Classic Jeeps have put together this Jeep buyers guide to help you when buying a Military Jeep.
The Jeeps engine is a Willys Go-Devel 4 cylinder of 2.2 litres producing 60 BHP. The engine should idle smoothly and when driven should pull cleanly in all three gears up to about 60 MPH. If it smokes when accelerating, this is a sign of worn piston rings and or the cylinder bores. If it smokes when you lift of the throttle this is a sign of worn valve guides. Watch out for low oil pressure, this could mean there is wear in the bearings or the oil pump needs attention. The oil pressure gauge should read 10 psi when idling and between 40 and 50 psi when at normal running speeds. The temperature gage should read between 160 F and 185 F when warm.
Check to see if it jumps out of 2nd gear on over-run, this is a sign of a worn gearbox. Listen for knocking from the engine and whines form the gearbox, transfer box and axles.
Take out the dipstick look at the oil, check for any traces of water. On the same note take the radiator cap off (when cold) and check for oil in the water. Could mean a blown head gadget, or worse a cracked block. Check the engine block and head for cracks, near the distributer base is a common place for cracks.
Look for rust in the body, not a major problem as Jeeps are easy to repair. Take a step back and take a good all round look, don’t be taken in by the new paint, and WW11 equipment it may have on it. Look at the Jeep itself, make sure you know what you are buying.
There many Military vehicles for sale in magazines and on the internet, Never send anyone any money before you have seen the vehicle and be careful of con tricks.
Definitions of types of Jeep you may come across
Original Willys MB – Ford GPW Jeep
Genuine original Jeep, by this we mean original as it left the war not as it left the factory, try and find one that has been in the UK since the war. With an original buff log book showing the owners since it was sold to the public. One that has been sympathetically restored leaving all the dent’s and repairs in the body and wings etc, it’s part of the Jeeps history. Have a look at the top of the rear mudguards and toolbox lids. These should be dented from soldiers sitting on them. And if someone has found the original war time markings under the paint, even better.
A true war time Jeep will not be 100% Ford or Willys, it will have parts from both manufacturers. This is its record of having been through the workshops during the war. No one will have stopped and thought I can’t put a Ford seat in a Willys.
This is the most desirable type of Jeep. The Ford will command a small premium over the Willys because there were less made. All the ford parts including the bolts had the flying F stamped on them. The earlier model you can get the better. This type of Jeep will always be in demand by enthusiasts and very unlikely to go down in value.
Jeep – Hybrid
This is a Jeep either a Willys MB or a Ford GPW that ended up with the French army after the war. Some 22,000 were given to the French army by the Americans after the war.
It will have most likely been fitted with Hotchkiss parts, ranging from a Hotchkiss body tub or a French engine and other mechanical parts, maybe just a few small parts. Some of these Jeeps have come to the UK and are being sold as 100% genuine Ford GPW’s or Willys MB’s. So take care. There is nothing wrong with these Jeeps as long as you are told when you buy it and it is reflected in the price. A Jeep that has been imported from France has a very good chance of having non Willys or Ford parts.
M201 Hotchkiss Jeep, these are very well built and reliable vehicles. Made between 1955 and 1966 some 27,628 M201s were produced. Often marked up in US colours and sometime’s in the French markings. There is nothing wrong with an original Hotchkiss M201, in fact in some ways mechanically superior.
The Hotchkiss M201 was a very close copy of the Willys MB with many parts being interchangeable. Some Hotchkiss M201’s have been converted to look like war time Willys MB’s and it can be hard to spot the difference unless you know what to look for. Click here for help. The only problem with this type of ‘Americanised’ French Jeep is that it is not one or the other; it will never be a genuine WW2 Jeep no matter how much it is modified.
Over restored or replica/kit car Jeep
These Jeeps are usually over priced, if it looks Concourse, perfect panels, high quality paintwork, perfect stencil markings and not a dent, scratch or bit of mud in sight, then beware. With a lot of replacement parts, body, wings etc. All made in the Far East. These Jeeps have very little genuine vehicle left. Likely started out as a complete wreck. They will always be a replica/kit car Jeep.