A Moral Dilemma

JBingham

Bigger Hammer
Dec 18, 2009
154
Ozark, Alabama
So, here is the deal guys.

Alot of people get heartburn about tearing up a stock Willys to put in a modern drive train.
I understand that point of view, and I will admit, I feel a little guilty about the thought of it myself.

So here is what I'm thinking. I have a stock 1950 Willys Pickup( with a flatbed, apperently the orginal bed failed long ago.). The engine is apperantly not the orginal engine that came with the truck, but it is still a 134F, just like the orginal. My plan is to remove the entire drivetrain, and put a modern drive train under the truck.

If anyone has plans to restore a Willys to stock condition, and has an already modified Willys pickup they would like to trade for this one, let me know. I figure as long as I put the offer out there, I won't feel as bad about chopping this one up come the summer. She ran last summer(but leaked alot of oil) until the starter quit.

I'm just posting this on the general forum, to get some feedback and thoughts on the idea?
 

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62 OlllO

Well Oiled
Oct 19, 2009
1,821
Georgia
First Name
Kevin
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1962
I personally believe in modern up grades...Automatic Transmission with overdrive... because I want my paralyzed daughter to have the opportunity to drive it (just attach her portable hand controls)and better economy; front disc brakes to stop a 3,500 pound vehicles in a safe and timely manner...Dana 44's provide a bigger rear brake drum and disc brakes, plus heavier axles...Small Block Chevy for readily available parts and cruise at highway speeds;... Stronger Transfer Case, again parts availability and matches to the 700R4 Tranny....New Dual Master Cylinder for reliability and safety....adding three point seat belt....rewire the Wagon with a fuse panel so my investment doesn't burn up....
At the same time I like to appear stock from the outside...I want a daily driver.
There is nothing wrong with either direction, it all depends what you plan on doing with it.
 

Eric B

Precision Fit
Nov 27, 2009
841
Colorado Springs, CO
First Name
Eric
Willys Model
Other
Willys Year:
Other
I agree with the modern updates as well. I just got mine with what I have found to be a 1969 Ford 351W V8 and from what I can see right now a ZF 5 speed tranny from a F250. Still running stock drum brakes and axles front and rear. Tcase is still unknown though. My intentions are to have to outer/inner stock appearance with the subtle updates of disc brakes, dual master cylinder, new wiring harness, and saginaw conversion, I have to get it driveable for my wife... So that she can enjoy it as well.
 

aquawilly54

Well Oiled
Sep 21, 2009
1,257
Willys Model
Willys Year:
J,
I am one of those purist guys. :eek: I hate to see it "DeWillyized". There's a lot of character and good usage in these ol' trucks in their stock configuration. I equate it to clubbing ones dog over the head and watching the personality drain. All that's left is a shell of it's former glory. Good on ya for offering up a trade of sorts and I sure hope somebody comes through for ya. I know I would if I could. I'm thinkin' there's got to be one out there somewhere that's already been hacked up that you can swap over to an S-10 setup...or something and make some really cool mods on. Do your best, but do what ya gotta do.
Thanks for having a concsience. :)
Steve
 

rbond

Bigger Hammer
Oct 8, 2009
49
Bloomsburg PA
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Re: year & "stock"?...

You have an early front end that went out with '49 model, '50 would be the newer V grille etc... truck could be @ time of change over in 49 for 50 serial #... a '49 would have had the L head 4... anyway - keeping it 'stock' may be way past considering if eng &/or front end all replacements. My point is just build it the way you want it to live again (for the next 50 years!) and let the next guy change it if he wants. Better that than the crusher - and somebody else can use what you don't.

