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How much is this Willys Jeep worth?

That is a question that comes up quite often. It is asked by an owner when he wishes to sell his Jeep and by a perspective buyer when he is looking at a Jeep. The answer is really simple. The reasonable selling price of a 50+ year old vehicle is always a matter of 2 things 1) desire of the present owner 2) desire of the perspective owner. It has very little to do with the "normal" value rules. This article will attempt to shed some light on the various considerations that should effect the selling price.

Let's look at the "normal" value rules. - Age of vehicle, Mileage, Condition, Equipment and Enhancements. These apply only to vehicles that will be used for normal transportation and assume reliability and functionality is the prime concern. While this works well for the motoring public at large, it has very little effect on the value of a 50 year old vehicle.

When we are looking at 50 year old vehicles there are different rules. They will vary depending on the reason for purchase. While there are countless categories, I will group the reasons to purchase into five categories  restoration, resto-update, restomod, modified and parts. Let's look at the definition of each category.

Categories

RESTORATION: This is the smallest of the categories and where the purists of the hobby reside. Originality is their prime concern. The correct parts are required for this category of vehicle. (Most organizations require a fire extinguisher and seat belts to participate in any event.) (1) The title VIN number and serial number plates must match and the original engine (not to be confused with original engine type) is a real plus. These vehicles are rarely driven off road in the environment they were built for. Because there is a finite number they command the highest price. The key is finding an owner that wishes to sell or a serious buyer as the case may be. Completely finished vehicles could bring $20,000 or more.

RESTO-UPDATE: This is the largest category. This includes everything from installing a new top to enhancing the braking system and adding seatbelts. Updating the electrical system and updated tires & wheels would also fall into this category. Minor non original body part changes, but no major drive train changes exist. These vehicles are mainly weekend drivers and occasional off road use. Price range here is really dependant on condition. A "finished" vehicle here could sell in the $10,000 - $15,000 range. While the ready to start on specimen might only bring $500.

RESTOMOD: This is the second largest category. It includes the re-power with an updated engine, transmission, axles, and suspension. This will require drilling, cutting and welding on major components. Typically these vehicles are mainly daily drivers and occasional to regular off road use. Here again the price range here is dependant on condition with content added as a qualifier. A "finished" vehicle here could sell in the $5,000 - $10,000 range. While the ready to start on specimen might only bring $500.

MODIFIED: This is where the extremists live. These vehicles are a Willys in name only. While they may still look like a Willys, but they are really something else in Willys clothing. Extreme off road is where this vehicle is found. Price in this category is entirely in the eye of the buyer and seller. All bets are off.

PARTS: Come to think of it, there may be more parts vehicles than any other category. This is where the parts come from for the resto-whatever. Vehicles here come in all conditions and many to most don't have a title or some other document to allow for vehicle registration. Most of these are under $700 and many are almost, if not, free. Again content is the value determining factor. "Well let's see the engine is stuck. Hummm, but I need the transmission and it would be nice to have a spare.......

Titles:

Probably the biggest problem with these old vehicles is the documentation to prove ownership. This is usually a title. However it can come in the form of a vehicle registration. Below are some pit falls either I or people I know of have experienced. Nothing is worse than a vehicle you can't prove is yours. Learn from the mistakes of others.

Other Title: Many vehicles are offered on ebay come with "other titles". This generally indicates the current owner believes he owns the vehicle but can't produce a title for the vehicle. Some states, Georgia for one, doesn't title older vehicles. The vehicles are registered and the registration is sufficient for transfer of ownership. Check with your state Motor Vehicle Department for their ownership transfer requirements before you spend any money. If you can't transfer ownership to your name, the  most you have is a parts vehicle. If the seller can only provide a bill of sale, and your state doesn't recognize a bill of sale from the state you are purchasing from, there is still a ray of hope. There several places that will provide documentation to assist you in transferring ownership to your name. Broadway Titles is one. Be aware some states will not recognize the documentation they provide.

Title in Previous Owner's Name: This happens when someone buys a project and never completes it. The current owner just "never got around to transferring the title". Most states get real picky about a bill of sale from John Doe on a vehicle titled to Pete Smith. This can result from an estate sale. Again, the devil is in the paper work.

Title serial number is not found on the vehicle: Some states titled the vehicle with engine serial number and when the engine wore out and was either rebuilt or replaced the serial number disappeared. The serial number can disappear on F134 and L134 when a block resurfacing destroyed the serial number. Now If I buy that vehicle and the title says the serial number is the original number. Now what to do? Refer to "Other Titles" above and be sure of your state's requirements before doing something you might regret.

Serial Numbers:

The next issue is serial numbers. The serial number tags and engine serial numbers are in different locations on different vehicles. For CJ2As there are VIN tags mounted on the passenger side firewall and outside front frame horn on drivers side. The engine serial numbers were stamped into a boss on the top of the block behind the water pump. This link will assist in identifying the vehicle.

Conclusion:

As stated in the opening paragraph, the real measure of the worth of one these vehicles is DESIRE. If the buyer desires it sufficiently to satisfy the seller's desire, then the ownership will change. Personally I have not spent much money to purchase my Willys vehicles. But then I don't buy a finished or nearly finished vehicle either. I prefer to purchase a project vehicle and put gobs of money making it the way I want it.

Desirable Vehicles:

This is a list of Desirable Vehicles. These are considered to be desirable for restoration. It would be a shame to modify these with any non-reversible changes. i.e. cut firewall to install engine or hole in dash for radio. If know a Willys vehicle(s) you consider should be added please email me with the info.

Any pre WWII "Jeep" - Willys, Ford or Bantam - I consider these worthy of "Willys Respect"

1942 MB Slat Grill  This is the "original" MB. Only 200 or so survived.

1944 CJ1 - No known surviving vehicles

1944 - 1945 CJ2 - only 8 known surviving vehicles

DJ3A Surrey

1950 CJ-V35 - Only about 20 known surviving vehicles

 

 

Credits:

(1) - Robert Stewart

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Copyright Richard N. Meagley Sr.
Last revised: May 25, 2007.