Spring Willys Reunion 2015


This year's Spring Willys Reunion was a historic event, with the first gathering of Agrijeeps (the original postwar CJ-2 Jeeps) in one place since "Jeep Day" at Cesor Farm on 18 July 1945.

Fred Coldwell, author of Preproduction Civilian Jeeps, did a presentation on Saturday morning and signed copies of his book. Speaker at the Saturday night banquet was Bill Norris, telling the story of Charles Sorenson's career in the automotive industry, and "Jeep Day" at his Cesor Farm.

The Reunion was held again this year at the Clarion Inn outside historic Hudson, Ohio, on 15-17 May. Here are some of my photos from the weekend; see also Spring Willys Reunion 2015: More Photos. -- Derek Redmond

The Agrijeep Reunion

A colorful group of Jeeps greeted everybody in the front corner of the Clarion's parking lot: Dave Antram's 1951 CJ-3A, William Brown's 1963 Surrey, and Melvin Hochstetler's 1950 Willys truck.

And nearby was the main attraction: four of the 40 original CJ-2 preproduction Civilian Jeeps from 1944. In the foreground is Andrew Poncic's CJ2-32, yet to be restored.

Fred Coldwell climbed out of his restored CJ2-09 after lining it up with the others for a photo op outside the tent that protected the "Agrijeeps" from the light rain that fell off and on during the weekend.

Jim Allen and Bob Westerman watched Todd Paisley (center) opening the toolbox lid on his CJ2-37, one of the second group of 20 CJ-2's, with "JEEP" stamped in the windshield and hood.

The Agrijeep brain trust posed for a photo: Todd Paisley, Fred Coldwell, Bob Westerman, Keith Buckley, Tremaine Cooper. Also on hand but missing in the photo were Andrew Poncic and Daron Wanberg.

Fred gave a slide show of new information on the CJ-1 and CJ-2, including New "X" Numbers Discovered Since 2002 (70K JPEG), a supplement to page 158 of his book Preproduction Civilian Jeeps.

Shortly afterwards, he was on the ground taking a closer look at Tremaine's beautifully restored CJ2-06.

For more on all of the known surviving CJ-2's, see Todd Paisley's website Early Prototype Civilian Jeeps.

For those looking for parts for their own restorations, there was everything from radiator guards to drawbars. Even a sharp CJ-3A chassis and drivetrain, ready for a body tub.

Jim Allen and Keith Buckley checked out the parts tables, which as usual included a huge display from Midwest Willys. Sales were slowed by the occasional showers.

Lots of variety in this lineup. Jeff Petrowich's MB had the hood open to display the 4.3 Vortec V6. Joe Esdale's 1960 FC-150 had an extra engine in the back (200K JPEG).

This is the only photo Roseanna took of me (right) all weekend. Chatting with the high-hood fans in front of Bob Christy's 3B.

Brand New CJ-3B

For CJ-3B lovers, the big news was John King's '58 from nearby Aurora, Ohio. He has restored his late father's Jeep, and has the body back on, painted in a Ford blue.

John is currently working on wiring and other details. For an idea of how much work he's done, see his 1958 Owners' Photo from 2008.

The F-head is equally clean inside and out -- John did a full teardown of the engine. His bodywork included hood reinforcement (120K JPEG) based on Bob Christy's design.

John gave Rus Curtis a detailed tour of his project. And in the background you can just see Tom Hill's white '59. Unfortunately I didn't find Tom and didn't get a photo; I think the last time I got a shot of his Jeep was at the 2007 Reunion (150K JPEG).

Unique Custom Jeeps

Parked side-by-side were a couple of Jeeps that caused double takes all weekend. In the background is a CJ-2A that was customized as a sport coupe complete with tailfins, by Joseph Vrabel in the late 1950s.

Vrabel's grandson Eric Hammonds restored the grey "Vrabel Custom" and brought to the Reunion, which was taking place not far from where Joseph Vrabel is buried, with an image of the 4x4 car on his gravestone.

The blue mud racer owned by Mike and Jill Thomas of Alliance, Ohio, has a Hurricane engine like you've never seen, with a custom crank, homemade rods, Ford 429 valves, and custom intake with a Holley 2-barrel carb.

Mike says the Hurricane produces 125 HP at 6,000 RPM. The body works for mud racing but retains a hint of Jeep heritage. The yellow halfcab CJ-2A in the background here is owned by John Ittel.

Walk around the back of that halfcab and there's another surprise waiting. John's dual rear wheels and Monroe 3-point hitch support a Cherokee concrete mixer powered by the PTO. And yes, there's a front bumper weight.

John left both of his CJ-3Bs at home, but he did bring his L-head-powered air compressor, which has a distinctive sound because it runs on two cylinders while using the other two to compress air.

Then my attention was caught by the sound of Lonnie Deweese starting up his Jeep, which is also a yellow dually CJ-2A.

And it also had a mixer on the rear PTO, but I rapidly realized Marilyn Deweese was mixing ice cream, not grain.

More Photos

Continue to Spring Willys Reunion 2015: More Photos for a couple more Hurricane-powered Jeeps like you've never seen before, plus the Reunion Banquet. -- Derek Redmond

See also photos from previous Spring Willys Reunions on CJ3B.info.

For more on past and future events, see the Willys Jeep Reunions website.

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Last updated 22 May 2015 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond