1950 Willys Jeep Rescued From a Collapsed Barn Gets First Wash in Decades

1950 Jeep CJ-3A barn find 11 photos
Photo: nodding at/YouTube
1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A1950 Willys CJ-3A
If I had a dollar for every classic car rotting in a barn somewhere in the US, I'd surely have enough money to buy a 1970 Plymouth HEMI 'Cuda. Yup, there are millions of oldtimers waiting for a second chance at life.
Sadly enough, most of them won't become more than just car parts that will spend their final years in junkyards. But some will eventually get rescued, revived, and returned on the road thanks to owners who haven't completely given up on their classic rigs. The 1950 Willys CJ-3A you see here is part of one of those happy stories.

In the same family since new, this early predecessor of the Jeep Wrangler enjoyed many years on the road following its purchase in 1949. But like so many old vehicles out there, it was parked when the owner could no longer drive it. It happened in the 1980s, and despite the owner's plan to put it back on the road, the CJ ended up sitting for almost four decades.

Unfortunately, the barn it was parked in collapsed during a snowstorm in 2018, so the Willys got crushed and spent about five years covered in debris. The original owner has since passed away. His son and grandson, who shared many moments in this open-top proto-SUV, decided to give the Jeep a much-needed new life and gut it out of its wooden grave.

Not surprisingly, the CJ-3A emerged into the light with a long list of issues, including a smashed windshield, stuck wheels, and several rust holes in its floors. But the fact that it's still in one piece after all these years is downright amazing.

Sure, it will take a lot of work to get the engine running again and fix it to the point where it becomes road-worthy, but it's the kind of oldtimer that's definitely worth restoring. Especially since there's a lot of sentimental value involved.

For the time being, the CJ got a much-needed wash, a process that revealed the nice patina hiding under that thick layer of dust. I can't tell the original color of this Jeep, but I'd keep the brownish, rusty hue while restoring the drivetrain and the interior. It will also make for a nice rat rod if the old powertrain is no longer usable.

If you're unfamiliar with old Jeeps, the CJ-3A was produced under the Willys-Overland ownership. Derived from the original Willys MB military jeep, the CJ-3A was introduced in 1949 as a replacement for the CJ-2A. Built since 1945, the latter was the first civilian production version of the MB following the CJ-1 and CJ-2 prototypes.

While it wasn't a notable departure from its predecessor design-wise, the CJ-3A arrived with a few essential upgrades. It has a beefed-up suspension and a shorter rear wheel well, while the driver's seat was moved rearward for improved comfort. Power came from the same 134-cubic-inch (2.2-liter) "Go-Devil" four-cylinder engine used in the WWII-spec Willys MB. The mill sent 60 horsepower to the wheels through a three-speed Borg-Warner gearbox.

Production of the CJ-3A came to a halt in 1953 after 131,843 units were built. It was replaced by the CJ-3B, which was constructed under Kaiser ownership and got the improved "Hurricane" four-cylinder engine. But that's enough history for today. Hit the play button below to see this CJ-3A emerge from the barn.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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