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Willys' West Coast Division at Maywood, California

The main Willys-Overland automobile factory and administration offices were located in Toledo, Ohio. A smaller assembly plant was located in the outskirts of Los Angeles at Maywood, California. The Maywood plant first opened in early 1929 to supply vehicles to the Pacific states and the Far East market. The new $1.5 million assembly plant employed about 900 people. Willys-Overland was the second major automobile manufacturer to build a factory in the area. Apparently it was more economical to ship components to the West Coast for final assembly than completed vehicles.



Ten years after the Maywood plant opened it was still producing Willys-Overland automobiles. A new deluxe model, named the "Californian", was introduced in July of 1939 (photo on the left). The Los Angeles Times reported "This new car was especially created for California motorists..."

As the United States became involved in World War II, civilian automobile production was restricted and many factories retooled to produce war machinery. Automobile assembly at Maywood ended in November of 1941 when Willys-Overland met their government imposed limit. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation leased the building from Willys-Overland for three years during the war. Lockheed installed equipment to manufacture subassemblies for Hudson Bombers. The Hudson Bomber was a military aircraft based on Lockheed's pre-war Super Electra civilian passenger airplane.

By early 1942 all civilian automobile manufacturing in the United States had ended. Vehicle assembly at the Willys-Overland Toledo, Ohio plant changed over to military jeep production. Over 300,000 military jeeps rolled out of the Ohio factory during the war years.

In mid 1945 Willys-Overland started to manufacture the first Civilian Jeeps (CJ-2As) in Toledo as the government lifted restrictions on civilian vehicle manufacturing. Demand for Jeeps continued to increase and early in 1947 work began to recondition the Maywood plant for automobile production again. By November Willys was turning out "West Coast" built CJ-2As and had assembled 108 by the end of the month, according to the Toledo Times. A year later, at the end of 1948, Jeep Trucks and Station Wagons were added to West Coast Division's "final assemblies" production lines. Maywood was open for the entire CJ-3A production span and about 5% of all CJ-3As were assembled in California. Willys-Overland introduced a new post-war car, the Aero, for the 1952 model year and the Aeros were assembled in both Maywood and Toledo.

Near the end of July 1954 the Maywood assembly plant closed again. Kaiser-Frazer had purchased Willys-Overland in April 1953 and the resulting company, Willys Motors Corporation, was trying to consolidate all automobile production in Ohio to reduce costs.

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