The Dispatcher

Vintage Jeep magazine reborn in 2015


Spring 2024

Cover It's hard to believe that Norris-Banonis have now been publishing The Dispatcher for ten years, and to make sure everybody gets the message, they put an anniversary logo right on the front cover. For the first time, they have also put the headlines of all of this issue's major articles on the cover, which is a good idea because it's an excellent lineup and each story would have been worthy of a cover photo.

The factory photo of the first Jeep fire truck was eventually chosen for the cover. The other articles listed are: 1) a preview of this year's "Epic Willys Adventure" which has become an annual rally held in conjunction with the Bantam Festival; 2) Sal Consalvo's well-illustrated guide to servicing overdrive units; and 3) Bob Westerman's detailed look at waterproofing systems used on military Jeeps from 1950-52.

Berkey station In his "1945 Fire Jeep" article, Bill Norris finally pieces together the story of the prototype CJ-2 Agrijeep fire truck which was given to the Berkey, Ohio Fire Department, and subsequently replaced with an early CJ-2A fire truck. He includes all the details of the day the 2A starred in a live burn demonstration put on for the national press (as seen in CJ-2A Fire Engine History on CJ3B.info.) Keith Buckley's photos show details of the Berkey Jeep, which was eventually auctioned by the town in 2021 and purchased by local Jeep fans Kyle and Stacey Vasko.

The tenth anniversary issue bodes well for the next ten years, so it's a good time to subscribe on The Dispatcher website.

Winter 2023/24

Cover This is a hefty, 40-page issue. A Fiesta Yellow 1950 Jeepster is on the cover, and the major feature is Bill Norris' eight-page article on the genesis and evolution of the VJ, including a lot of information and photos I haven't seen before. Essential reading for Jeepster fans.

Fire Jeep fans will enjoy shorter pieces on a Kaiser CJ-6 in Fowlerville, Michigan, and the U.S. Navy Foam Jeeps (see also U.S. Navy Crash Jeep Prototype on CJ3B.info.) From a much later time period, there is a look at the specs and features of the 1992 YJ Wangler. And there are tech articles on Carter carbs and specialized Jeep tools, plus Bob Christy's story about an annual Willys get-together in Kentucky.

Fall 2023

Cover The Fall edition will be of interest to lots of CJ3B.info readers. First of all, there's the cover story on Steve Serrao's new clone of the 1950 X-98 prototype, inspired by Bob Westerman's 2016 project (see Legendary X98 Brought to Life on CJ3B.info.)

Then there is Francisco Diaz's follow-up to his article on the Spanish CJ-3B in the Spring 2023 issue. This time he's focussing on the unique Spanish "SV" forward control trucks and vans, of which some 8,000 were produced between 1963 and 1980. I only have a brief section on the SVs in the Jeeps in Spain page on the website, so there's a wealth of information and photos in this article which I was not aware of.

There is a Flores SV cartoon, and short features on an FC-150 restoration and on a jigsaw puzzle featuring a red Gladiator. Also several Willys event reports and an obituary for John Gunnell.

Cover Speaking of the late John Gunnell, there's a piece he completed before he passed away, on the impressive Jeep sales figures for 1962-63, ignited by the new Gladiator and Wagoneer. And what really caught my eye was the front page of Jeep News for March 1963, with a short item announcing Willys Motors' name change to Kaiser Jeep. I don't think I knew exactly when this change had been made official, and also interesting was the mention of Willys-Overland Export Corp. finally becoming Kaiser Jeep International. That branch of the Kaiser empire had hung onto the Overland name long after the domestic operation had become simply Willys Motors.

Summer 2023

Page 26 Pretty interesting collection of articles in The Dispatcher this time around, although not much on Willys. One surprise was Dennis Woyma's detailed piece on the 1/74 scale Gladiator produced in England by Matchbox from 1964-68, in several slight variations.

The cover story (160K JPEG) is a rundown on the specs and options for the 1992 Jeep Comanche pickup, and the other feature article is a history of the 1940 Ford Pygmy prototype and its testing at Camp Holabird in Maryland. There is a report on the 30th Annual Spring Willys Reunion, and obituaries for Charles Curttright of Illinois and for Ron Szymanski of Toledo, a great supporter of CJ3B.info.

