Posted by Doug Cook on July 18, 2005 at 02:01:28:|
Avid Jeep fanatic for a few years, mainly military (M715s) but always had a soft spot for flat fenders. Bought a 51 M38 out of a barn last fall, complete and for the most part unmolested, but quite a bit of rust through. Still a good project vehicle.Other vehicles I own are a 68 M715 that was rough and tuff when I bought it with quite a few mods, I use it extensively for trail riding. Second is a 68 M715 w/winch that is bone stock with 9500 miles, it rarely gets driven and never off pavement, Straight as you will see but needs correct paint to be official. Third is a 70 M35a2 multifuel Turbo Diesel, runs great and still being worked when I need to haul a load. Last is a 80 CJ7 that is anything but stock, very clean and built to go most anywhere.
Recently bought a place in the country with a couple buildings for storing my Jeeps. I was making trip after trip hauling Jeeps and Jeep parts out to the new place on my trailer, Stopped to get gas with the M38 onm the trailer, before I was done paying, there was a small group outside eyeballing the Jeep. While talking to them, I had to rub in the fact I had only given $100 for it. An older Jeep collector Who I'm familiar with almost blew a gasket, poking and proding me as to where I fouind it and if I knew of more...LOL, yes, but I'm not ready to talk ;)
All this got me to thinking of a fabled Jeep I had heard of from a co-worker. A 46 all original in "good" shape. It was his dad.s and has always been stored inside. I had gone out there about a year ago and asked about it...I thought the old man was going to get his winchester just at that notion. So, reluctantly, I walked away without even seeing it.
I now decide I should take another shot at this jeep. I asked my co-worker if his pops still had the jeep...I new he did, I just needed to start the conversation up. He did, asked me if I wanted to talk to the old man again...what can it hurt? I went out the with the boy(older than myself), his 90+ YO dad comes out of the livingroom barely moving with his cane.
The boy "Dad, Doug wants to talk to you about the Jeep again"....
Old man "shmot fhore shale!!!" Stomping the cane each word...but this time I noticed a slight grin.
"Okay, well, I wont bother you anymore about it anymore"
Old Man "No, sit down, lets talk"
We shot the breeze for probably an hour, very very little was even about the jeep and I still had not seen it. I finally told him I needed to get going as I hadn't even told my wife I was doing anything other than going straight home from work.
Old Man: "Don't you want to see it?"
Myself: "Of course"
We go out to one of his many buildings... I was anxious as a kid on Christmas morning, yet felt horrible about dragging this man out for a 20 minute walk in the 98 degree 200% humdity Iowa weather. I kid you not, I had so much sweat in my eyes I could barley keep them open. We find our way to the door, I slide it open and the first thing I see is a 39 Studebaker Champion sitting there preserved with some sort of spray of coating...looked much like painted on celophane. I asked about it, he bought the car in 1940, drove it till they started using salt on the roads in the winter. He then sprayed it with the same thing they used on canvas airplane wings to weatherproof them. It has been parked there ever since. The owners manual is still in it, absolutely beautiful car with no rust...couple minor paint chips is all...seriously. Beside it is a ford 8n that his dad had bought shortly after WWII...and behind that is the Jeep, there's old tires, and tractor parts stacked around it higher than the jeep itself. I climb to the top of the pile, lean down in with my head lower than the rest of my body and start feeling the floor boards(very slight surface rust of drivers side), wheel wells(clean), even dive way down in the get my hands on the underside to feel the hat channels, still smooth paint. I felt weak to my stomach. You desert guys may find stuff like this, but in Iowa it is unheard of. He's at the door opening explaining to me that in the 60s, it started running low on oil pressure, his oldest boy had another Jeep with a tired 134 in it, The boy was wanting to put a "modern" engine in his. They pulled that 134, rebuilt it top to bottom and installed it in this jeep,"I have the original engine in the machine shed" He also tells me that the John Deere Dealer bought it new, used it for a delivery truck for a few years, a friend of his bought it from them for his wife, she hated it so he bought it from him shortly after. This explains the fading/peeling John Deere Green paint job complete with John Deere decals. All this is over Harvest Red.
I crawl back out of the building soaked clean thru with sweat having hope he is changing his mind about selling it. I go ahead and ask again..."Shmot fhore Shale" thru his gums.
