Photos by Bob Christy
I have to admit this is one of those things I was very doubtful about, after hearing the first reports. But after seeing these photos taken by Bob Christy for CJ3B.info, and discussing possible explanations with a number of people, it seems pretty clear that this is a factory original pink CJ-3B. Read on, for Bob's description of the Jeep, and some speculation about whether there was actually such a thing as a CJ-3B Surrey Gala. -- Derek Redmond
Vintage automobile collector Bob Gibbs in Ohio is the owner of what may be a unique CJ-3B, in original Tropical Rose/Coral Mist paint, the color scheme normally used only on the low-hood, two-wheel-drive DJ-3A Surrey Gala.
Bob Christy reports, "It's a 1961 and was bought new at Dover Willys Inc. in Dover, Ohio. The story is that it was bought brand new just like it is. As you can see from the speedometer (180K JPEG), it has 13,600 miles. Bob Gibbs bought it from a guy who had it in a barn on his farm. It also spent some of its life on a golf course."
Bob was told by the previous owner that the Jeep had a Surrey top at one point, but that it had deteriorated, and blown off on a trip from Michigan to Ohio sometime in the 1970's. CJ3B.info added a top to the photo at right, to give an idea of what the Jeep may have originally looked like.
There is also evidence that it did at one time have side steps.
Bob Christy says, "There is no evidence it was ever repainted, and it's in very good shape. There is slight surface rust on the paint in places, and pretty much the whole frame. The inside of things are painted like they should be, and it has the original dealer sticker on the front (250K JPEG) and the tailgate. You can even see the 4WD stencil on the back in white. The tail lights are reproductions."
The Jeep has a split bench seat, which was an option on the CJ-3B. The passenger side folds and tumbles; the driver's side folds down also, and has been repaired.
Bill Norris comments that "I would suspect DJ-3A seat covers would fit on the 3B seat frames without an issue. A true Surrey passenger seat frame was completely different because of the lack of a toolbox under the seat. So they didn't merely swap whole seats out, but covered 3B frames in Surrey material."
The Jeep of course has the F-head Hurricane engine under the high hood. Bob Christy noticed that the water pump and fuel pump have been replaced, as well as the brakes.
The firewall tag with the serial number is in the usual place, but there is no special order tag, or paint code tag (which would have been 148 for Tropical Rose/Coral Mist.)
The serial number is 57248 73248, from the middle of the 1961 production year. The engine number is 4J278953, which appears to be right in the range to be the original engine. Bob Christy removed the firewall tag and found Tropical Rose paint under the tag (180K JPEG) as well as on the underside of the toolbox lid.
Bob says, "Bob Gibbs has talked about restoring the Jeep, but tends to think if he does, no one would believe him that it was pink from the start. He's now thinking about bringing it to the 2012 Spring Willys Reunion."
That's great news; let's see how many 3B's we can get to join Bob in Cincinatti OH on 18-20 May 2012!
Does this Jeep indicate that Kaiser Willys was planning to move into producing a 4-wheel-drive version of the Surrey? The Surrey/Gala version of the DJ-3A had brought them a certain amount of media attention, although actual sales figures were probably not very high. But did the market for that colorful runabout overlap with the market for the simple, practical Universal Jeep? And if they thought it did, wouldn't it make sense to use the newer CJ-5 as the platform? Kaiser Canada did that in 1968 when they built 30 Daffodil Yellow Surrey (90K JPEG) versions of the CJ-5 or perhaps DJ-5.
CJ3B.info's Surrey specialist Bruce Agan comments: "What I don't see are chrome bumpers, color-matched windshield frame, windshield-to-fender straps, grab handles, or painted steering column and steering wheel, all of which a production Surrey would have by 1961. The Jeep has the drawbar on the back, which it probably wouldn't have had if chrome bumpers were ever there. Maybe the the golf course duty had something to do with its color; I would like to know more about its time at the course."
Bob Christy agrees: "It's 4WD and has a drawbar. The windshield frame is black, it has no chrome bumpers, never had a backseat. I think it's possible that whoever bought it new asked for it to be like a Surrey when he ordered it. Perhaps he wanted a Surrey, but wanted it 4WD."
Colin Peabody adds, "We know that Willys would sell just about any variation of a vehicle if they had parts to do it. Surrey seats and paint options were readily available in 1961 from the parts book and through ordering options. The 3B body is basically the same as the DJ-3A except for the higher hood, cowl and windshield, so many of those parts would have been available. I would guess that even with the higher hood, the lower windshield would have been the same height from the fenders up as the DJ-3A Surrey, so the windshield straps could have been used, although this does not look like it ever had the straps, and there is no appearance of the brackets on the side of the windshield. With the Dover Jeep stickers still in place, and the original paint under the serial number plate, I would guess this Jeep was ordered this way from the factory."
Bill Norris: "My gut feeling is someone wanted a 3B in the Surrey paint colors. I've talked with Ron Szymanski about other oddball colored Jeeps, and he told me they would pretty much paint any vehicle any color if a customer requested it. It really wasn't a big deal to do that according to him. I think that's what happened here.
"I would think if it was a special order, it should have something on it denoting that. Like the paint code plate, it could have fallen off at some point, but typically you can see some type of outline of where it used to be. So maybe the changes on this particular Jeep might not have been extensive enough to warrant an SSO plate. Really, the paint, seat covers and top were the only deviations and there wouldn't be any special order parts to maintain it.
"In all the Surrey prototype information and photos I've seen, there is no mention or picture of a 3B. There are even concept drawings and they are all clearly the DJ-3A or DJ-6."
OK, but just when it seems pretty clear that this pink CJ-3B was a one-off special order, something comes up to make us wonder if maybe Kaiser had further plans for a 3B Surrey hybrid. Todd Paisley checks his collection of Willys Engineering records, and says, "It does look like there was a CJ-3B Surrey. Part number 956242 is for the welding assembly for the windshield for a CJ-3B - L.H.D. - Surrey Top. But that is the only evidence I have seen that mentions a CJ-3B Surrey."
Although it's a different part number, it makes you wonder if there is any connection with the "low silhouette" windshield which was shown in the DJ-3A Parts List (right) and used on some Dispatchers. It's just one of those things that reminds you that when it comes to Jeeps, you should never say "never."
Thanks to Bob Christy and Bob Gibbs for giving us a look at these photos. And thanks to everybody else for their comments, and Bill Preston for the DJ-3A photo. -- Derek Redmond
See also a West Coast CJ-3B Surrey in Cerulean Blue.
See 1961 Beach Car for photos of a CJ-3B Gala built by Willys Australia.
Also on CJ3B.info, see the original DJ-3A Surrey Gala Jeeps.
Return to the Index of Unusual CJ-3B Photos.
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