Great Looking 1961 Willys Jeep Pickup / Specs, Photos, Model History, Production Numbers

We are featuring a great looking 1961 Willys Jeep Pickup Truck. The Willys Jeep Truck is a truck made by Willys-Overland Motors from 1947 to 1965.

1961 willys jeep truck
1961 Willys Jeep Pickup










Where Did the Jeep Come From?

There are several theories of how the “Jeep” name came into being. The predominant theory goes back to the military itself. As to how the vehicle was referred to as a “Jeep”, it was traced back to soldiers who used that name during the vehicle’s testing. They likely referred to it as a “Jeep” since the military term GP stands for General Purpose vehicles.

The original plans for the four wheel drive military vehicle came from Bantam Motors. Bantam was awarded then lost the government war contract when they couldn’t produce the number the military required per day, per week. What would then become the Jeep for the US military was produced by Willys and Ford who used the original build plans from Bantam. As a result, after the war when Willys began producing the CJ2A and the Willys Trucks there were legal matters as to who owned the Jeep name. Willys filed for the name in 1943  but the issue was not settled in Willys favor until 1950.

It All Began With The Jeep CJ2A

The Willys Pickup was based on the Jeep CJ2A.

When World War Two ended Willys Motors was sitting on a great amount of parts that was previously intended for the manufacture of military vehicles. With the military source of income drying up Willys decided to turn it’s popular and proven Jeep MB into a civilian vehicle. The Jeep name was quite popular  with GI’s and it made business sense to continue on with the brand. The result of all these extra parts was the birth of the CJ-1, a few CJ-2s ( known as the Agrijeep), then the more common CJ-2A.

1961 jeep









The CJ2A was the first substantial Willys Jeep used for non-war or peace duty. While the letters “CJ” stood for Civilian Jeep, the military air about the vehicle undoubtedly displayed heavy military influences. The CJ-2A appeared very much like a civilian version of the MB tailgate and side-mounted spare tire. One major difference between the military MB and the CJ-2A was the grilles. Engines were not a big concern of these early CJ models but the 134 cubic inch inline four cylinder power plant was a big reason why the military chose Willys to produce the wartime Jeep.

The First Willys Jeep Pickup

Willys Overland planned civilian Jeeps based on the “war hero” status of the Jeep name, the decision to go ahead and produce a line of pickups and utility wagons proved very beneficial.  The Jeep Truck was introduced in 1947 as a 1-ton four-wheel drive truck with a wheelbase of 118 inches. This new Jeep Truck was produced as a pickup truck, a platform stake truck, a chassis cab, or simply a bare chassis. Two years later in 1949 a three-quarter ton two wheel drive model was offered.

The 134 cubic inch “Go-Devil” F-head inline four cylinder engine was standard. This engine was not a power giant but it was considered strong and very reliable having been used overseas in the harshest war time conditions imaginable. An equally tough three speed floor mounted Borg Warner T-90 gear box was used.The four wheel drive models came with a two speed transfer case. The four wheel drive Jeep Trucks were one ton models. Jeep Truck buyers also had the option for a power take off which could operate specialized equipment for farming and industry making the new Jeep Truck one of the best overall utility vehicles available at the time.

1961 willys truck









The 1961 Willys Jeep Pickup Truck

As pickup truck styling went, the Big Three in Detroit passed by Jeep not long after World War Two. As the years went by, the major automakers began mixing utility with passenger comfort and more modern styling. Jeep on the other hand had a good solid following based on it’s ruggedness as proven during the war years. As a result Jeep had a solid fan base of ex GI’s who had experienced the Jeep MB and who returned home.

While Willys Jeep showed some styling changes, mainly with the grille / hood area, the basic design stayed somewhat unchanged. Engineering for the Jeep pickup was consistent with the Station Wagon and CJ models. The Willys Jeep Pickups while not sporting some of the higher powered engines found in Ford’s and Chevy’s did have ample power to get the job done.

The Willys Jeep Pickup changed over to a 12 volt electrical system beginning in 1957.

1961 Willys Jeep Pickup Specifications

1961 Willys Jeep Pickup buyers had a choice of two engines. These included the F-head F-134 four-cylinder engine that delivered between 70 and 75 HP depending on the optional compression ratio and the 226 cubic inch L-Head Straight Six that put out 105 HP.

Gear box consisted of a three speed manual floor shift.

Brakes are four wheel hydraulic drums.

Suspension included a Spicer 53 semi -float rear axle and a closed-knuckle Spicer 25 front axle.

Dimensions include a 118.0 inch wheelbase, 73.8 inch width, 183.75 inch overall length, 74.4 inch height. Curb weight is about 3,200 lbs.

Related Auto Museum Online articles are on the links below..

1973 Jeep CJ-5

1950 Willys Wagon

Reference material includes..Jeep : Eight Decades From Willys to Wrangler by Patrick R. Foster…The Jeep : History of a World War II Legend by David Dalet..Jeep : The History of America’s Greatest Vehicle by Patrick R. Foster.

The Willys Pickup Truck Collector Vehicle

1961 jeep









The Jeep brand is special because of it’s outstanding war service. Willys-Overland also  pioneered the four wheel drive utility and off-road vehicle categories. The brand is noted for its ruggedness and dependability. Additionally the Jeep brand has it’s unique and very recognizable styling.

Current sale prices for 1961 Willy’s Jeep Pickup in very good condition runs in a general range from about $20,000 to $40,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)