Spring 2023

Spring 2023 This issue of The Dispatcher is the third in a row with a black & white cover photo! I love this, and it's a real demonstration of the magazines's commitment to unearthing Jeep history. This time it's an early Spanish "Willys-VIASA" CJ-3B with a safari hardtop, on a mountain road -- a great shot. But when I think of Jeeps in Spain I think of bright colors, especially yellow and orange, and the six-page spread on Spanish Jeeps inside the magazine is very colorful. There's even a colorful Roberto Flores cartoon about VIASA Jeeps! So I have to admit I would have liked to have seen some of that color on the cover. But it's great to see Francisco Diaz's article on Spanish 3Bs, possibly the best overseas-built high hoods, although they're not as well-known as the Mitsubishi or Mahindra versions.

The other major feature is John Gunnell's detailed piece on the CJ-5A Tuxedo Park Mark IV, which he says was "way ahead of its time." This article is also full of color, mostly Sierra Blue and President Red.

Event reports include the Bantam Fest and the 2023 edition of "Jeeps in January." The visual design of the whole issue is beautiful, with the possible exception of the text over photos of the Bantam Fest, which is a little hard to read.

Winter 2022/23

Page 10 I got my photo in The Dispatcher!   Page 10 (left) of the latest issue shows the logos of some of the Willys events and parts dealers mentioned by Dennis Caraway in his article about the value of supporting the Willys community. And down at the bottom is the lineup of CJ-3Bs at the 2018 Spring Willys Reunion, with me leaning on Bob Christy's 3B!

Other features in this issue include a preview of the transcontinental Road Trip for Veterans happening this summer, a look at the Jeeps of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and an article on putting Electric Power Assist Steering in a Willys. Plus Barry Thomas tells the cover story, of Charles Sorenson's role in bringing the civilian Jeep to market following World War II. He gives it a new angle by describing how Sorenson had been forced to leave Ford in 1943, and so he titles the article "How Henry Ford Saved the Jeep"!

Fall 2022

Fall 2022 The Dispatcher likes to surprise us sometimes with cover photos that are different from the typical Jeep photo you might expect (see for example the 1895 "Willys Special" bicycle, and the Empire tractor, below.) They did it again on this issue, with a photo of the late Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to India in 1961. See Fifty Years Ago Today on CJ3B.info for details on this and other photos of the Queen in India.

Features inside this issue include "The Champagne of 4-wheel-drives", a detailed survey of J-series pickup trucks. Also "Gauge Restoration for Beginners" and a look at a booklet called "What I Saw at Willys-Overland" which was given out at the end of tours of the plant in Toledo. It's filled with detailed sketches of operations in different areas of the factory.

Spring 2022

The two principal features in this issue are interesting although mainly outside the CJ-3B era. One covers the T-28 half-track jeep prototype from World War II, and the other one covers the V-8 engines used in Jeeps ranging from the Wagoneer and Gladiator of 1965 to the 21st century Grand Cherokees. There's also a nice picture story on the "Jeeps in January" event at Joe DeYoung's shop in Wisconsin, and a look at the concept of converting brake components to stainless steel.

Winter 2021-22

Winter 2021 This latest issue is a great one. The cover story by Bill Ringeisen on the Bantam Factory Service Truck is a companion piece to the recent CJ3B.info article on the Bantam Factory Fire Truck. It's followed by a piece from the late Keith Kodet about the first Land Rover which, as many people know, was partly a Willys jeep under the skin.

There are also two extensive articles on pure Willys vehicles; one by Jim Allen on a very early CJ-2A, and one by Bill Norris on the M170 front line ambulance. Finally there are short articles on a Willys Wagon and on the Sinclair Oil company, a bunch of useful advertisements, and even a comic strip from Roberto Flores!

For subscription information, see The Dispatcher website.

Fall 2021

Fall 2021 Not a lot of pure Willys material in the latest issue of The Dispatcher, but there is some great stuff for those whose interests range a little more widely in time and geography.

