Buyer’s Guide: G-758 M38A1 1/4-ton Truck

Production of the M38A1 began by Willys-Overland Motors in 1952. Willys Motor Co. stopped building the M38A1 in 1957. By the time production stopped, 80,290 vehicles had been produced for use by the U.S. military and an additional 21,198 units for other countries.
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Because of the increased size and weight of the M38 compared to its predecessors, performance suffered. A more powerful engine was desired. It was found in the F-head Willys “Hurricane” engine. However this engine was taller requiring the vehicle to be redesigned to accommodate it. This resulted in the most profound difference between a base vehicle and its A1 successor in Army military history, the M38A1, or in Willys terms, the MD. The changes were so extensive that the new version was even given its own G-number: G-758.

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Production of the M38A1 began by Willys-Overland Motors in 1952. Willys Motor Co. stopped building the M38A1 in 1957. By the time production stopped, 80,290 vehicles had been produced for use by the U.S. military and an additional 21,198 units for other countries. M38A1 CDNs were built by Ford of Canada during the 1950s, then by Kaiser-Jeep in Windsor, Ontario in the 1960s. The Netherlands used its own domestic-built version of the M38A1. The Dutch-built Jeeps were assembled at the “Nederlandse Kaiser-Frazer” (NEKAF) factory in Rotterdam, in part using U.S.-made components supplied by Willys. The first of the 4,000 initial “Nekaf Jeeps” was delivered on May 28, 1955. When the last of the Dutch Jeeps was completed in 1962, almost 8,000 had been built.

Off-road performance of the Jeep was improved with the M38A1 by installing larger 7.00-16 tires, providing greater ground clearance, and the improved transmission, allowing easier shifting under adverse conditions.

The more powerful F-head engine allowed the new vehicle to handle the increased payload specification as well as keep up with the rest of the faster M-series vehicle family.

  • Weight: 2,665 pounds
  • Size (LxWxH): 139” x 61” x 74”
  • Max Speed: 55 mph
  • Range: 280 miles
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Condition, Rarity, & Popularity: It Adds up!

Like any collectible vehicle, the price of an historic military vehicle (HMV) is based on a combination of three factors: Condition, rarity, and popularity. A vehicle can be rare, but if it isn’t interesting, it won’t be as valuable as an equally uncommon, popular vehicle. Rarity is determined by two factors: Production quantity and survival rate. The rarity of vehicles in this guide are rated on a scale of 1 through 5 (1 being the most common and 5 the scarcest). But “rare” doesn’t always mean “valuable.” It has to be desirable, as well.

The single dominating factor that drives price is condition. Another factor closely related to condition is the quality of restoration.

A “preserved vehicle” is maintained in a “state of suspended animation.” All the flaws, scratches and rust that are present when the vehicle is “discovered” are preserved. While this style of collecting is more popular with vehicle enthusiasts overseas than in this country, it is commonplace in other areas of collecting such as furniture.

The term “restoration” is often ill-defined or improperly used in the historic military vehicle hobby. What some call a restoration is actually a “representation,” and sadly, sometimes is only a characterization. For a true military vehicle restoration, one must know the history of that particular vehicle. Once known, it is then important to define to what time frame the vehicle is to be restored. This could be as it appeared as it left the factory, or at any subsequent time (June 6, 1944; March 3, 1952, etc.).

The difference between “restoration” and a “representation” is often misunderstood. An example of this could be rebuilding, painting, and marking a Jeep to look like one driven on the beach at Normandy, even though the Jeep never left North America. While not a true restoration, this type of representation is the most popular with collectors.

Buy the best you can afford. Restoring a vehicle will always be more expensive than buying a finished project.

The vehicles in this guide are given a valuebased on a 1-to-6 condition grading scale:

1=Excellent: Restored to maximum professional standards, or a near-perfect original.

2=Fine: Well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original parts.

3=Very Good: Complete and operable original or older restoration, or a very good amateur restoration with all presentable and serviceable parts inside and out.

4=Good: Functional or needing only minor work to be functional. Also, a deteriorated restoration or poor amateur restoration.

5=Restorable: Needs complete restoration of body, chassis, and interior. May or may not be running, but is not wrecked, weathered or stripped to the point of being useful only for parts.

6=Parts Vehicle: Deteriorated beyond the point of restoration.