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Bernd’s Family Jeeps

• CATEGORIES: Features

Bernd’s trusty CJ-5 and trailer.

Bernd, a reader from the Vandans area of Austria, along the Swiss border, has a long history with jeeps. Thankfully, he’s taken the time to provide us some stories and photos of his family’s life with jeeps. As you’ll learn, they’ve used jeeps for hunting, farming, and other chores.

In fact, just last week, Bernd hauled some computer equipment using his jeep and trailer (the trailer has been around the family for several decades, too.) Here are a couple photos from the recent computer equipment haul:

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This brief timetable shares some history of the jeeps his family acquired. Most of these came from Switzerland:
1. In the Mid-1950s an MB
2. In the Mid?-1960s M38
3. 1971? after breakdown of the M38 a CJ5 with metal top
4. 1972 new CJ5 with canvas top,
5. 1982 father got the CJ5 from the former hunting ground tenant
6. 1996 CJ5 Bernd acquired from father,
7. 2010 CJ5 Bernd did a full restoration, still in use (as is a trailer, seen above).

Around 1950 my father began the job as a game warden in the whole municipal district of Vandans. The center of his activity was our home in Vandans and a hunter’s cabin in a side valley of the Montafon, called “Relstal” (Relsvalley). There, he took care of red deer, chamois, fox, hare, marmot, black cock and snow grouse.

Over the years, jeeps and a trailer were in service for:

  • chaffeuring hunting parties
  • collecting brought down game and distribution of venison
  • transporting hay, corn and pomace for wildlife feeding in winter
  • moving equipment and supplies

A 6km long gravel road led from the village (700m above sea level) to the cabin (1500m). The road continued to alpine farms (1900m) and ended as an earth road near the Swiss border (2100m).

In winter the road was blocked by masses of snow and avalanches. Father was normally  the last driver to make the trip from the cabin at the start of Winter and the first driver to go back up in the Spring.

I can’t remember exactly when we purchased the MB, but I believe it was the mid-1950s. Like my father, the tennant of the reseve was an officer of the Swiss army. He explained to me how he bought a jeep. Out of a row of jeeps, he was told he could pick one for purchasing. Of course, the more senior the officer, the earlier a person got to pick from the line of jeeps.

After purchasing the jeep, my father measured the jeep, then added 3 feet or more to the jeep’s length and width and a bit to its height for a garage, so it could fit it inside comfortably. He never thought of driving another car in future.


You can see the cabin with jeep and trailer. See the Swiss registration number ZH for Zuerich on bumper. Father stands in front of the jeep, my brother next to him.


Father and his hounds.

The M38 came directly from a US military base in Germany. Father told that the GiIs would have filled the jeep with spareparts, if he would have brought some souveniers.


This photo shows the M-38 on a snowy road fitted with snow chains on all wheels.


Monitoring wildlife in front of an alpine farm, active in summer and fall only


Can you see the the VW-Bettle flashlights on the front fenders?


Here we are making hay. You can see the trailer just behind the M-38.


As you can see, we could pile tw round bales of hay onto the trailer. Note the Swiss registration number and only one taillight on the back.

After the breakdown of the M-38, a new CJ-5 was ordered via a Jeep Garage in Zurich, Switzerland. Father insisted on a canvas top, because it was much quieter on bad roads. Until we received the new CJ-5, we borrowed a CJ-5 with a metal top and Swiss registration.


Above left see the new CJ-5 (on the left) and the intermediate CJ-5 (on the right), which we had been borrowing. We returned it to Switzerland

The hook and the two front lifting hooks were moved from the M-38 to the new CJ-5. The roof on the new CJ-5 was too high for the garage door, so it was chopped about 5cm.The spare tire holder was removed and re-located on the tailgate, tied on the hood or mounted in front of the grille. The backdoor was reinforced with steel a tube.


The new CJ-5


My brother is checking the new Jeep.


Checking out the back of the top.


Fathers hounds enjoyed watching from in back of the jeep. One dog had the habit to set his front feet on the backrest of the drivers seat. From there he looked through the winshield when father was on tour. When the brake was applied too harsh, you can image what happened!

Many thanks to Bernd for sharing his photos and stories. He tells me he plans to share a few more stories, as well, including:

– Learning to drive in the Jeep
– Saving the Jeep when it slipped away
– The runaway jeep heading downhill without driver
– Driving in deep snow
– How I aquired the Jeep
– Jeep repair/rework