Living a second childhood . . . and playing with Jeeps

One of the persons riding in the jeep pictured on the front page of the Republican last week was mistakenly identified as Dan Gansebom. The person driving the jeep was actually Lee Bartz. Lee is pictured here with two jeeps that he is working on. The Jeep on the right — a 1946 CJ2a (Civilian Jeep) — is the one he drove in the Summerfest parade on Sunday, June 23. He purchased it from a person at Silver Creek, Nebraska, and said he pulled it out of a shed there.

He has been working on the vehicle for about 3½ years, doing all the restorations. He still has some work to do on it, though, he said. He recently purchased the Jeep on the left — a 1948 CJ2 — and everything on that vehicle is pretty much original, he said. “My folks had a Jeep like this on the farm when I was growing up,” Lee said, then laughed, “I’m living my second childhood!”

The Willys CJ2A, the first mass-produced Jeep intended for the civilian market, began production on July 17, 1945.  The CJ2A had two civilian ancestors:  The CJ-1 and the CJ-2.  By 1944, the Allies were confident WWII would be won. This allowed Willys to consider designing a Jeep for the post-war civilian market.  It seems that a CJ-1 (for “Civilian Jeep-1”) was running by May of that year. None of the CJ-1s built have survived, and it was not known how many were built. According to the CJ2a Page, in excess of 70,000 each of the CJ2a 1946 and 1948 Jeeps were produced.


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