In July 1945, Willys-Overland introduced the civilian version of the famous World War II military vehicle known as the “jeep.” Changes to the military vehicle were made so that the new model CJ2A “Universal Jeep” would be the ideal farm machine.
With the optional engine governor, PTO and 3-point hydraulic lift, the Jeep became a tractor, matching the horsepower and using the same implements as the Ford 9/2/8N series tractors. The Jeep could be a mobile power unit, supplying power via the PTO for belt or shaft work. It could serve as a pickup truck, or, with the addition of a back seat, haul the family to church at highway speeds and in any kind of weather. It was everything the small farmer needed.
While some have suggested that the Farm Jeep was a short-lived, failed attempt to produce a tractor, they missed the nearly two-decade saga of this wonder machine. Luckily, the story of the Jeep has been kept alive through many Farm Jeep collectors.
John Ittel, College Corner, Ohio, has several Farm Jeeps that cover the many Jeep models available to farmers from 1945 to 1970. Each spring, he puts his collection, along with Jeeps from friends’ collections, on display. At the show, the Farm Jeeps go to work, with each Jeep powering a piece of farm equipment.
This Farm Jeeps demonstration is held the first weekend of June each year as part of the Willys Jeep Rally (http://www.mw-willysjeep.com). The rally is held next door to John’s farm at the Hueston Woods State Park Lodge in College Corner. Shuttle trams carry visitors to see a dozen or so Farm Jeeps in action plowing, powering a hydraulic two-man chainsaw, and digging post holes and trenches. From there, you can watch a Jeep at work with just about every tool on the farm, from grain elevators and mixers to welders. Walking around the display is like walking around a museum with live-action exhibits.
While many of the Jeeps are equipped with “Jeep Approved” hydraulic lifts (meaning they were installed at the factory or by the dealer) transforming this unique vehicle into a tractor, John also has rare and unusual models. His Farm-Aid hydraulic lift may be one of the few (or even the only) remaining working example.
The vehicles with the various “Jeep Approved” hydraulic lifts used standard 3-point implements that were introduced in 1939 with the Ford 9N. Following World War II, a farmer wanting a tractor with a 3-point system could purchase a Ford, a Ferguson or a Jeep. But the Jeep offered the farmer so much more than just a 2-bottom plow tractor. If you take today’s compact utility tractor and crossed it with a UTV or side-by-side off-road vehicle, you would get the Universal Jeep. Perhaps it was just ahead of its time. FC
For more information: email John Ittel at email@example.com.
For more information on the Farm Jeep and to read more about John and his Jeep story, visit www.farmjeep.com. Barry Thomas and his son Evan have run the Farm Jeep website since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.