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Thread: 1950 - A Confusing Year

  1. #1
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Ft. Wayne, IN

    1950 - A Confusing Year

    1950 was a confusing year for Willys-Overland truck and station wagon models.

    In early 1950 trucks were either Model 2WD (2-wheel drive) or Model 4WD (4-wheel drive). Station wagons in early 1950 were either Model 4X463 (4-wheel drive) or just plain Model 463’s.

    I don’t want to get into the entire wagon variations, but I am still trying to put together a rational story about how the trucks evolved in 1950. Someone, somewhere, has probably written the story more lucidly that I can and they may have access to WO records to help them – if so – please add to this story.

    As far as I can tell, 1950 was first of all a body style change for the trucks. Even the earliest 1950 models (except of course 1949 models that had their titles changed) had the new body style; the pushed out nose on the hood and grille, the fenders modified from the original flat fender design and five horizontal grill bars on the new pointy grille.

    The 1950 2WD and 4WD trucks still had the L-134 Go Devil engines up front and in the cab there were some minor styling changes, but they still had the old style square instrument clusters. There was not a large quantity of these trucks built; about 3650 4WD and only 971 2WD models.

    Then came the other 1950 trucks, often called the “1950-and- a- half” models. These were the Model 473 4WD models with about 9400 units produced and the 473 2WD models with about 4700 units. These were the first trucks to get the new F-134 Hurricane engine along with the restyled cab with the “clock and bar” instrument cluster (round speedometer with all of the gauges arranged in a row beneath the speedometer).

    There was one additional, unique, feature of the late 1950 Jeep vehicles - a brass medallion on the cowl – either on the driver or passenger side (and possibly both). It was a 1950 item and was not continued into 1951 by most accounts.

    Over the weekend I came across an early 1950 Model 4WD at the Hoagland (Indiana) Days Festival. The truck came from North Dakota where it last earned its living after being converted to a flatbed configuration by hauling huge loads of baled wheat straw from point A to point B on the farm. The owner discovered a custom dump bed that had been built for another Jeep truck and he installed it on the 1950 after removing the flatbed. (It isn’t a functional dump – just decorative).

    I gave it as good a looking over as I could under the circumstances. The five bar grille and the pointy nose reliably place it between 1950 and 1952. The special medallion puts it as a 1950, but in another of those “Did or didn’t Willys?” questions – did they really only put them on the late 1950’s, or was it another “Whenever” Willys break-in. This is an early 1950, the medallions were “supposedly” only on late 1950’s. (They were also available as repro items, so who knows?)

    The most interesting feature of the truck was the dashboard configuration. The dash has the old style square instrument cluster, with all black faced instruments and the “five line” highlighting on the faceplate – the engine turned faceplates had been discontinued in early 1948 (?) by most accounts.

    But, and this is the first time I had seen this, the windshield wiper button is mounted on the flat surface just above the speedometer and the “ash receiver” is located on top of the dash at the base of the windshield. In the ’48, the two are reversed – ash receiver above the speedometer and wiper at the base of the dash.

    I think this might be an early 1950 unique feature – does anyone have any more information on this?

    The current owner commented that he wants to add an overdrive because it just won’t go very fast and he also asked me if he could add Ross steering to the truck. Was there a steering gear change in late 1950 – or is this another aftermarket modification of some sort?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Sir: I'm no expert on the Willys tranformation during 1950, but because this vehicle was restored, I think it is more likely that the unique features are the mind child of the restorer. For example, the wiper knob on the face of the dash is where the high beam light should be and I would think the emblem is covering the original wiper knob location. Also, the instrument cluster looks very much like the wagon cluster and not the truck cluster (usually machine finish and white face instruments), I have seen this type even in late 1949 trucks. What I have learned over the years is that there were no 1949 body style, trucks, wagons, or jeepsters made in 1950 with the later 1950 engines (F134, L161) but there were some other body changes. For example, the early 1950 jeepster with the flat fenders and square instrument cluster had a different door latch, and the hood stay was changed to slide on the grill strut. The side curtain rods were also slightly different.

    The change I'm most interested in is the VIN numbering. I have found, and have one, of the jeepsters that was made in 1950 but with a VIN numbering system from 1949 and after the last number said to be made. I cannot find anyone who can say for sure how many 1950 jeepster were made with the flat fender, square instrument cluster having the L134, or, L148. Because of this issue, I think the total made number may be short. Thanks.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Ft. Wayne, IN
    Thanks - and don't call me "Sir", I was an enlisted man in the Reserve of the World's Greatest Navy for 28+ years...

    Willys-Overland used whatever was in the stock room or on a shelf to build things in those chaotic post-war years. The Jeepsters were an especially chaotic case because they were built in relatively small quantities on what we would call a batch basis today.

    The best information I have on instrument clusters comes out of the 2nd edition of the Model 2WD and 4WD Parts book. It calls out the Instrument Cluster, (Mask with Engine Turned Aluminum Finish) as "(Up to Serial No. 20243-2WD and 26719-4WD)". Instrument Cluster "(Mask Aluminum Paint with Black Decorative Lines) (After Serial No. 20243-2WD, 26719-4WD)" was the next version noted.

    And, as we all know, The First and Third Rule of Jeep apply here:

    Rule 1: What you see is what you have.

    Rule 2. Believe nothing you are told or read until you verufy it for yoursels

    Rule 3. Never say; "Willys would never have _________________"; such as ".. put station wagon clusters in 4WD trucks." They probably did at one time or another.

    I’ve not seen a high-beam indicator in the middle of the dash where the wiper knob is on that truck. But, since the truck could be built as right hand or left hand drive configuration, it would make sense to locate that lamp centrally. The main reason I suspect that the configuration is original is the placement of the ash tray - making a custom tray at the base of the windshield would be a major dash modification. But, we’ve seen stranger things.

    Thanks for the note, we’re still learning.

  4. #4
    I found another 1950 Willys, this one a wagon with the same configuration. I was thinking of my Jeepsters, they have the high beam indicator in the middle of the dash just above the instrument cluster. Sorry for the incorrect information. See the attached picture of the Wagon. Thanks.

    50 Willys Wagon.jpg

  5. #5
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
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    Dec 2018
    Northwestern Ohio
    dg where did you find the wagon? Pretty dog gone clean! It looks like it was stripped thoroughly but, it is not rusty. Nice clean floorboard.

  6. #6
    I found it on Craigslist in San Diego, see the link below: It has the expected early 50 front clip, 2WD with a six.


  7. #7
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Ft. Wayne, IN
    " Sorry for the incorrect information. "

    No need to apologize - what we have here is a previously undocumented feature (at least to us). Now we can say; "On a few examples of early 1950 trucks/wagons, the dash was .... "

  8. #8
    Guys: (notice no sir), I found another Willys Wagon with the same configuration. The add says this one is a 1949, see below:

    1947 Willys Wagon.jpg
    Last edited by dgoodenow; 07-06-2021 at 01:06 PM.

  9. #9
    Yet another one. Seams like they are everywhere, see attached below:

    Willys Wagon 1950 take 2.jpg

  10. #10
    One more. I think this was the standard not the exception?

    1949-willys-jeep take 2.jpg

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