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Jeepster: The second life of the "war" Jeep

As the war drew to a close, enterprising servicemen turned their gaze to the rows of surplus Jeeps – many of which were in disrepair and unprofitable to repatriate – and saw an opportunity.

None more, perhaps, than Walter Cohn. A staff sergeant with the Eighth Air Force's 44th Bomb Group based at Shipdham Airfield in Norfolk, "Wally" flew B-24 Liberators which eventually reached Nose Gunner's position and De Toggelier – basically the crewman who dropped the bombs in coordination with the formation's lead bomber. He flew 30 missions in all, including the bombing of the Nordstern refinery in his hometown of Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

Gelsenkirchen, Germany, after the refinery was bombed by Allied forces.

After the war, Wally worked for the Chief War Crimes Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, where his bilingual skills found favor with the Translation Division as well as the Public Relations Office, broadcasting occasionally on the radio across Europe and the United States.

While there, he took a personal interest in the maintenance of the Division's vehicles, which earned him considerable admiration from his superiors. In a congratulatory letter, Commander Steer of the Chief Translation Division wrote: “In Nuremberg, where good vehicles are impossible to obtain, where the roads are very bad, where transport is extremely short and where the facilities of interview are totally inadequate, this extra work by Mr. Cohn has been invaluable.

“His ability to source the necessary parts and find and use maintenance facilities has been phenomenal. The undersigned and, moreover, the senior officials of this organization, have had the opportunity on several occasions to comment with astonishment on the excellence and speed of Mr. Cohn's work.

Wally came up with the idea for a streamlined car based on a Jeep chassis, and when his well-honed scrounging skills revealed a stash of pre-war open-top Opel Olympia bodies, the design crystallized.

A new front end has been grafted on, crowned by a chrome version of the Willys MB's original nine-slot grille. The Go-Devil engine has been retained, as has the Jeep's four-wheel-drive system, making Wally's creation not only comfortable with its plush new interior, but also surprisingly capable.

In fact, the end result was strikingly similar to one penned by designer Brooks Stevens for Willys which, two years later, would launch as the Jeepster.

After WWII, production of the famous Willys military Jeep dropped and Willys-Overland made a few new models, including this incredibly cool Jeepster! The Jeepster remained in production for only 3 years and a total of just over 19,000 examples were made.

A particularity, this rare Jeepster is a striking yellow!


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