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Colin’s ’48 Jeepster

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, Jeepster • TAGS: .

As I mentioned yesterday, besides his grandkids mini-jeep, Colin has worked on several different Willys.  Here’s his Jeepster that was featured a couple times in JP Magazine, specifically the June 2007 issue and the January 2008 issue.

Colin writes, “Here are some photos of our 48 Jeepster.  We have had this car for over 33 years and when we bought it, it had a non running Studebaker Champion 6 engine in it.  Once we got it running and back in decent visual and mechanical condition, we drove it that way for many years. Around 1990, I stored it in our garage and worked on other vehicles and a house remodeling project (a happy wife makes for a happy home!).  I did our Corvette restoration from 1994 until 1998.  After I retired in 2003, I began putting ideas together about re-doing the Jeepster.  I wanted a car that looked original on the outside, which it did already, but with an improved drivetrain and suspension under it to keep up with Phoenix area traffic.  After a lot of research, I decided a Buick V6 was the way to go.  I found a freshly rebuilt (still in the plastic) 1982 Buick 231 even fire V6 for a very reasonable price.  I pulled the front sheet metal off the Jeepster and got to work.  With an updated engine going into it, I chose to put a Mustang II front end kit with tubular A-arms, Ford disc brake rotors (I wanted to use stock Jeepster wheels, hubcaps and trim rings), and rack and pinion steering into the chassis.  A buddy of mine and I did the majority of the front end work in a weekend.  I used a set of engine mounts from Novak Engineering in Utah and bolted the engine to a 1967 Muncie close ratio 4 speed that was in my parts bin.  For the rear end, I found a 1969 Ford Mustang 8 inch with 2.79 gears.  That rear end is a bolt in for any of the 46-63 Willys 2 wheel drive wagons, panel deliveries and the 48-51 Jeepsters. I also used a front sway bar and on the rear, a Willys Jeepster/station wagon sway bar. I did upgrade the Buick with a set of finned aluminum valve covers from TA Performance,  a 4 bbl Holley 390 cfm carb from a 65 AMC 327 engine and dual exhausts.  The end result is a Jeepster that runs great( 1750 rpm at 65-70 mph), gets excellent gas mileage(about 26 at 65 mph) and handles like a sports car(better than our Corvette!).  All of this work was relatively easy, even though it took me a while.”

In this first pic you see both his Jeepster and the 1960 Surrey he purchased that can be seen here.  Colin has been restoring the Surrey as well.


6 Comments on “Colin’s ’48 Jeepster

  1. Randy

    Colin, Nice job. Been looking for a Jeepster and you have given me a great blueprint for the build. I’ve got a CJ 3B for ranch work…..also I see your a JD man. I’ve got a number of old “Poppers” I use for shredding.

  2. Colin Peabody

    roberto and Randy, Thanks for the kind words. I’m not a great craftsman, but I have fun playing with these Jeeps. If I had more room, I would love to have a full size John Deere, but living in the city, there aren’t too many fields to plow! The little lawn tractors do make an excellent basis for building 1/2 scale Jeeps, though. Jeepsters are extremely easy to modify, but the old planadyne front ends are over 60 years old now and metal fatigue has surely set in. I lost the front spindle on our Jeepster at 40mph back in 1980 and that was a wild ride, but no one got hurt and the car wound up on some guys lawn in Scottsdale. If you plan to modify a Jeepster with a more powerful engine, please consider the Mustang II setup. It is fairly inexpensive and really bulletproof. Any V6 engine will fit easily into the engine compartment and you won’t have to cut the grille shell/radiator support. You can even use the original radiator ( with a new core probably). The spring perches on the Mustang rear end match up with the springs on the Jeepster, so that is an easy install. Good Luck!

  3. Mom

    I saw the Continental kit in the photo that was featured yesterday and was wondering what it was connected to. Now I know. Beautiful job! I am feeling a little, ok a lot, envious with the end result.

  4. deilers

    Mom, this is news to me! I didn’t know you wanted a Jeepster? Maybe we could trade one of Kim’s (my sister) horses for one … Think she’d miss just one horse? 🙂

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