Buyer's Guide: M38A1 1/4-Ton Truck

What to know before you buy
buyers guide M38A1

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 and the vehicle had 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.

Production of the M38A1 began by Willys-Overland Motors in 1952. Many scholars believe the M38A1 to be the last “real” military Jeep.

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

Condition code
Value (dollars)
6 2,250
5 4,500

Scarcity: 3

Military Vehicles

Magazine uses a given a value based on a 1-to-6 condition grading scale as follows: 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.

*Military Vehicles Magazine
*Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles, 1942-2003

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