I've learned a few lessons since I bought my jeep:
- This is not a Willys. I am told by several old-timers here on the island that it's a former Japanese Defense Forces (JDF) jeep built by Mitsubishi on the Willys pattern. It has a Mitsubishi KE-47 series engine (4-cyl, OHV, gas-powered). I suppose someone put a Willys nomenclature plate on the dash a long time ago, but it has no numbers inscribed. I cannot find any paper documentation to support any history on this. Right now I have to trust word-of-mouth.
- It appears to have one or two motor pool modifications.
- Unlike the United States, Japan (in my experience) does not typically manufacture and/or store parts for vehicles over 10 years old. For example, KE-47 series engines are now obsolete, and it is an ordeal to find parts we would consider minor in the states, such as an oil filter (two months to find one). Before you ask, this includes vast internet searches and folks in the states looking for me. Even Fram couldn't provide. However, I have discovered a solution that will work.
- Okinawa is SERIOUS about its vehicle regs. I had to have the L fender blackout light removed and modern-style fender blinkers installed to render it roadworthy. Also, we are only allowed to own one vehicle per licensed driver on the Island, so I had to obtain a 30-day waiver to own an extra vehicle with a promise to sell one of them within that window. (Anybody want to buy a really reliable '92 Toyota Corsa?)
- The language barrier has proven very frustrating. I bought the jeep on 28 May, drove it 100 yards or so to the shop down the street, and I still do not have possession of it. Obtaining obsolete parts is the biggest problem. I was finally supposed to pick it up yesterday, but there was one more piece of documentation they forgot to tell me about, so it will be Tuesday. I don't fault the mechanics, I trust their integrity; we are all at a disadvantage here: I don't get my jeep, and they don't get their money.
- Speaking of money, I also learned that foreign fees/taxes/registrations/licensing/insurance costs for older vehicles can be really steep. If I had known how expensive this was going to be, I probably would have just taken a few photos and walked away from it back in May. I salve myself with the idea that I will have this vehicle forever, so it's a worthy investment. On the bright side, Uncle Sam will ship this home for me when we PCS back to the states. Since it's over 25 years old, no modifications must be made to render it driveable back home.
- I took the tattered top to a local upholstery shop and asked the proprietor to make me a new one using the old one as a pattern, "just like it is". He did using green canvas, but he also used black vinyl piping along the edges of the material. He was very proud to show it to me, and I couldn't bring myself to protest. Oh, well. Please don't lecture me on being too nice and "not getting what I paid for"; in my opinion, some things are not worth the strife.
So I should have it this Tuesday. I start on two-weeks' leave on Monday, so this is OK. I will get some photos posted, hopefully.
Now if we can only track down the fabled Mahindra flat fender.
It would be very interesting to see some carefully carried out archeology and see if these were copies or CKNDs etc. or facsimilies.
In the western world (as far as i can find) there isn't much recorded about Mitsu jeeps so guess you may become something of an expert!!!
All trhe best,
I will do my best to get some photos put into my gallery during my leave over the next two weeks. I appreciate you setting it up for me earlier, I have just been too busy. I'm sure you understand.
The problem with becoming an "expert" on anything is that the title usually comes from experience gained under duress! But I will learn as much as I can and make myself available to anyone who needs my help. (Wes K had sent me a very informative email concerning Mitsubishi jeeps.)
Once I finally get the vehicle in my possession, I will look around for some kind of number on the body or frame and report back. Thanks for the help.
There is some information on these jeeps on the CJ3B page as many of these are foreign made variations of the 3B. Also in Japan thre are a lot of their 4x4's sitting around in the weeds as they have some regulation that the engine must be replaced when it is ten years old, this comes from a guy that has imported some 4x4's from there in the past.
As a side note the Toyota Landcruiser came about in the early 50's at the request of the US Army so the Japanese would have a jeep type vehicle, any idea what's the year your mystery jeep?
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