This article about Brooks Stevens and the Brazilian Jeepster prototype has some interesting details I wasn't aware of, including the central role played by Willys exec Hickman Price Jr. However, it blames a lack of production capacity at the factory in Brazil, for the decision not to produce the Jeepster. My opinion as laid out in Jeep Designers at Work is slightly different: once Willys of Brazil found out that Volkswagen of Brazil was planning to start building the Karmann Ghia, they realized the Jeepster would not compete, and instead immediately started planning their successful Interlagos sports car.

Also in this Fall issue is Jim Allen's ten-page piece on the evolution of the M151 MUTT, and it shows off his usual extensive research and entertaining writing. Plus there's a history of the late-80s MJ Comanche pickup truck, a tech piece on oil pan strainer replacement, and more. Even the big, colorful ads in the magazine are fun and useful!

Summer 2021

Cover The "Willys Special" bicycle, manufactured by John North Willys in 1895 could be considered the earliest ancestor of the Jeep, which is why this rare surviving example ends up on the cover of The Dispatcher. But within a few years of building it, young Mr. Willys saw the future in the form of the automobile, and began to develop Willys-Overland Motors.

Inside this issue is a detailed article about the bicycle and John North Willys' early career, by an unfortunately anonymous author. There are also a couple of other excellent pieces of original historical research: Barry Thomas' interview with Ernie and Dave Klimek of E&K Products, who manufactured the Stratton implement lift for decades; and Jim Allen's survey of Willys and Kaiser experiments with independent suspension. You will be amazed to see the photos of a 1958 CJ chassis modified with front and rear independent suspension and tested extensively.

Spring 2021

Cover The two major articles in the Spring issue are a history of the Rubicon Trail by Keith Kodet, and a huge story by Mark Askew on the unique 1940 Budd Ford pilot model. The Budd Ford is seen in yellow paint in the Pictorial History of the Universal Jeep on CJ3B.info, in a photo taken shortly after it was purchased in California in 1998 by the late Jeff Polidoro. But this new article is filled with pictures taken at the factory in 1940 (right), as well as a look at the completed restoration by Fred Smith in the UK.

Winter 2020/2021

Cover The Summer and Fall 2020 issues of The Dispatcher had the usual selection of interesting stuff, but not a great deal related to the 1950s-60s time period that CJ3B.info focusses on. However, if you're a fan of the late 60s and early 70s Jeepster Commando, those two issues are essential reading. Jim Allen's two-part article is certainly the definitive treatment of that model's development and variations.

The Winter 2020/2021 issue has another astonishing Jim Allen piece, about the three-wheeled "Jeep Creep", prototyped in 1958 as both a Post Office delivery vehicle and a small airport tug. With an L-head engine in the rear, the Creep looked like a Dispatcher with everything in front of the cowl chopped off. For one reason or another, the idea didn't go anywhere.

There's also a useful article by Keith Kodet summarizing the history of factory diesel engines in Jeep vehicles. And of course the cover story about the two Surrey Jeeps bought by the Tonka Toy Company when they were developing their famous toy Surrey. This piece is based on research Bill Preston and I did a few years ago for CJ3B.info, and it's an interesting story.

For subscription information or back issues, see The Dispatcher website. Here are some highlights of earlier issues:

Spring 2020

Cover Well, this may be the best issue yet, in the five years of The Dispatcher. I know I have said this once or twice before, further down on this page, but it has always been true. It's definitely true for me, although I realize different readers may be looking for different things. The four back-to-back, in-depth historical articles in this 40-page edition are all worthy of being the centerpiece of an issue, although this time the centerfold goes to Jim Allen's piece on Frank Sanborn's 1963 J-200 Gladiator 4x2 truck (which incidentally made its public debut many years ago on CJ3B.info, in Mini-Tonka Does the Full-Size-Jeep.

Bill Norris' article on another 2WD Jeep, the 1958-64 Maverick station wagon, has got to be the most detailed piece ever published on this vehicle, with some great photos. There is also the full story of Kaiser-Willys' sponsorship of the namesake television show Maverick, starring James Garner. (You will find some more photos from the Maverick back lot on CJ3B.info's Willys Jeep Station Wagon page.)

And there's more, including a couple of wonderful stories about family Jeeps that worked in agriculture, in Indiana and California. If you're into Jeep history, you will enjoy this magazine.

