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The Jeeps of Camprodon

by Josep Bordas and Derek Redmond
 

As of 2010 there are over 40 vintage Jeeps still operational in the area around Camprodon, Spain, a town of only 2,500 inhabitants. And what makes this concentration of early Jeeps unique not only in Spain but probably in the world, is the fact that it includes Jeeps from all but one of the major worldwide manufacturers: Willys (U.S.), Hotchkiss (France) and Mahindra (India) as well as VIASA and EBRO (Spain). The only badge missing is Mitsubishi (Japan) which is a bit ironic since many of the newer vehicles now replacing the old Jeeps are Japanese SUV's.

The Problem

High hoods line upIt's not unusual to find a lineup of CJ-3Bs on a residential street in Camprodon. But this is not a parade organized by Jeep owners willingly, to show off their vehicles and have fun. No, it's a government requirement.

This remarkable community of vintage Jeeps in the Valley of Camprodon, nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains, is all the more surprising considering the bureuacratic nightmare in which Spanish flatfender owners find themselves trapped.
 

ITV testingAs in many countries, vehicles in Spain more than 4 years old must pass an inspection every 2 years by the ITV (Inspección Téccnica de Vehículos). And residents of northern Spain, who know the effects of climate change on the glaciers of the Pyrenees, are supportive of efforts to control vehicle emissions.

But a Jeep is considered a commercial vehicle by the ITV, and as such must pass inspection every 6 months. The only way to avoid this is registration as an historic vehicle, which is a prohibitively expensive and lengthy process.
 

ITV vanAlthough Camprodon is still an agricultural area, the economy is now largely based on tourism and recreation, and the Jeeps are the complete oppposite of commercial vehicles. Most of them are used only in the summer, and don't cover a lot of kilometers during those months, so the ITV requirements seem particularly unreasonable. As a result, many of them may not be on the road much longer.
 

The Valley

MapThe town is the gateway to a lovely agricultural and recreation area known as the Valley of Camprodon in the Catalunya region, less than 100km (60 miles) from the Mediterranean coast (see the location map in Winter in Camprodon on CJ3B.info.)

For a look at the beautiful scenery of the area, see our gallery of Josep's photos of Camprodon: Jeep Capital of Spain, as well as our 2008 article CJ3B.info Visits Spain.

But why the unusual number of Jeeps in this small, quiet and somewhat isolated area? Of course they are suitable for the mountainous terrain, and beginning in the 1950s farmers bought them for use in their livestock operations. Many were diesel-powered CJ-3Bs built by VIASA at its factory in Zaragoza, a few hundred kilometers west. (Imported Willys flatfenders were also often given a dieselizado conversion.) However, they have survived into the 21st century more for their value as fun vehicles than as farm machinery.
 

Jeep and Land RoverIn the 1960s and 70's, the only 4-wheel-drive choices in Spain were Land Rovers and Jeeps, both of which were manufactured in Spain as well as imported. The Spanish-built Land Rover "Santana" (150K JPEG) was very popular in Camprodon as a working vehicle because it had more cargo space than a Jeep, and there are still a few around.

Surplus military Jeeps from the Spanish army included MB's, M38's, CJ-3As and M38A1s. They were sold mainly to people wanting to use them for recreation, because of the higher cost of operation of their gasoline engines. Many of these found their way to Camprodon which was becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, known for both ski hills and summer homes.
 

Busquet showroomOne entrepreneur apparently sold over 100 surplus military Jeeps in the Camprodon area, and some of these are undoubtedly still among the many olive drab VIASA CJ-3Bs and Willys 3A's and M38's seen around the valley.

Joan Busquet, a nephew of that army surplus dealer, is a mechanic in Camprodon who still maintains a small showroom which usually holds a few vintage Jeeps for sale (left). Busquet's garage is one of several which look after the Jeeps of the area. Other mechanics specializing in Jeeps are Alejandro Cuadrado (in Camprodon), Jordi Tosca and Joan "Santigosa" Aulinas (also in Camprodon) and Andreu Carrera (in nearby Llanars.)
 

Viasa CJ-3BOther 4-wheel-drive vehicles, particularly Japanese SUV's, began arriving in the valley in the 1980's and have taken over most of the market. But the old Willys (1950s), VIASA (1960s-70's) and EBRO (1970's-80's) Jeeps have remained popular as summer recreational vehicles.

