1953 Kaiser-Willys – AMC – Mopar

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1953 Jeep 475 Pickup

OK, this might be a slight case of cheating. Jeep, or in this case a Kaiser-Willys Jeep, wouldn’t come under Chrysler ownership until 1987 when Chrysler acquired the Jeep brand from AMC.

The image is of a 1953 Jeep 475, a one-ton, 4-wheel drive pickup that my uncle rebuilt as his tire shop’s gofer in 1965. The weight on the door states 3600 lbs (1633 kgs), which would have been a wet weight, as other sources give the weight as around 3300 lbs. Either way, this is very light for a one-ton, 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Originally the truck came with a 75 hp, L-head six sourced from Continental, hardly enough grunt to challenge the Dana 18 transfer case and Dana 53 rear end and Dana 25 front axle. The transmission was a Borg Warner T-90 three-speed. My uncle had other ideas for propulsion.


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Plymouth 318 V-8

My uncle was a dyed-in-the-wool Mopar guy, so when he repowered the Jeep, in went a Plymouth 318 with a 2 bbl carb, rated at 230 hp @4400 rpm. He would have installed a 361 or 383 but those engines were too wide to fit in the Jeep’s engine bay. The running gear remained original and never complained. Since the engine still ran a generator, the 318 probably came from a 1960 or previous Plymouth.

So, many of you might  be saying, No Mopar Trifecta! But I say not so! Remember the Dana drivetrain? Long time Mopar and Jeep supplier to this very day. Trifecta.

This was the hardest riding, hardest steering vehicle I have ever driven. The only thing that would make the rear end sag was a full load of split oak, which, of course, I had split on zero degree Illinois days, down to my tee shirt and still sweating. But the corn-fed Black Angus that we grilled over that oak in the evening was the best I’ve ever had.