History of the 1946-1965 Willys-Jeep Station Wagons
Styled by Brooks Stevens, the 1946 Willys model 4-63 two-door wagon borrowed heavily from the wartime favorite Jeep up front. From the cowl back, it had flat panel sides with edging that gave the impression of wood construction despite being all steel. It was joined in 1947 by a panel delivery and pickup, also in two-wheel drive. Another offering late in the year was a flathead six-cylinder, the model 6-63. In a postwar market starved for vehicles across the board, they did sell well, but it became obvious that four-wheel drive was what the buyers were looking for and something that would make Willys stand out from the competition. The live front axle was introduced in 1949 for all body styles, and became the mainstay of production since.
The wagons did see a number of slight changes over the years. After the introductory plain grille, a chromed vertical center spear motif was introduced for the two-wheel drive 1948 Station Sedan. This was also used on the Jeepsters. The Station Sedan also featured basket weave motif decals on the upper bodyside inset panels and wheel covers rather than hub caps. 1950 saw the replacement of the venerable flathead “Go Devil” four with the “Hurricane” F-head, which was essentially the former engine with a new cylinder head. As such, wagons so equipped became the model 4-73. Shortly after, the 148 cubic inch six was bumped up to 161 cubic inches, remaining a flathead until it was changed into an F-head in 1952. The final engine change was replacing the 161 with an overhead valve 230 cubic inch six in 1962. The front suspension on two-wheel drive wagons was changed in 1955. It was also now called the Utility Wagon, with “Utility” used on all Willys models across the board.
With glamour and chrome in the industry reaching their zenith in the late 1950s, Willys did what they could to make the wagon flashier for the times despite its more utilitarian nature. 1958 saw the introduction of the Maverick package, featuring unique body side trim between the two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive units, with or without optional two-tone paint. Two years later, the Traveler was introduced as essentially the sedan delivery with rear barn doors, side windows and a fold-down rear seat. Two-wheel drive Maverick side trim also changed in 1960, remaining unchanged though the end of production in 1964 (with unsold units carrying over into 1965). After competition from the Big Three began to encroach on the four-wheel drive market that Jeeps had done so well in, Willys introduced the Wagoneer, which through various iterations and parent companies remained a very popular vehicle right up until its discontinuation in 1991. It all started, however, with the little postwar Willys Jeep Wagon.