On the village streets and the mountain roads you will see plenty of morro bajo ("low nose") Willys and morro alto ("high nose") 3B's of Spanish origin, and even the occasional morro redondo ("round nose") CJ-5 or M38A1.

In the early 1990's, Mahindra CJ-3Bs from India were imported into Spain, and there are a couple of those in Camprodon. Surprisingly only one Hotchkiss CJ-3B built in France seems to have made its way across the nearby border and found a home here.
 

The Jeeps

Josep Bordas has spent more than a year photographing all the early Jeeps in the valley, and speaking to as many of the owners as possible. Here's the information we have on each, including the owners' names where possible, so that if you have a chance to visit the area you can give them a wave and say hola. The Jeeps are roughly in order here by model, from oldest to newest.

  1. Willys MB belonging to Gabriel Ibañez, near the Camprodon Tennis Club. See also a rear view (170K JPEG) taken when CJ3B.info visited Spain.
     
  2. Willys MB, licence plate H-1872-BBB, in the village of Llanars, owner unknown.
     
  3. Willys CJ-2A, believed to be the only one in Camprodon. The owner is Josep Gou, who saw this Jeep abandoned on a farm in the Vall de Vianya, between Camprodon and Olot, about 14 years ago. When he bought the Jeep it was painted red and needed an engine rebuild. In the photo are Josep and his wife Rosa with their grandchildren.
     
  4. Willys M38, owner Joan Busquets. License plate: B-5582-JG. Joan says that it only needs a new battery to run.
     
  5. Willys M38, license plate M-441733. Owner: Joan Andreu "Cuqui" Pons in La Roca (Vilallonga de Ter). Joan uses the Jeep whenever he is in Camprodon, summer or winter, with and without the roof. The history of the Jeep is: Korean War, Spanish Army, Fire Service in Zaragoza, and then Joan Andreu. Joan's father was the veterinarian in Camprodon many years ago, and he owned one of the first Jeeps in Camprodon -- first a Willys M38A1, and then a VIASA CJ-3B, to visit the farms.
     
  6. Willys M38, owner unknown, license plate Z-29924.
     
  7. Willys M38, license plate M-561773. Owner: Borja García-Nieto, Camprodon. This M38 was lengthened, probably for use by the Spanish army as an ambulance. The Jeep was bought by his father more than 30 years ago. Borja is seen here picking up his Jeep after installation of a new canvas top, at the garage of mechanics Joan "Santigosa" Aulinas and Jordi Tosca (150K JPEG). The top was made in Olot, about 25km from Camprodon.
     
  8. Willys CJ-3A, license plate GI-1209-H, owned by Juan N. García-Nieto of Camprodon, who appears here with his family (including his brother Borja who owns the M38 above.)
     
  9. Willys CJ-3A photographed in the garage of Andreu Carrera in Llanars. License B-9475-AU. Has been given US Army markings, but is likely Spanish army surplus. Owner unknown.
     
  10. Willys CJ-3A modified by owner Esteve Ferres who purchased it in Valencia about 2005. The Jeep has a Perkins diesel engine and has had plenty of tools and auxiliary equipment added.
     
  11. Willys CJ-3A, licence plate GE-6967-U. This is the second Jeep owned by Lluís Planella in Vilallonga de Ter. His first was used for farm work and later replaced by a tractor.
     
  12. Willys CJ-3A with Perkins diesel engine, owned by Pepe Macià in the Bac de Sant Pere neighborhood of Camprodon. License plate GE-5383-O. See a front view (160K JPEG) taken when CJ3B.info visited Spain.
     
  13. Willys CJ-3A, license plate M-7619-AN). Owner unknown. Number stencilled on the hood appears to be a former plate number.
     
  14. Willys CJ-3A with a Barreiros diesel engine, license plate LU-4849-C. The owner is Ramon Mir of the village of Sant Pau de Segúries, seen here talking to Andreu Pujol.
     
  15. Hotchkiss JH-101, 1959, the only French-built Jeep in Camprodon, has a Go-Devil engine. Owned by Martí Pujol, license plate B-206982. Martí bought this Jeep in 1985, and it has recently been repainted. The photo was taken at his house in Camprodon.
     
