NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

NEO’s 1948 Willys Jeepster

Willys Jeepster the first crossover? … NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

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!

The History

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.NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

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 Model

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?NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

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.NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

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.NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

Not much more you could ask for here. This is one cute little Jeepster!

Stats: 1948 Willys Jeepster

Maker: NEO
Scale: 1/43
Stock No.: NEO47065
MSRP: $99.95




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