Willys-Overland Jeepster

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"Jeepster" redirects here. For the T. Rex song, see Jeepster (song). For the record label, see Jeepster Records.
Willys-Overland Jeepster
Manufacturer Willys-Overland Motors
Production 1948–1950
Assembly Toledo, Ohio
Body and chassis
Class Mini SUV
Body style 2-door phaeton/convertible
Layout FR layout
Related Willys Jeep Truck
Willys Jeep Station Wagon
Engine 134.1 cu in (2.2 L) I4
148.5 cu in (2.4 L) I6
161 cu in (2.6 L) I6
Transmission 3-speed manual
Wheelbase 101 in (2,565 mm)

The Jeepster was an automobile originally produced by Willys-Overland Motors from 1948 to 1950. It was the last true phaeton produced by a major automaker.[1]

The Jeepster name was revived in 1966 on a new model, the C-101 Jeepster Commando, and American Motors (AMC) (successor company to Willys-Overland) removed the Jeepster name for 1972, ending production after 1973.


After World War II, Jeep trademark owner, Willys, believed that the market for the military-type Jeep would be limited to farmers and foresters, therefore they began producing the "CJ" (or Civilian Jeep) to fill this growing segment. Willys then began producing the new Jeep Wagon in 1946, and then the Jeep Truck in 1947.[2]

Realizing a gap in their product lineup, Willys developed the Jeepster to crossover from their "utilitarian" type truck vehicles, to the passenger automobile market. In the process, the automaker developed the Jeepster, "one of America's most daring postwar automobile designs."[3]

Willys-Overland lacked the machinery to form deep-drawn fenders or complicated shapes, so the vehicle had to use a simple and slab-sided design.[2][4] Industrial designer Brooks Stevens styled a line of postwar vehicles for Willys using a common platform that included the Jeep pickup and station wagon, as well as a sporty two-door open car[4] that he envisioned as a sports car for veterans of World War II.[1]

The Willys-Overland Jeepster ("VJ" internally) was introduced in April 1948, and produced through 1950. Some leftover models were sold under the 1951 model year.[5]


1948 Willys Jeepster

The basic 1948 Jeepster included numerous deluxe features and interior fittings in addition to a high level of standard equipment that cost extra on other automobiles. These included, among many others, whitewall tires, hubcaps with bright trim rings, sun visors, deluxe steering wheel, wind wings, locking glovebox, cigar lighter, as well a continental tire with a fabric cover.[6] The Jeepster had a 4-cylinder engine and plastic side curtains, but its $1,765 price was about the same as a Ford Super DeLuxe club convertible with roll-down windows, as well as fancier styling and a V8 engine.[1]

The car was only offered with rear-wheel drive, thus limiting its appeal with traditional Jeep customers. Its distinctive boxy styling and performance were praised by automotive journalists.[7] However, the Jeepster did not catch on with the intended market segment. Sales were also limited by sparse advertising and an insufficient dealer network.[7]

The VJ Jeepster was powered by the 62 hp (46 kW; 63 PS) "Go Devil" engine, a 134 cu in (2.2 L) straight-4 also used in the CJ. A 3-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive was used, as were drum brakes all around. The vehicle's front end and single transverse leaf spring suspension, was from the Willys Station Wagon, as was the rear driveline. The flat-topped rear fenders were copied from the Jeep truck line, as were the pair of longitudinal rear leaf springs.


The 1949 Jeepster began production with a one-model/one-engine offering. The price was lowered to $1,495, with some previously standard features returning as extra-cost options. Toward the middle of the year, an additional model was introduced, the VJ3-6, powered by a new six-cylinder engine.[8]


The VJ-3 Jeepster had very little standard equipment. This time there were two engines offered, changing the Jeepster's designations to VJ-3 4-63 for the four-cylinder and VJ-3 6-63 for the Lightning-equipped six-cylinder.[8]

The 1950 model year saw the first styling revisions that included a redesigned front end featuring a V-shaped grille with horizontal chrome trim, and a new dashboard.[9] New engines and designations dependent on what part of the year it was. Early 1950s four-cylinder Jeepsters were VJ-3 463, and the straight-six Jeepsters were VJ-3 663. The later-year Jeepsters were VJ-473 and VJ-673, respectively.[8]



A grand total of 19,132 original VJ Jeepsters were produced over three model years:[1]

  • 1948 - 10,326
  • 1949 - 2,960
  • 1950 - 5,836

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Matar, George (December 2005). "1948-1951 Jeepster". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b *Brown, Arch (1994). "Chapter Four – Postwar Plans for Willys: 1945-52". Jeep: The Unstoppable Legend. Lincolnwoood, IL USA: Publications International. pp. 68, 70, 72. ISBN 0-7853-0870-9. LCCN 94-66811. 
  3. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster". HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 2: 1948 Willys Jeepster Development". HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ *Brown, Arch (1994). "Chapter Four – Postwar Plans for Willys: 1945-52". Jeep: The Unstoppable Legend. Lincolnwoood, IL USA: Publications International. pp. 76, 78. ISBN 0-7853-0870-9. LCCN 94-66811. Jeepsters were catalogued for the 1951 model year, but these were actually leftover 1950 cars. 
  6. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 4: 1948 Willys Jeepster Design Features". HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 5: 1948 Willys Jeepster Reviews". HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 6: 1949-1950 Willys Jeepster". HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Statham, Steve (2002). Jeep Color History. MBI Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-7603-0636-9. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 

External links[edit]