Either way, envisioning it and making it happen is the fun part. I call it 'jeep therapy' - got me thru a divorce and keeps me busy in mid winter (when landscape architects are not in big demand), and scraping and sanding helps keeps me warm in a shop that isn't.
 

dozerjim

Sharpest Tool
Nov 11, 2009
321
Clarence,New York (western part near Buffalo)
First Name
Jim
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
I understand where you're at,I switched my '55 pick-up over to a '77 1/2 ton chevy frame,327,4-speed,pb and ps it is a great driver and looks sort of stock,glad I did it,next one will be a stocker.I drive it a lot in the summer and i don't have to worry about stopping or getting out of the way. Good idea on your part to trade if the right deal comes along,if not do what makes you happy,life is short,I'm almost over the guilty feelings,like somebody else said,"at least you saved it from the crusher",good luck Jim
 

pavel6

Well Oiled
Sep 27, 2009
1,685
Vancouver, BC
First Name
Pavel
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1965
Justin: it's all up to you. If you were talking about putting pants on The David, converting a Duesenberg to hybrid power or adding a WalMart at the base of Mount Rushmore, I'd try to counsel you in a more conservative direction. But this is an old Willys, a vehicle made in large numbers to serve people. So go ahead, update the vehicle anyway you see fit.
Don't expect, however, to get back your investment (in time or money) when you sell - who knows where time will lead the automotive world over the next decade. I know a purist who refuses to update any vehicle he owns (which makes sense for his 1918 Model T) but the truth is he almost never drives any of his vehicles - other than him, no one in his family can pilot the T. My wife and daughter were game to drive our stock '65 Willys wagon, but found the steering and brakes literally beyond their physical capabilities (they are both small women). With Saginaw power steering, disc brakes, 3 point seat belts, both of my Ladies can handle the vehicle... so the (reversible) upgrades made practical sense to me.
If you will permit me to put more of my bias on this post... don't install a big V8 or V6 in your Willys - that's already been done 'to death'. What about a small, efficient diesel with a 4 or 5 spd? What about maintaining the relative light weight of the Willys, but making it safer and much more fuel efficient? The Dana 25 front/Dana 53 or Timken rear axles are plenty strong enough if you are not a serious off-roader and the stock Willys frame is quite strong.

All the best with whatever you do!

Pavel
 

lotusoop

Gear Grinder
Oct 22, 2009
9
Hockley, TX
First Name
Bill
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1959
JB, I am so glad that you brought this up. I'm a newbie on the forum. I also have an older "Jeep" and planned on completely redoing it, and keeping it stock, but, as much as I like the body, I keep thinking wouldn't it be a better driver (and more enjoyable) if it had modern updates and would go faster than 45MPH.
 

BioTex

Sharpest Tool
Nov 15, 2009
224
Alpine, TX
Willys Model
Willys Year:
rbond said:
Re: year & "stock"?...

You have an early front end that went out with '49 model, '50 would be the newer V grille etc... truck could be @ time of change over in 49 for 50 serial #... a '49 would have had the L head 4... anyway - keeping it 'stock' may be way past considering if eng &/or front end all replacements. My point is just build it the way you want it to live again (for the next 50 years!) and let the next guy change it if he wants. Better that than the crusher - and somebody else can use what you don't.

Either way, envisioning it and making it happen is the fun part. I call it 'jeep therapy' - got me thru a divorce and keeps me busy in mid winter (when landscape architects are not in big demand), and scraping and sanding helps keeps me warm in a shop that isn't.
Randy,
1950 still has the flatter nose and fenders. Change came in what are known as the 50 ½ models.
 

BioTex

Sharpest Tool
Nov 15, 2009
224
Alpine, TX
Willys Model
Willys Year:
I to see both points of view. I decided to only install upgrades that can easily be undone. If you save all the original parts, then a later owner can have the best of both worlds. Personally I think a meticulously restored Willys will be worth more money than a comprable repowered one, but obviously us Willys nuts don't do this for money. Be happy, and don't look back...
 

