16 August 1998
1949 WILLYS JEEPSTER PHAETON
Chassis No. 4-63-80963
Red over cream with beige vinyl and red piping
Engine: in-line four cylinder, L-head, 134ci, 69bhp at 4,000rpm; Gearbox: 3-speed manual with overdrive; Suspension: leaf sprung solid axles; Brakes: drum. Left hand drive.
Following World War II, Willys-Overland, producing automobiles since 1903 (a history comparable with Ford and Oldsmobile) turned back to civilian markets after creating an automotive icon, the Jeep. To keep the production wheels turning while modern designs were created and tooled, Willys-Overland capitalized on the military Jeep's recognition with the Jeepster, first introduced in 1946 as a two-door station wagon and evolving into the Jeepster Phaeton in 1948. The combination of the post-war market's hunger for automobiles - of any description - and the Jeep halo effect made the project a success, underscored by the continuation of the brand and concept for over sixty years. The Jeepster Phaeton achieved one of the great acknowledgements of its success and acceptance in 1967 when it was re-introduced, essentially unchanged, by its original manufacturer, Kaiser-Willys, after being out of production since 1950.
The Jeepster's reliable four cylinder power is complemented by the 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive to take advantage of the engine's low-speed torque at useable highway speeds. Spartan but adequate appointments combine with ample space to create a true dual-purpose vehicle while enjoyably transporting future generations without concern for the dangers of over-powered airbags. Parts are readily available, the simple bodywork is easily repaired and a laptop computer is not required to tune the engine. All Jeepsters come with standard air conditioning, simply put into operation by turning the windwings around and driving faster. A heater and defroster is, however, an optional extra - with which this example is equipped.
Michael Malumut has used this good looking Jeepster sparingly, but it seems a very sound and tidy example of a good, yet slightly older restoration. It has a full set of side curtains and the top and top boot are in fine condition, a spare wheel is mounted on the back. It makes an ideal convertible run-around and it should be popular with the beach crowd especially when The Surfs Up!
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