’48 Willys

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The mine utility vehicle arrived.  No, it’s not pretty, but it has to make it down to the mine and back, and along various trails.

My second oldest daughter, Heather, delivered it to the mine in person along with her husband and my two grandsons.
The 1948 Willys is nowhere near stock. It’s not a faithful restoration. It has a 283 small block V-8 with the low gearing you would expect from the rig.
The carburetor is set for sea level, so there has to be some tinkering to get it ready to go to work at the high altitude mine.
There is loose talk about pulling the 283 (from a Chevelle) and replacing it with a tuned 350 for more optimal performance.
The Old Man of the Mine

31 thoughts on “’48 Willys

  1. personal experiance…..if ya drop a 350 in it, go with a ford. no i'm not a ford guy, i did a chevy. but one look at distributor placement will tell you why i wish i had gone with a ford

  2. +1 on a SB Ford over a 350 Chevy for a first time conversion. The added plus of a SB Ford is that it is a lighter engine.

    Since you already have a SB Chevy with the 283 I would leave it "as is". The 283 was the engine with the reputation of one HP per cubic inch from the factory when it came out. If the 283 is a bit tired and needing a rebuild a swap with a fresh 350 would be fairly plug and play.

  3. The 283 is certainly an upgrade from the original engine. Twice the cylinders and horsepower of the old M38s and M151s that I was familiar with. I imagine the Willys had something similar.

  4. Looks appropriate for the intended purpose. Drivetrain beefed up for the additional power? Back in the 50's swapping engines with Studebakers was popular. My Dad had one.

  5. Seems like it'll do anything you'd like it to, and it's not likely to rust much in Az.

    The motor looks like it's set up for high-rpm horsepower? Seems like you'd want the opposite for trail work, but if the rears are steep enough, maybe you'll be at high rpm most of the time, like it or not. In any case, it oughta have plenty of power for a tiny lightweight machine like that.

    I presume knobblier tires are in the offing?

    Nice truck!

  6. Sweet. Just curious–are the bumpers on the hood the originals for the fold down windshield, or are they for the hood raised against the roll cage?

    Nice radiator. I've seen that mistake made–engine swap, but not enough cooling when crawling over rough ground. Electric fan as well?

    For my taste, I think I would ditch all the shiny chrome stuff.

  7. It looks pretty enough for the mountains! Looks like a lot of fun left in that vehicle.

  8. Is that scoop on the carb to make up for cutting the hole in hood? I first thought it was a super charger, but never seen one with air cleaner in the middle?

  9. Properly tuned a 283 is more than adequate on a vehicle that size and weight. A 350 would stress the front suspension and the steering. Even the smaller 283 has enough power to break things.

  10. Aluminum High Rise intake manifold with some type of 4 barrel on it, and "Ram's Horn" exhaust manifolds, which are damn near as good as headers, especially at low and mid RPM.

    Any idea on the camshaft specs?

  11. The 350 upgrade is trash talk at this point. We burned the starter motor today, and it’s one of those projects where we’re constantly asking what if?

  12. There are a lot of coming improvements to get it where it needs to go. I’m so tall that my head sticks about 8” over the roll cage. So that needs to be addressed along with a number of other issues, including mud tires

  13. Yes they are original to hold the windshield when lowered.

    Yes, electric fan.

    Some of the more exotic parts are “what would that look like?” The lights are great. The scoop may end up with primer on it

  14. I haven’t a clue. I believe it’s a stock ‘66. But cylinder heads were from a 350 – lower compression, so bought new heads. The cam might have been modified

  15. Nice Jeep. Put paddle tires on and she could be a mud bogger. I would get rid of the hole in the hood though. I had a 70 Maverick I put a 289 hi/point and thought it was a good idea to have the air cleaner up through the hood. Getting cought in the rain changed my mind.

  16. I like that a lot, new school of old school, sort of thing. Perhaps it'd go well with a 45-70?

  17. Maybe a piece of expanded metal screen over the grill- the radiator looks a bit vulnerable to a stray stick

  18. I don't recognize the carb, but then it's been probably 3 decades since I was around performance carbs.
    Anyway, some of the guys at work then were running Chevy engines in their Toy Landcruisers for playing in the Sierras. They were using very small Holley 4-bbls with center pivot floats. They pointed out that at high elevations the smaller throats gave better throttle response, and the normal size carbs for sea level made them bog down until you re-jetted, and it still was poor performance in comparison.

    The center pivot was to enable them to handle off-camber work on hillsides. The more common side pivot would flood or starve the engine.

    I no longer have my Holley books for reference, but I think they were something like 465cfm rated, and that was on the 350 smallblock.

  19. You might consider a bolt on fuel injection system. It helps for reliability at the various altitudes and angles you will find yourself at. Of course a carb and points are EMP proof, if you concern yourself with such things.

  20. I don’t know. It’s a ranch rig. In the world of priorities, aggressive tires, a taller roll cage, getting a windshield, etc are higher priorities

  21. I'd flip the scoop around so the opening was to the rear. You'll get ZERO "Ram Air" effect at the speeds you'll travel, but you will get a lot of rocks, mud, and water into the front!

  22. Stick with the 283, plenty of power for what you are using it for, more than enough, and just from the photo it appears that this engine needs nothing. Parts are cheap/readily available, and rather than screw around with the flat land carb, just order a new Edelbrock or Holley four barrel online, couple of hundred bucks anymore, bolt on, no muss no fuss.

    OF course, you also need to fit it for a plow blade to do your driveway every now and then, this unit will get that done nicely.

  23. Nice catch, LL. Does this mean the Power Wagon is out?

    I'm no fan of Holley carbs. On Chevy smallblocks I prefer Rochester Q jets. Carter AFB's w/ spring loaded float valves will work but not ideal IMO.
    Early GM HEI distributors work well on smallblocks but the larger dia. cap might require firewall clearance. (Keep a spare module handy JIC.)
    I doubt the original drivetrain is up to handling much extra horsepower especially with bigger tires. Same goes for the brakes.
    If you plan any significant mods to that Jeep, check here first:
    And Tri-County Gear in Pomona, CA helped me out with my CJ 5 and K 20 projects.

    Someday I'd like to build another CJ or maybe an M38A1. A GM V6 w/ TBI might be just the ticket…


  24. No the power wagon isn’t out. A friend still has it. Still would like to sell it to me. The Willy’s is a joint project with my son in law.

    Essentially I can buy the Willy’s when I’m ready for it. I’m still moving stuff from SoCal to AZ

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