Winter 2019/2020

Cover As of early 2020, the latest issue of The Dispatcher has Bob Christy's Empire tractor on the cover. Anyone who has been to a Willys show in the last few years has probably seen one of these little tractors, built between 1946 and 1950 and powered by Willys-Overland L-head eingines. Bob's article inside the magazine describes how he and his wife Mindy acquired and repaired their Empire, which they named "Rena."

Other features include some great Willys road-trip reports, and the final installment of Jim Allen's history of light 4x4 vehicles developed prior to the debut of the Bantam Jeep in 1940.

Wienermobile The article in this edition that really jumped out at me is a piece by John Gunnell on the 1958 Oscar-Mayer Wienermobile, packed with the kind of background info and photos I have been looking for since I first featured this wild vehicle in Believe It or Not on CJ3B.info. Built out of fiberglass for designer Brooks Stevens by Gisholt Machine Co. of Madison, Wisconsin, the 1958 Wienermobile rode on a Forward Control Jeep chassis.

Winter 2018/2019

Cover As of 2019, The Dispatcher continues to publish four issues per year, and expand the size of the magazine, providing great coverage of Willys Jeep history. The highlights of the Winter issue are two exceptional, big feature articles:

Our own Ken "Oldtime" Bushdiecker, moderator at the 3A and 3B Community, has put together a detailed history of the changes to "Early Jeep Transfer Cases" -- the Dana-Spicer 18 and 20. Needless to say, there is plenty of stuff here that I didn't know, and Ken tells us not only what Dana did, but why they did it.

Jim Allen has compiled a lot of research on an almost-unknown variation of the CJ-5 known as the "Four-6-Two". This was Kaiser Jeep's 1969 V6 "trail-ready" package, in President Red paint. It evolved the following year into the Renegade, which continued successfully for years under AMC's ownership. You'll want to read this.

Winter 2017/2018

Cover This issue has what we've come to expect: a Reader's Ride profile which also provides the cover photo; one of Jim Allen's great model retrospectives, this time the M-422 Mighty Mite; photo reports from Willys events; and the return of Paul Barry's tech column, discussing shock absorber installation.

But who would have expected that the fourth instalment of Bill Norris' story of the Wilson Foundry and its connections with Willys-Overland, would read like a soap opera? Industrial history has seldom been so entertaining. And Part 2 of Barry Thomas' saga "The Making of the Farm Jeep" unearths historical details that every fan of Jeep special equipment will want to read.

And meanwhile, a new multi-part feature begins, with Dan Fuccella recounting his restoration of a 1950 Station Wagon, and his plan to take it on a 10,000-mile restaging of a 1920 tour of National Parks in the western U.S.

If you have been putting off subscribing, you might also be interested to note that for $100 you can order by mail or online, the entire set of eleven back issues.

Fall 2017

This issue: "Ford GPA 1/4-ton 4x4 Amphibian" by Jim Allen is a big, colorful article with great pictures. "The Making of the Farm Jeep, Part 1" by Barry Thomas, and Bill Norris' third instalment of the story of Willys-Overland and the Wilson Foundry, are more examples of the original, historical research that won The Dispatcher an award from the Society of Automotive Historians in October, for "outstanding treatment of historical topics in an automotive periodical during 2016." There are also articles with all the background details behind the headlines on the FantomWorks Fleetvan, and the "Alaska or Rust" caravan. (See also the story of the CJ-3B in the caravan, in North to Alaska on CJ3B.info.)

Subscription prices have gone up for the first time, by $5 a year, a small increase considering the fact that the magazine has almost doubled in size since its debut in 2015.

Summer 2017

The biggest issue yet, with articles on the SJ Cherokee (from Jim Allen) and Free-Lock locking hubs (from Dave Eilers.) Plus some great Readers' Rides features, Part 2 of the history of the Wilson Foundry (covering the 1920's), and event coverage from the Midstate Jeepster Association, East Coast Willys Association, the Spring Reunion and the Willys Jeep Rally.

Note: publishers Norris-Banonis have reprinted earlier out-of-print copies, so all can now be ordered as back issues from DispatcherMagazine.com or by mail using the order form in the current magazine. See below for details on the contents of each issue. (And they now have a special price for a two-year subscription including two years of the Holy Toledo! calendar.)

