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Hemmings Article on the 1958 Maverick

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Hemmings published this somewhat odd article ( about the 1958 Maverick introduction. I use the term “odd”, because of the history that’s included. Let’s consider a few items:

  1. The company company formed in 1953 under Kaiser was called Willys Motors, Inc., not Willys Motor Company.
  2. Yes, W-O produced MBs, then MCs, but I’m pretty sure military production didn’t stop during 1956?? Seems there were some M-170s and M-38A1s produced? And what about the civilian jeeps sold to the military and government?
  3. Besides the military vehicles, I’m pretty sure there were one or two civilian jeeps produced for consumers prior to the introduction of the Maverick Special in 1958.
  4. How is there zero mention that there was an active relationship between the Maverick show, Willys Motors, The Kaiser companies, and the Maverick Special wagon (the late 1950s Jeep News issues certain thought it was a big deal)?
  5. Why was it a slow seller? Was it a lack of 4WD, poor marketing, an underpowered engine, or something else? Why wasn’t the market “ready” for this model?

This kind of feels like it was written by an AI program, then not vetted by an editor. In fact, it kind of feels like a regurgitated version of this news article:

Hemmings can do better …




8 Comments on “Hemmings Article on the 1958 Maverick

  1. Barney Goodwin

    I agree, Dave. It’s painful to read articles today with writers copying or sourcing misinformation off the net as gospel. Editing left us years ago.
    To the article, I have always thought that Willys was behind the times keeping this wagon into the late 50s/early 60s with the suburban housewife going to the store in sleek Fords, GM, Chryslers, Rambler American, etc. station wagons. And the J-series was certainly a correction in ’63.

  2. JohnB

    Hemmings has had some changes lately.
    Remember a couple of months ago one of their departing writers commented here on some negative comments his work had received here?
    For years Hemmings has had a small staff, which were being asked to do a lot of pieces for their various publications and internet sites.
    I subscribed to their new monthly “Hemmings Classic Car” for 20 years, because it was cheap, but finally got tired of many stories being just photos.
    In addition to the US centric “Classic Car” title, they had two other companion publications ( in addition to the long time Motor News classified publication), one on foreign and sports cars, one on muscle cars. The same few staff members wrote all 4.
    The overworked editor of all four frequently mentioned his other work in his monthly editorial. They later closed the foreign car magazine and put occasional foreign/sports car content into the “Classic Car” magazine.
    Increasingly, the stores became more perfunctory to the point of irrelevance.

    As I commented then, no one can be an expert on everything.

    Whoever wrote this is probably too young to remember CJ-5s and the Maverick TV series.

  3. David Eilers Post author

    John, I agree that the writers and editors are in a hard spot. They are likely being asked to do a lot with, possibly, little knowledge of the topic and not much in the way of time or resources. There’s too much work and not enough support.

    Moreover, I certainly don’t know how to fix the magazine (and newspaper) problem as it is being crushed by the shift in advertising, the internet, Facebook forums, social media, etc, etc. But, I am willing to offer help within the vintage jeep sphere.

    I’m not asking for perfection as Lord knows my posts are not perfect (and I’m eternally grateful for folks that correct my posts). But, I am asking for better and I’m willing to review any writer’s articles about vintage jeeps in hopes the articles are more accurate and the writer learns more. It seems to be that if we don’t ask for better, nor help them get better, we won’t get better articles?

  4. JohnB

    What’s sad is most of the errors.could be fixed by checking Wiki….
    the editor was too lazy to check the facts and/or too ignorant to see them.

    I don’t think you need to be a great historian to figure the Army kept buying Jeeps in the late ’50s, after all we were in a “Cold War”… it was in all the papers… so an editor should know about it and figure the bit about Army vehicles was in error.

    Anyway, it’s nice not having to read the (revolving) editor’s subtle missives about being stretched thin.
    I’m a journalist so I could read between the lines of what the problems were.

    As far as them reaching out for editorial help by a subject matter expert, it’s not likely.
    A friend writes for several auto/truck magazines…including a couple frequently mentioned here.
    He reports Hemmings is a very closed shop. At big events like Barrett-Jackson, they don’t want their writers hanging around other writers or even going to the media lunch (great food at Scottsdale’s Tommy Bahama I’ve been to several and got to meet a lot of interesting writers and industry big shots).
    Also, their online presence was heavily moderated, comments they didn’t like were quickly removed. Once when discussing VWs and their kitschy popularity among older collectors trying to relive their (imagined) youth, I blasted baby boomers for being a bunch of spoiled narcissists (it’s okay, to say that because I’m a ‘boomer’). They didn’t like that.
    Today Hagerty has a similar online daily news/history feature, they welcome divergent viewpoints…and unlike the (former) Hemmings author who complained here, don’t mind criticism. And most of their authors seem to know what they are talking about.
    So, I stay away from Hemmings nowadays.

  5. David Eilers Post author

    Bill: well, huh. I am at a loss. Thankfully, the Dispatcher continues to be a GREAT resource for quality vintage Jeep history!

    John: I didn’t think anybody would or will reach out, but the offer stands. Ps… we will be around Post Falls on Friday afternoon and have some extra time.

  6. Willys Overland

    I also had a chance to compare notes that same Hemmings author shared with me. He said he basically made $5 and hour by the time he researched his articles. He was burned out.

    The Maverick article appeared to be written by Patrick Foster. He’s and achieved expert on Kaiser and AMC with a an observed deficit in Willys. Used to work for a Jeep dealer in CT? Friends with John Conde? Got to know Roy Chapin?

    The comment about Kaiser not making Military Jeeps in the 1954-1957 timeframe was a concern. Basically they shifted some planned M38-A1 orders to M170 ambulance orders. With sufficient time perhaps I can send Dave some documentation on that subject.

    Meanwhile – Check out this thread on a Willys AVA. Page 3 features an article from Dave on the vehicle.

  7. David Eilers Post author


    Thanks for this info. I am not surprised the burnout is very real and the pay, at times, drops to low hourly rates, especially when writing about topics outside expertise. I’ve been through that myself. At some point you have to stop researching and just write. Sometimes, and hopefully just sometimes, this causes me to get things wrong (and am eternally grateful for all my editors out there).

    I specifically didn’t mention a writer’s name in my critique because (1) I didn’t see (or I missed) the actually byline and (2) I felt Hemmings published the article, so in the end it is the magazine that’s responsible for the article. Until Bill mentioned it, I didn’t link any name to the article.

    To me, this *feels* like an AI written article; it’s just an odd way to explain the history of Willys, especially when discussing a consumer vehicle (if it were a military story, that would be different). It’s been reported recently that some major brands, such as Sports Illustrated, Gannet, AP, Buzzfeed and CNET, have experimented with AI generated content (one of many reports So, it seems entirely possible that Hemmings has experimented with it as well.

    Girard’s interesting memo you sent (thanks) mentions under bullet-point 1 that as of Feb of 1955, the “Cessation of Jeep production under present contracts will cease in May of this year”. It appears to mean there was a “cessation” and that it would “cease”? I expect the double negative was a mistake, but it was funny to read. More to the point, I had never read that a cessation was discussed; but, then I would think that any writer who would know that particular obscure historical detail about Willys Motors would have a pretty good handle on the general history of Willys and would have presented the history of Willys in a story about a consumer-oriented vehicle like the Maverick Special in different terms. At least, I believe I would have.

    Thanks to everyone for their views on this!

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