1947CircleW

Gear Grinder
Nov 23, 2009
24
Willys Model
Willys Year:
I say do whatever makes you happy, that's what this hobby is all about, there is no right or wrong, and each vehicle is an expression of the owner. You obviously had it on the road last summer and weren't happy with it as a driver and that's what I enjoy most, driving around in an oldy. For me, I am leaving my willys stock as I already have a hot rod with the upgraded power train and suspension. Good luck with your project JB it appears to be a nice solid vehicle for starters.
 

JBingham

Bigger Hammer
Dec 18, 2009
154
Ozark, Alabama
What a great forum, I didn't expect to get so many responses! I had been told the "pointy" nose came in at 50 1/2 also, I got the Resto Guide from Willys America and went over the truck to match components with the year, It seems pretty solidly a early '50 model. But, who knows...

As for driving it in its original states, I bought it sight unseen while I was in Iraq(stupid of me I know), and while it did run when I finally picked it up, the brakes were shot, it poured out oil (rear main seal bad?) and steering was a vague suggestion. But for those terrifying minutes lining it up with the trailer built for a CJ, it was enjoyable!

My original plan was to try to keep the truck as stock as possible and still have it as a daily driver, but from what I have read, it sounds like the original running gear simply wouldn't be up to daily abuse. I don't plan to use this truck for heavy off roading, just camping trips and pulling silly folk out of snowbanks.
So here is another question I pose to those with vast Willys expertise. What are some good drive train combos that you have seen work?

My plan was a chevy small block, or a 4.3, with a five speed manual, God knows what transfer case, preferably a reliable twin stick, and 44s front and rear. I am completely open to suggestions, and if anyone knows the true limits of the orginal running gear, let me know! I have an opportunity to get a drive train out of a 79 dodge pick up pretty cheap, but making a 360 fuel efficient seems...daunting.

It makes a village to raise a child, and it will take a forum to build this truck;)
 

Pivnic

Well Oiled
Nov 24, 2009
3,909
Conifer, Colorado
First Name
John
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1957
Hi there. I currently have a 63 Willys Wagon that I am restoring. It was already re-powered with a Small Block Chevy with the original Willys Drive Line. I've got one more year to go for it to be ready for paint then I'll start my next project. Last summer I bought a 57 Willys Pickup. My plan is to put a Late Model Chevy Chassis under it. When done, the Willys will still maintain the classic old Willys Pickup "Look", but it will have an all modern chassis and suspension, a Chevy fuel injected 350 motor, power brakes and power steering. I definitely believe that this is the way to go. Check out my 57 Willys and it's donor Chevy at
http://www.cardomain.com/ride/3805815. Post your progress and pictures of your chassis conversion project! Good luck. I'll keep checking your posts! John
 

rbond

Bigger Hammer
Oct 8, 2009
49
Bloomsburg PA
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Yeah, sorry - I missed the '50 1/2 model change detail altogether - as a jeepster guy the '49 is flat & '50 is V grill (and '51s are all leftover '50s and done) :beer:
 

BioTex

Sharpest Tool
Nov 15, 2009
224
Alpine, TX
Willys Model
Willys Year:
JBingham said:
What a great forum, I didn't expect to get so many responses! I had been told the "pointy" nose came in at 50 1/2 also, I got the Resto Guide from Willys America and went over the truck to match components with the year, It seems pretty solidly a early '50 model. But, who knows...

As for driving it in its original states, I bought it sight unseen while I was in Iraq(stupid of me I know), and while it did run when I finally picked it up, the brakes were shot, it poured out oil (rear main seal bad?) and steering was a vague suggestion. But for those terrifying minutes lining it up with the trailer built for a CJ, it was enjoyable!

My original plan was to try to keep the truck as stock as possible and still have it as a daily driver, but from what I have read, it sounds like the original running gear simply wouldn't be up to daily abuse. I don't plan to use this truck for heavy off roading, just camping trips and pulling silly folk out of snowbanks.
So here is another question I pose to those with vast Willys expertise. What are some good drive train combos that you have seen work?

