My Grandfather’s Family Friendly 1962 Willys Wagon

My grandfather purchased this 1962 4WD wagon from Hartford Willys in Hartford Ct. Prior to buying the wagon he had owned a smaller Willys, a CJ-2A, I think.

When my brother and I came along he decided he wanted a bigger more family friendly Jeep that he could take the family out on beach excursions in Rhode Island or when we would vacation on Cape Cod. I can still remember him putting my brother and I on his lap and had us believe that we were steering the Willys on Nauset Beach on the Cape. In reality, the Jeep would steer itself by following the deep tracks in the sand but at the time, my brother and I were none the wiser. My parents and grandparents would both rent cottages in Eastham on the Cape in the 60’s. My grandparents would arrive a little later than us and I remember my brother and I catching minnows and eels in an inlet by the bay and looking up the road and seeing that green Jeep parked at the cottage and getting excited. Grandpa and Grandma were here!!

My grandfather had a big job at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft and was instrumental during an era when aviation advanced from the piston to the jet age. I’m sure it was an exciting time for him and I think he always had an appreciation for fine machinery. During my years growing up he always owned a Cadillac and this Willys. I like to think he thought of these vehicles as the best of two different worlds.

Throughout the years we would use the Jeep to go trout fishing in local streams, saltwater fishing off the beaches, trailering an aluminum boat to fish the bays and sound in CT. and RI. and even to pull out an occasional  stump or two in the backyard. It has the 6-230 engine and is quite powerful in low range.The Jeep is stock with the exception of tires and rims,and an upgrade to electronic ignition and a front disc brake conversion from Kaiser Willys.

As my brother and I grew older and we were approaching driving age, I started hearing rumors that he might give the Jeep to my older brother when he turned 16. Lucky for me my brother decided to buy a 69 Dodge RT that a friend of ours was selling before he went into the service. That made me the next in line for the Jeep. I think this change made perfect sense to my Grandfather since I was always somewhat mechanically inclined and he would sometimes say that he didnt think my brother knew which end of a screwdriver to hold. I still remember looking out the window as he drove the Jeep up our driveway and parked it in the garage. Now the twins, who lived next door, and I took the Willys to High School every day. No more taking the bus!

This Jeep has been in the family for almost 60 years now and has provided many fond memories from fishing with my grandfather to driving it in St. Paddys Day parades (perfect color for that) to most recently our Daughter in Law requesting that it be her chariot to deliver her and her Dad for her wedding nuptials, to which I proudly obliged.

My Grandfather passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a year after giving me his Jeep, he was only 65. I don’t think he ever could have imagined that when he gave me his Jeep in 1976 when I was in High School, that I would still have it or that it would still be looking and running so good after 45 years, but I’d bet it would’ve brought a tear to his eye. Thanks Grandpa.

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