Reader’s Jeep Project Brings 60 Year Dream to Life

I ‘ve wanted a Jeep since I was 10 years old. I’ve spent the last 35 years as a newspaper editor, writer and photographer and now write a column for the county-circulated daily. When I retired from full-time newspaper work in 2004 my wife convinced me I should get that Jeep I’d wanted for so long.

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    So a brief search found me a little civilian Jeep that I could afford, with an engine running good enough to drive it home and relative few modern enhancements such as giant fat tires, a different engine, new seats and more that I encountered as I searched for an old Jeep. Back then I didn’t know the difference between an MB or GPW or a CJ. To me a jeep was a jeep. Now I know “jeep” is spelled with a capital “J”. I was lucky to find a Jeep with the L-head “Go-Devil” engine in that actually runs. Of course, I was warned not to drive it home, but I wanted my wife to see that it actually ran. But aside from that, it was a pretty ugly old Jeep that I drove into the driveway and then invited my wife out for her first look.

    Through such a wonderful publication as Military Vehicles Magazine, I’ve been able to find everything needed to make my quarter-ton resemble a military Jeep. Friends have given me parts or directed me to “friends of friends” who provided everything from those bumperettes on the back, an old gas can or a rim to hold a spare tire.

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    Fortunately I’ve been able to do everything myself except for some light welding, where I called on a nephew with a MIG unit to help me out. I’m one of those who always needs a project, and the Jeep has filled that need admirably.

    So, finally, as I near the age of 70, I have my little “flat-fender” Jeep that has been a fun restoration project and a tribute to the enjoyable four years I spent as a junior naval officer from 1961 to 1965. My “lusterless Navy Gray” CJA (Serial number 21375) was found in a garage in my home town of Atascadero, California. It is also a tribute to my old ship, USS Cavalier (APA 37), an attack troop transport. In addition to the navy markings on my Jeep, my ship’s name and hull number adorn the front bumper.

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    I want to get canvas seats and a summer top next, but that’s another birthday or Christmas away. My kids don’t have trouble finding gift items because I generally just “circle” what I want on a page in your magazine and send it off to them. There are several flat fender Jeeps in my small home town and I’m proud to own one of them.

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