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Author Topic: Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)  (Read 472 times)

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Offline OnlyOneDR

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Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)
« on: July 08, 2020, 12:44:58 PM »
This is an open-ended discussion question.

Why are there so few Willys vehicles in the Southeastern US?  I love the idea of bringing my 3A back to life but shipping nearly everything in from far-flung parts of the US is very expensive and slows progress on the project.

I have some historical theories on the matter:

- Lack of snow in winter
- Lack of money (since the south use to be relatively poor and 4x4s are never "cheap")
- Possible lack of dealerships? I would love to know what kind of presence W-O had here.

Modern theories:

- Good survivors get towed away to other places
- Vehicles rust out pretty quickly here if not covered
- Since there does not seem to be too many W-O vehicles here now there is not a desire for them here since no one sees them, hence if one is found it goes elsewhere.
- Scrapping metal was very lucrative for quite a while not too long ago

Since the south was still very agrarian in the mid-20th century it is interesting to me that you just don't see "farm jeeps" here (or many regular CJs), but that could be a factor of farm size.  Many probably made the jump straight to larger tractors than purchase the relatively small CJ.  That said the south also built good roads and infrastructure much later than other parts of the country which would make a Jeep a good investment for getting around.

I am curious as to thoughts on the matter.  When I search for parts I see concentrations of "opportunity" in PA, CO, central mid-west (southern IL/IN, MO), upper midwest (MI/WI) and WA.  Everywhere else is spotty at best.  New England, surprisingly, does not seem to have much.
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Offline SteveKfl

Re: Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2020, 01:14:47 PM »
Well, I live in flate south Florida with great roads and expressways, so 4X4 is not as needed.  I have a Willys DJ because it is a 4X2.  4X4 is too much maintenance and parts to drag around with speed restrictions for my cruising purposes.  It is funny to me to see the "fad" of brand new Jeep Wranglers getting their fenders and doors taken off to try to look like a "Flat Fender".  Also, Jacksonville and Miami are big export locations, so I think foreign countries buy up and ship Jeeps out, and foreign parts are priced and taxed crazy, so the whole Junker for parts gets shipped, instead of individual parts.  Shipping costs has just become a part of "dealing with antiques" here, the farthest possible point from ALL the locations you mentioned.  Also, OHIO was the mother factory location, so would be a natural hub via word of mouth to buy Jeeps, maybe.  There should be some interesting comments coming from others. 
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Offline athawk11

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Re: Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2020, 04:23:13 PM »
This is only speculation.

The focus from WO at the time was to sell these to the farming community.  At the time, the CJ2A was in competition with a small Ford tractor.  Money was very tight following WWII.  A small capable tractor/2A would have had a market in most parts of the country.  So, if it’s harder to find these in the Southeast, I would assume 2 things.

*There were probably good WO dealerships and not-so-good WO dealerships.  If you had a few dynamic sales guys (that could sell a bag of potatoes to a potato farmer) up in Pennsylvania, then you would probably see a larger supply of old Jeeps in that particular region.

*Rust.  I've seen the underside of 10-year-old cars from the southeast and I am shocked at how quickly things deteriorate when compared to the same car that spent its time in the climate we have in the plains of Colorado.  When buying a car in Colorado, they used to offer "undercoating" as an "extra".  The savoy Colorado purchaser considered this a scam/unneeded up-charge.  Knowing what I know now, I would insist on undercoating if I lived in the Southeast and Northeast regions.
Bottom line for me;  70+ years is a long time for a vehicle that was coated with inferior paint (compared to modern coatings).  If there were lots of Willys Jeeps in that region, they just couldn't hold up to the elements.  And economically, there may not have been lots of spare cash to maintain the little Jeep, so they simply rusted away.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2020, 12:15:10 AM by athawk11 »
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Offline Rus Curtis

Re: Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2020, 05:29:55 PM »
I believe there's something to the farm theory.  I'm sure marketing in certain areas played a part back then.   

But, if you're wanting to see jeeps here in the SE head on up to the South East Willys Get Together:

All of a sudden, the jeeps come out of the woodwork!  So far, I've only gotten to one of these and hope we can all go again soon!

Reminiscing, there was Leon Rosser, Bessemer Jeep dealer, that stocked a lot of parts for older jeeps and then there was Turner 4WD over in the outskirts of Atlanta.  I've been to both and they were very helpful both with knowledge and parts.  Sadly both have been gone for a while.  There may still be a salvage yard near Talladega that I visited years ago but didn't find anything I needed there. 

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Offline Chuck W.

Re: Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2020, 12:15:33 PM »
There may still be a salvage yard near Talladega that I visited years ago
I think it's gone, now. They didn't have any early stuff, CJ5 and later.

I think there are plenty of early jeeps in the South, at least here in Alabama. Every time I get mine out, somebody tells me about one (or more) that they have seen sitting in someone's yard, farm, junk yard, etc. I was at a local car show a few weeks ago and seemed like everybody who stopped to look knew where one was sitting! If you get out and ride the back roads and look carefully, you can still find them.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2020, 12:17:36 PM by Chuck W. »
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Offline SteveW

Re: Where are all the Jeeps? (Southeast Rant)
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2020, 03:20:57 PM »
People did not retire and bring their jeeps to Florida. They were left up north. Also many of the old jeeps had the bodies removed and they were made into buggies. Good frames that lasted and you could modify easily. I got 2 3a's made in 1950 which was pretty amazing for how few 3a's were made. One was a surplus jeep that the mosquito control had and they mowed along runways at the old Buckingham Air Base built during WW2. had a bush hog on the rear PTO. I did not get shaft or gear box. It was bought at an auction by a local guy and he used it for hunting and I got it when it was left in a field to make room for another man who was keeping it when he got a boat and stored it under cover. It has a utility engine in it. The other was bought by a friend from a guy in Georgia who had it in his hunting camp. I have seen probably not more than 10-12 older jeeps in last 25 years or so in SW Florida
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