“1958 Willys pick-up. Good project truck. $1100, or best offer. Contact John with any questions.”
If you prowl the local classifieds, you know there are few things that can increase your heart rate like a misclassified advertisement. All the cliché optimistic hopes automatically leap to the fore; “maybe it’s someone that doesn’t know what they have,” or “maybe it’s just been passed down and they want it gone.” Then again, maybe that’s just me. In any case, it doesn’t make finding this 1958 Willys pickup while perusing the old motorcycles section on Craigslist any less exciting. Although known primarily for designing the vehicle that would bring democracy to the world (and birth the Jeep brand), the Willys Jeep Truck, as the vehicle was formally known, demonstrated that the brand’s 4×4 engineering prowess wasn’t limited to the world of diminutive military runabouts. Being a 1958 model , this truck is one of the later 6-226 models, denoting the fitment of the six-cylinder, 226-cubic inch “Super Hurricane” engine that replaced the previously used four cylinder. A full 1-ton pickup, they were renowned and respected for their durability and build quality, but were eventually replaced by the much more tractable Gladiator. Although appealing to a much wider audience with its modern amenities and styling, farmers and other blue-collar sorts refused to trade their tough-as-nails Willys Jeep Trucks in for the newer Gladiator, and as a result, solid examples of the hard-working (and worked hard) trucks are very difficult to find.
But this particular one doesn’t look too bad; especially for the price. Although not one of the most desirable vehicles Willys produced (that honour would probably be given to the early flat-fender Jeeps, specifically those with European stamps in their passports), they provide the would-be classic car buyer with a vehicle that combines uniqueness, practicality, and approachability in about equal measure. Uniqueness because they remain relatively uncommon, and still stand out at car shows amongst the throngs of ’50s Chevys and Fords, practicality because they can still be expected to fulfill many of the tasks that would befall any modern pickup truck, from towing to commuting to hauling scrap, and approachability because a strong enthusiast community drives a thriving parts market that ensures a Willys owner won’t be left wanting for nearly anything. Which might be a good thing, given this particular one is billed as a project, and looks like it’s earned more than its keep in the 53 years since it’s creation!