My 1948 Willys CJ-2A, dubbed Project Slow Devil after its broken “Go-Devil” engine, was a true barn find. It was as legit as a flatfender Jeep comes, having served on the farm since new, and sitting heavily-used out in rural Michigan.
My friend Brandon, truly one of the world’s most knowledgeable people when it comes to flatfender Jeeps, went out with me to take a look, and we both fell in love. The thing had rust problems, but most of the important bits were there, so I dropped $1,400 on the Willys and towed it home with my friend Michael’s truck.
The challenges that Slow Devil presented were incredible. Its transmission needed a full rebuild. Its engine needed a full rebuild (but we just honed the cylinders and installed new rings and bearings), the steering box needed a full rebuild, the carburetor needed a rebuild, and on and on.
In the end, I drove the Jeep 1,000 miles sitting with only a pillow shoved into a trashbag between my butt and the gas tank. Then the Jeep suffered an unpredictable engine failure that ended up being a sheared timing gear. After towing the Jeep to Moab the rest of the way, my colleague Freddy and I fixed the Jeep, and I off-roaded the ever-living crap out of it.
The machine remains to this day the most capable off-road vehicle I’ve ever owned. By far.
The Jeep also fell victim to the great City of Troy purge of 2020, though honestly, I’d planned on selling it anyway. I just wasn’t using it enough, and I had too many cars. I did flood the engine during one last epic off-road session prior to sale. I then foolishly allowed the water to remain in the engine and freeze over the winter.
Image: David Tracy
Eventually, the ice thawed, I drained the engine, and noticed a severe knock. So in the course of just a few hours, I yanked the motor, and extracted the crankshaft to be machined by a local shop. I slapped everything back together, and it ran great. I sold the Jeep for $3,000 to a gentleman named John out of Pennsylvania, who kindly towed my Kia to the scrapyard on the same day.
John recently had a few setbacks; his house caught fire, and while escaping, he sustained burns and also sustained serious injuries when he hit his foot on a wall. John told me his fire department arrived at the house, and once the crew determined that everyone was safe, one of the first things they did …….