Hints on model years

I have had many questions from people asking for help in identifying the model and year of a Willys pickup truck or wagon. Let me start by claiming I am not an expert. There are other people who know more than I do. I have only owned two Willys, and neither is totally stock. So my first hand knowledge is limited; but I am observant, and I have looked at a lot of Willys, so I've noticed a few things. Since I decided to try to help other Willys enthusiasts with these web pages, I might as well take on the question everybody keeps asking.

The basic design of the Willys pickup truck and wagon stayed pretty much the same throughout the years of production. There were several changes made in 1950, which make the pre-50 vehicles easy to spot. Willys Motor company was known to make changes to the vehicles at various times not corresponding to the calendar year or the model year as defined by other auto manufacturers. They were also known occasionally to put together vehicles with whatever parts they had on hand, so sometimes there were vehicles produced with parts that were like those used in previous years.

Many times, the title was made out by the dealer when the vehicle was sold. The year on the title can be the year of sale rather than the year of production.

Mixed models
Also, many Willys vehicles have undergone modification over the years. Worn and broken parts have often been replaced with parts from Willys vehicles from different years. You could never put a door from a 1957 Chevy on a 1960 Chevy, but a door from a 1950 Willys pickup can go onto a 1960 Willys wagon with no problems.

All this is to say, identifying the year of a Willys is not always a precise and irrefutable decision.

Willys America

A good source for details of changes over the years is the Parts Catalog & Restoration Guide by Paul Barry of
Willys America. It is not a "how to" guide to restoration, but it does give a lot of good imformation. Much of what I know came from Paul's booklet. It contains descriptions of minor changes made each year, along with some pictures of vehicles and details on engines and other parts. If you are really a Willys enthusiast, you want to buy this booklet.

Serial Numbers

Serial numbers are located on the outside of the left front frame (at least that is what I am told - I never found them on my Willys). They are also sometimes located on a plate on the left side of the box under the seat. I have also had people tell be they found serial numbers on a plate on the inside of the left door frame. There is evidence that my Willys had a plate on the upper left firewall, inside the engine compartment, above the steering column (it is not there anymore).

If you find a serial number, you can look them up to determine the year your Willys was produced. Serial numbers are included in Paul's catalog, and can be found on web at The Willys Internet Truck Club. For the pickup trucks, look at the Willys Pickup page. For the wagons, look at the Willys Wagon page. One of the most comprehensive and authoritative sources for serial number was transcribed by Charlie Weaver in 1998 from handwritten notes kept by Norton Young. These are posted on Derek Redmond's, The CJ3B Page. I have duplicated them here for convenience. Serial Numbers.

My Descriptions

Key features that changed over the years:

If you recognize any errors in my dates or descriptions, please let me know.

11/5/98, 5/4/99, 12/3/99

© Richard B. Grover 1997 to 2006. Last updated: Thursday, March 1, 2001