Willys Jeepster the first crossover? …
Everyone likes Jeeps and they were the real deal in leading the way to today’s SUVs and AWD vehicles. But did you know Jeep made a crossover, sort of?
In 1948 the Jeepster debuted as a car that looked much like a Jeep/car/truck combo, with a convertible top. What the heck more could folks have wanted? Probably power!
But now NEO delivers a beautiful and well detailed 1948 Jeepster, and I gotta say it really pops among the other 1/43 cars I have on my window sill. It’s a little sweetheart!
Of course returning soldiers remembered their Jeeps from WWII and it was only natural that Willys-Overland thought they’d want a car to remind them of the light handling Jeeps they’d driven in Europe and the Pacific. So Willys got famed industrial designer Brooks Stevens to create a sporty vehicle to compete with other ragtops of the time.
From the front Jeepster looked a bit like an MG on steroids, if they’d have had them back then. But it rode hither and also had a back seat, so the family could go for a ride in the country with the roof down. Jeep’s crossover also came standard with whitewall tires, sun visors, hubcaps, wing windows, a locking glove box and spare tire on the back. All of this was usually optional on other vehicles of the day.
Sadly the Jeepster was only rear-wheel drive, so it didn’t trip the trigger for many Jeep fans of the day. And it also was initially offered with just a 2.2-liter straight-4 “Go Devil” engine like the WWII Jeeps had used. It wasn’t powerful. The Jeepster also cost a little more than the standard Ford Super DeLuxe of the day and it had a V8
Nearly 20,000 were made and sold from 1948 through 1950, with more than half sold in the first year.
The review model is a bright red with cream tonneau cover and black interior and the detail for a 1/43 model is quite high. How high?
Well, there are silver fasteners along the door edges for the convertible top, photo-etched wipers and wing window frames, hood latches and Jeepster name plates on the hood. There also is a chrome hood streak and PE grille in front. Bumpers are all chromed, as are door handles and light bezels. There’s even a fine tall chrome antenna in front of the driver’s door.
More chrome? Yes, hubcaps are chrome as are the rings just inside the white-sidewalled and treaded tires. Headlights and taillights are well executed too and there’s a Missouri license plate front and rear.
Inside, the dash is simple, but the cream 2-stalk steering wheel has a stylish chrome horn ring and a shift lever to the left of the straight steering column. Inside door release handles are chrome too and there’s a black rearview mirror with mirrored face atop the windshield frame and a chrome mirror on the driver’s door.
Otherwise the body is beautifully painted, probably better than the original “crossover.” All the snazzy Jeep styling including its 8-slot front grille, single headlights, square-toped fenders and outside steps to crawl into the back seat are all here.
Not much more you could ask for here. This is one cute little Jeepster!
Stats: 1948 Willys Jeepster
Stock No.: NEO47065