Home | Site Map | Contact Information

Willys Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor

Setting the stage for the Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor
Willys involvement with farming and tractors started long before the Jeep. After WWI tractors started to replace the horse on the farm. At this time John N. Willys, with several partners, purchased the Moline Plow Co. and Willys-Overland produced the Universal Tractor. In the 1920's Mr. Willys sold out to his partners. For more information about the Moline Plow Company see the unofficial Minneapolis-Moline web-site. A great source for more information about farming in the 1900's is the Wessels Living History Farm web-site.

World War II provided the impetus to develop and produce the famous jeep. As early as 1942 military jeeps were tested for farm use. On April 13-15, 1942 the US Department of Agriculture tested two military jeeps as light tractors performing several farm tasks. It was determined that the jeep would be highly useful on the farm but was not suitable for cultivation. The jeep was not tall enough to pass over the growing crops and the track width did not properly align with the rows. The Willys test vehicle has survived after all these years and is now owned by Todd Paisley. The historic "Auburn Jeep" can be seen on Todd's Willys-Overland web-site. More information about the USDA testing can be found in the 1943 report "The Jeep - Its Development and Procurement Under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940 - 1942" written by Herbert R. Rifkind. Several other agricultural tests of military jeeps were performed in 1943 and 1944 at the State College of Washington, according to Frederic L. Coldwell's book Preproduction Civilian Jeeps.

Crystal Ball  During World War II Willys worked diligently to secure the market for after war sales. Ads appeared in magazines touting the jeeps dependability, ruggedness, and versatility.  In 1944 Willys ads started to include references about using jeeps on farms, they were billed as a tractor that could also be used as utility vehicle. The illustration to the left is from an ad that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, June 24, 1944. Looking into the crystal ball we see the many uses for the jeep including pulling a tandem disc harrow on a farm. This and other vintage ads can be found in the book Selling the All~American Wonder by Frederic L. Coldwell.

Willys didn't want military jeeps to be dumped on the automotive market after the war. This would reduce the amount of new vehicles that could be sold. Some companies suffered after WWI when surplus military stock was released to the public. Willys quickly designed a civilian replacement for the military jeep that included improvements found necessary from the agricultural testing. The first civilian Jeep, the CJ-1 was built in 1944. This AgriJeep had a larger clutch, lower gear ratios and a lower hitch for plowing. The design and testing continued with the CJ-2. They were sent to Cornell University, and other agricultural experiment stations, for evaluation. Visit the Willys-Overland web-site to view photos of surviving CJ-2s. In 1945 the CJ-2A became available to the public. The story of the design of the Civilian Jeep can be found in Frederic L. Coldwell's must have book Preproduction Civilian Jeeps. Read a review of the book here on The CJ3B Page.

Many farming attachments and accessories became available for the civilian Jeep as its popularity increased. They were offered by both Willys and by aftermarket vendors. Some of these accessories operated well with the Jeep but others did not perform satisfactorily. Willys believed that the unsatisfactory equipment reflected poorly on the Jeep in the minds of the users. After the 1st quarter of 1946 sales to the farm market started to decline.

An interesting light duty tractor was sold in 1947 and 1948 that used the L-134 Jeep engine and also shared many of the same driveline components. This short lived company produced the Empire Tractor. For more information visit the Empire Tractor Owners Club web-site.

1949 saw the introduction of the new CJ-3A. It boasted more space for the driver than the previous model the CJ-2A. The seat was further away from the steering wheel and there was more headroom due to a taller windshield frame. A CJ-3A was sent to the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab for testing from October 25 to November 2, 1949. See the Nebraska Tractor Test of the CJ-3A article for more information.

Farm Jeep            What is a Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor               Jeep Tractor
In 1951 Willys formed a  special department to combat the slumping farm market sales. The newly formed Farm Sales Department had complete control of distribution and implement procurement for the farm market. They were to field test implements to ensure compatibility with the Jeep before being authorized for sale by Willys. This was done so unsuitable equipment wouldn't tarnish the Jeeps reputation. Two new versions of the existing CJ-3A were also introduced, the Farm Jeep and the Jeep Tractor. The Farm Jeep was a regular Jeep with factory installed hydraulic lift, drawbar, propeller shaft guards, heavy duty springs and variable speed belt driven governor. The Jeep Tractor had factory installed hydraulic lift, power take off, governor, drawbar, heavy-duty springs, front bumper weight, propeller shaft guards and radiator chaff screen. The Jeep Tractor did not have front shocks and assembly, spare tire, spare wheel and brackets, windshield and assembly, fuel pump vacuum booster, tailgate, lighting system, door curtain retaining channels, oil filter, speedometer assembly or horn. Equipment needed primarily for road service was not built into the Jeep Tractor so this was designed for field use only.

