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Thread: Possibly buying an M38a1 and have questions

  1. #1
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    Possibly buying an M38a1 and have questions

    Hey all, not sure if this is the right place to ask or not but I'm currently looking at purchasing an M38a1 and I have questions. Let me preface this by explaining the situation a little bit. 1.) I don't know how to drive a stick yet, but I will learn I'm assuming it can't be too hard being a 3 speed, but will take some getting used to. 2.) I don't have a trailer or way to transport said Jeep if I purchase it. 3.) I don't want it to be a daily driver ( I have other vehicles for that) but I don't want the limitations of only being able to drive it in parades/to shows by registering it as an antique or a classic in Pennsylvania.

    So now my questions:

    1.) If I register it as a regular vehicle and try to get insurance say from Grundy whom I already got a quote from or some other company - will they insure it if I register it as a regular plate? I mean obviously I need the proof of insurance to register it in the first place but will they allow that or drop me if I don't switch it to classic or antique plates? Trying to iron out some of the sticking points to make the buying process as smooth as possible, I'll be having to have a friend drive it home for me more than likely unless I find a friend with a large enough truck/trailer. So I need to get the insurance issue ironed out in advance and was wondering if anyone from PA has any experience with this situation

    2. The vehicle I'm looking at is a 1953 M38a1 but it seems to be missing the electrical port on the passenger side as well as the plate for the machine gun mount in the tub, it does have the grab handle on the passenger side, and the glove box on the driver side though. The engine looks different to me than other M38a1 photos I've looked at and it's making it really hard to tell if it's really an M38a1, another model or a CJ made to look like one, or a hodgepodge of various models. If anyone would like to take a look at the photos and give an opinion I can share the listing/pictures from the listing. I prefer to definitely get an M38a1 instead of a CJ if possible. As I mentioned I'm fairly new to the Willy's jeeps so I'm learning a lot as I go, but my late father was always raving about them and saying how he wished he had one etc... apparently that bug has bitten me now...I feel like I must have one lol.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
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    I am unsure of PA insurance or registration. I can tell you what I have in Ohio. Mine is registered as a Historical Vehicle. My insurance company provides me an option to insure my classic vehicles for their perceived value in MY opinion. In other words, a true replacement cost. This is very similar to the Hagerty Insurance Co., A classic car insurance company.

    Some pictures will help identify many things. I think you may find one very quick way to see if it is a CJ frame is a look underneath for the Machine Gun cross member mount. If it is not there it is not a Military chassis. https://www.kaiserwillys.com/tech-guide/52-71-m38a1

  3. #3
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    Please share the add and any photos of the A1 to see exactly what you are looking at, to help us iron out exactly to what they are trying to sell. It sounds like it is a CJ from the items that are not on the body, but seeing is believing.

    A Jeep 3 speed is one of the most simple and forgiving manual transmissions to learn to drive. You'll do just fine.

    Grundy should not have any issues covering your purchase, regardless of what plate you purchase. Grundy may have an allotted maximum millage restriction, but it is usually pretty generous.

    Below are some pictures of specific items that are unique to the M38A1. From reading your observations, you know the key items, and are well read into what to look for.

    1st picture is of the machine gun pedestal mount on the frame crossmember.

    2nd is of the fuel tank well under the driver's position.

    3rd is of the grill hinges and front recovery /tie down loops. The grill hinges were unique to the first three years of production, and went away after the '53 model year. The tie downs mount one bolt through the bumper, then there is a spacer welded to the frame that supports the rear mount bolt of the bracket.

    4th shows the frame tie down loops bolted through the frame rails on both sides. Also visible is the voltage regulator mount for the 24 volt electrical system, on the right side frame rail.

    5th is of a replacement panel that shows the front of the passenger side tool box front panel. If this was a Civilian Jeep, the word Jeep would be embossed in this panel. The Military vehicles were plain because the military didn't allow for the manufactures to advertise their company name/trademark on in service vehicles.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by gmwillys; 08-13-2020 at 06:45 AM.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    One of the quickest tells is the electrical system. A real M38/M38A1 well have a 24-volt electrical system with all of the connections made with "waterproof" quick disconnect plugs and sockets.

    It would have had, originally, a BIG generator with heavy duty plug/connectors going to the voltage regulator.

    A duded-up CJ will most likely have a conventional wire harness.

    An M38A1 will have the F-134 engine, the one with the valve cover cover for the intake rocker arm.

    Good Luck!

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    Hey everyone, thank you all for the quick responses. I'm attaching the photos from the ad to this reply to help with the ID. I've asked the seller for more pictures but he resent the same ones. I'm trying to go physically look at it tomorrow sometime if he's available so that I can get a better look as well. He is asking 10k

    The ad is listed as a 1953 Willy's - he never mentions M38a1 in the ad, but when i asked him if it was one or a CJ he said yes it's an M38a1.

    Text from the ad is as follows:
    "Awesome Willys! 3 speed, Clean title, Antique tags, No smoke, engine sounds great! New shocks, springs, breaks, master cylinder and fuel tank. A few seals could be changed (transmission seals). Motor is dry and strong. Only 8,247 miles. Runs great. Does come with the canvas top and rear side windows. Clips needed above windshield for the front of the canvas. Also includes spare tire and mounting bracket. I have more into this so I’d have to be firm on price."

    Photos:

    1.jpg
    2.jpg
    3.jpg
    4.jpg
    5.jpg

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    Here's the other two photos:
    6.jpg
    7.jpg

  7. #7
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    I don't know but that Jeep looks awfully nice! If the price is right I would buy it regardless.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    The frame and body both are consistent with an M38a1. The electrical system has been converted to a civilian 6 or 12 volt system. It looks very nice!

  9. #9
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    There have been a lot of additions and modifications. It's hard to tell, but the engine may be a civilian F-134 - I can't see any of the fording accessories I would normally see on an M38A1.

    My $.02 worth - buy it on the basis that it is a fairly nice CJ of the time period, don't pay a premium for an M38A1 that is so modified it is closer to a CJ that the original M38A1.

  10. #10
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    He is asking 10k Firm - I'm not sure if that's a good deal or not. I'm going to be checking it out in in person in about an hour. I really do appreciate all the help and advice greatly. I was thinking it didn't look like it had the water tight connections etc. Thanks again

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