For as long as I can remember, I’ve been spending most of my weekends fixing what has swollen into an overwhelming fleet of nine automobiles. This has required serious sacrifice, and it’s just not sustainable, which is why I’ve been trying to sell my 1948 Willys CJ-2A and my beloved Postal Jeep. But I’m really struggling with it.
I’ve been distraught for days about selling my Willys, because I just got back from an awesome off-road trip (it was an absolute shit-show as you may have surmised from the picture above—expect a full account in the coming days), and the Willys thrived. It is truly the most capable off-road vehicle I have ever driven, and with the windshield down and the sublime three-speed’s rubber shift knob firmly in my palm, it’s also the most fun.
But at the same time, it’s the most impractical. Top speed is about 45 MPH, I can only drive it six months out of the year due to Michigan’s horrid weather, and even during those six months, it’s not great to drive when it’s raining (I do still drive it in poor weather conditions, but only because I’m a sick, sick man). It’s really in its element off-road, but unfortunately, there are very few good off-road areas in the metro-Detroit area. There are just strip malls and boring gridded streets—hardly an optimal environment for a Willys.
So that means the Willys just sits. Month after month. Lonely and afraid. Worse than that is the fact that the Willys doesn’t exactly have a clean bill of health. It burns coolant during start-up, and it also consumes prodigious quantities of oil. Yet, I do still love it.
I also love my Postal Jeep. What a great machine it’s been, hustling 1,800 miles to Moab, doing its best on the off-road trails, and cruising at 60 mph all the way back to Michigan. It’s a true underdog that started life as a rustbucket without a prayer, but given a bit of elbow grease from me and my friends, it rewarded me with glory.
And while it’s significantly more daily-drivable than the Willys (low bar, I know), with its hardtop and higher top speed, it’s also been sitting quite a while. That’s because I recently got my 1985 Jeep J10 fixed up, and I can tell you flat out: I love that truck. I drove it to Kenosha, Wisconsin and back recently (more on that in the future), and now I’m head-over-heels for that four-speed, inline-six-powered, long-bed work truck.
The J10 is a great example of what can happen when I’ve got too many projects going on at once. The truck sat in my backyard and driveway for over four years until after the Postal Jeep trip. The Postal Jeep, I felt in my heart upon returning from Moab, is the final vehicle that I’ll be resurrecting and taking to the off-road Mecca (But not my final off-road project—I’m planning a much longer trip—more on that later). It was a borderline impossible undertaking—one that took every ounce of free time I had over the span of many months—and one that finally gave me the feeling of accomplishment that allowed me to focus on my own, personal machines. Not project cars that I fix up as part of a Jalopnik series, but ones that I bought for myself.
This meant that the J10, a vehicle not cheap enough to be a Shitbox-Does Great Things-series (I bought it for $3,500 a few years back), but one that has been for many years the apple of my eye. I nearly sold the J10 a few years ago as I was spending all my time and money on crap-cans. In fact, I’d even listed it on Facebook Marketplace, because I didn’t have time for the thing, and because it was worth good money that I could have used for other projects.
When I fixed the transmission, I did so because I knew I could sell the truck for more with a good trans. But then I drove the J10, and realized that I had been making a major mistake. The beloved J10 deserved more than to languish in my backyard, it deserved to be on the road, and there was no way I was going to sell it. Because—and I say this without a doubt—it is the best machine in my fleet. The four-speed manual is incredible, the inline-six is smooth and torquey, the bench seat is perfection, the manual-locking hubs are just classic, the regular cab design is perfect, and hell, I even dig the gun rack.
The fact that I nearly let go of my J10 is proof positive that I’ve been over my head with projects. After driving the truck, I cannot imagine giving it up. It is a true gem, and I wish I could let all of you drive it just to experience it.