Any Universal Jeep could have been outfitted to be a farm type Jeep simply by adding the appropriate options. Real Farm Jeeps had special serial number prefix. For example the first Farm Jeep VIN number is 451-GC1 10001. The first digit (4) indicates number of cylinders. The next two numbers (51)  indicate the model year 1951. The next letter (G) indicates basic chassis model. The following letter (C) indicates body type, A is a stripped chassis, B is the regular Universal Jeep, C is the Farm Jeep and D is the Jeep Tractor. After the body type is the series identifying number (1) with 1 for CJ-3A and 2 for CJ-3B. The remaining 5 digits are the actual serial number of the vehicle, starting with 10001 at the beginning of each model year. Although many CJ-2As and early CJ-3As were set up to be farming Jeeps, only a 1951 or later CJ-3A or CJ-3B could be a real Farm Jeep or Jeep Tractor.

Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor Advertising 1951 Farm Journal
With the introduction of the new Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor in 1951 ads for them began to appear in magazines like the Country Gentleman and Farm Journal. Willys had a habit of  recycling existing photos when advertising a new product. Pictures were often touched up to represent something that wasn't really there. At times the photos did not represent the actual equipment being advertised. Examine the Farm Jeep in the ad to the right. (click on the ad for a larger view) By 1951 the CJ-3A soft top doors had changed to the later large window type. This ad shows early small windowed doors. Click here to see a March 1950 ad from Farm Journal magazine which shows what appears to be the same "Farm" Jeep, in the upper left, a year before it was introduced.

Salesbuilder Farm JeepOn the left is a photo of the "New Farm Jeep" pulling a corn picker near Bowling Green, Ohio from the Willys March 1951 Salesbuilder publication. It is shown with a half cab soft top with late large windows, correct for 1951 and later.


The end of the Farm Jeep era came with the CJ-3B. Some CJ-5 ads were directed to the farm market but it doesn't appear that a real CJ-5 Farm Jeep was ever offered. To the right is a page from the folder 'Jeep' Farm Power, publication KW-1706. This folder advertises the CJ-3B, with the "Famous Willys F-Head Engine the Hurricane" but is chock full of CJ-2As, CJ-3As and retouched photos.

Hardware and colors
Some actual hardware can be seen on the few existing examples of these vehicles. In 2001 Billy Steers purchased what he thought was a 1947 CJ-2A. It turned out to be a CJ-3A Jeep Tractor that had already lost many of its distinctive tractor characteristics. Fortunately the serial number plate was still there. Number 451-GD1 10055 identifies it as the 55th Jeep Tractor produced. A windshield, headlights and tailgate from a CJ-2A had been installed and the hydraulic lift had been discarded by the previous owner. The original color looked like Universal Beige. It had no spare tire, oil filter or passenger seats. The factory speedometer block off plate remained as well as the heavy duty springs. In place of the oil filter was a special factory bracket to hold the dipstick tube. Click here for a look at the engine compartment as it appeared in 2001.

Todd Paisley reports seeing a Jeep Tractor in central PA in the mid 90's. This vehicle was not equipped with a windshield or lighting system from the factory.

There are photos of 451-GC1 10001 posted on The CJ3B Page. The serial number identifies it as the 1st Farm Jeep produced. Peeking out from under the multi-color peeling paint is what could be original Horizon Blue paint. More photos of 451-GC1 10001 can now be found here.

The current owners of Farm Jeeps 453-GC1 10023 and 453-GC1 10024 both report that they were originally blue in color. 453-GC1 10023 has die cut holes for 3 point hitch hydraulic hoses but the lift is missing. 453-GC1 10023 was found in Arizona and 453-GC1 10024 came from a barn in northern Wisconsin. More recently 451-GD1 10036 appeared for sale in Wisconsin.

