CC Outtakes: Jeep Willys Wagon — Rare 4-Door Willys Wagon and Other Finds In Derelict Row

(Update: After posting, I was informed that surviving 4-door Willys Wagons are very rare. Only 13 are counted so far, and this one would add one more to the record. This one was found in El Salvador about a month ago, and dates from time when US-built vehicles were the norm in that nation).   

Most of us paying attention to old cars know of a street, yard, or home with a pile of derelict and junky cars. Depending on location, such sites can be rare or somewhat common. But the point is we all know of at least one such place.

And those who have followed my posts in Central America know that junky finds are a rather common occurrence over here. Nothing new on that with this post. Still, this row of derelict cars near a repair shop offered a bit more variety than the usual Japanese 1970s metal I often come across.

The vehicles are clearly for spare parts or ongoing projects. We’ll start with the Willys Wagon; a post ’54 model as signaled by the pointy grille and 3 horizontal bar motif. I already spoke about the relevance of these early Willys in this region, along with the memories 4×4’s of this age usually bring about my father.

Oh, and the white one is a 1970s Datsun 120Y. So, sorry; can’t completely avoid those old Japanese cars around here. After all, those are San Salvador’s cockroaches; look into any corner and you’ll find one hidden. Even if hurt and mortally wounded.

No idea what’s up with that yellow caution tape. A crime scene? Someone who got run over by a car standing still? (No idea how that could happen… ) Some kind of creative flourish?

Also, no idea about the added P-38-like chrome ornament over the hood. It even looks like a 1950s Olds Rocket 88 trim piece. What figures? These Willys were good dependable cars, but they were nothing like a rocket. They even came with Hurricane engines, and as is known, Hurricanes just don’t get along with anything jet-like.

A few more mods in the back, with a taillight treatment that looks a bit circus-like. I also assume the original Hurricane engine in this one died at some point long ago. There’s a barely discernible “Diesel” sticker by the gas cap, so some such mill looks to be under the hood.

A few steps away sits this Sixth or Seventh series Autobianchi A112. I admit there’s not much left of it, but I’m surprised any is left at all to begin with. These were some of the few cars that arrived in the Salvadorian market in the mid-80s after a self-imposed Civil War-related embargo was lifted.

Notice in this shot those front tires that give a new meaning to ‘slicks’. Gosh, I hope no one drove with those on (Spoiler: They surely did, and for years). And also, there’s a VW Beetle frame sitting behind the A112.

These were sold as the Lancia Autobianchi, and along with Hyundai’s Pony and Stellar were some of the first new cars to arrive in El Salvador after those embargo days. Naturally, they sold like crazy. Anything new does. And as with all things Italian in the American continent, they seemed to vanish all at once after a while.

Yet, a very few survive and appear occasionally for sale. This is clearly not one of them, and the cleaned-out interior (grass was growing inside) is a sign that its innards are probably giving life to a better surviving one.

Sorry, no shots of the A112’s interior, since the repair shop people were already annoyed with my picture-taking. Nothing new with that. But it was all worth the trouble. In that brief tour down the street, the Willys was a reminder of days with my father and the Autobianchi of my teenage years.

Let’s see what memories are awakened next time I come across another pile of junky cars.


Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1955 Willys Truck – International Affair

Curbside Classic: 1951 Willys Jeep Truck – The Antidote To Modern Life

Curbside Classic: 1946 Willys Jeep Station Wagon – The First Modern Station Wagon And SUV

CC Capsule: 1986 “Lancia” A112 Elite – Fiat Kills Two Marques With One Clone

Curbside Classic: 1982 Autobianchi A112 Junior – Rosemma’s Third