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Willys MA79108

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Picture taken by Ray Kickert and sent to Wheels and Track (England) late 1995-1996. This is all I had, less the windscreen radiator which I put on my MB I bought it for spares for my MB around about 1970 -71 it had all the plates with motor, plates correct carby, instruments including the temperature gauge everything was complete including seats except the bumper bar the rear of the body was cut off and had a turn table fitted for a trailer .
At Corowa 2010
At Corowa 2010, after all the hard work.
In about 1970 I bought an MB Jeep and used it as a second car. My brother Kevan told me about another old Jeep that was parked in an apple orchard overgrown by blackberries at Oakdale owned by Norn Heise who had purchased it from McAleer Motors of Camden. I believe it was bought by McAleer as a disposal lot from the army after the war. Heise used it for years as an everyday vehicle then fitted it with a 20 ft trailer to bring the fruit out of the orchard. By the time I found it most of the back was cut off from behind the front seats and a turntable fitted, the entire front was complete, including the motor, honeycomb radiator, instruments, including the grill and front guards. I bought it mainly for spare parts but because it was different to the MB I had, I tried to find out more about it. But no one knew anything I was told it may be a civilian model Jeep.
Then, in 1992, we had our first trip to the US and while we were there we visited the Jeep Factory in Toledo Michigan. We went through the factory and afterwards we were invited by Joe Honica to have a look at the Jeep museum. He then took us to the board room and I asked Joe about the jeep I had. It was at that stage that our 9 year old son Andrew spotted a picture of a Jeep on the wall and said “Dad that is like yours”, Joe said “you wouldn’t have one of them we don’t even have one like it here. That was the Proto for the first Jeep made by Willy’s”. When we got home we sent the numbers back to him and he confirmed that it was definitely an MA.
On another trip to the US we visited Ken Hake and after reading an article on MA’s in JP magazine (US) I asked him if he would be interested in doing something with it. Because I would have had to send it all to the US, I decided to do it here. It was good though to see a few MA’s in completion at his workshop and he did give me a Manual on the MA’s which was a big help.
So the long journey of restoring began. While I was looking for someone to take on the job of restoring it I was introduced to Tom Rolfe by Ray Kickert at an Anzac Day march in Camden. Tom said he would have a look at it and after looking at it agreed to take on the project.
I then had to find the parts that were missing and have the instruments restored to working condition.
Andrew (the 9 year old son, by now a 23 year old) found a site in the Czech Republic that made body’s for the MA’s. The language differences were proving to be a major problem but fortunately Tom Rolfe introduced me to Peter Kunz who still had a brother in the Czech Republic and he negotiated the price and the means to pay for it. The body was spot on and went straight on to the chassis.
The mechanical’s then had to be found.
The gear box came from Wayne Dowedel in the US who owned an MA and had a spare empty gear box case. It had to be reconditioned so I organized for Wayne to send it on to Ray Fitzpatrick to have new gears and bearing’s fitted. I got the reconditioned diffs and housing from Max and Neil of Marathon spare’s Tamworth. They were a great help in locating many parts along with Tom, who made up the gear linkages and lots of other parts that I couldn’t find. By gently rubbing back the paint he even found the original hood numbers from the army. I had tried a few times but he knew where to look and while I thought it would be white he knew it was blue. Gary Christensen also sent me a link for a MA generator in Italy which I bought.
I bought foot pedals and other parts from Wayne Millburn from Queensland and I then came into the 21st Century and became an eBay searcher for parts, The seats were put together by Brett Haines of All trim Macarthur at Narellan, There are probably more that have helped along the way and I thank them for it and the encouragement to get it finished.
I am still trying to find the correct clips for the half doors and hood. I owe much appreciation to Tom and Di Rolfe of Tahmoor who without their help and Tom’s expertise on Jeeps it would not have happened. He never gave up and we had it completed to take to Corowa 2010 for the year of the Jeep.
Who would have thought an old jeep in an apple orchard would become such a satisfying and time consuming project. Thanks again to all who helped along the way.
Photo by Wayne Douglas
Photo by Wayne Douglas
Photo by Wayne Douglas
Photo by Wayne Douglas
Photo by Wayne Douglas
Photo by Wayne Douglas
Photo by Dave Aro at Corowa 2010

If you would like to add your MA to this list, please email Gavin Walker