I think the Willys Wagons were one of the most beautiful vehicles ever made. Well, for a truck, anyway. After all, the Willys Wagon is truly the original SUV. Willys Jeeps and pickups and even coupes are perennial favorites, but the wagons are the forgotten but good looking sister. In the Willys line of vehicles, the wagon is by far the hardest to find with a high-quality restoration or turned into a hotrod.
I had a 51 wagon in the 90′s and loved it. My dream is to have another in the future but this time I want one that has had a frame-off restoration, completely new running gear, and …four doors.
Most Willys enthusiasts aren’t aware that the Willys Wagons ever came with four doors. That’s how rare they are. However, there was the Hy-Rail Fairmont made in the US. I haven’t been able to find how many were made, but it had to be a small run. They were made with a rail-road undercarriage that allowed the vehicle to run on the tracks. I’ve been able to come up with all of three in existence (although some say there is five) with only one of those running.
Many also don’t know Mitsubishi licensed the rights to build Willys vehicles in Japan. Naturally the models they made the most of were the Jeep CJ3B style. However, the wagon version they produced had four doors. This is music to my ears!! Production ceased in 1987, over twenty years longer than anything with a Willys nameplate was manufactured in the US.
My long term plan is to import the body of one of the Mitsubishi 4-door wagons and do a complete custom build. Given that Willys Wagons are renowned for rust, importing a Mitsubishi gives me the opportunity to start with not only a much newer body, but I get my coveted four doors, along with the vertical panel wagon style rear doors instead of a tailgate. I’ll swap out that flat frontend for one with the V shape (as in the other two pics) as I like that much better and it should be a direct bolt on.
Ok, my 4-door wagon build is probably a couple years off, but I’m collecting information and developing the plans while I wait.
Update: I now have a site, WillysCountry.com, that has as much detail on the 4-door Hy-Rail Fairmont and and the Mitsubishi J30 wagon as I’ve been able to find and I will continue to update it as I collect more detail.