My 1948 Willys CJ-2A, nicknamed Project Slow Devil after its broken “Go-Devil” engine, was a real barn find. It was as legitimate as a flat-fender Jeep, having been used on the farm since new and heavily used in the Michigan countryside.
My friend Brandon, truly one of the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to fender jeeps, went out with me to see, and we both fell in love. The thing had some rusting issues, but most of the important parts were there, so I dropped $ 1,400 on the Willy and towed it home with my friend Michael’s truck.
The challenges presented by Slow Devil were incredible. His transmission needed a complete rebuild. Its engine needed a complete rebuild (but we just fine-tuned the cylinders and installed new rings and bearings), the steering gear needed a complete rebuild, the carburetor needed a rebuild, and so on. following.
In the end, I drove the 1,000 mile Jeep sitting down with only a pillow pushed into a trash bag between my butt and the gas tank. Then the Jeep suffered an unpredictable engine failure that ended up being a sheared timing gear. After towing the Jeep to Moab for the rest of the way, my colleague Freddy and I fixed the Jeep and went off-roading to get the everlasting crap out of it.
The machine remains to this day the most capable all-terrain vehicle I have ever owned. From afar.
The Jeep was also a victim of the Great Purge in the City of Troy in 2020, although honestly I had planned to sell it anyway. I wasn’t using it enough and had too many cars. I drowned the engine in one last epic off-road session before the sale. So I stupidly let the water stay in the engine and freeze over the winter.
Finally, the ice melted, I drained the engine and noticed a heavy knock. So in just a few hours, I pulled the engine out and extracted the crankshaft to be machined by a local workshop. I put everything together and it went very well. I sold the Jeep for $ 3000 to a gentleman named John from Pennsylvania, who kindly towed my Kia to the scrapyard the same day.
John has had a few setbacks recently; his house caught fire and, while fleeing, was burned and seriously injured when he hit his foot against a wall. John told me his firefighters had arrived at the house, and once the team determined everyone was safe, one of the first things they did was hang straps on the Willys they saw through the open garage doors. The fire was out by then, but John told me how funny he found saving a classic to mean so much to his local fire department.
So the Jeep hasn’t been used much since I sold it. John welded a rear cross member while recovering from his injury, and he’s still working on the vehicle, including making floors from old basement doors and fabricating body brackets. . âMy goal is to make it work really well and make agricultural repairs to the body because this path has already been traveled,â he told me.
The Jeep is in stripped down form right now in John’s garage. The vehicle is largely the same, except that John painted the names “Virgil” and “Linda Lou” on the base of the windshield.