When old Jeeps are found for sale I know my ears perk up because these great pieces of history have the same profound effect on Jeep Lovers as a 1934 Ford 3-window coupe has on a car buff.
Unless you have owned an old unrestored Jeep or can relate to owning any old fixer-upper, you know that there is a lot more to consider than just the nostalgia and your future dreams of cruising the streets, roads or trails.
I got to thinking about all of this when a visitor to this website (from India) contacted me with this question:
(paraphrased) "Hey Larry, Hope this mail finds you and your jeep in the best of health :)... I have a query and would be great if I could get your feedback.
My name is (name withheld) and am from India. Am 32 years old. As many children are, I too as a child was fascinated with Jeeps and driving them in forests. Well the forest part may not be possible for me, but yes...the dream of having a Jeep seems to be coming near...and therefore the question.
I am getting an old 1959 Willys Jeep from a re-seller, and he states that it has a Perkins DI (diesel injected) engine with 3 gears. I have seen it and it does not have any modifications and is still like the old Jeeps. I would be buying it for $3000 (USD). I do love Jeeps, but this being my first vehicle, is it wise to invest in a Jeep? What are the issues that you see I would have in the future? Once I have purchased the Jeep...what do I need to check before I finalize the purchase?
Any other suggestions or recommendations you have would be highly appreciated. Thanks and regards!"
Here is how I responded to my friend in India:
"Thanks for the question.... Although I can't speak for anyone else I can only speak for what I would do (or have done in the past). You didn't say how much mechanical ability and/or resources you have necessary to rebuild or simply keep the Jeep going. I also don't know the standard of living in your country...but $3000 is a relatively small amount here in America (depending on the overall condition of the Jeep).
That being said I am of the opinion that one needs to start somewhere, and if the price is right there would at least be a potential learning experience. How much time, effort and expense you put into your project can vary greatly, again depending on your personal abilities. Also, if your Jeep will be your primary means of transportation, or more of a hobby, that will need to be considered as well.
In my experience the older a vehicle is, the more upkeep that is necessary and parts/accessories are often harder to find. The Perkins Diesel engine may require some pretty hard to find parts as well since it was not produced for any significant length of time for Willys/Jeep.
My 1953 M38A1 Willys/Jeep was in good condition when I bought it because it had been updated somewhat...however, one problem I didn't consider at first was the fact that it was geared so low that I could hardly drive on the street (would over-rev at any speed over 40 mph). That eventually led to me sell it (although I regret it now).
So, I don't know if I answered your question well or not...but I hope this helps some. If you do decide to buy this Jeep (or another one) please consider sending a photo and a story about it here for the website: Your Jeep Page...or just scroll down a little here where it says "Which is Better..." and follow the easy instructions. I would love to see it. Take care and good luck...Larry"
Well, my visitor wrote back that he was indeed buying that old Jeep and seemed genuinely excited. (I would be too!)
Lee From Utah Loves His Old '59 CJ5...Click Photo to Read More!
Wendy's Wrangler JK Unlimited..Click Photo for More!
The time, effort and money required to rebuild, fix or just maintain old Jeeps can quickly take the fun out of owning one...but if you are as Jeep Crazy as I am...these old relics still get the adrenalin pumping with thoughts of rebuilding to specs, or creating a great trail rig.
Newer Jeeps have more modern technology, durability and comfort than the old Jeeps had, and frankly may be the better choice for most of us.
So it seems the answer to "old Jeeps versus newer Jeeps" all depends on one's individual desire, financial status, technical skills, comfort level, and needs...which when you break it all down can apply to either one...or both.