I had only had short glances at this Jeep but I knew it was pretty
special and I had to find out more. Since I only saw it when I was
driving to work (running late as usual), I wasn't sure if it was a CJ2A,
CJ3B, or an MB. What I did know was that I was interested in tracking the
owner down to see it and to see if he would be interested in selling it.
I finally got the license place number off the back of it last month and
sent off to the state office to get the owner information. Well, on
Friday I received the information to find out that the owner only lives
four blocks away from me. Since I had already driven up and down my block
for the past four months looking for it, I knew it had to have been
Well, Saturday morning my wife and I drove over in the '97 TJ to speak
with this guy. We walked up to the door and told him that I was a HUGE
Jeep fan and I really wanted to see his Jeep. Without hesitation, the guy
jumps off his porch and tells us to follow him. His garage was a "Jeep
Mecca." I know there has been some discussion on both lists about how
many original military Jeeps might be out there, well add another one to
the list. This guy owns a "STOCK" 1943 MB. It gets even better when you
hear how he got it.
He was a pilot in WWII. Toward the end of the war, they had tons of Jeeps
still in the crates. He offered his commander $300 for a Jeep and asked
if he could fly it home with him. His commander didn't think it would look
good if he was flying property out of Europe, so he told him that he
would have it shipped to his house here in Indiana, the very same house
he still lives in today. Sure enough, after he finished his commission
and flew home after the war, the Jeep crate was in his garage. He didn't
bother unpacking it because he didn't have much use for it at the time.
He had just become a Sheriff and they let him drive his patrol car home.
This Jeep sat in the crate, in his garage for another 25 years!
In 1969, he unpacked the Jeep and took it down to the city office to
register it, only to find out he couldn't because it didn't have a metal
top or roll bars. So, he fabricated his own metal top and put it on the
MB. That is THE ONLY MODIFICATION he has ever made to this Jeep. He is
running the same engine, with all original transmission and parts from
the day he bought it. The only item he has replaced other than fluids and
spark plugs, has been the U-joints. Otherwise, this Jeep is running just
as it did the first day he started it. After 25 years as Sheriff, he is
now retired and uses the Jeep everyday for his recycling business (pulling
pop cans out of the dumpster). He drives around with a latter and bags of
cans strapped to it every day.
Unfortunately or fortunately, he knows exactly what he has and says he
will never sell it. It was really moving to hear him talk about the war,
his Jeep and his country. He has put it in his will that his grandson
will get the Jeep and since he also is a Jeep fan, I don't think it
will be sold anytime soon.
The good news is that I have met a REALLY interesting vet who has now
offered to teach me about the "L-Head" engines in the MB and how to
maintain them. You know I will gladly walk a few blocks to hear these war
stories and to play with this piece of history. I told him that this is a
great story and someone should write it up but he just shrugged an said
he's a simple man who doesn't like a lot of attention. Well, he
definitely has mine whenever he wants it!
Jason (who has been humbled by being in the presence of a "true Jeeper")
97 TJ Sport
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