Car video reviews:

1961 Willys Jeep Was Left to Rot in the Woods, Takes First Drive in 30 Years

Classic Jeeps get a lot of love nowadays, but it's usually the CJ and the Wagoneer that are sought after. The CJ is a hot collectible for numerous reasons, starting with the fact that it was based on the iconic military MB.
1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon 7 photos
1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon1961 Willys Jeep Station Wagon
Whether it's the early, rugged version, the upscale Grand Wagoneer, or the Gladiator pickup truck, the first-gen Wagoneer needs no introduction either. But Jeep built a few more interesting haulers in the early days. The Station Wagon is one of them.

Developed during the Willys era, the Station Wagon entered production in 1946, two years after the first CJ debuted. And the utility vehicle soldiered on with minor changes until 1964 when it was replaced by the Wagoneer. The nameplate remained in production until 1977 in South America.

Willy offered both two- and four-door wagons but also built a truck based on it. It's a bit unfortunate that these proto-SUVs don't get as much attention as they deserve, but the folks over at RevStoration just saved one from becoming a useless pile of junk.

This 1961 Station Wagon has been sitting in the woods for more than 30 years. Apparently, the engine was still running earlier in 2021, but the hauler hasn't been moved since the early 1990s. And amazingly enough, the guys at RevStoration managed to get it working again and put it back on public roads.

Sure, the Willys is in really bad shape, covered in surface rust, missing a few windows, and relying on a Ford engine, but the fact that it can still move under its own power with a bit of work is impressive, to say the least. I guess they don't build them like they used to?

It's not exactly road-worthy yet though. The engine overheats and the cabin isn't the best place to be for a long trip. But maybe this Station Wagon will get a second chance at life with a proper restoration. I wish it would get a proper Kaiser-Jeep engine too.

When it debuted in 1946, the Station Wagon relied on the Willys-Overland "Go-Devil" four-cylinder mill. Willys introduced the "Lightning" straight-six in 1948 and then added the "Hurricane" inline-four to the lineup in 1950.

The Willys Station Wagon was a big deal when it arrived in dealerships. A significant upgrade over the wood-bodied wagons of the era, it was more efficient to mass-produce and easier to maintain. It was also the first Jeep with an independent front suspension.

Under Kaiser ownership, the Station Wagon gained the "Super Hurricane" flat-head inline-six in 1954, replaced by the "Tornado," the first post-WW2 mass-produced overhead cam engine, in 1962.

The Station Wagon was discontinued in the U.S. in 1964, but a similar version was produced in Argentina until 1970. The SUV was also built in Brazil from the 1950s, but it was upgraded and renamed after Ford Brazil bought the Willys factory in 1967.

Video thumbnail


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories