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The 1959 Willys Malibu Prototype

• CATEGORIES: Features

Websites Macs Motor City and Curbside Classic shared information on this 1959 Willys prototype that looks quite a bit like a Ford Falcon station wagon. You can see additional jeep/car prototypes on the CJ-3B Page:

I’m sure someone else has more info on this Willys Malibu.

1959-willys-malibu-prototype 1959-willys-malibu-prototype2

Ford developed the Falcon Station Wagon in 1959, so it’s possible that the Malibu and the Falcon were developed completely independently, but it sure looks like one could have influenced the other.


In 1961, this prototype was considered (was an actual vehicle ever built?) with a CJ-5 looking grille:


In 1961, Willys Motors came out with a different prototype wagon, the J-100, with a more familiar face.


However, the original Malibu grill concept wasn’t completely abandoned. In 1966 (Thanks Mike), the luxurious Super Wagoneer was introduced with a grille very similar to the 1959 Malibu prototype (with a small hood bump as a nod to the Wagoneer styling).:


Later, in 1974, AMC Jeep used the same look on the new Jeep Cherokee line.


14 Comments on “The 1959 Willys Malibu Prototype

  1. Mike

    I’ve never heard that term Malibu grill, at any rate, my impression is that it was introduced long before 1974, in 1966 model year on the Wagoneer.

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Mike, I just made up the term “Malibu” grille. Yep, you are correct on the 1966 Super Wagoneer grille. I missed that one. I’ll update the post.

    – Dave

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Steve: Even just using the name “Tuxedo” might have helped provide an additional luxurious aura to it?

  4. Terry

    That tan Cherokee with the NY plates was parked along the road in Bridgehampton Long Island with a for sale sign, for about a year . I looked at it, but could not agree on a price .

  5. brooks stevens

    bwahahahaha !! — a ford ranchero falcon wagoneer hermaphrodite wagon !! ( powered by the famous ford 144 straight six ) —> ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM !!

  6. Mike

    Just as a P/S to the above comments, If you removed the “Malibu” Grill on later models, you would find the same exact sheet metal that fits the insertion of the original “RHINO” grill, Kaiser did a terrific job of keeping re tooling costs down.

  7. Gordon West

    None of them are as good as the old Willys wagon. In my humble opinion…

    BTW, I had a ’47 CJ2A with a Falcon 200ci six. Loads of power and 24 mpg.

  8. Bill Norris


    In between they came up with a model K and H. From what I can tell they were both 2 doors, but the H was 10 inches longer. The grill was the same as the Malibu here. They were drawn up in 1964 to compete with the Scout and the ‘tentative’ Bronco. I just have pictures of the clay models. Not sure if it went any further.


  9. David Eilers Post author

    Gordon: I considered that engine for Biscuit at one point. There seem to be good selection of aftermarket performance parts for that engine.

  10. Brian Graff

    the photo above the caption “In 1961, this prototype was considered (was an actual vehicle ever built?) with a CJ-5 looking grille:” is a Ford Falcon Wagon – not a Willys or Jeep.

  11. David Eilers Post author

    Hi Brian,

    Yes, you are correct about that. I included that pic to show how closely these designs were to the Ford Falcon. My comment was actually meant to connect to the photo below, not the Ford Falcon) photo above. Sorry for any confusion.

    – Dave

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