I thank him for showing me the Jeep and walk him back to the house. On the way he ask me "what would you do with that thing anyway". I told him I'd restore it bone stock, maybe drive it in the 4th of July parades and occasionally putter around town....then after I bored with it, I'd park it in the corner of one of my buildings, and wait for some young punk to come try and steal it from me after I turned 90. He laughed pretty hard at that :)...yet again reminded me it wasn't for sale.
I went to work the next day, his youngest boy tells me that the old man called him after I left, he wanted to see me again so we can negotiate a price. I was in disbelief... I call him and set up a time that very evening, this time I remember to tell the wife I'll be late...LOL
I go out there, we sit and talk some more, nothing about the Jeep for quite a while, then he pops the question.."how much" I had pondered this all day since talking to his boy, thoughts about what I could probably get it bought for (wishfully thinking), and thoughs about what it was really worth, and then thoughts about what I really expected to give for it. But now I was on the spot, I've always been a shrewed negotiator, I'm a "buyer" at work, I've always beat salesmen to thier bottom dollar, any vehicle I've ever owned I haggled to the bitter end, but this one I felt obligated not to steal from him. He deserved something for preserving it for me all these years. I started mumbling out load what I was going to spend to rebuild the original engine, all new brakes, media blast and paint, threw in some for the odds and ends you end up buying, then shot him the number. He laughed at me. "I bet you'd like to get it for that".."you bet I would :)" He asked if it was my top dollar...hesitantly I said yes while wondering if I should offer more.
He told me he'd think about it, asked if I wanted to see it again...sure. Went out, drooled all over it again, noticed a few minor imperfections that made the Jeep seem more "real" Nothing big, but the hood had a slight gimp in it from hitting the windshield once, the tailgate has a slight outward bump from carrying a loose load at some time and it has some goofy tee handle shifter. Mice had also been thru the seats. Only found a couple dings in the body not much at all. Oh, the front bumper had a slight hiccup too. Era tow bar looked perfectly correct mounted to it.
I go home not knowing if he's going to take the offer or not, I tell the wife all about it all evening, and for some reason she actually listens and seems very interested...what's up with that?
Go to work the next moring, the boy tells me that dad called him and the other two sons, both of whom know me. He quized them about me, and about thier lack of interest in old jeeps, then informed them he was accepting my offer, they gave him thier blessings and I was now the soon to be owner.
I call to verify that what I'm hearing is real, he confirms it, then I ask if he wants cash or a check "nothing beats a big wad of cash to carry in your pocket" I'm informed...so cash it is. My 10yo boy and I head out there with a bank envelope full of money, He has me dig thru the shoebox full of titles (BTW, has not been driven for 30+ years but he kept the tags current....same on the 39 studedbaker, 49 Chevy 5 window, and 72 buick Rivera with 7008 original miles...leather and 455) Anyway, I finally find the title, show him were to sign, he does so while I hold the magnifying glass so he can see it. Agree that I'll come out the Saturday to take possession. My boy and I go out to have another look at it, he's thrilled (It my size...not a chance buster...LOL)
Saturday turns into more of an archaeological dig than anything, I was digging thru pull-top pepsi cans, then hit the old beer cans that you had to use the can opener on, even found a Johnson 5 1/2 horse boat motor from the 50s still in it's original zippered case looking brand new. Boxes and boxes of tractor parts to complement his tractor collection (50 plus antique tractors stashed in other buildings...purely mind blowing) Finally get to the jeep and pull it from the barn wih my trailer mounted winch while my 6 YO boy steers and my 5 YO rides shotgun. It rolls onto the trailer with no issue. The old guy reminds me to go get the original engine and 5 original autumn yellow rims from the other building. Secure the load and away we go. It is now resideing in a special spot in my shop that my wife laughed at me for preparing...it's like you're getting a baby's room ready...I was. BTW, the clutch feels just like it should and the engine turns, it'll be sometime before I'm ready to try and fire it off.
Sorry to ramble on so long, but this last week has been a very special one to me. I feel like I've done more than win the lottery.
One more thing, can someone direct me to a pic of an original jack, there was one stowed beside the seat along with a tee handle lug wrench, just curious if it is original or not.
Thank's for your time,