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“Patterson”, Our Newest 1956 DJ-3A

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Karson Eilers (right), college graduate!

It was late Sunday night when I wrote this, so it’s going to be briefer than I’d like. We spent most of the day yesterday driving (after a long drive the day before). I believe I may be a little loopy; time to get some rest, so this is tonight’s only post.

For several weeks we’d been planning to go to Salt Lake City May 13th to celebrate my son’s graduation from Westminster University. It was only last week that this trip turned into a jeep purchase, this in turn led to a more circuitous route home. It is all the result of an ad I saw on Craigslist last week.


We left Thursday. last night we stayed in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

It was just another evening of reading through ads when I happened upon a Craigslist ad with no pics and a short description of a 1956 2WD jeep. Curious, as I thought it could be a DJ-3A, I sent an email, asking if it was wagon or truck. I quickly received a friendly email describing the jeep as a 1956 CJ-3A. What followed was me explaining what DJ-3A was, with my intent only being to educate and help the sellers find a good buyer. Pretty soon, I had a series of photos which depicted a very original 1956 DJ-3A with what appeared to be original seats, zero rust, and a variety of other parts.

At some point I showed Ann pictures of the jeep. Then, Ann’s mother piped up and said that she’d loan me the money if I wanted to purchase it. That led me to investigate the DJ-3A further.

The sellers, Nick and Erika, were wonderfully patient in their responses to my questions. When I asked for photos of some aspect, they were always quickly accommodating. After discovering there was a brake problem, some peeling paint, and a broken column shifter, I made an offer, which factored in my concern that there were other problems and one that also considered the distance we would have to travel to pick it up. The sellers accepted my offer, satisfied that it would go to someone who understood its value and would keep it stock. It was very generous of them.

Fast forward to Sunday (I won’t go into installing a hitch and activating the tow package in the jeep, which required a dealer), we arrived at 10am to meet Nick and Erika. They turned out to be as wonderful in person as they had been over email: gracious and kind.


Thanks Nick and Erika! We’ll take good care of Patterson.

Nick explained the history of the jeep. The city of Patterson (and reason behind the jeep’s name) is known as the apricot capital of the world. An apricot farmer there bought this DJ-3A new. The farmer used it on his farm and also drove it around town. I am even wondering if the color of this jeep is meant to be “apricot”, maybe special ordered? I looked extensively under the cowl and couldn’t find another color. And, it has an Apricot-themed license plate. I will keep investigating this.

There’s more to tell, but for now, here are some photos:


Has a rear seat. The seats look original.


The wood hood blocks had been replaced; the replacements work well.



Note the early CJ-5 0-10 speedo. This appears to confirm that the earliest DJs came with that speedometer.


New radiator built by Nick’s friend. It looks great!


The jeep runs a 12 volt battery. These voltage drops must help manage the electricity. This may need to be sorted through. Not sure if I want to replace them or keep them as part of its character.


broken shift lever


A stop in Redding, California.


Eat apricots!


The seat has a rip that has been sewed together.

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The bag for windshield wiper fluid. I forgot to take a photo of it, but this jeep has a cowl mounted sprayer.



The bottom of this air cleaner is stock. That top looks like a kitchen baking pan.


This is some type of brake helper. I’m sure someone knows more about this.



The back seat folds up.


Exhaust needs some work. Note it has all the emergency brake equipment.


The is a new stainless gas tank that Nick’s friend built out of stainless steel (again, nice work). It looks like it is larger than the original.

1956-dj3a-modesto-ca9-lores 1956-dj3a-modesto-ca8-lores


23 Comments on ““Patterson”, Our Newest 1956 DJ-3A

  1. Bill Shaw

    I though they all had a air intake port for the heater if equipped on the right cowling. Is it Bondoed closed? I dream of finding a navy one.

  2. SteveK

    Love the folding seat, I haven’t seen that before, and a “power brake booster” too, Aluminum radiator, and a SS gas tank, and all in primo condition. What a deal! Fix brakes, I’m thinking associated to the booster, over rest of system, and you’re ready for Alaska…Great Job! Congratulations to to your son too. What a proud weekend for you all.

