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1951 CJ-3A Valentine APU Jeep on eBay

• CATEGORIES: CJ-3A • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

Nick’s jeep was just featured in the most recent issue of Dispatcher Magazine.

View all the information on eBay

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Where do I even begin? This is a very rare and authentic piece of military history; it may be your only chance to own a vehicle like this. If you search “APU Jeep” this very Jeep is all over the internet. It is a 1951 Willys Jeep CJ3A, but was specially contracted by the US Navy to be used as a mobile power unit. This is known as an APU (auxiliary power unit). It’s sole purpose was to start early jet-aircraft as they did not have on-board starters. It utilized a PTO-driven generator off the transfercase and fed power through cables to the jet. The equipment was so heavy duty, the Jeeps were equipped with larger engines that weren’t even available to the public yet. Two different manufacturers built these Jeeps: A company named O.E. Szekely which a handful of Jeeps are left, but none have any of the original jet equipment. They are only known by their data plates. The other company was Valentine Welder & Co.

This Jeep is a Valentine NA-4 and is the only one known to exist of 75 quoted.
Out of both brands, it is the only APU with any jet-starting equipment left.
Only one with original military paint.
Only one with full surplus documentation and traceable history.

Two versions of APU’s were built The 3-wheeled variants were used for aircraft carriers. They featured rear wheel steering, no windshields, and small tires to fit under the aircraft wings. Traditional Jeeps with 4×4 were designed for ground bases and have the standard tires/windshield. This Jeep is a 4×4 but has no windshield and has the 3-wheeled size tires, which leads us to believe it was converted for aircraft carrier duty. From heavy research, the USS Wasp (CV-18) is a high possibility of the ship this Jeep served upon. The NA-4 Jeep was the state-of-the-art APU of its time and was the most advanced mobile power unit in the USN.

The Jeep itself is an important artifact, but the documentation I have for this Jeep is almost unreal. Most people wonder where their Jeeps served. This one has absolute proof. It has provenance. With the Jeep comes the original surplus release paperwork, and a copy of the quote Valentine sent to the US Gov. It includes a breakdown of costs, overhead, parts, etc from the National Archives. This is unheard of in the military vehicle world as records were typically thrown away or lost through time. I am the 3rd civilian owner. It served at the USN base in Norfolk, Virginia. It was sold to surplus businessman Henry Reitsma in Lafayette, IN. I purchased the Jeep from the next owner’s son who inherited it. His father purchased the Jeep and appeared to have plans to restore it. In the barn were patch panels and miscellaneous axle parts. The project was never completed.

Because of this, it has remained completely original as it left surplus on March 26, 1962. The paint is original with hand brushed USN numbers. Hand writing remains on the hood from what I believe was used as an inventory mark while its stay in Lafayette. The PTO drive system remained intact and still works. With the help of a few other people across the globe, we located the correct model generator for the Jeep. It is in original paint as well and was completely refurbished to be in working condition. My goal was to make the Jeep mechanically sound and leave the body and history as is. As the only survivor of its kind, I wanted to preserve it. You can find the full build thread online by searching “Valentine APU Jeep.” This is a list of everything I have done to the Jeep:

-installed correct F-head engine
-installed good tranny/tcase, all oil seals replaced. It still inevitably leaks
-new clutch system
-installed original refurbished Jack & Heintz G32 generator
-completely new brakes on 3 drums
-original gas tank cleaned & sealed
-new tires & tubes
-battery, wiring, switch

The Jeep is in running, driving, stopping condition. Work I was going to continue but still needs: new brake lines as most are clogged, and misc tasks such as convert to 6V as we previously thought it was to be 12, locate an original bottom seat cushion, find a governor, hook up the other gauges (speedo works), hook up parking brake, and find a control box for the generator. These are just the additional parts of the project I never got to. Included with this sale is:

-Valentine Jeep
-original tire
-original tranny/tcase
-original air cleaner
-original surplus release documentation
-copy of Valentine to US Gov quote
-3 copies of The Dispatcher magazine. This Jeep was featured on the cover and has a 5 page center spread of the full history of the Jeep to 2016. I wrote the article/took the pictures so it is guaranteed to be historically accurate.
-model toy 3-wheeled version APU
-original generator manuals
-hard drive with all the documents/research/pictures/videos I have
-a list of APU owners/contacts including the previous owner
-a binder for the documents and souvenirs from the Jeep shows it has attended

