Willys Jeep Station Wagon

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Willys Jeep Wagon
Willys Jeep Wagon green in yard maintenance use.jpg
Also called Ford Rural
Production 1946–1965
Body and chassis
Class Full-size SUV
Body style
Wheelbase 104 in (2,642 mm)[1]
Length 176 14 in (4,477 mm)[1]
Width 72 in (1,829 mm)[1]
Height 74 in (1,880 mm)
Curb weight
  • 3,206 lb (1,454 kg)
  • 4,500 lb (2,041 kg) GWV
Successor Jeep Wagoneer

The Willys Jeep Station Wagon, introduced in 1946 by Willys-Overland Motors, is the first mass-market all-steel station wagon designed and built as a passenger vehicle[2] and is arguably the world's first popular sport utility vehicle (SUV).[note 1] The station wagon stayed in production until 1965.

This was one of Willys' most successful post-World War II models. Its production coincided with individual consumers moving to the new suburbs during the post-war period.

This model was also assembled in several international markets under various forms of joint ventures, licenses, or Complete knockdown kits.

Development and reception[edit]

The Jeep Wagon was designed in the mid-1940s by industrial designer Brooks Stevens.[3] Willys did not make their own bodies, car bodies were in high demand, and Willys was known to have limited finances. Brooks therefore designed bodies that could be built by sheet metal fabricators who normally made parts for household appliances and could draw sheet metal no more than 6 inches (152 mm).[4]

The Jeep Wagon was the first Willys product with independent front suspension. Barney Roos, Willys' chief engineer, developed a system based on a transverse seven-leaf spring. The system, called "Planadyne" by Willys, was similar in concept to the "planar" suspension Roos had developed for Studebaker in the mid-1930s.[5]

The steel body was efficient to mass-produce, easier to maintain and safer than the real wood-bodied station wagon versions at the time.[6] Within the first two years of the Jeep Wagon's production, the only manufacturer in the United States with a station wagon that was comparable in price was Crosley,[5] who introduced an all-steel wagon in 1947.[7] With a wheelbase of 80 inches (2,032 mm) and an overall length of 145 inches (3,683 mm),[7] Crosley's wagon was much smaller than the Jeep Wagon, and was described as "diminutive"[7] and "tiny".[5]

Willys Jeep "Estanciera" made by Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) in Argentina


The Willys Jeep Station Wagon was introduced in 1946 as just the 463 model, powered by the L-134 Go-Devil flathead four cylinder. The 663 model, powered by the L-148 Lightning straight six, was brought in for 1948.[citation needed] Four-wheel drive became an option in 1949.[8]

1950 saw a number of changes. The flat grille was replaced by a pointed v-shape design with five horizontal bars across the vertical ones. New engines were available, too. The 473 model got the new F-134 Hurricane, and the 673 model got a new 161 cu in (2.6 L) version of the Lightning six.

In 1952, the flathead Lightning was dropped in favor of the F-161 Hurricane, installed in the 685 model.

The 1954 model year was the first under Kaiser's ownership. The 6-226 Super Hurricane, a flathead inline six, was introduced. This was a version of the Kaiser Supersonic/Continental Red Seal engine.

A number of new models were added in 1955. The 6-226 model lineup gained stripped chassis, flat face cowl, cowl/windshield, and ambulance models. The 475 line received only the cowl/windshield.

The 6-230 Tornado OHC engine was introduced in midyear 1962, replacing the flathead.

Production ended in 1965, as the Willys model had been phased out by the Jeep Wagoneer. Over 300,000 wagons and its variants were built in the U.S.


A panel delivery version of the Wagon was introduced in 1947. This version had one seat, a pair of doors instead of the Wagon's tailgate, and no side windows behind the front doors.[8]

A luxury version of the Wagon was introduced in 1948. This model, called the "Station Sedan," had solid body colors with basket-weave trim on the sides and was better finished than the Wagon throughout. A new straight-six flathead engine was available in the Station Sedan.[5] The engine became available in the two-wheel drive Wagon in 1949, and the Station Sedan was discontinued in 1950.[8]

The six-cylinder engine became available on four-wheel drive versions of the Wagon in 1954. Minor revisions were made to front end styling that year, including the reduction of the number of horizontal slats in the grille from five to three. There were few other changes to the Station Wagon and its derivatives between 1953 and 1955.[9]

In 1955, Willys withdrew from the passenger car market and renamed the vehicle the Utility Wagon. The seventh seat and the overdrive were deleted, and the Planardyne front suspension used with the two-wheel drive wagon was replaced with a beam axle. Warn hubs, with which the front drive mechanism could be disengaged by turning the hubs by hand, became optional on four-wheel drive models.[10]

In 1958 a new "Maverick" model was introduced, a comparatively more luxurious version of the two-wheel drive wagon. It could be had only with the four-cylinder engine. The main upgrades were in the introduction of two-tone paint with matching interior in two tones and the standard AM radio. The easiest way to identify a Maverick is by the extra (stainless steel) trim ring under the windows. The Maverick tag came from the TV show of the same name, of which Willys was a sponsor.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The heavy-duty, truck-based Chevrolet Suburban with steel body was introduced in 1939 for professional use mainly as train depot hacks and by funeral homes.(Olsen & Lyons 2000, p. 27)(Vincent 2010)(Bradsher 2002, p. 5)
  1. ^ a b c 1953 Willys Jeep Brochure
  2. ^ Olsen & Lyons 2000, p. 27.
  3. ^ Olsen & Lyons 2000, p. 28.
  4. ^ Brown 1994, pp. 66,68.
  5. ^ a b c d Brown 1994, p. 70.
  6. ^ Olsen & Lyons 2000, p. 29.
  7. ^ a b c Olsen & Lyons 2000, p. 33.
  8. ^ a b c Brown 1994, p. 72.
  9. ^ Brown 1994, p. 86.
  10. ^ Brown 1994, p. 90.


External links[edit]