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Surrey Gala Jeep


 

Specifications

The Jeep "Surrey" (domestic sales) or "Gala" (for export) was a trim package on the two-wheel drive DJ-3A Dispatcher. Produced by Willys starting in 1959, the Surrey was usually seen in pink (actually Tropical Rose/Coral Mist), but also offered in Cerulean Blue/Glacier White, and Jade Tint Green/Glacier White. See vinyl fabric samples (110K JPEG), and Willys Paint Samples, 1959-65.

See a Surrey brochure (100K JPEG). See also specs in the brochure reverse side (110K JPEG), and the framework for the DJ-3A Surrey Gala top (160K JPEG) in the DJ-3A Parts List.

Three Galas

The rare color advertising photo here dates from 1960. See also the rear view photo (120K JPEG). The chrome hubcaps all have red trim, whereas most pink Surreys have body color trim on the hubcaps (100K JPEG). Also the pink steering wheel appears to be painted the darker Tropical Rose, rather than the usual lighter Coral Mist steering wheel (70K JPEG).

The serial number plates carry the same model number prefix (56337) as the rest of the Dispatchers, followed by a five-digit production number. For 1964, the Surrey had its own prefix of 8204. The total number of Surreys produced from 1959-64 is estimated at 1100.

Origins

Las Brisas The story of the origin of the Jeep Surrey is not well known, but Jeep historians Bruce Agan, Bill Norris, Keith Buckley and Ron Szymanski have been contributing to piecing it together, and for the first time in many years here are some of the facts:

The Jeeps seen here at Las Brisas Hotel in Acapulco, Mexico were the prototypes for what first became known as the "Gala". The resort decided to rent DJ-3A Dispatcher Jeeps with canvas halfcab tops to guests. According to the back of this postcard, "more than one hundred pink and white jeeps are available for guests." (See Las Brisas: Birthplace of the Jeep Gala.)
 

Louis Yocich, a salesman for Willys Export, thought the idea would also work well in Hawaii, where Henry Kaiser owned the 1,100-room Hawaiian Village Hotel. Kaiser had become a major developer in Hawaii when he "retired" there in 1954, shortly after his Kaiser Industries bought Willys-Overland. An article in Time magazine (1 September 1967) reported that his Hawaiian Village Hotel had been sold to Conrad Hilton for $21.5 million, and that other businesses owned by Kaiser included the car rental agency which offered the Galas starting in summer 1959.

A newspaper clipping headlined "New Jeep Galas Bring Rosy Hue to Islands' U-Drive Car Business" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 16 September 1959, 120K JPEG) mentions Louis Yocich and his role in bringing the Gala to Hawaii. It describes the paint on the 50 Jeeps offered for rent to tourists in Hawaii as "Kaiser Pink," and reports that 20 in "Sheraton Blue" would soon be available.

Fiat JollyThe details of the Gala design were likely influenced by the Fiat Jolly which had been created by Italian coachbuilder Ghia and become popular in Europe. A Jolly was purchased for testing by Willys, perhaps even before it was first imported into the U.S. by Fiat in 1958 (according to the Microcar Museum, which owns the Jolly seen here.)

See also Development of the Willys Jeep Surrey on CJ3B.info.
 

Louis Yocich told CJ3B.info the idea for the surrey fringe on the top was initially his. He still has many stories from the Kaiser-Willys era, although unfortunately most of the documentation he saved from his days with Willys Export was lost in a fire. Henry Kaiser and his wife apparently also had some input into the design and marketing of the new model. Willys or its advertising agency finally decided to use the "Surrey" name to advertise the model domestically.

Collections

Surrey at Camp JeepThis Surrey (left) belonging to Jim and Peg Marski's Historic Civilian Jeeps Collection in Colorado, was on display at Chrysler's touring Camp Jeep in 2000 (photo by Mike Albright.)

Rear view: at the 2002 Toledo Jeep Employees Car Show I photographed my wife Roseanna in Ron Szymanski's 1960 Surrey.
 

Jade TintThe Surrey is an unusual restoration challenge, because of the unique parts involved. Ernest McCoulsky has been working on one in Texas (50K JPEG).

There are a number of chromed parts, but the engine (90K JPEG) is the standard L-head with no chrome added. And the serial number tag (70K JPEG) has the standard DJ-3A prefix 56337, so serial number records don't tell us how many Surreys were actually built.

This rare Jade Tint green example was auctioned in Florida in 2013.
 

Mowry familyTwins Nanci Knight and Carol Mowry of Ohio had their 1960 Surrey display at the 2010 Spring Midwest Willys Reunion. It included a vintage family photo (60K JPEG) with the Surrey. The Knight family also won a trophy for their display at the 2010 Elvis International Car Show at Graceland. Thanks to Ev Harless of ARMVPA for this nice photo from the Reunion.

See also Surrey Jeep Toys on CJ3B.info.
 

Promotions

Booklet page 4

Bruce Agan found an 11x17-inch Willys booklet titled Jeep Gala Rental Plan Guide. It was certainly one of Willys' most expensive pieces of advertising. But the artist who did the many colorful sketches in the booklet clearly didn't know what the final paint schemes were going to be.

See also another colorful Jeep Gala Brochure.

And see a contest to Win a Surrey Jeep from Kellogg's.
 

Willys photoThis lovely photo overlooking a harbor with cruise ships (100K JPEG) was probably the inspiration for a sketch found on a rental rate card (60K JPEG) printed by Willys for Tropical Motors in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Richard Sargent, Sales Manager for Tropical Motors in the late 60's and early 70's, identifies the location of the photo as Mafolie Hill in St. Thomas.

See also a Tropical Motors map of St. Thomas (260K JPEG) with little Jeeps on all the roads.
 

Willys photoThis beach scene shot was likely taken at the same time as some of the photos for the rental promotion booklet.

Both of these Gala promotional photos are found in the Images in Time collection at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library
 

At the airportThis photo was used by Kaiser-Willys on the front of a postcard (50K JPEG) promoting their new DJ-3A package, renamed the "Surrey" for marketing in the U.S. The colorful photo comes from the same photo shoot as the black & white 8x10 glossy (130K JPEG) in the 1959 Rental Plan Guide.

Although models Jan Kalmbach and Ladonna Shanke's clothes suggest a resort destination such as Acapulco, this angle reveals a terminal building in the background which looks very much like the Toledo Municipal Airport (seen also in Jeeps for Aircraft Ground Support.)
 

Vacations

HawaiiMany holiday snapshots have consciously or coincidentally resembled the famous promotional shot. Many such as this one (source unknown) have also demonstrated the problem with entry steps mounted below the body on a rental vehicle.
 

Hardtop SurreyTwo more young ladies posing with a Surrey, in a July 1965 photo. This one has an unusual pink and white hardtop instead of the fringe. The location is unknown, but because of the barricade across the driveway, it appears to be some kind of a business, perhaps a drive-in theatre or resort. Anybody see any clues in the large copy of the photo (150K JPEG)?
 

Thanks to Bruce Agan for the Gala rental brochure and the Las Brisas postcard, and Mike Albright for the Camp Jeep photo. -- Derek Redmond


See more DJ-3A Surrey Gala Jeeps on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 3 January 2015 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond