CJ-3Bs for the World

Willys-Overland Export Corporation's Greatest Success


The CJ-3B continued to be a staple of Willys-Overland Export Corporation's lineup, long after the newer CJ-5 took over the biggest share of domestic sales in 1955. Is it possible the export arm of the company felt a special attachment to the old flatfender, since they kept the old "Overland" name despite Henry Kaiser renaming the company simply "Willys Motors"? At any rate, so many 3B's were sent to every corner of the globe, that in many countries the high-hood Jeep became synonymous with the name "Willys" (see Jeeps Around the World on CJ3B.info.)

Export line

According to Norton Young's Willys Production Figures, over 11,000 CJ-3Bs were produced in 1956, representing sales of perhaps $15 million. With advertising and production of the new CJ-5 model in full swing that year, it seems likely that many of those 3B's were sold to export markets, and indeed Business Week magazine estimated that 50% of a total of $140 million in sales by Willys in 1956 were from exports. ("Pulling Willys Off the Rocks", Business Week, 15 December 1956, pp.111-112.)

This Willys-Overland Export Corp. advertisement showing Jeeps for export (right) dates from after the debut of the CJ-5 in 1954, and probably before 1956 when the center horizontal bar of the truck grilles was raised. (Dating by the illustrations may not be reliable however; note that the CJ-3B shown here is one of the early drawings with the incorrect hood height.)

See also a page from an Export Corp. catalogue (120K JPEG) of "The World's Most Useful Vehicles," with a more accurate illustration.

AssemblyMany Jeeps were crated for export as CKD ("complete, knocked down"), to be assembled at their destination, or as SKD ("semi, knocked down") to allow the addition of some local parts during assembly.

This photo courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia shows assembly of Jeep trucks and a CJ-3B, at M.S. Brooking Pty. Ltd., a vehicle importer and dealership in Perth, Western Australia. The photo was taken on on 29 March 1957, and preserved by the Historical Records Rescue Consortium (HRRC) Project.

1957 advertisement
On 29 December 1957, Willys Motors placed this ad in the Toledo Blade newspaper, promoting the company's contribution to the Toledo economy. Its most interesting detail is the list of overseas facilities where Jeeps were built under license. (Note that it incorrectly lists the Australian factory as being in Sydney rather than Brisbane, and the Spanish plant in Madrid rather than Zaragoza.)

Some of the text:

"Today, Willys has 18 associated manufacturing and assembly plants in as many nations across the Atlantic and Pacific and in Latin America. Many of these plants are supplied with their assembly components from our plant in Toledo. In addition to this vast network of factory facilities, Willys also sells 'Jeep' vehicles in 134 other countries through a far-flung distributorship system.

"Willys has factories in: Cordoba, Argentina; Sau Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; Sydney, Australia; Bombay, India; Tuzla, Turkey; Haifa, Israel.

"There are sub-assembly plants in: Mexico City, Mexico; Bogota, Colombia; Manila, Pjilippines; Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium; Havana, Cuba; Taipeh, Formosa; Jakarta, Indonesia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Copenhagen, Denmark; Rotterdam, Holland.

"When the first civilian 'Jeep' vehicle was produced, it was recognized that the so-called under-privileged people of the world needed tools like these to lift themselves to a larger and a better life. In this respect 'Jeep' vehicles are instruments for blazing the way to a path of peace among all peoples."

New York 1956Prior to the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, most Jeeps for export would have been shipped by rail to ports such as New York City, seen here in a photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White for LIFE magazine during the 1956 east coast strike by the International Longshoremen's Association. The strike, which paralyzed ports from Maine to Texas, was largely a bid by the ILA to maintain its control over the docks, despite having been expelled from the American Federation of Labor for gangsterism. (The 1956 East Coast Dock Strike: Its Background and Implications, by Stuart M. Ripley, May 1957.)

New York 1956A closer look at the New Jersey pier in the above photo reveals one of many shipments stranded by the strike -- Jeeps sitting on a Rock Island flatcar.

The irony of the strike is that 1956 is also the year that a new shipping technology made its first appearance, at the New York harbor. The 40-foot steel shipping container would revolutionize the industry, virtually eliminate the need for manual labor in loading and unloading ships, and become a major factor in future strikes. ("Dock strike a question of containment", Miami News, 11 October 1977, p. 9A)

These photos are from the LIFE Magazine Photo Archive.

Shipment for Iran, 1962Jeeps shipped fully assembled from Toledo were apparently not crated (see CJ-3Bs at the Port of Toledo.) This 1962 photo taken by the Toledo Blade shows a dockload of M606s (CJ-3Bs with military accessories) heading for Iran. According to The Blade the photo was actually taken at Presque Isle, Michigan, on 22 November 1962.

The Jeeps carry a Mutual Defense Assistance Program sticker (130K PNG) on the side. Shipments of M606s exported as military aid under the MDAP accounted for a substantial percentage of the limited CJ-3B production in the 1960s.

Guatemala 1953The other end of the line: another shot from the LIFE Archive shows a couple of CJ-3Bs, along with some Ford trucks and station wagons, loaded onto rail cars at a dock in Guatemala in 1953. The workers here are not headed out on strike, but headed for their lunch break. Photo by Cornell Capa.

Health serviceA lineup of CJ-3Bs delivered to their new workplace, and I'm guessing it's in Puerto Rico. Does anybody recognize the location? The photo was published in the Willys promotional booklet Jeep Vehicles in Public Service, as an example of Jeeps being used in public health work.

I'm also guessing that after the first six or so Jeeps in the lineup, the rest are the product of one of Willys' busy photo-retouchers.

Thanks to Todd Paisley for clipping the photo from The Blade, Todd Moulton for finding the LIFE photos, and Rod Walker for finding the M.S. Brooking photo. -- Derek Redmond

See Willys-Overland Export Corporation's 1953 brochure for the CJ-3B, The World's Standard Utility Vehicle.

See also more photos of CJ-3Bs at the Port of Toledo.

Return to CJ-3Bs in History or to Building Jeeps at The Parkway Plant on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 18 November 2020 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond