CJ-2A History
by R. Harold West

10 September, 2001

Like the MB and GPWs there were major changes made during the CJ2A's production, and like the MBs, the first ones produced are the most desirable. However, the CJ-2A started production late in its first year and changes followed shortly after when on-hand stock (MB parts) were used up.

As with the MB’s distinctive series within its production, there are two distinct early CJ-2A’s. They are referred to as Very Early Civilian (VEC) and Early Civilian (EC) CJ-2A’s. A CJ-2A up to about serial number 34530 is considered VEC and from mid-1946 to about mid-1947 is considered EC. Only minor changes were made after the mid-1947 models.

So what did the early CJ-2A look like? Production started July 17, 1945 with the CJ2A sharing production with the MB. Production on the MB continues on through September 1945 with roughly 9000 being produced. Since the CJ2A used many MB parts---they looked very much like a civilianized MB with a column shift, larger headlights, tailgate and side mounted spare tire!! Some of the more distinct features of these early CJ-2A’s are:

MB* style full floating rear axle (up to # 13453)

MB* style one piece windshield adjusting arms (up to # 15304)

MB style exhaust system on VEC 2A’s (up to # 18638) The first VEC had the muffler under the driver seat.

MB* style parking lamps with civilian front lenses (up to # 97740)

MB style timing chain engine (up to # 44417)


MB* style ax and shovel indents under the driver’s doorway (up to about # 29500)

When the MB parts started to run out and with sales up, Willys started to make changes to the VEC 2A’s. Changes came to the body, accessories, and even new paint colors were added. Some of the major changes to take place, which is very important to someone restoring a CJ2A are………..

Headlight trim rings changed from being the body color to chrome (body color up to # 38687 chrome there after)

Rear tail lamp door was changed from black to chrome (at or around # 45723)

Rear Reflectors changed from black to chrome (at or around # 67921)

Solid disc wheels were changed to the slotted dropped center wheels during this time period.

Column mounted shifter was dropped (at # 38221)

Full Floating rear axle was dropped and the stronger Dana / Spicer model 41 was added (at # 13453)

The next big change was paint colors. Up until serial number 38221, the CJ-2A only came in two colors--Pasture Green and Harvest Tan. The Pasture Green 2A’s had Autumn Yellow wheels (a bright yellow) with a Pasture Green pin stripe. The Harvest Tan 2A’s used Sunset Red wheels (not a red but a bright pumpkin orange) with an Americar Black pin stripe. The pin stripe was ¼ inch wide and was just past the roll of the center part of the wheel. (Note: the paint color that is underline is Willys official name for the color)

In 1946 after serial number 38221 there were four more body colors added. Princeton Black (sometimes mentioned as Americar Black) Normandy Blue (a real dark navy blue), Michigan Yellow (a medium yellow) and Harvard Red (a bright red). The color wheels these 2A’s used should be of interest as a black or white painted wheel is not correct. The color scheme Willys used was:

Princeton Black. This is such a rare color that not much is known about its wheel color. Period color ads shows wheels that are Harvard Red or Sunset Red both with an Americar Black stripe

Normandy Blue 2A’s came with 2 different wheel colors---Autumn Yellow with a Normandy Blue or American Black stripe and Sunset Red with a Normandy Blue or Americar Black stripe.

Michigan Yellow 2A’s came with 3 different wheel colors. Pasture Green with a Michigan Yellow stripe, Americar Black with a Wake Ivory stripe and Sunset
Red with an Americar Black stripe.

Harvard Red 2A’s came with 2 different wheel colors, Autumn Yellow with a Harvard Red stripe and Americar Black with a Wake Ivory stripe.

In 1947 Harvard Red was dropped and Picket Gray (a dark gray) and Luzon Red (a plum colored maroon-ish red) were added. The color wheels these 2A’s
used were:

Picket Gray 2A’s came with Harvard Red wheels with an Americar Black stripe.

Luzon Red 2A’s came with Universal Beige wheels with a Luzon Red stripe.

In 1948 Potomac Gray (a light gray) was added and it used 2 different wheel colors. They were Harvard Red with an American Black stripe and American Black with a Wake Ivory stripe.

In 1949 Picket Gray, Normandy Blue and Michigan Yellow were dropped and Emerald Green (a dark green) was added. No definite wheel color has been established for this CJ-2A color.

Somewhere in there Olive Drab was added. Probably sometime in 1946 or 1947 as it is listed in the CJ-2A, 3A parts manual. It is assume by many that this color was used on models for military export. It should also be noted that a couple of foreign countries order CJ2A’s for use in their military. South Africa and the Swiss Armies are the only two I have been able to get a reference on. A little more is know about the CJ2A’s used by the Swiss Army. Pictures I have seen and what I have read reveal that many MB parts were used to produce these 2A’s. Now before you think you found a military CJ2A, read again where these 2A’s went. It is going to be very slim to none that there are any in the US. Remember, there is no know documentation or reason that our military ever used the CJ2A. There were still plenty of MB’s and GPW’s in inventory. I have seen one of the Swiss military CJ2A listed for sale in Supply Line, but it was in Ireland!!