Sherwin-Williams and Dupont paint color chip catalogs from 1949 to 1951 list available Civilian Jeep colors as Emerald Green, Luzon Red, and Potomac Gray. Horizon Blue is also listed only for the 1951 Farm Jeep. A 1951 Ditzler Bulletin lists colors for Universal Jeep, Farm Jeep, and Jeep Tractor as Luzon Red, Emerald Green, Potomac Gray, Horizon Blue and Universal Beige. By removing the regular Civilian Jeep colors from the list we are left with Horizon Blue for Farm Jeeps and Universal Beige for Jeep Tractors. This fits perfectly with the colors of existing Jeeps documented to date. Click on the following links to see the paint color chips.  Sherwin-Williams 1951 Willys color chips include Horizon Blue as well as the regular production CJ-3A colors. I was able to find a paint chip of Universal Beige in the 1949 Sherwin-Williams catalog.

How many were made?
We may never know for sure how many Farm Jeeps and Jeep Tractors were actually made. There are several sources of data about these vehicles but none of them are in agreement about the amount of vehicles built. Actual remaining examples of these vehicles also don't agree exactly with any of the data sources. Jim Allen, in his book Jeep, has some production totals listed. Willys service Bulletin 52-79, December 26, 1952, Identification of W-O Vehicles, hints at the availability of Farm Jeeps and Jeep Tractors for certain years but does not list production amounts or serial numbers. The Norton Young Production figures, as seen on The CJ-3B Page, are considered to be a very accurate source of production information. Norton Young even admitted that there may be some errors in his production totals according to the article on the CJ-3B Page. The following chart compares the data.

Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor production
Serial # Prefix
Surviving Vehicle Serial #'s Documented Serial #'s
from service information
Norton Young
production totals
Jim Allen
production totals
CJ-3A Farm Jeep
451-GC1 10001 10063, Bulletin 51-28(4)
CJ-3A Jeep Tractor
451-GD1 10036, 10050, 10055 10101, Bulletin 51-28(4) NONE
CJ-3A Farm Jeep 452-GC1

Bulletin 52-79(1)

CJ-3A Jeep Tractor 452-GD1

CJ-3A Farm Jeep 453-GC1 10023, 10024, 10032, 10035

CJ-3A Jeep Tractor 453-GD1

CJ-3B Farm Jeep 453-GC2 10015 10066(2), 10083(3), Bulletin 52-79(1) 65
CJ-3B Jeep Tractor 453-GD2
Bulletin 52-79(1)

CJ-3B Farm Jeep 454-GC2


CJ-3B Jeep Tractor 454-GD2

1-Willys Bulletin 52-79 suggests that these models did exist however it does not list any serial numbers.
2-Willys Bulletin 53-5 lists this serial number as the change point for an improved generator.
3-Nebraska Tractor Test #502 lists this serial number as the vehicle tested in 1953.
4-Willys Bulletin 51-28 lists these serial numbers as change points.

Farm Jeeps and Jeep Tractors are out there, just how many is very hard to know due to so much conflicting information.

The Jeep Tractor was advertised as a low cost farm tractor so it was competing with other small tractors for the market. Unfortunately I can not locate an original price listing for these Jeeps. A competitor, the Ford 8N tractor, could be purchased for $1504.50 in 1952, as seen on an original invoice on The Smiths' 8N Ford Tractor Page. Judging by the amount of Jeep Tractors produced I suspect that the pricing was not competitive with real tractors.

The Farm Jeep was even more of a niche market, it was an SUV that doubled as a light tractor. Although Joe Caprios 1951 CJ-3A wasn't a real Farm Jeep we can get an idea of cost from the original purchase invoice posted on The CJ-3B Page. By adding the prices of the farm equipment options to the base price an approximate Farm Jeep price can be estimated to have been about $1712.00. The price is higher than a tractor but you couldn't take the family to church on Sunday with your tractor. In 1950 Chrysler Corporation had a Dodge Power Wagon T137 tested in Nebraska Tractor Test No. 454. It doesn't appear that the Power Wagon ever became significant competition to the Farm Jeep.

More information and comments are welcome,
Bob W.
Click here for contact information

1951 Ad

The CJ-3A Story | CJ-3A Photos | CJ-3A Specs and Tech Tips | CJ-3A Literature | Siblings of the CJ-3A | Accessories | Links

The Great Willys Picnic | The CJV-35/U Page

3/14 www.CJ3A.info © 2011