Spring 2017

Vol.3 No.1As The Dispatcher starts its third year of publication, the big news is that there is a new website. But don't let that distract from the new issue of the magazine itself, which is possibly the best yet. Lloyd White on postwar rebuilding of jeeps in Germany (left), Jim Allen on the short-lived Honcho pickup, and Bill Norris on the saga of the ill-fated Tornado engine.

Also Part 1 of a two-part history of the career of Charles Wilson of the Wilson Foundry, engine builders for Willys-Overland. And there's more, although you won't find a CJ-3B until you get to the classified ads at the back. The Dispatcher needs some 3B owners to submit stories on their Jeeps for the "Readers' Rides" section. Oh, wait, I need 3B owners to submit their stories to CJ3B.info! Well, either way would be great.

Winter 2016/2017

Vol.2 No.4The Readers' Rides features are a highlight of the Winter issue. There are big photos of interesting Jeeps, including the FC-150 tow truck which is on the cover, photographed by Mark Smith at the 2016 Great Willys Picnic, where it made a big splash. By the way, this issue also has photo reports on four big Willys gatherings from fall 2016.

There are a couple of well-researched historical articles full of details I have not seen anywhere else: Dave Eiler's look at Laurel C. Worman and the Worman Jee-Cab hardtops, and Jim Allen's rundown on the "Forgotten Jeep", the FJ-3 Fleetvan.

Note: Norris-Banonis has announced that starting in 2017 all subscriptions will simply begin when they are paid for, rather than including all the past issues for that year. Some back issues are available for purchase, but not all.

Fall 2016

Vol.2 No.3 has several good stories on Readers' Rides, and several in-depth articles on unsusual Jeeps: the full story on the MAHL Jeep Loader, and detailed discussions of two AMC packages (the CJ-5 Super Jeep and the CJ-7 Limited.) There is a review by Fred Coldwell of Lloyd White's book on the Ford WWII jeeps, and an excerpt about arc welder jeeps from his Willys MB book. There is also a short piece on Walter Appel and his contributions to the VJ Jeepster, and an obituary for the late DJ-3A historian Bruce Agan.

Summer 2016

Vol.2 No.2The cover photo and centerpiece article in Vol.2 No.2 of The Dispatcher, is very timely for the many people who saw this rare Jeep at Willys shows last spring. Nicholas Oxender has prepared a well researched and illustrated 5-page story about his Navy jet-starting Jeep built by Valentine Welder & Manufacturing. You can see a bit more about this CJ-3A with F-head engine at 8th Annual Willys Jeep Rally on CJ3B.info.

Other highlights include John McCabe's piece addressing the question of when exactly is the 75th anniversary of the Jeep, Bob Westerman's look at experimental low-budget versions of the M38, and a tantalizingly brief portrait of designer Brooks Stevens, who had such an interesting career.

More subscriptions will help the magazine grow. New subscriptions anytime during 2016 will receive all four issues of Volume 2.

Spring 2016

Vol.2 No.1
The second year of The Dispatcher begins with a smoking issue that says the magazine is here to stay, so you better subscribe or renew your subscription. No CJ-3Bs are featured, but many CJ3B.info readers will be interested in the centerpiece, Jim Allen's 5-page article on Art Gloss' early CJ-2A fire engine.

There are also a couple of other CJ-2A Reader's Ride features, and all the details I never knew about the 1971 Hurst Jeepster, in Bill Norris' article "Hurst Goes Commando".

Then the story of Walter P. Chrysler's brief but significant contract as General Manager of Willys in 1920-21, a photo piece on an incredibly well-preserved '62 CJ-5, and a book review of Paul Bruno's book about the Bantam Jeep project The First Jeep. Finally, a capsule history of Postal Jeeps, and Paul Barry's tech tips for putting your Jeep away for the winter and waking it up in the spring.

If you like Jeep history, you're going to enjoy this issue.

Vol.1 No.4

Vol.1 No.4The final issue for the first year (2015) of The Dispatcher continues what is already a tradition of interesting, well-illustrated historical articles based on original research. A good introductory article on the DJ-3A Dispatcher is followed by pieces on Jeeps used for automobile club roadside assistance, and the 1941 promotion of the Willys Quad, both of which have lots of photos you have never seen before. The same is true of the story of Blanche Stuart Scott, who drove across the U.S. in an Overland convertible in 1910.

