Final Phaeton: 1948 Willys -Overland Jeepster – Sold?
December 9th Update – We just confirmed the Craigslist ad for this ride expired and with no replacement listing found, we’re assuming this car sold. This one may have got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330.
Unheard of today, the “Phaeton” term in automotive design refers to an open body style without any fixed weather protection. The term originated from the horse-drawn carriage era that carried over to the early days of the automobile. A completely open car became less popular as automobile design improved, so 1948-1950 vintage Willy Jeepsters are credited as being the last Phaeton-bodied American cars ever produced. If you like the body style and would prefer one completely restored, then this red-over-black example currently originally listed in October 2020 on Craigslist in Greensboro, North Carolina might appeal to you. Currently offered at $38,500, Classic.com, the search engine and analytics tool for the collector car market, indicates the asking price is well above the average price of most comparable examples:
Additionally, the Collector Car Market Review confirms the asking price is $500 higher than this guide’s current #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $38,000.
Willys-Overland Motors ambitiously produced the Jeepster from 1948 to 1950 in hopes of filling a gap in the company’s product line. Specifically, their hope was a softened Jeep-based vehicle offering a high level of standard features could cannibalize sales from traditional convertible cars. However, for the price of a comparable Ford convertible that featured roll-up windows, more modern styling, and V8 engines, the Jeepster only offered whitewall tires, hubcaps with bright trim rings, sun visors, a deluxe steering wheel, wind wings, locking glovebox, cigar lighter, and a continental-style spare tire with fabric cover, and plastic side curtains. Adding to the hard sell was the fact Willys only offered the Jeepster with rear-wheel-drive, which lessened the appeal to existing Jeep enthusiasts. Consequently, these drawbacks combined with a limited marketing and dealer network prevented the Jeepster from making a dent in the targeted market segment. As such, Willys barely produced about 20,000 Jeepsters during its three-year production run.
The King Rose Archives YouTube channel features this somewhat odd silent commercial featuring the ’48 Jeepster:
We really like this example as the current caretaker is very modest about the condition of their Jeepster. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
“1948 Willis Jeepster. Original 4 cyl “Devil Dog” flat head with three-speed overdrive manual transmission. Fresh, Professional Nut and Bolt frame off restoration….everything rebuilt. Beautiful little car….not perfect but really close!
I built the car for my wife and I to cruise around in. Everything is not perfect as we did not want a show car but like really nice vehicles. To be perfect some additional chrome work could be done but chrome is very nice as is. Includes new top boot and side curtains.
Do you have a Jeepster story you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know!
My oldest brothers bought a Jeepster in the early 60’s for their paper route. A few years later the painted, reupholstered it and dropped an Olds V8, a Chevy 4 speed transmission and a Cadillac rear end into it. I was only about 7 years old at the time, but I do remember it was a crazy fast car.