'48 Wagon on Isuzu Trooper chassis


Gear Grinder
Jun 16, 2010
Willys Model
Willys Year:
My parents have had this old Willlys sitting out in the desert and I wanted to fix it up and use it as a primary transportation/daily driver, but was leary about taking long trips freeway driving, parts availability, etc, so I decided to mount the body to a more modern chassis, and as it turns out the first generation Isuzu Trooper has the exact same wheelbase, the same basic layout, and are damn cheap, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. I picked up a couple dozen Troopers to assure I'll have more than enough parts and have started putting stuff together.






You'd be the man!!! I absolutely love it...sounds to me you put a plan together and now you are executing it. Do a few body mounts here and there. Scrape, sand, sand blast, weld and paint ...you got a daily driver son. Keep posting pictures of your progress, no matter how small advancement...this one will be SWEEEEEEET!!!!
However, check the serial number on the frame...right front rail or the body tag riveted inside on the driver side....this isn't a '48....perhaps '55??? BUT it still is a Willys Wagon and it will be awesome.....Best of Luck!
Thanks man!! Yeah, I started removing mounts today and will work on getting them welded in the right places over the next few days. I can't believe how fast this is going already, I'm going to get it mounted, secion in the Trooper firewall so I can just bolt up all the controls, paint the engine compartment, drop in the motor and wiring and start driving it. I do body/paint by trade and I actually really dig the old rat look so I think I'm going to sport that for a while before I get all crazy with a nice paint job. I've actually considered doing a custom paint job that mimics what it looks like now, with airbrushed rust, bondo, primer, etc... I dunno, I'll ponder on it a while.
Put the orbital buffer to the paint and make it shine....make shine! I love it and can't get enough of it!!!
Welcome to the forum John. Looking forward to the updates on your frame swap.

johnny5ive: looks like a very practical and sensible transplant. I only have one question: If/When you put the Isuzu body on the leftover Willys frame, see if it sells as a nostalgic/retro vehicle on Ebay.

Cheers and well done!

LOL.. That's a good one.. Well the Willys frame is MIA.. When I got it it was literally just sitting on some unidentified frame that obviosly wasn't a Willys so I didn't even bother taking it, I removed the body and trailered it home. Speaking of which I removed te entire front clip from the Trooper today, and stripped the firewall inside and out so it is now ready to be cut out. I'll be using the Trooper wiring, steering, brakes, clutch, heater, guages, etc, so I figure just welding in the Trooper firewall is going to be the cleanest and easiest way to accomplish that. I'll take some pics tomorrow and try to get them up tomorrow nite. Thanks all for the hospitality encouragement, I'm gald I found this site!
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Got everything striiped off the Trooper firewall so it can get cut out tomorrow welded into the Willys. Got the frame mounts cut off today and will be welding them back into the proper locations to hold the Willys body. Will post more pics in a day or 2.





Ok, so I got up early and hauled the generator over to the other side of the property so I could run the sawzall to cut the firewall out of the Trooper. Then loaded it up and headed to the shop to do some frame mount work. Modded some of the stock Trooper mounts to hold the Willys body, didn't get everything welded up but got them all in place and ready to go for tomorrow. Once I get the body mounts squared away, I'll take some firewall measurements and hack out the Willys firewall... Man, cuttin cars up is fun, huh???



Cutting the firewall and tranny hump from the Trooper was a great idea and time saver....now do you weld it in at the stock Willys firewall location or do you set it back some for additional engine compartment room? I like you pictures but they seem big on my end...
As it turns out the Willys firewall sits about 8 inches further back than the Trooper did, so it's already going to provide extra room in the engine bay, only thing is, I'm going to have to lengthen the steering shaft and cut/move the shifter openings forward so they'll actually sit in the right place over the tranny. Going to be a little work, but will make for an easy V8 transplant if I ever get the inclination. Will post more pics when I have something interesting.
Ok, got a little time to work on the Willys today. I got all the body mounts welded to the frame, so it's officially attached. I spent a while removing pieces from the firewall and then cut on it a while but my last sawzall blade broke before I got it all cut out so that picture will be in a few days. I know these pics aren't that exciting so I threw in one of the Ozark mountain sunset for asthetics.



Sunny and mtns are beautiful, but those welds are super nice...you could do a body lift...
I've actually had to do everything possible to get this body to sit down as far as I'd like. It was sitting too high for my taste when I originally got it sat down on the frame. A little shaving here and there and got it down to where it just barely clears the top of the fuel tank.
Ok, so vacation's over, Texas was nice... a little too hot for my tast but always nice to see the family. I picked up some new sawzall blades and finished cutting out the firewall today. It'll need some trimming and cleaning but I got the bulk of it out of the way. I started measuring and markin the Trooper firewall today, it's actuall quite a bit wider so I'm going to have to trim it down a bit to get it in there. Look like I'm going to have to install it in 3 pieces in order to get everything lined up properly..... more to come..