Elida — John North Willys bought the Overland Automotive Division of Standard Wheel Company in 1908 and in 1912 named it the Willys-Overland Motor Company. Willys-Overland made both automobiles and trucks. The company was reorganized in 1936 after a depression bankruptcy to Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. As the war in Europe spread in the late ‘30s, the US Military wanted a new light-weight, four-wheel-drive, general-purpose vehicle. They solicited designs in 1940 and while Willys and Ford both submitted entries, the government selected a vehicle design by the Bantam Car Company. Bantam made over two thousand vehicles, but couldn't supply the volume needed, and the military wanted multiple suppliers. Willys got a contract to build Jeeps in late 1940. Ford was also awarded a contract in late 1940. Many parts were interchangeable between the Willys and Ford Jeeps. Willys-Overland made about 360,000 Jeeps for the military between 1941 and 1945. They proved to be rugged and dependable in the war, and by the time the soldiers came home, Jeeps were well known and loved for their durability and unstoppability. Back in those post-war years, Willys-Overland tried to broaden their market by returning to the car and truck business. Their products were nothing like the smooth, graceful pre-war products. Instead they capitalized on the tough, utilitarian image of the Jeep with three new vehicles: the Willys Jeep Wagon in 1946, the Willys Jeep Truck in 1947, and the Willys Jeepster in 1948. Gary Baker, of Elida, brought his 1949 Willys Overland to the Charity Car Show. This is a panel truck, which is very rare. Baker uses his panel truck to store his supply of Willy's Wax. He is an authorized dealer and the roomy back end on his Willys truck is perfect for carting the bottles, sprays and boxes of wax in.
Real Wheels: 1949 Willys Overland Jeep