I listed the Willys on Facebook Marketplace a few weeks back. It’s part of an initiative to cull down my fleet, get a bit more liquidity in my finances (especially considering the recent volatile nature of this job), and also get a bit more free time to attempt to build the mythical concept that my friends refer to as a “social life.” The reality is, I can’t drive all nine of my cars, and I can’t maintain them all, either, so something has to be done.
Shortly after listing the Willys, a gentleman named Bob, a pilot, told me he was interested. He seems like a really nice guy, and even offered to send me payment to hold the Jeep so I wouldn’t sell it to anyone. He’d read about the Willys online, and he was planning an annual road trip that he takes with his buddies in dirt-cheap shitboxes. Last year, he took a junky, stripped-down Grand Wagoneer, and this year, he was interested in my Willys.
I told him I wouldn’t sell the Jeep out from under him until he looked at it, and I wanted him to drive the vehicle before we made a deal. Then, as I waited for Bob to find a time to do a test drive, I made the error of taking the Willys off-road last weekend, when I fell in love all over again. My mind flashed back to memories of my friend Brandon helping me sand down the grooves in the flawed crankshaft just a couple of weeks before my departure date to Moab. I recall being so screwed; Brandon knew it and I knew it, but we just wrenched everyday late into the night. He rebuilt my transmission, my friends (many of whom were Jalopnik readers who volunteered to help, and many are still my friends to this day) all pitched in to refresh the motor with new rings and bearings, we re-did the steering box, and the list goes on. Clearly, the Willys has a special place in my heart.
Anyway, this is where I come to a dilemma. I don’t know if I can part ways with the Willys; I’m having second thoughts. It’s just such a fun vehicle, it drips with soul, and I own no other vehicle like it. I told Bob about these thoughts, and he’s disappointed, as he has every right to be. I put it up for sale, and he agreed to pay the asking price; me backing out isn’t cool. Human emotions are complex and often unpredictable, but alas, I still feel guilty about this.
I’ve asked Bob for some more time to think on the Willys, and I’ve instead suggested the Postal Jeep as a peace offering. He seems interested. The Postal Jeep makes much more sense for him anyway, since the Willys doesn’t have a chance in hell of making it through Bob’s road trip alive, but the Postal? Oh, that thing’s a beast. Bob can drive the living crap out of that thing, and it will just keep on delivering.
I’ll conclude by recognizing that this attachment to soulful machinery is clearly a sign of hoarding tendencies. But I love these old Jeeps, so parting ways with them is just something that’s going to take time. And maybe therapy.
In case you want a rundown, here’s my current fleet:
1. 1992 Jeep XJ (automatic; My first vehicle, and one that I’ll never sell—it’s my off-road Jeep).
2. 1991 Jeep XJ (manual, rust free, quarter windows—the holy grail XJ).
3. 2000 Jeep XJ (winter beater)
6. 1985 Jeep J10 pickup (four-speed manual, inline-six)
7. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle (V8, auto; a true beauty)
8. 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (it was free and is on the chopping block)
9. 2003 Kia Rio (totaled; I have no clue why this is still in my yard)
*10. 1966 Ford Mustang (289 V8, auto; My brother’s car that I really should get up and running).
*11. 1995 Land Rover Discovery (manual, V8 (broken); my friend’s car)
Numbers eight and nine are ones that I’ll gladly part ways with, and the Postal can go, too, though I’ll probably shed a tear when it drives away. I can also see myself letting go of the Golden Eagle at some point in the distant future after I do a road trip or two in it, since I already have the J10, which isn’t inhibited by a three-speed slusbox.
The Mustang and Disco are not mine to sell, so, assuming I can somehow get myself to part ways with the Golden Eagle at some point in the future, I’d be left with five vehicles of my own. Those would be: The three XJs (my first Jeep which is meant for off-roading, a winter beater, and the holy grail), the J10, and the Willys. That’s a pretty maintainable fleet, there.
Bob is coming to check out the Postal Jeep tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes.
This whole “selling vehicles you love” thing is just hard.