Released from US stocks in France in 1956 and bought by a logging company 'G.Falaize Exploitateur-Forestiere' of Collobrieres in the Var, just west of St.Tropez. In 1970 it was sold to the Calsat family, who run a haulage business in Montpellier. Calsat Pêre maintains an impressive collection of impeccably restored post-war trucks. I bought it from M.Calsat's son last week. I didn't intend to take on another Jeep, but the photographs clearly revealed this as something of an unrestored gem. I'm afaid I was bitten by the old bug again.
The Jeep was used as a workhorse by the company for years, but has spent certainly the last decade or two largely in retirement. It has clearly benefitted from the dry Mediterranean climate, the only rot being in and above the outer sections of the top-hats. It has been stored inside, and maintained in running condition. There is repairable panel damage to both front and rear floors, and the tops of the rear wheel wells have taken a hammering, with some apparent repaired collision damage to the drivers side rear panel and an ensuing spiteful crumple to the wheel well top on that side. The chassis appears to be straight and very sound though. There has been a rather rustic repair to the passenger side panel and the floor where the (missing) radio junction box would have been. There is some welded reinforcement on the outer sides of both front chassis horns. Much to my surprise, both because it is unusual to see in Europe, and because I didn't even notice it until after I had collected the Jeep, the rear panel has been very professionally cut to form a drop tailgate.
Apart from the obvious missing items, the Jeep is in fairly complete and original condition. Both chassis plate and the important glovebox plate have survived, with matching numbers. The head and block appear to be wartime, but I can't yet see a number. The surviving paint colour on the engine seems possibly reminiscent of the crated replacement motors that a number of collectors hold. Headlights and blackout markers are present, with lots of original wiring. It remains 6 volt, and starter and dynamo are original Autolite. It has an interesting French replacement horn, and the regulator has been replaced by a very small (but effective) civilian version. The carb is Solex, and the oil filter WOF. The fuel line has been redirected, with an inline filter. The bulkhead filter is still there though. The air filter, crossover tube and air horn have gone, but three of the four air filter thumbscrews are still there. The panel has all the original gauges in excellent condition, the ignition switch and the light switch. The fuel gauge is not connected, and the temp gauge doesn't appear to work at the moment, although the sensor is in place. All the steering components are there, and the steering wheel is perfect. Passenger and rear seats are extant and sound. The drivers seat is an interestingly adapted passenger seat, which tips sideways to give access to the fuel filler. The fuel tank is NOS Hotchkiss. The Jeep has all five combat rims.
The Jeep starts, runs and stops. The rear main seal needs replacing, as does the clutch thrust bearing. It runs smoothly and very quietly, with no worrying transmission noise apart from a slight whine in second gear and reverse. The lower steering is shot - there is some scuttle-shake, it needs a bell-crank kit and track-rod ends, and it feels a bit 'floppy', so I suspect the shock absorbers need replacing. The drivers side rear wheel runs badly out of true. I have yet to establish whether this is the wheel or something deeper.
Note the oil pressure!