Willys from scratch, just by using readily available parts. All you need is a VIN plate and a title, and you can easily purchase the rest.
In general, it’s a good idea to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to get an idea of what’s allowed prior to building a vehicle that’s to be driven on public roads.
The fiberglass body has become popular since they both lightweight and won’t rust. The drivetrain can be whatever you desire. You can get adapter plates that can match up with many engines and transmissions.
Say the experts, you construct “your Jeep as ‘mild’ or ‘wild’ as you wish.