  16. Willys-VIASA CJ-3B. This is an interesting model, one of the first VIASA Jeeps made, with the old-style dashboard (160K JPEG) with five gauges. It is similar to the Willys CJ-3B, but with the name WILLYS-VIASA on the grille. Licence plate: B-9836-HK. Photographed in Camprodon near the tennis club.
     
  17. Willys-VIASA CJ-3B. Another early Spanish Jeep, sold by Joan Busquets to a resident of Cambrils (Tarragona) and photographed here when it came back to Busquets' garage for work on the engine, which is a factory-original flathead Go-Devil (110K JPEG), not the Hurricane. The very first Jeeps assembled in Spain with parts imported from the US apparently used the flathead because it was cheaper, and interchangeable with the other Jeeps used by the Spanish army.
     
  18. Willys-VIASA CJ-3B photographed in PlaŤa Espanya, Camprodon (note the dog). License plate B-8721-HP. The owner is Marcos Armenteras, and this one has the Hurricane engine which is less common than the diesels.
     
  19. Willys-VIASA CJ-3B with Perkins diesel. License plate GE-9877-D, owned by Francisco Vilarrasa, a farmer who lives in the village of Fabert in the north of the Valley of Camprodon. He bought this Jeep new 40 years ago, and he always used it to work. Now he owns a new Suzuki, but he still uses the Jeep to go on bad trails or when it snows. See also a front view (120K JPEG).
     
  20. Willys-VIASA CJ-3B with Perkins diesel, license plate GE-55940. Mechanic Alejandro Cuadradokeeps this one at his garage in Camprodon, and uses the Jeep to carry the dogs when he goes hunting. It's one of the few Jeeps that you can see running all year round in Camprodon, with a canvas roof in the winter. Alejandro says it belongs a short series of civilian Jeeps built with a larger Perkins 3150 cc diesel engine normally used only in military Jeeps. See more photos in CJ3B.info Visits Spain.
     
  21. VIASA CJ-6 (long-wheelbase CJ-3B) with Hurricane engine. The owner is unknown but the Jeep is serviced at the garage of Andreu Carrera (150K JPEG) in Llanars. License plate H-3022-BBB.
     
  22. VIASA CJ-3B, license plate B-868711, Barreiros diesel engine. Mechanic Joan Busquets is seen here returning the Jeep to the owner in Camprodon following servicing. The half doors are unusual.
     
  23. VIASA CJ-3B, owned by Sr. Mas of Llanars, who has taken it on many trips into the mountains. With a Hurricane engine, this Jeep is almost identical to a Willys CJ-3B. License plate GI-6869-C.
     
  24. VIASA CJ-3B, 1972, diesel, license plate GE-2673-C. One of the few remaining working Jeeps in the valley, in the village of Vilallonga de Ter. Owner Esteve Guillamet uses it summer and winter on his farm "Can Junens" to keep track of his cows up on the mountain. His father bought the Jeep about 1974 and it has covered some 142,000km working on the farm since then. The photo was taken in the barn. See also a nice offroad photo in our gallery of Josep's pictures of Camprodon.
     
  25. VIASA CJ-3B, Barreiros diesel, license plate GE-3099-B, sold as surplus by the Spanish army in 1972. Formerly owned by Josep Vila and his wife Helena Lacoma in the village of Llanars (Josep is seen here with La Roca in the background.) Sold in 2010 to Lluis Bassaganya (220K JPEG) in Camprodon.
     
  26. Willys M38-A1, 1953, license plate B-7724-FZ. Belongs to Albert Monzo in Llanars. All original, Hurricane engine, 24V, amphibious. The Jeep was a gift to Albert from his wife on his 50th birthday.
     
  27. Willys CJ-5, in excellent condition according to mechanic Joan Busquets. Apaprently imported directly from the US by the original owner or by Spanish distributor Motor Ibérica. Owner unknown.
     
  28. Willys CJ-5. Seen in the shop of Joan Busquets, this Jeep now belongs to a resident of Banyoles (Girona), not far from Camprodon. Thye Jeep is powered by a Hurricane, and appears to have some M38A1 parts.
     
  29. EBRO Bravo S, diesel, license plate GE-4452-F, in Camprodon, owner unknown. This is an early example of an EBRO Jeep, similar to the earlier Willys/VIASA models.
     
  30. EBRO Bravo L, long-wheelbase CJ-3B, Perkins diesel. The early version of the grille has the standard Willys layout. See also a side view (180K JPEG) of the long body. Llcense plate GE-6424-G, owner unknown.
     
