CJ-4MA Military Ambulance
Discovered in a Barn


Hubert Cossard drawing

The full story of the New Universal Jeep Designs leading up to the CJ-3B in 1952, is not entirely revealed in known photos and documents. So the discovery of a surviving prototype from the period is useful in separating fact from speculation. Eight years after the Lost CJ-4 surfaced in 1997, it has happened again: a unique Jeep carrying serial number CJ-4MA-01 emerged in 2004 from a barn in Kentucky, where it luckily spent the last thirty years protected from the elements.

Seen above in a drawing by Hubert Cossard, this is a long-wheelbase military model with the distinctive CJ-4 front end, released to the U.S. Army in 1951 for testing as an ambulance. January 2005 photos are seen below in comparison with factory photos dated March 1951:

Left front
Canvas top
Left front
Canvas top

A homemade paint job and some missing accessories can't conceal the design of the hood, radiator guard and skirted flat fenders, which the CJ-4MA shared only with the CJ-4 and the CJ-4M short-wheelbase military prototype. A number of other identifying details can be seen in both sets of photos, including the split-pane windshield, snorkel cutout in the hood, lifting ring shackles, parking light holes, gas filler indent, and axe mounting bracket.

This prototype has been referred to as the "XM170" because it represents the origins of the lengthened tub with the large passenger door and inside spare tire, which became the M170 (1954-64).

Willys Engineering Release 6396, dated 5 October 1950, was described as "4-Wheel Drive Ambulance -- Research Tests". The model was listed as the "MC-A," but the factory photos seen above, dated 3-23-51, are labelled "Project 6396, Model CJ-4MA-01 Ambulance." It was also photographed at the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1951 (20K JPEG) where it was reportedly given the designation XM170.

Here are some more detail photos of the Jeep taken by Tom Wolboldt in 2005:

VIN tag

The CJ-4MA, like the other prototypes of the period, had the taller F-head engine. The vehicle found in Kentucky has an L-head installed later as a replacement (above).

Engineering Release 6825 in April 1951 was headed "Front Line Personnel Carrier 100" W.B. 4 Cyl. F-head (1500# Payload Plus 2 Pass.) (model CJ-4MP)." That project was closed 6-21-51 and reopened 9-13-51. It has been thought that this project made use of CJ4-MA01. But perhaps the CJ-4MP was in fact a new vehicle; is it still in somebody's barn?

Thanks to Tom Wolboldt for taking the photos, and Terry Judd for sending them. Thanks to Charlie Weaver and the Willys-Overland-Knight Registry Inc., guardians of the Engineering Releases. Thanks to Hubert Cossard for the CJ-4MA drawing. -- Derek Redmond

Return to New Universal Jeep Designs, 1949-53 or to Military Jeeps on CJ3B.info.

Also on CJ3B.info, see other Willys Military Ambulances.

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Last updated 10 March 2013 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond