Re: [MV] Serial Numbers for M-37s

Wed, 6 Oct 1999 20:33:22 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: William R. Benson <>
To: <>
Date: Tuesday, October 05, 1999 4:43 PM
Subject: [MV] Serial Numbers for M-37s

...>Certain acknowledged experts have the ability to produce information on
>vehicles of the jeep class based on serial numbers. I was wondering if
>anybody can either pass along information on how to get this data, or maybe
>they can tell me about M-37 serial number 80012221, delivered from Dodge's
>Detroit plant on 19 September, 1951.
>Thanks, Bill
The data is usually assembled by crawling over every vehicle you come across
in fields (watching out for poisonous snakes, wasps, killer bees or
over-protective farmers with shotguns as the case may be), junkyards (ditto
for big bad dogs and guys with "Hell's Angels" vests on), and vehicle shows
(ditto for owners of mint vehicle who don't want anyone touching them) with
camera, notebook, pencil, and flashlight in hand - taking note of every
serial number, date, contact number etc. A Swiss Army Knife is perfect for
uncovering painted over numbers stamped into frames, engine blocks etc. IF
the owner gives their blessing!

You also record every serial number etc. listed in Supply Line, Army Motors,
Wheels & Tracks, Military Vehicles magazine, books, mailing lists like this
one etc. - for about 20 years. I have assembled several thousand serial
numbers and related data this way - thank God for computer databases - I
used to do it on cards, then on paper spread sheets! It is like growing a
tree or a retirement fund - the best time to start was 20 years ago, the
next best time to start is today. Now having said that I realize that this
is not for everyone. I gather jeep and Canadian MV numbers, but I am sure
there are Dodge researchers out there. So you can share your numbers with
whoever has the Dodge disease. I drove those %@$# things (M37CDN) in the
Canadian Army (a friend has the actual truck I drove in the Seaforth
Highlanders - see funny stories at the end of this memo) and I luckily only
have jeep and CMP fever.

Very rarely do we get much info from official sources. After someone
assembles lots of numbers, then patterns start to emerge and this enables
someone to come up with a date or contract number and a probable military
number (e.g. USA ######## - in a FEW cases one can come up with the actual
numberfor M38A1CDN2 jeeps and Cdn Iltis for example where sn and army # were
related but usually these numbers were issued 'at random' to vehicles parked
in a field) for a vehicle where only the serial number is known (e.g. from
registration papers, but where all data plates are missing) based upon info
on vehicles close to it before and after its serial number. Out of the
hundreds of thousands of WILLYS MB jeeps for example I have found several
pairs of consecutive serial numbers in my 1300+ MB/GPW SN numbers - sometime
on opposite sides of the continent. Familiarity with the data means that
someone can now phone me, tell me their MB serial number, and if it is a
Canadian Contract one I can tell them off the top of my head the contract
number, and the date (+ or - 1 day).

Your data plates and markings found painted on (or occasionally stamped
into) the vehicle are usually the most you can ever hope to learn about
your vehicle's history. For this reason finding and recording original
markings is VERY IMPORTANT !!!! Your local department of motor vehicles (or
"veh-HICK-culs" if you'all like to pronounce it that way) won't tell you any
of the military history of which units used your truck or where in the world
it went. The info you provided will help an 'expert' (definition - an "ex"
is a has been, and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure) and yourself
determine things like early or late features and which would have been on
your vehicle.

Also - look inside the glove box, tool box, under the seats etc. for old
maps (a friend in England found part of a WWII map of Belgium in his British
scout car), money (a friend found 3 Cypriot coins in the gas tank well of an
M38A1CDN2 jeep which had United Nations decals under the camo paint). I have
found empty shell casings, and candy wrappers and pop bottle caps etc. in my
jeeps - the wrappers and pop bottle stuff being in Norwegian. The markings
and paperwork were were also Norwegian in this case. I just sold a pouch
that a surplus dealer friend found in an M37CDN he had. It had a lot of info
on the truck - unit, last driver, army number, serial number, accidnet
report blank forms, route map for last convoy drive etc. The pouch went to
Rob Dabkowski of Toronto who subscribes to this list.

M37CDN true stories - I was driving alone in my HQ Coy, Seaforth of C
M37CDN in Fort Lewis WA where we were training during the Vietnam War (we
were not in the war, just training in USA during their war), and my Company
Commander came on the radio and asked where I was. I snatched up the
microphone to my C42 set that was mounted in the back, with the headset and
mike passed through the small rear window, and answered "Between 2nd and 3rd
gear Sir!". Strange, HE did not think it was funny. Same truck, same
exercise - I snapped a rear axle (don't pop your clutch on these babies!).
Being a junior officer, I had only been taught the bare minimum on driving
and NEVER saw a manual for an MV until I started collecting vehicles years
later. So there I am on a lonely road, immobile with a sickening rattle in
my rear round "thingamybob" (I later learned it was the rear differential).
A US soldier pulled up in what I later learned was a MUTT, and lay down and
crawled underneath my truck on the freshly oiled road (!!!!) . He quickly
diagnosed the problem and told me how to put it in 4 wheel drive and sent me
on my way with the reassuring words that the US Army would issue him with a
new uniform. Now THAT is hospitality! He did not look very pretty covered in
black oil, but he was no "ugly American" to be sure and was a credit to his
unit, his army, and his nation. My thanks to him.

Good luck with your Dodge research!

Colin Macgregor Stevens
MVPA Member 954 (since 1977)
& member B Coy 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion (Living History)
Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada
Personal web site:
1944 Willys MB
1942 BSA airborne bicycles (2)

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