You’ve seen the first road test of my 1948 Willys CJ-2A already, but that wasn’t truly the very first time this Willys drove under its own power post-rebuild, because before that, I romped through the mudpit in my backyard. Talk about an engine break-in procedure.

Hammering on a rebuilt engine isn’t exactly the smartest of moves, but when your backyard has a big mudpit in it, you just finished buttoning up a Willys CJ-2A, and you’ve got a prominent strand of redneck in your blood, some things just happen.


Alright, I’ll admit that the mud was a bit thicker than I expected, and I ended up getting stuck immediately as I hadn’t thought to put the thing into four-wheel drive, and the transfer case was being fussy. But eventually, my friend Brandon (who is really the brains behind a lot of this project), got the Jeep out by powering it through the mud and back onto some dry grass.

Obviously, I couldn’t let Brandon have all the fun, so I had a turn, and that Willys spun those tires with vigor, slinging up heaps of mud all over me and the Jeep. It was fantastic.


That first drive was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a vehicle, in part because of just how rewarding it was to think that that engine’s crankshaft sat on my drier just two weeks prior. And now it sings a beautiful tune as it powers the Jeep through the thick slosh.


Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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