Jeep Willys Surrey
Before World War I, Willys-Overland ranked second only to Ford in total production. Even in the early 1920s, the company founded by John North Willys occupied sixth place in industry sales, moving as high as third in 1928 with help from its low-priced Whippet model. Move ahead to 1942 when the company turned to the production of military “general purpose” or “jeep” vehicles as they would become known. Essentially designed by competitor American Bantam, Willys would produce far more of the “jeep” vehicles which would later become synonymous with the firm. Following the War, Willys was first to introduce an all-steel station wagon in 1946 followed by the Roadster or Jeepster “phaeton” in 1948, both styled by legendary industrial designer Brooks Stevens.
Arguably one of the most memorable and collectible of Jeeps is the 1959 Jeep Gala, later renamed the Surrey. New that year, it was based on the two-wheel drive Dispatcher model first introduced in 1956. While the Dispatcher was a essentially a version of the former CJ-3A (civilian jeep) utilizing an I-Beam front suspension and the old “Go-Devil” flathead four-cylinder engine, the Gala was termed a DJ-3A and featured a striped surrey-style top with fringe, matching spare tire cover, striped seats and optional whitewall tires with full wheel discs. Three colors were offered: blue, green and shocking pink! Most notable was the famous Las Brisas Resort in Acapulco, Mexico which purchased a fleet of the colorful vehicle for use by its guests. The model would continue to be listed in Jeep catalogs through 1964 though no specific production figures are known. Cost new: $1,650 to $1,775 base.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
60 hp, 134 cu. in. inline L-head four-cylinder engine, three-speed synchromesh transmission with floor-mounted gearshift, Hypoid semi-floating rear axle, four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 80".
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel