Everyone remembers the car they learned to drive on and some of us occasionally wish to have that car back. For most of us, that car was a mundane sedan, station wagon, truck, or SUV. However, a lucky few were fortunate enough to learn to drive on something cool like a convertible, hot hatch, or in this case, a 1950 Willys Jeep.
Usually, the hard part of tracking down your first car is locating it. In the case of this Willys, the location was the easiest part because it was sitting on a family farm in Kentucky. The hard part was reaching its hiding place. Underpowered but overbuilt, the Willys is beloved for its capabilities and rugged durability. They can handle rock crawling at Moab, or make an ideal starting point for electric vehicle conversion. But supporting the roof of a collapsed barn is not in its job description.
Undeterred, the father-and-son team began by removing barn wood, old farm equipment, coils of barbed wire, galvanized metal pipes, and other items. It’s amazing the amount of stuff that’s collected over a lifetime of farming because it might prove useful or have some value. Eventually, the front of the Willys peeks out for the first time in years.
Using a combination of chains and chainsaws, the team remove sections of the roof. They carry lumber and other debris by hand. Slowly, more and more of the Willys is revealed until they can finally hook up a chain to drag it out. Except for the bent windshield frame and smashed windshield, the Willys looks largely undamaged from its ordeal. After running it through a local car wash, the gauges are clear and legible, and you can read the original Willys’ operating instructions on the dashboard.
According to the father, he learned to drive on the Willys Jeep when he was 12 years old. Even though he couldn’t legally drive on the street, he was allowed to drive the Jeep around the farm, which was “like an amusement park” to him. After growing up, he’d tried to buy the Jeep, but the owner wouldn’t sell. Eventually, he bought a 1961 Willys, but it wasn’t the same.