The Mother’s Day Jeep

Mother's Day jeep

So, the Mother’s Day jeep is still in a heap, but progress is being made. I always loved the older jeeps and have one that is a work in progress. The jeeps story begins a few years ago after a Mother’s Day celebration. My husband Keith and our daughter Allie took me out for lunch at our favorite Chinese diner. We always open our fortune cookies. While most fortunes are very generic, this one was not. Imagine our surprise when Keith’s fortune said, “A four-wheel drive vehicle is in your future!”

We planned to go to the movie and Keith laughed and made the comment, “Maybe we shouldn’t go to Springfield. Let’s go to Litchfield so I don’t buy any four-wheel drive vehicles!”

Mother's Day Jeep
The frame of the jeep and the engine. The body is red and needs a lot of work, but we are ready to start!

The Jeep!

So, we chose Litchfield for our outing. We love Westside Cinema in Litchfield for many reasons. There is the cost, and the Coca Cola displays for a few. We went to the show. Afterwards Keith drove past the John Deere dealership to have a look around at the John Deere items on the lot. This is right along the old Route 66! Right before the John Deere store was an old red jeep with a for sale sign. After driving through the lot, Keith didn’t say anything. “Well,” I said.

“Well, what?” he asked. “Aren’t you going to look at it?” I said, pointing to the jeep as he started to drive past.

Long story short, he stopped, and the price was right. The jeep was mine! The fortune cookie was true. He bought my Mother’s Day jeep. It was a 1946 Willy’s farm jeep that needed a lot of love!

Now, the waiting game for restoration began! However, yesterday, he moved aside other items in the shop. The jeep he says is taking precedence. He tells me I drag him here and there. It is hard to get things done when we go all the time. It is a dilemma, stay home and complete my jeep? Or travel and think about it?

Jeep History

What Keith and I love is the Willy’s story of what happened after World War II. During the War, the Willy’s four-wheel drive protype Quad developed. The protype became the MD, CJ series and then the Wrangler. From 1941 to 1945 Willy’s MB model became the “Jeep”. It was used by every branch of the military successfully. Jeeps were also shipped to Britian and Russia our Allies.

After the war, many believed the jeep was perfect for the postwar market for agricultural use.  The small farmer would be the perfect primary market.

The wonderful process of turning jeeps into a Farm Jeep is something we love.

The Biblical Implication

What is so special is there is a Bible verse that applies to this. We thought the story of the jeeps converting something once used for war into something used for agriculture fits perfectly! In the verse of Isaiah 2:4 the Bible states, “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

What is more useful than turning something once used to destroy into something to till the soil?

The Farm Jeep

In an article, the Making of the Farm Jeep, they share the story, “In the late 40’s unpowered (pulled and ground-driven) implements were still the dominant farm tools. Willys played up the fact that a farmer, even if converting from draft animals, wouldn’t need to invest in new equipment. The CJ would be capable of doing farm tractor work, again illustrated by the earliest ads showing the Jeep pulling implements attached to the basic drawbar.” 

Best of all the farmer could still use this as a drive to town vehicle as well.

Two Types of Farm Jeeps

What is cool is two types of Farm Jeeps were made! Willys formed a Farm Sales Department. They created two new models the Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor. The article Working on the Farm describes the differences, “The Farm Jeep came with a hydraulic lift, drawbar, prop shaft guards, heftier springs and a variable speed belt driven governor all installed at the factory, The Jeep Tractor had the same equipment plus a power take off, a front bumper weight and a radiator chaff screen. The field-use-only Tractor lacked front shock absorbers, a spare tire, a windshield, a fuel pump vacuum booster, a tailgate, lights, door curtain holders, an oil filter, a speedometer and a horn…Willys advertised the CJ-5 to farmers, but Jeep historians say that no CJ-5 Farm Jeeps were manufactured.”

The Empire Tractor

Keith with an Empire tractor at a show in Perry Ga this past November.

Besides the farm jeep, there is also the story of the Empire tractor. This tractor was built from jeep parts! The Empire Tractor was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Built by the Empire Tractor Corporation it was made from 1946-1948. It is a complicated story. Empire produced two different model a few were Model 88s, but most were Model 90s.

Frank Cohen was able to get a contract to use government jeep parts. He built tractors for small farmers. The Empire Company didn’t compete with US and Canadian tractor companies. The tractors were shipped to Africa, Poland and Argentina. There were some problems, they ran out of parts and not all contracts were filled. The tractors are somewhat rare and hard to find. Because different parts were used many Empires look different.

My Jeep

So, my Mother’s Day jeep restoration continues. Will the farmer get it done? I guess that depends on if we stay home long enough to complete it. We have a cool Empire tractor that we love too. The love of jeeps runs deep in our family whether it is our incomplete farm jeep, or the Empire. The fact that these were changed from war parts to farm tractors is a machinery tale I love to tell!

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