The trip took us through south central Indiana, on two lane highways, bordered by blooming redbud trees. Barry spent his youth in this part of Indiana, and it turns out the jeep came from a farm near his former hometown. The road winds through rolling hills and is doted with old farms and small towns. The trip went quickly, given we were trying to keep a lookout for treasures along the way. About the only “jeep thing” we saw was the body of a Willys wagon rusting away in a roadside junkyard.
The drive couldn't have gone more smoothly, taking a little over two hours. We met Josh, the seller, in a church parking lot in a small town. We had agreed to contact him when we arrived (we were a few minutes early) and he appeared 5 minutes later, driving a large Dodge 4x4 pickup with a giant, but friendly Doberman in the rear. His brother-in-law had come along for the adventure too. After introductions, we headed to the farm and the jeep.
Our towing vehicle for this JRT was Barry’s Ford Ranger 4x4, pulling a U-Haul auto transport. When we reached the farm, after turning off the main road, we had to wait for the farm gate to be opened. On the other side of gate was a path leading up and around a steep hill. We were thankful for the 4-wheel drive and the dry conditions. If it had been raining, we might have had to enlist Josh’s big truck. At the top of the hill was an abandon farm house and out buildings. The rusted hulk of a ’50 or ’51 Ford sat off to the side of the house. The car didn’t look out of place with the other farm equipment scattered about.
We wasted little time getting out and walking to shed to get our first real look at the jeep. The jeep was just as Josh had described it, complete with a couple of flat tires. Josh had planned on building a rock climber, but is moving to the southwest. He had already sold the motor and seats, since he planned to replace those. The body has some rust and some sheet metal repairs, but is in great shape. There are no extra holes cut in the dash and no signs of rust or repair to frame. There was little doubt that we were getting our moneys worth.
While Josh and Evan aired up the tires, Barry got the tow rig turned around and in position to load the jeep. By the time Barry had backed as close as he could to the shed, the jeep had been rolled out and was ready for loading. While we had equipped ourselves with chains, tow straps, and come-alongs for winching, Josh and Ev declared the jeep to be light enough so that we could just push it up the trailer ramps and on to the trailer bed.
It took two tries to get the jeep up the ramps. The jeep rolled easily, but the U-Haul ramps were almost too far apart. The trailer is open in the middle, and as you can see in the picture to the left, the jeep just fit. On our first try, we were too far to one side, but made it easily on the second push. Josh and Ev picked up the rear of the jeep to center it.
It took another 5 minutes to tie the jeep to the trailer, using the provided wheel webs and axle chains. The actual loading process didn’t take more than 15 minutes, but we added a few more minutes just talking and observing the beauty of the old jeep. We headed back down the steep path and were underway in less than an hour from our arrival at the church yard.
We made one quick stop, after about 15 miles to check the tie-downs. The trailer was brand new (still had dealer tags) and it towed, and more importantly, stopped easily. Without an engine, the jeep was light enough so that the added weight wasn’t noticed and the Ranger did a great job. With the exception of a large number of cars pulling out in front of us, the trip home was uneventful - always a good thing.
Back at the farm, Paula had fixed us a BBQ pork lunch and we toasted the new jeep. The post lunch inspection led us to believe the original color was dark blue, so the naming process began. We discussed “Baby Blue” but determined it was too old to be a baby, so just settled on “Ole Blue” for the moment.
We pushed (Evan did most of the pushing, with Barry steering) Ole Blue off the trailer. More inspections confirmed our initial opinion that the jeep is solid. However, we didn’t find more clues to its real identity. Although advertised as a ’47 CJ2a, we had spotted a CJ3a windshield. The 3a,which replaced the 2a starting in 1949, was very similar to the 2a, with the exception of the new one-piece windshield, plus minor drive train (different rear-end) and interior body changes. Real identification marks and clues had been lost with the motor and vehicle ID tags.
Ev pulled Ole Yeller along side Ole Blue, but we couldn’t see any obvious differences. Ev has since enlisted help form the Willys Tech Board to try and help us make a final determination of what we have. Stay tuned while we search for clues.