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Wally Cohn — Jeep King?

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine, Old Images, Other 4x4s, Sedan-jeep, Unusual • TAGS: , , .

UPDATE 2: Daniel Strohl over at Hemmings provided a solid background update about Wally Cohn.

“Born in 1924 in Germany, his father and stepmother sent him to the Chicago area in 1937 both to live with family and to escape the increasingly anti-Semitic mood in Germany. After Kristallnacht, his older brother Herman, his father Siegfried, and his stepmother joined him in Chicago. Walter flew 30 missions for the U.S. Army Air Corps as a bombardier during the war, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Bronze Star and rising at least to the rank of Sergeant. After the war, he served as a member of the chief justice’s staff during the war crimes trials in Nuremberg, then returned to the United States and founded W&W Foreign Auto Parts in Blue Island, Illinois.”

UPDATE:  A reader named Clint just determined what type of vehicle Wally was using — A 1936-1940 Opel Olympia.  Here are two links to images:  Link 1 & Link 2. Thanks Clint!

While doing research yesterday, I ran across the images shown below and others.  I didn’t think much of them until I looked more closely.  It appears the builder, who I assume is Wally Cohn, has merged a 1936-1940 Opel Olympia with a MB to create, arguably, the first Jeepster-like vehicle, except it is four wheel drive. The ‘Wally’ appears to use the entire jeep drive train.  If you look in back, you’ll even see this car can tow a trailer!

Who is Wally Cohn? I have no idea. I can’t seem to find anything about him, other than his name was Wally Cohn and he was nicknamed the Jeep King by photographer Walter Sanders.

Photographer Walter (Wally) Sanders worked for Life Magazine from 1944 to 1961. After growing up and leaving Germany for the US in 1937, he returned in early 1946 and lived the rest of his life in Europe, mostly in Munich. You can learn more about his biography here.

Because Walter was in Europe during December of 1946, and because these photos were snapped during that month, and because of Wally’s uniform (which Bob noted is an Army Airforce Uniform), I have concluded that Wally Cohn was a member of the armed services trying to merge cars and jeeps into a Wally vehicle of some kind (note the name Wally is displayed prominently on the dash in one of the pics).

This would be a great collector’s item — and a cool jeep too!

 

9 Comments on “Wally Cohn — Jeep King?

  1. Bob

    well, I can tell you he was in the Army Air Force (pre air-force) judging by the 8th Air Force symbol on the front of the car. Also, the car body he’s climbing around is the same body he used on his creation. I think it looks like a smaller Mercedes.

  2. deilers

    Hi Clint,

    Nicely done! I think we have a winner.

    I just spent the last hour looking. One of the things I discovered was that most germany vehicles had suicide doors, so nearly all of them could be ruled out. I tried american bantams, austins, fords, auto unions (there was a close one here: http://www.autounion1939.com/dkw/index.php?page=16), and others.

    Thanks again!

    – Dave

  3. deilers

    I agree with you. It looks like the completed one licensed E1652 is the prototype. It appears a second one is being constructed in the garage. And, at the very least, the body of the third one is in the 2nd picture.

    Here’s an article about pre-war Opels .. http://www.opelmagazine.com/en/astra-special/reverse/long-life-sport.html

    On page 2 of the article is a shot of the dashboard. It appears the Wally uses a speedometer from something other than an Opel or a MB — the wally speedometer is long and narrow.

  4. Bob

    I’ll go with the opel olympia. It’s certainly a german car if you see that way they did convertibles back then.

  5. Pingback: Wally Cohn, Europe’s answer to the boys of the 478th at Hemmings Blog – Classic and collectible cars and parts

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