The vehicle in question is pictured above, a few weeks before MkI of the restoration was completed. It’s not the best picture, but you get the idea.
It’s a real 1955 Willys CJ-5, a direct descendent of the Jeep of WW2 fame.
Why am I talking about this today.
Because at long last the Willys is headed to the shop for the MkII restoration.
You see, the MkI version was damaged by some fairly extreme trail riding with an old friend; the engine did not survive the experience. Because the old Buick V6 was obsolete it could not be economically repaired. So I had to install a Chevy engine. To install the Chevy engine, the Jeep had to be converted to a hydraulic clutch. And BTW, it needed a new exhaust.
The list went on.
To make a long, sad story short, I burned out on the Jeep. I literally locked the garage and walked away. I knew that I had reached the edge of my competency, and funds were tight so I couldn’t pay for the repair.
I went back in the house and started to write. I published one book, then a whole trilogy. In the meanwhile, the CJ-5 slept. My garage was a cobweb strewn mini-museum.
It always bothered me, that fun little Jeep.
Then one day my former commander and friend came down to the house to check up on his troop.
We went out to the garage to look at the Jeep. You see, my journey with the CJ-5 was his fault.
Well, for that we need to step back in time. To Afghanistan. To the valley.
He and I were standing there talking. Smoking or something. He mentioned that he had once had a Jeep but he never got around to fixing it, so he sold it. He told me of buzzing around the desert with the Kuwaiti Army in their Jeeps before the War kicked off. It was a pleasant memory for him.
Then some jerk shot at us.
A couple of years later, and I was going through the hell that is the Army Medical Board. I was under medical supervision and I lost my driver’s license. It was rough. The Colonel called, he asked if I knew where an old Jeep was. I said I didn’t know, but I could find out.
I located two. He came down and inspected them, they were too far gone for his tastes. But I looked at them and realized I could combine them into one good vehicle. After the Colonel left, I called the seller and proposed a trade.
A hunting rifle for the two Jeeps, a 1958 and a ’55.
They said yes. A few days later and I had both vehicles parked in my driveway. The fun began. Within one hundred days I had one complete and functional Jeep. Then I trashed it and the sad part of the tale began.
Fast forward to now, readers.
Now the time has come for the Jeep to get back on the road.
It’s the Colonel’s fault, again.
The Jeep isn’t getting back on the road because I’ve suddenly struck it rich. That is not the case. No, it’s because the Colonel visited and he came up with a plan.
It seems he finally wants a functional Jeep back in his life, but he doesn’t want to pay a fortune. Neither do I. So he says to me, “Hey, let’s go co-owner on this thing, get it to a shop and get it fixed.”
As we looked over the forlorn abandoned project, this struck me as a great idea. Upon further reflection, it was the only idea. Otherwise the old wagon would never get back on the road.
So it’s a win-win. The Colonel gets his Jeep and a place to store it (he lives in the city and room is tight), I get to see my project completed.
The restorers are coming this week with a flatbed. After some unknown period of time, the Jeep will come back fully functional.
The old ’55 model. Born of war in a couple of respects, serving in retirement and peace.
I’m cleaning the cobwebs from my garage; this is exciting stuff.
Kind of like this fall’s writing. The wait has been long, but worth it.