  3. Lew

    Congrats on the college graduation. Truly a happy day for the Eilers clan.
    The little jeep is a beauty! Nice find. You’re going to be happy you have that bigger tank on the Alcan trip. It looks ready to go right now. That should significantly reduce the pressure to get ready too. Have a safe trip getting her home.

  4. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks guys. We are please.

    Bill: You are right on that!
    Lew: 1 down, a couple more to go.
    Steve: Neither had I. I wasn’t sure if that was some kind of option I didn’t know about. Stock or not, it’s cool.
    Bob: It’s the same model, just a few hundred sooner.
    Bill: only the later DJs had the cowl hole. The early ones had the Harrison heater like the 3As, so didn’t need the hole.

  5. CraigInPA

    When you start naming your vehicles, it becomes very hard to part with them later…

  6. Mike

    A whole lot better shape than Rusty At this point, might consider Rusty as a parts Jeep. Just food for thought.

  7. mom

    Having seen first hand the amount of work needed to get Rusty ready for the road and the amount of time left before the trip, I had my doubts about finishing the task. I think Patterson gives him a more realistic goal of making the Alaska trip. Go Patterson!!

  8. Barry West

    First and foremost congratulations to your son and the proud father. No resemblance at all! NOT! A very nice and timely find. It looks like the color is pretty well matched to the u-haul color. You’ll love that brake booster when you get it working properly. I had the same one with maybe a few slight differences. Mine was on a one time 58 Chevy truck used as a fire dept tanker for years it could be used both as a vacuum or pump to boost brakes. Controls was in floor board so I didn’t need a CDL if stopped carrying saw logs and flag stones. It stopped that huge truck very efficiently. Got to admit it was quite a find and I’d give the loan officer a big olé bear hug. Keep the 24 volt, it worked back in the day and it looks good. Also this doesn’t look like it was used as a stunt double for the Dukes of Hazard! Let us know how the springs are stacked on this one.

  9. Brian in Fenton

    Thanks for the update. When I first saw the pics I thought, wow, he’s really making progress on Rusty, nearly done. All the best to you son.

  10. Don's auto and farm service

    I have the instructions on installing and bleeding the brakes on the brake power booster if you want I could try to scan them. There is also info in a 1950s Chevy truck website about them.

  11. Colin Peabody

    Congrats Dave on both the graduation and the purchase of Patterson! Both have a bright future! One of our Jeepster club guys in Massachusetts has one of those hydrovacs on his 48 Jeepster and it works OK. That folding rear seat looks great. I don’t think the rear seat on My Surrey does that.

  12. David Eilers Post author


    Those directions could prove useful. I took a closer look today at it and realized the seller had pulled the vacuum hose off the manifold (and capped it at the manifold). That would be one reason why the brakes aren’t working.


    – Dave

  13. Joe in Mesa

    Congrats on the Graduate AND the newest Jeep :-).
    But what’s to become of Rusty now? You were making great progress there.
    Seems like Rusty will be keeping Biscuit company until after Alaska or Rust…

  14. David Eilers Post author


    I have accumulated a lot of parts for Rusty, so I will be assembling him as rapidly as I can. What this does allow me to do is to reassemble Rusty with a real-life tutorial, a nearly exact copy. That will help immensely with correctly assembling an early convertible DJ-3A, something not well documented anywhere. But, it also allows me to take my time rebuilding the body. I will not have to resort to fiberglass and can save up for a new rear floor and patch (or replace) the front floor, while learning to use my mig welder.

  15. SteveK

    Dave, you’re one lucky guy. Biscuit, Rusty, Patterson, Ann, and Mom are all “keepers”…Travel Safe!

  16. Allan Knepper

    Congrats on the important stuff…….a new college graduate……you should be very proud ! And after the important stuff……the fun stuff…..another Willys. I am at a loss for words as to the coolness of your new find. And last but not least……notice how moms really do have good intuition into their sons and their ability to finish really large projects and get ready for major events !! As I am typing this, I am on the phone with my mother and my brother……I am on my way to Iowa to stay with her for 10 days while my brother finally loads up his vintage Indian to arrive in Kanab Utah in time for the 2017 Vintage Harley/Indian Challenge.

    We have had many discussions about the balance of getting your “ride” ready but also “getting your mind right” before the adventure……..Patterson should go a long way in that balance.


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