1953 M38A1 For Sale
Frame off restoration/modernization several years ago, garage kept with minimal mileage since. The Jeep was rebuilt with the intent of keeping a mostly original military look, but with functional modernizations that make it easier and more reasonable to drive both on and off road. I purchased the Jeep from a man who's father was a Korean war veteran that dealt in military surplus Willys Jeeps and parts. He and his father did the original V6 engine conversion, painted it turquoise, put a steel hard top on it and used it as a daily driver for some time. Eventually he retired it to his garage with the intent of replacing the original rotting body tub with a nice one that his father had found. I bought the Jeep as a package that included the replacement body tub and a pile of other parts. The earliest and most extensive portion of my rebuild is documented here. There are other upgrades that are not listed on the "ownership diary" page, I will try and list them here.
On the whole the Jeep is a real pleasure to drive. The 231 V6 engine is the perfect size for this vehicle, and combined with the overdrive, upgraded steering, brakes, and suspension it rides and drives vastly better than the original equipment Jeep did. The correct military OD paint and period stenciling draw continual attention on the road or trail, and the modernization upgrades are unnoticeable by the casual novice observer.
- 1976 231 Buick V6, HEI distributor, Rochester 2GC carb
- rebuilt original T90 transmission (no leaks)
- rebuilt Dana 18 transfer case (no leaks), interlock pin removed (allows low range 2WD operation)
- Advanced Adapters transfer case intermediate shaft roller bearing kit
- M151 radiator>
- D25 front axle, D44 rear axle
- original 5.38:1 axle gearing ratios
- Full floating rear axle conversion (Warn) with Warn locking rear hubs
- Selectro locking hubs in front
- Detroit locker in rear differential
- Rancho overdrive (giving about 65 mph top speed)
- front manual disc brakes
- 10" rear Jeep CJ brakes with integrated emergency brake
- foot operated emergency brake pedal
- very visible Gama Goat (M561) rear tail/brake light housings
- Jeep CJ Saginaw manual steering conversion w/damper
- original working vacuum powered windshield wipers
- Pontiac tilt steering column (painted to match vehicle)
- in-dash tachometer and LED turn signal indicators
- removable ammo box radio and rear ammo box 6x9 speakers
- under dash CB radio, quick mount/unmount installation
- 2 1/2" Superlift Superride lift kit (springs and shocks)
- roll/sport bar (not cage)
- P235/75R15 steel belted mud tires on Jeep CJ rims
- seat belts front and rear
- original type front seat back padding, front seat bottoms are canvas covered high density foam
- removable rear seat (modified and upholstered M151 rear seat)
- tan Besttop Supertop in good condition
- tan bikini top
- integrated tow bar
- 4 pin trailering plug wired to diode protected tail lights for flat towing ease
- correct 24087 OD semi-gloss paint
- original style military stenciling
- current Texas state inspection
- Texas titled and licensed, 100% street legal
- misc spare parts and extras
The not so good:
- The Jeep keeps up with modern traffic very well.
- Overdrive with highway capable top speed.
- Very smooth and easy mechanical operation from top to bottom.
- Soft top is in extremely good condition.
- VERY few scratches or dings in the paint.
- Front blackout lamp baffles removed, and amber bulbs make the front turn signals very visible.
- Brand new battery.
- Intermediate shaft roller bearing kit installed in transfer case (very quiet operation).
- Probably 1000 or fewer miles driven since my rebuild. Transmission and transfer case were rebuilt at that time, as well as clutch and pressure plate replacement.
- Clutch and pressure place replaced during my rebuild.
- The replacement body tub was undercoated and primed prior to painting.
- Unique hood vehicle ID numbers.
- Many spare and extra parts included.
- While the left fender is original military, the right fender is of CJ vintage. Not a problem, just a note to those that care.
- The seats are covered with generic OD canvas that was NOT UV protected. The cloth itself is fine, but has faded out to a tan color.
- The gas tank has been patched on the upper inside front corner (patched with JB Weld).
- The fuel gauge works, but the needle jumps.
- The right rear tire is mounted with the white lettering out instead of the blackwall out like the other tires.
- Once while the top was off and being stored in the rafters of my shop I did some painting. A very fine primer paint dust settled on the outside of the top half of the driver's door and the top outside few inches of the back plastic. You can see this in the pictures. The driver's door plastic has been cleaned since the pictures were taken, and while it's much better than in the picture it isn't quite like new. The back plastic is still as seen in the pictures.
- The only known major mechanical issue is that the radiator is marginal for this engine. The thermostat is a 160 degree, the fan is engine driven (with fan shroud), and the M151 radiator is a 2 core that looks plenty big. I think the primary problem is that the M151 radiator is rated at 4 pounds of pressure, and the 231 V6 is intended to operate at approximately 12 pounds of pressure. The result is that engine cooling depends on ambient temperature and driving conditions. Basically, with an outdoor temperature of 80 degrees and below there are no cooling issues, at 90 degrees long stoplights can cause a temporary temperature rise, and at 100 degrees it becomes difficult for the engine to cool down after getting too warm at a stop light. I know that a supplemental pusher electric fan would help in low-speed or stoplight situations, but I don't believe that air flow alone is the entire issue. For a good long drive on a 100+ degree day I think the radiator really needs to be a type that is rated at a higher pressure. I haven't worried about this too much because frankly, I enjoy driving it most on cool mornings anyway.
- The speedometer is not accurate, it reads faster than you are really going.
- There is a small electrical drain somewhere, I suspect the ammo box radio. Not a big deal, but if you let it sit for 3 or 4 months without running it the battery will need to be jump started.
- The left turn signal dashboard LED indicator does not work. The left turn signal is fine, it just doesn't flash the LED. I suspect the LED needs to be replaced.