1952 Willys M38 "Jeep"
After WW2, the Army needed to update or replace the original MB/GPW, so Willys was in the midst of prototype testing for a new model when the Korean War broke out in mid-1950. Rather than continue with the design of a new model, a much revised interim model- the M38- was put into production by September 1951. The revised model, though similar in appearance to the WW2 Jeep, featured a stronger chassis, revised pioneer tool location, and several other features such as vacuum operated wipers; but the biggest changes were a 24 volt electrical system and a factory- standard underwater waterproofing/engine “breathing” system. Also, a slightly taller windscreen was fitted, allowing taller drivers to see more easily when the top was up. Likewise, a completely enclosed top with sidecurtains and canvas doors was standard, replacing the open “summer top” design and door “safety strap” of WW2.This Jeep, s/n MC51955, was produced by Willys-Overland in January 1952, at their plant in Toledo, Ohio.After being decommissioned sometime in the 60's (most likely) it was turned over to the U.S. Forest service, who painted it bright red. Time, mishaps and neglect took their toll, and finally the Forest Service released it to public auction in Utah, where it was sold to its first private owner, Mr. Ken Perkins, of Hayward, California. Ken dismantled the entire Jeep, storing its parts for eventual restoration. Some of the various missing military parts were collected by Ken, but the still-disassembled project was finally sold to its present owner, Rich Saylor, of Monterey, California, who spent the next 2 1/2 years restoring the frame, chassis, body, electrical system, and all working components of the powertrain to its original working condition. The long-missing original components of the vacuum system- critical to correct operation of not only the motor and the windscreen wipers, but to the underwater vent/fording system as well- were located and restored as well. The hood number is an assumed one, being based partly on the serial number, together with its likely placement in order of issuance of hood numbers.The motor in this Jeep is a replacement unit, fitted while in military service by the Army; identified by its serial number stamped on the block, beginning with the letters ‘RMC’. Motor serial numbers, though similar in appearance to the vehicle serial number (found on the brass “dash plate” on the dashboard, and on the aluminum “patent plate” behind the passenger seat), are not matched, and were rarely issued in any recognizable sequence, making it impossible to determine the original motor’s serial number, especially as all factory production records were either destroyed or lost.The canvas top, sidecurtains, and doors are original period M38 units, though not original to this particular Jeep. Every effort was made to repair and restore the old canvas to its original appearance and functionality, while replacing as little as possible of the damaged original canvas and fasteners. Due to age & wear, not only the plastic windows, but all the buckles and straps have been replaced, using original NOS parts manufactured within a year of the Jeep. The canvas seat covers are modern replacements, having foam cores, rather than the original steel spring and rubberized original versions.The tires currently mounted are military NDT’s, however, originally, NDCC tires- having a slightly more round-shouldered tread, but otherwise similar pattern- would have been fitted by Willys, though both types were used by the military in service. The wheels themselves are original M38 type rims.The rear axles- stronger than the somewhat delicate WW2 versions but no longer full floating, were modified to be full-floating, as on the WW2 MB and GPW. This permits the fitment of postwar locking hubs on not only the front axle but on the rear as well. Unlocking the wheels greatly reduces driveline wear during off-trailer (flat) towing, as well as permitting much easier handling of the Jeep in the garage or parking lot and when loading on a trailer.The “underwater fording kit”, the most visible external component of the underwater fording system- was originally supplied to the military for unit or field installation when the need arose (crossing rivers or streams!). The kit consisted of the snorkel tube, attached to a freestanding rod next to the windshield, and a vertical tailpipe extension. Prior to being fitted to this vehicle following its complete restoration, the kit was still in its original, unopened shipping crate.California titled and current registration with vehicle.All inspections welcome. We ship worldwide. Contact us at 831.373.3131 day or evening.