It is both a blessing and a curse this is the only known Valentine NA-4 to exist. I have spent many months of researching archives and documentation to bring the Jeep to where it is today. We located the generator. The last part intriguing me is to find a control box to complete the jet-starting equipment. You can see where it once operated on the rear passenger fender. I’ve been in contact with an APU expert in Germany and we’ve been working towards finding the model numbers. I’ve emailed a few veteran sailors and received priceless information.


17 Comments on “1951 CJ-3A Valentine APU Jeep on eBay

  1. Mike

    Yeah, me too, did a double take. And this is what I’m always talking about, it seems to be more about money than pride in restoration and ownership.

  2. David Eilers Post author

    This is a neat vehicle, but the reality is that it is an impractical vehicle for a 19 year old to own. And, it’s quite possible that he doesn’t have the resources to properly restore it. He has done what he could by locating it, securing it, realizing its uniqueness through a lot of research, and cleaning it up some. However, rather than do a poor restoration, he’d like to turn it over for someone to do correctly. That’s a good sign of maturity, that he knows his own limits.

    Based on my conversations with him, I don’t believe he wants to let it go. He just realizes that if he continues to own it, it will just sit in a building, awaiting a time he can do something with it. Besides, he’s got another project, a jeep more practical for him to restore that he can enjoy driving.

  3. Bill Norris


    Nick called me about this too. As you said it’s just not something practical for a college student to own.

    He rwants this to go to a home that will preserve it. He really wanted it to go to a museum. That must not have panned out,


  4. David Eilers Post author

    Sadly, the few lottery tickets I’ve purchased haven’t panned out. Otherwise I’d be scooping up items like this for a proper museum . . .

  5. Nick

    You hit the nail on the head Dave. I have unexplained pride in the caretaking of this vehicle, and having been the one who rescued it. The impracticality is hard to explain until you own something this rare. I’m selling this to reach a large end goal after school, to pay off a very large chunk of my future house. If it doesn’t hit reserve it’ll never be for sale again and I’ll find a new plan. Maybe I can open up my own museum and charge the locals?

  6. Bob

    I agree. It’s not a jeep to be driven much with those tiny wheels and such. It need to be restored to original and kept in a museum, except for an annual appearance at the Willys Reunion!

  7. Hugh

    It was Nicks interest and passion that brought this unique piece of history into the light. While most would have seen a rockcrawler project, he understood its significance and preserved it. His dogged determination and research kept this jeep out of the scrap pile. How many nineteen year olds would do something like this? Nick is an amazing guy and im happy to call him my friend.

  8. Lew

    On top of what Hugh said Nick, and no matter what happens from this point forward, I think you should be proud of what you have so far accomplished, and for a worthy cause.

  9. Kenneth Valentine

    Hi All,

    I’m just seeing this now — for no particular reason I googled this today.

    My father and grandfather were the C E Valentine Jr. and Sr. who produced these. My father passed away about 10 years ago. Its a treat to see there is at least one still out there, and people so interested in it. We don’t have too much from those days, but I do have some high-quality photos of the jeeps on the deck of aircraft carriers. There may be some other info in files at my mother’s house.

    If folks want copies and perhaps some family lore, I would be happy to help.

  10. Nick

    Hey Kenneth,

    This is the best news I’ve received all year! I’m the owner of this Jeep, and would love to talk with you over the phone. I have searched the National Archives and just about every corner of the internet looking for info. Please send me your contact information at

  11. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks for the comment Kenneth! We didn’t have any records of the Valentine-built-APU until Nick discovered the one above. Then, to his credit, he researched it diligently, becoming the Jeep community’s expert.

    I’m as interested in expanding my understanding as Nick is, especially how/why your family ended up producing these, whether there was just one model or several different kinds, and anything else you can provide. I’d also beinterested in doing an updated post based on this info and possibly a magazine article for the Dispatcher Magazine (unless Nick would like to do it … I’ll talk with him about it).

    David Eilers

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