Other articles include a tech piece on oil and fuel filters, and Mindy Christy's look behind the scenes of the Northern Ohio Flatfender Gathering (happening again this year on 11 September 2016.) A photo feature on the Colorado Fall Colors Tour is packed with great pictures, but it's too bad that space in The Dispatcher is a bit tight -- a color spread of 14 photos needs more than two pages.

Your support will help the magazine grow. New subscriptions anytime during 2016 will receive all four issues of Volume 2.

Vol.1 No.3

The September 2015 issue had the most pages and the biggest variety of articles yet. As well as several stories about Jeep collectors and events, there is a fascinating piece about attorney George W. Ritter and his role in Willys corporate history (and Empire tractors.) Also a photo story from the trails around Ouray CO by Jeff Petrowich, an introduction to the Borg-Warner overdrive, archival photos of tracked MB's, and a history of the Al-Toy promotional models by Colin Peabody and Glenn Byron.

Vol.1 No.2

The second issue of The Dispatcher was published in June 2015. Features include: a simple but comprehensive guide on doing a 6 to 12-volt conversion; a detailed look at the massive Schramm air compressors which could be installed as a factory option on almost any Jeep from the 1940's to 1960s; a photo album of the Marine Corps' deep-water fording tests of the M715; and a history of Pope Manufacturing Company, whose Toledo automobile plant later became the Willys-Overland factory. (By the way, The Toledo Blade recently remarked that it's too bad Pope Manufacturing isn't around anymore, because they would be the ideal company to build the Popemobile for Pope Francis' 2015 visit.)

Vol.1 No.1

Vol.1 No.1The last time I reviewed a new Jeep magazine and gave it a thumbs-up, it went belly-up soon after, so I'm hesitant to jinx another one. But that was nearly ten years ago, and the publishers were facing a market that was just discovering the internet, and then a huge recession.

The prevailing wisdom in 2015 on the other hand, is that there are now real opportunities for niche publications to find readers who want something they can hold in their hands. And as mainstream print media struggle to find advertisers, who are increasingly buying exposure online, small magazines with a very specific audience are able to sell targeted advertising.

So this seems like a good time for Norris-Banonis to launch their version of The Dispatcher. They have always said that their Jeep calendars are "nice enough for your coffee table", but the fact is that most of us put the calendars on the wall, so we are in need of something Willys-related for the coffee table or the bathroom.

Norris-Banonis is offering a free copy of their first issue (left) if you send them an e-mail -- contact information is below.

2011The Dispatcher was around for many years as a top-quality club newsletter (right) published quarterly by West Coast Willys. But the organization was loooking for someone to take it over, and Norris-Banonis saw it as a logical step from their calendar business. They decided to make the magazine a little larger and glossier, and undertake to market it more aggressively.

They are sticking with the quarterly publication schedule, and also retaining the policy of free classified ads for subscribers.

ArticleThe plan is for the magazine to feature well-researched historical and technical articles, and in fact there is a real value in putting this kind of material on paper. We're used to consulting websites for information, but websites are actually ephemeral and require constant support -- they can disappear overnight.

The first issue of the new The Dispatcher includes an article by Paul Barry of Willys America, on maintaining Willys steering systems (left).

ArticleAnother article is an excellent piece of historical research by Bob Westerman, describing the testing by the U.S. Army of M38 and M38A1 Jeeps with automatic transmissions (left).

There's also an article by Fred Coldwell on the CJ-1 and CJ-2, and a Readers' Rides section. And a biography of Claude Cox, founder of Overland Automotive, which is an example of Norris-Banonis' intention to include Willys-Overland history from the pre-Jeep era.

I recommend The Dispatcher highly, to anybody who has the occasional inclination to curl up with some reading on paper rather than on a screen, and then be able to file it away on a shelf for future reference. -- Derek Redmond

For subscription information, see The Dispatcher website. You can also e-mail them to request a free issue -- put "sample copy request" in the subject line.

See also Norris-Banonis' Holy Toledo! Jeep Calendar on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 20 May 2024 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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