CJ-3B Upholstery

Factory photo

Mystery Pattern Reveals Tiny Jeeps

I've seen this factory photo of a CJ-3B circa 1962 many times, and I've always been a bit puzzled by the patterned vinyl on the seats. It's obviously different from the solid grey-green color or the subtle stripes or crosshatching on the vinyl upholstery on most late CJ-3Bs, but I've never really thought about what this pattern was.

WagonBut when JD Custis sent a photo of the seats in his 1960 4x4 Station Wagon, I put 2 and 2 together and I think it added up to almost 4. The seats in his wagon have a vinyl that is unique to Willys, and is quite likely the same pattern seen in the factory photo.

DetailTake a close look and you'll see the design is obviously a Willys original, made up of a tiny "W" repeated thousands of times, and a tiny side profile of a Jeep repeated at different angles. Since it's obviously a Universal Jeep, a CJ-3B in fact, it would be strange if this upholstery appeared only in Station Wagons.

So can anyone supply any more information on this vinyl? Any other examples of vehicles where you've seen it used?

See a list of the significance of some 1961-65 Trim Codes for upholstery colors, in Willys Paint Samples 1959-65.


Early CJ-3B Seats

1953Upholstery in early 3B's was Slate Grey vinyl, similar to Joe Caprio's 1951 CJ-3A seats (100K JPEG, photo by Bill Lagler). Pictured here is Dale Kronstedt's very original '53. Seat cushions had springs; most reproductions or rebuilt seats use foam padding only.

Early CJ-3BThis photo of the '53 shows how the cushions on the early seats were attached to the seat backs, leaving the sheet metal supports exposed at the back.

Lawrence Wade took photos of the back and the underside (50K JPEGs) of the seats from his '55.

1954 striped seatChuck Izak took this photo of the unusual upholstery on his 1956 CJ-3B. As well as being the earliest example we've seen of the greyish green color, the seats are notable for their two-tone design and striped vinyl.

Late CJ-3B Seats

1961By the late 1950s the seats were fully upholstered -- the upper cushion was sewn to the lower cushion and enclosed the seat frame -- and had a slightly curved back, as on the early CJ-5 (130K JPEG). The grey-green color seems to have become the norm. The larger copy of this photo of Rolfe French's '61 reveals a cross-hatched pattern. A rear view of 1962 seats (100K JPEG) in John Belden's CJ-3B shows a similar pattern.


1963 CJ-3BEd Surjan took this photo of the original upholstery in his near-mint unrestored 1963 CJ-3B, plus closeups of the upper cushion front and rear (90K JPEGs).

The underside was open; see also a detail photo by Adam Charnok of the springs (60K JPEG) under the same 1963 passenger seat .

Fading with age, and photographic reproduction, can make it hard to compare the various shades of green, but a photo of the late Janet Wathen Clark driving a brand new 1961 3B (100K JPEG) appears to show a darker green vinyl.


M606When Luis Mariano Paz removed the dark green replacement upholstery in his 1966 M606 in 2011, he found the original light green vinyl with an imitation leather texture.

See also the springs (140K JPEG) under the rear seat.

Options for Reupholstery

Seat covers and cushions are something that almost always need replacement if you're restoring an older Jeep. Years ago on CJ3B.info we published an article on Re-Covering Jeep Seats, using foam cushions and canvas or vinyl covers from Beachwood Canvas Works, who also sell covered bucket-seat cushions. There are other repro sources, usually for the early-style cushions.

Camo seat coverMany people go to local upholstery shops, but if you're looking for someone who specializes in seats for Willys Jeeps, you may also want to contact Jim Boswell at bozwell13@hotmail.com in Durango, Colorado. He can supply well-made heavy duty cushions covered in just about anything you want. See also a photo of the underside, and a closeup showing the stitching (100K JPEGs).

Now if only we could find a source for that Willys vinyl with the tiny Jeeps on it....

Thanks to all the contributors. More information and photos are welcome. -- Derek Redmond

See a list of the significance of some 1961-65 Trim Codes for upholstery colors, in Willys Paint Samples 1959-65.

See also CJ-3B Seats on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 13 January 2013 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond