The History of the Willys Jeep CJ-3B

by Carl Walck

Because of the popularity of our post"Back to Basics: The History of the CJ-2A" and because one of our fans asked about the history behind the CJ-3B, we are content to present our next blog post: Back to Basics: The History of the CJ-3B!

The Willys Universal Jeep CJ-3B was built in the 1950?s and the 1960's. When it was produced, it was produced with flat front fenders (much like the earlier Jeep models CJ-2A and CJ-3A) but they can be distinguished from other Jeep models from the period of time due to their higher hood profile.

The Universal Jeep CJ-3B was introduced as 1 1953 model by Willys-Overland. This is the same company which had produced 360,000+ Jeeps used during WWII and nearly as many civilian Jeeps (CJ's) in the seven years since the war took place.

Even with as many Jeeps as they produced, there had been one limitation of these wartime Jeeps and the postwar civilian models CJ-2A and CJ-3A. There was limited horsepower of the 4-cynlinder L-head "Go-Devil" engine. Because of this, the new F-head "Hurricane" engine (which Willys started putting in its larger automobiles in '49) had the intake valves in the head rather than the engine block. This allowed them to be bigger and gave them 10 more hp compared with a flat engine. It also made them one of the strongest 4 cylinder engines in the car market which it competed against. Other corporations 6 cylinder engines only had about the same h.p as Willys F head 4 cylinders.

The first civilian Universal Jeep with the Hurricane engine was the new "high-hood" CJ-3B. The CJ-3B was really initially introduced as a transitional model between the flat-fender CJ-3A and the upcoming CJ-5, which is the civilian version of the M38A1. The 3B had flat front fenders but a higher-profile hood to house the F-head "Hurricane" engine. It offered higher horse-power and more torque than the 3A along with a new and quieter 4WD transfer case.

Accept it or not, when the CJ-3B was being manufactured in the 50s and 60s, it was eclipsed by the more recent CJ-5 and CJ-6 models, first offered in 1955 and 1956 respectively. Willys produced over 30,000 3B's in each of 1953 and 1954 and that production continued at a much slower pace till about 1967. The production figures which are presently available show there were roughly 196,00 produced and many of those were exported from Northern US in the 1960's.

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