Classic Car Corner

  • Written by Tom Berg

WillyClassic cars and trucks are abundant in the Woodinville area. Most are well hidden and don’t get driven much so I will endeavor to familiarize the reader with our local classics and their owners.

In this episode I would like to discuss one of my vehicles. This beauty is a 1959 Willys Wagon. I searched for over a year for this one and finally located it in Pullman, Washington.

I don’t buy cars sight unseen (tried this once with poor results) so I had a car aficionado friend of mine check it out when he was in Cougarville.

He looked it over and gave it thumbs up so I negotiated a price over the phone, rented a truck one way and headed to Pullman, a place I would never go but for a vintage vehicle.

In my negotiations I agreed to pay the last $500 of the purchase price if I was able to make it back to Woodinville the same day. After all, this car is over 50 years old and not designed for freeway speeds.

My trip back was an adventure. This vehicle is basically an under-powered, low geared unaerodynamic box and I was driving onto a strong Eastern Washington wind with the gas pedal on the floor. I was occasionally able to get to 60 MPH. You would think you could get from Pullman to Ellensburg (about 170 miles) on a tank of gas but alas not in this rig – I ran out of gas in sight of the Ellensburg off-ramp. Luckily I had the classic “jeep can” and was able to get it started and to the nearest gas station. I did make it home that day very tired and sent the seller his $500.

Willys began making cars and trucks in 1908 and was actually the second largest producer of cars in the United States (Ford was the largest) from 1912 to 1918. They had various successes and failures up to World War II when they made 360,000 Jeeps for the war.

Willys started producing the Wagon in 1946 and added 4-wheel drive in 1949 to produce the world’s first Sport Utility Vehicle.

They produced this vehicle with very few changes up to 1965 for a total of 300,000 wagons. With that many you might think they would be easy to find but most met with an unkind fate. They were used on farms, used for hunting, were known for rusting out in wetter climates like ours and many were customized with big engines so a stock Willys Wagon is hard to find.

My Willys is all stock (except for the Pontiac hubcaps – Willys made no hubcaps for their trucks) and runs great.

It was originally from Colorado then Eastern Washington so is rust free. Everything works so I can drive it rain or shine, day or night.

I do try to avoid bad weather, nights and freeways and I don’t go “four wheeling” in the woods.

Keep on the lookout for this great Willys or some of my other vintage vehicles at the curbside parking spot in front of Windermere in Woodinville. You could even come in and we can talk cars.

Please check out further issues of this great paper when I will discuss someone else’s Classic Car.