My plan was a chevy small block, or a 4.3, with a five speed manual, God knows what transfer case, preferably a reliable twin stick, and 44s front and rear. I am completely open to suggestions, and if anyone knows the true limits of the orginal running gear, let me know! I have an opportunity to get a drive train out of a 79 dodge pick up pretty cheap, but making a 360 fuel efficient seems...daunting.

It makes a village to raise a child, and it will take a forum to build this truck;)
Don't know your experience or knowledge extent, so I'll add to the suggestion and say that a 4.3L is a 350 with 2 cyllinders cut off. This makes it very cheap to purchase engine parts for. There are millions of them at salvage yards with TBI. The intake manifolds are aluminum, so this allows for 170hp minimum stock, in a very small lightweight package (with headers). This is why I chose the 4.3L

I took out a SBC because I wanted the original drivetrain. I felt the V8 was too much for it. If you are going to ugrade the drivetrain, then a nothing wrong with a V8. :cheers:
 

62 OlllO

Well Oiled
Oct 19, 2009
1,821
Georgia
First Name
Kevin
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1962
Tex, I'm glad you have included all us forum members as your family...but you are right. Why should any of us try rebuilding the mouse trap, go with the tried and true. I inherited the SBC...providing there are no big issues with it after we go thru it...I will use it...but for any reason the small block doesn't cut it I would like to a diesel or 4.3...Talk is cheap and doesn't cost a thing, but the talk does allow us to make better choices. Oh I see something I got to do NOW!!!!!!!!!!!! :cheers:
 

JBingham

Bigger Hammer
Dec 18, 2009
154
Ozark, Alabama
rbond said:
Don't know your experience or knowledge extent, so I'll add to the suggestion and say that a 4.3L is a 350 with 2 cyllinders cut off. This makes it very cheap to purchase engine parts for. There are millions of them at salvage yards with TBI. The intake manifolds are aluminum, so this allows for 170hp minimum stock, in a very small lightweight package (with headers). This is why I chose the 4.3L
I'm pretty familiar with GM products, though I heard there can be clearance issues with the SBC, as opposed to the 4.3. However, it sounds like plenty of people are running them, so it must not be too huge of an issue to shoehorn one in there.

Anyone have experience trying to run the stock drivetrain from the engine back for normal everyday use?
 

BioTex

Sharpest Tool
Nov 15, 2009
224
Alpine, TX
Willys Model
Willys Year:
My 1950 truck had about 25,000 put on it with a SBC. Lots of highway miles over 10 years. It was a 307 2bbl, so not too much HP.
The only damage I could find to the D53 was the spyder gears. several teeth were chipped. I saw no other issue.
If you drive it with moderation, the stock drive train will hold up to a mild V8. I see more V8 conversions that V6's. Most of them have upgraded axles though.
Upgraded brakes is a must with a V8 IMO.
 

germain

Precision Fit
Nov 30, 2009
571
Bartonville, TX
First Name
Gary
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1961
A restomod is the way to go for a driver, and if you plan on wheeling with it, the old stuff is bound to be marginal at best for performance. The skills, tools, time and budget you have available are major factors on the decision you make. My Willys expenses replaced a car payment for about 4 years during the build, and I got too know the UPS, FEDEX and mail carrier quite well. All that said, when you pull out of the driveway you are a rolling one man/woman car show. I get remarks and recognition every time I drive it. While it's not why I built it the way did, it is a reality of ownership of a unique vehicle that has been restored and is used. I'm going to add power windows so I can answer questions from the passenger side while driving.
Mine has a 5.7L Chevy w/4L80E trans and the combination saved me weight over the original 6 cyl and trans. I could tell because the engine hoist bent quite a bit less when the 350 & trans was on it.. My tires, 33x12.5x15 and gears, 3:73, are what limit me to 14 mpg city, 17 hwy. 3:07 if I change the gears ever, which is fine for a show truck.
Moral Dilemma ?, no problem. It's your truck, do what you want.
 

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