  31. EBRO Bravo S, 1978, license plate GE-8836-I. Owner Manel Gené bought this Jeep new in 1978. It has a Perkins diesel engine, and originally was yellow. When it was his only car, Manel used it to drive from Barcelona for weekends in Camprodon. See another photo in our gallery of Josep's pictures of Camprodon.
     
  32. EBRO Bravo S, diesel, license plate B-5738-DC, owned by Jorge Linati in La Rossa, above the village of Llanars. The Bravo S is the "deluxe" version of the EBRO CJ-3B; watch for more photos of the interesting features of this Jeep, coming soon on CJ3B.info.
     
  33. EBRO Bravo, 1980, license plate GE-8385-L, ownded by Miquel Marcer. The Jeep was bought new by Miquel's late father, and has worked all its life on Coll del Puig farm outside Camprodon. It's in excellent condition in the original paint, with a new canvas roof patterned on the old one. Miquel and his wife still use it to go to the weekly market in Camprodon on Sundays. See more photos in CJ3B.info Visits Spain.
     
  34. EBRO Bravo S. Another example of the deluxe S version of the Bravo CJ-3B, owned by a gentleman named Jorge in Camprodon. The later EBRO grille has the widely-spaced headlights and marker lights.
     
  35. EBRO Bravo L with Perkins diesel, license plate B-5151-CF. The photo was taken in Llanars, although owner Jordi Espinac lives in Camprodon. Lots of room for the family in the back; a photo of Jordi with his wife Georgina and their daughters (and the dog) appears in our Camprodon: Jeep Capital of Spain photo gallery.
     
  36. EBRO Bravo, diesel engine, license plate GI-3797-K. Seen for sale at the Garage Feliu Coma in Sant Pau de Segúries.
     
  37. EBRO Bravo diesel, license plate GE-3878-K. Available for sale in Busquets' garage at the time the photo was taken.
     
  38. EBRO Bravo, license plate B-2308-EC, owner Antonio Garcia-Nieto. Photographed waiting to go to the ITV to have its Perkins diesel tested. This may have been a military model, but apparently some of the last EBRO civilian Jeeps built also had different taillights and did not carry the Bravo badge on the hood.
     
  39. Avia Bravo L, license plate B-5074-DP, owned by a resident of Espinalba. Photographed at Andreu Carrera's garage in Llanars. See also a front view (120K JPEG) taken when CJ3B.info visited Camprodon. EBRO started using the Avia name in about 1980.
     
  40. Mahindra CJ340, license plate GI-3702-AH, owned by Joan Busquets (not the mechanic, but another person with the same name) at the farm La Riba in Vilallonga de Ter. This is another working Jeep, used every day on the farm. It runs well, but the body is suffering from rust and the Jeep is now used only on the farm, not on the road.
     
  41. Mahindra CJ340, 1990, license plate B-5973-LF, owned by Josep Bordas of Camprodon and Barcelona. Bought new by Josep, and converted at his request by the dealer from square to round headlights. There are lots of other photos on CJ3B.info, including the tour by Josep and his wife Gemma of Winter in Camprodon.
     
  42. Mahindra CJ340 with Peugeot diesel engine running well, license plate B-0668-JP. Purchased in Mollo by Joan Blanch of Vilallonga de Ter. Joan formerly had a garage in Vilallonga de Ter, and sold about 20 Mahindras in the area around 1990.
     
  43. Mystery CJ-3B.There's always going to be one more Jeep we're trying to track down. Josep says, "I have only this photo of this nice VIASA Jeep that I am looking for." It may have left the area, or may be in a garage somewhere with the owner unwilling to spend the time and money to get it inspected every 6 months.
     


    I would like to thank all the owners of Jeeps that appear in the photos for their kindness and enthusiasm with us in preparing this article. And especially the mechanics that we have visited, for information on the Jeeps, and for making it possible for these vehicles to continue to drive through the roads and trails of the Valley of Camprodon. -- Josep Bordas

    And thanks to Josep for finding all the Jeeps. -- Derek Redmond


    See the scenery of Camprodon: Jeep Capital of Spain, and our 2008 article CJ3B.info Visits Spain.

    Also on CJ3B.info, see more Jeeps in Spain.

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    Last updated 24 October 2010 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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