Dream of owning a Jeep?
For many of us, owning a WW2 Jeep was the reason we ended up doing this research. Buying a jeep is the fulfilment of many a childhood dream. For me, (Nick Thomas), it was growing up on my Grandfather's war stories of him battling across North Africa and Italy, and perhaps watching Kelly's Heroes a few too many times, if such a thing is possible. This section will be all about my personal experiences.
I have been through the process of wanting, buying and owning a jeep, and I will try and give an overview to the sort of questions and answers you will likely have on the matter.
So you want to own the real thing, how realistic is that? Well I am glad to tell you that it is well within reach for a great many people. The Jeep was made in vast quantities, and is one of the most well supported classic cars in existence. For many classic cars, parts are getting scarce, but not for the jeep. You need a new exhaust, dynamo, set of tyres, starter motor, body, no problem. You can get most parts for a WW2 jeep as brand new reproduction within a few days mail order. The initial purchase cost is no more than many family hatchbacks, and they are small enough that they will fit in the smallest of garages.
Not a mechanic? Well neither am I. I write novels for a living, and have very limited knowledge of mechanics. The WW2 jeep is one of the simplest four wheeled motor vehicles ever constructed. It is tough, reliable and easy to work on. Manuals are easy to get and there are some really good forums where people with decades of experience will gladly help (G503 is one of the best). There are also a number of specialist companies in the UK who will work on, or restore these vehicles, such as Jeffries Engineering, Allied Forces Canvas, and Dallas Auto Parts.
What about fuel economy? This is one of the most common things that I get asked at shows, and I find that quite depressing. Of all the interesting things you could ask about the jeep, that should be low on the list. A Jeep's economy should be measured on smiles per mile, not miles per gallon. Still, if you want some facts, here they are. Expect a WW2 Jeep to average 18mpg. (UK gallons that is). On long runs I have managed to get as high as 25, but I don't ever worry about it. How many miles do you really think you will do? In the period between 2011 and 2016 I have driven my jeep 7000 miles. And please don't fit a diesel engine!
What about bad weather? We do live in the UK after all. Don't be afraid to get your jeep wet, it's a tough old girl! However, they should not be stored outdoors. Every vehicle in the world decays quickly when they are left outdoors, and that's why few cars survive beyond 17 years in this country before getting scrapped. These machines are now over 70 years old, and we have a duty to keep them going strong for many more. As for driving in the rain generally, well they have a canvas that will keep the worst of it off. Put a coat, hat and gloves on!
How fast will they go? For their day the Jeep was a nippy little machine. It's 2.2 litre 'Go Devil' engine puts out 55 bhp, and it's light. In most driving conditions they will keep up with traffic like any other car, just not on a motorway. Cruising speed is 50 mph max. Still they can be used on motorways, it's just not a fun experience.
Trailer it to shows or drive? Your choice. I don't own a trailer, and I want to enjoy my jeep to the maximum. I have driven it to France twice (from South Wales), and to Folkestone for the War and Peace show. As a rule I keep to events within 30 miles of my home, and only venture further for something special that is longer than a weekend.
What potential pitfalls are there? The biggest is that there are a lot of junk vehicles out there. By that I mean rough basket cases and also those that have been bodged and or patched to make them look good and conceal a world of problems. When I bought my jeep in 2011, it looked great, but it had a tonne of trouble waiting for me, but I at least got the jeep cheap, and all the work since has only increased the value. But unless you are inclined to restore yourself, my recommendation would be to save your pennies and get the best you possibly can from day 1.
Find a good one, or build it that way yourself, and you'll have a fantastic time with a jeep. They need a little more maintenance that a modern car, but nothing massive nor too time consuming. Grease all the nipples, change all the oils regularly and it should be smooth running.
So my overall advice for buying a jeep? Get the best you can, even if that means taking out a loan or saving a little longer, it will be worth it. Rising values mean you won't lose a penny. Buy from a reputable dealer like Dallas of Jefferies, or try and find some knowledgeable friends to go with you when buying. Make sure you have a garage or similar to store it in. Decide what it is that you want before you go looking. Do you want a showroom condition, or a solid worker? Will you be happy with major reproduction parts like the body? There is nothing wrong with them, but you need to know what you are buying, and if you'll be happy with it.
Have there been any bad times? Sure, I have rolled into a show with petrol pouring out everywhere. I've broken down on the motorway on the way to the War and Peace Show. Sometimes you just have those moments where your sweating, and sometimes bleeding, and cursing the moon and the stars, but then you calm down, sip a cold beer, and go back at it the next day and remember all the good times. Many of the problems I have encountered could have been resolved by spending more and getting a better condition vehicle from the get go. It's all part of the fun, and all part of the experience.
Lastly, if you have always wanted one, get one. I have had some of the most amazing experiences in my life with my jeep. Whether it is blasting down a country lane on a hot summers day, going to classic car shows, off-roading through beautiful scenery, the Anniversary of the Normandy Invasions, or a pootle down to your local for a pint on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Life is just too short not to, and you can't take that money to the grave with you!
So where do you look to buy a Jeep if not from the dealers who restore them? For adverts check out the website Milweb, and the MVT (Military Vehicle Trust) for sale section.