This fully restored 1951 Willys M38 Jeep, which was recently auction off by Sotheby’s for a paltry $38,500, was originally developed to supply the U.S. military during the Korean War.
The M38 isn’t the first Jeep Willys produced for the U.S. Military. And the backstory is as interesting as the vehicle you see before you.
According to Sotheby’s:
“In 1940, the United States Army Quartermaster Corps released a tender for “a general purpose personnel or cargo carrier.” The first respondent was perhaps the most unlikely manufacturer, the American Bantam Car Company, which had begun as a licensed builder of the Austin Seven. Eventually, Willys-Overland received the largest of the military contracts for this quarter-ton 4 × 4, which soon became beloved of American GIs for its versatility and reliability.
At war’s end, Willys developed a civilian model of what the servicemen affectionately called the “Jeep.” This CJ-2A model (for Civilian Jeep) was shorn of its military fixtures but was so rugged that it developed a following with farmers and tradesmen. Within four years, however, the United States became involved in hostilities in Korea, and an updated version of the military Jeep was called for. The then-current civilian Jeep was the CJ-3A, so Willys developed a militarized model, designated M38. Nearly 62,000 M38s were produced between 1950 and 1952.”
This specific 1951 Willys M38 Jeep received a full restoration prior to the auction. It is equipped with several period-correct goodies including a telephone, radio, gas can, helmet, and an operational siren. Oh, and it is also outfitted with two machine guns which are fueled by propane and oxygen to give it authentic-sounding “shots!”