With the above information, you can easily see how one could narrow down when a CJ2A was made. Example---a Harvard Red 2A would have been made in 1946 after serial number 38221. It was dropped in 1947. A Picket Gray or Luzon Red 2A would have been made in 1947 or 1948. As you can see this is one of the small details that can help unravel the lost history of a vehicle. If you know what to look for, any model of jeep will give you clues to its history!!

There is good serial number data for the CJ-2A and the year it was made can easily be determine from the serial number. There are some differences in serial number data depending on what source you use. I tend to believe the data that list fewer units made in 1949. When the "New and Improved" CJ-3A started production, both models were produced side by side. I think consumers of 1949, much like we are today, would have wanted the newest model out and this would account for a very low sales rate for the 2A in its final year of production.

The serial numbers are located on the frame horn behind the front bumper. The first 100 or so were on the inside of the frame horn like the MB’s. Afterward the tag was mounted on the outside frame horn. At some point (after the VEC and VE series) the tag was moved to the firewall beside the air filter. There was also a body number. This number is on a small data plate and is located on the right side firewall by the air filter. At this point, I believe the serial number and body number should match. I have seen several CJ2A’s where this is the case. However, this is not written in stone. If you have an original CJ2A where the serial and body number does not match, I would like to hear from you. Early production engine serial numbers were located behind the oil filter, like the MB, and on later engines the number was on a boss above the water pump and in front of the head. The engine number and serial number will not match. Like the MB’s, the engine number got further and further apart as production continue. The very early 2A’s were close. CJ2A # 10115 has engine number 10125. Close but not the same.

                        Production Information

Year Starting s/n Ending s/n Units built
1945 10001 11824 1824
1946 11825 83379 71554
1947 83380 148458 65078
1948 148459 222581 74122
1949 222582 224764 2182

Those who know me will have guess by now that I am also interested in serial number information on the CJ2A’s. If you own a 2A, I would like to hear from you and gather your serial number information. What I would need is any or all of the following:

Serial number

Body number

Engine number

Axle assembly date

Original body color

Wheel color combination

And if it has any of the very early features listed above.

UPDATE 10 September, 2001
(Back to top)
The information for this article came from "The Standard Catalog of 4X4’s" by Robert C. Ackerson, "Selling the All American Wonder" by Fred Coldwell, the 1949 CJ2A-3A Willys Parts Book, research on paint colors and military use of the CJ2A by Todd Paisley and from my own personal observations. If you are interested in the CJ2A, I would recommend you add these book to your library.

There has come to light 6 different places that have a serial number stamped on the CJ2A's.  The confusion comes in on the 2 body numbers. Below is where each serial number is located.  I would also like for these numbers to be sent to me so I can continue my research on how these numbers relate to each other.  Some patterns have started to show up and I need more serial numbers to back up further updates.  **Remember; This data isn't written down anywhere and your data is needed to continue the research.  Any part of or, all of the numbers are needed and appreciated.

Willys Serial number---On a plate, on the passenger side firewall by the air cleaner. **Very Early CJ2A's had the serial number stamped on a plate located on the
dash.  This later changed to a plate on the firewall under the hood, but I do not know when this change took place.  Let me know if you have the number on the dash so I can "Bracket" when Willys change the location.

Willys Body Number---On a plate, on the passenger side fire wall just under the Serial Number plate. On the early CJ2A's--it may be the only plate in this location.

ACM Body Number---On the drivers toe board (This is the part that runs from the firewall to the frame and has holes in the side of it)--The number is on leading edge, facing the engine compartment--just above the steering box--stamped in large numbers.  I believe this to be the number that ACM use for their proposes. Then Willys assign a body number also.  This is just a reach---but we have to start somewhere!!! This same number is also stamped--if original---on the passenger side of the thin edge of the tailgate. I would like this number also, even if it is different.  If the serial number is different---check the tailgate color and see if it matches the body color.  It appears that on later CJ2A's, Willys started using the ACM body number as theirs. However, I do not know when this started.  So far, the ACM body numbers are running roughly 10,000 less than the Serial Number.

Engine Number---Early engines has the number on an oval pad behind the oil filter---later engines has the number stamped above the water pump--in front of the head.  Early CJ2A's have a pre-fix of "CJ2A" and later CJ2A's has a "J" as a pre-fix. I suspect that the pre-fix is related to which place the engine number is stamped and whether or not it is the timing chain engine or the later timing gear engine.  Please confirm where and which engine you have.

Frame Number---On the drivers side frame horn--behind the front bumper. On Very Early CJ2A's it is on the inside of the frame, later 2A's has it on the outside. It will be on a small plate like the Body Number plate. Toward the end of production the frame tag may have been dropped--please Confirm which side of the frame the plate is on and if it does or does not have the frame tag. If the plate is missing---look for two small holes where the plate might have been.

Original Body Color---You can look up under the 2A around the transmission and where oil and grease is built up---it preserves the paint very well. Or you can remove a minor body part and see what is behind it.  The serial number plate is a good item to remove and see what's color is behind it.  What few serial numbers that are match to a body color have shown that like colors do stack on top of each other.  There are some large gaps in the data and more information would be helpful here.

If you are sending your serial number information in, please include all pre-fixes and numbers.  For those that send in their data, I will explain what they have and include a clipping of the list for their reference and to see how theirs fall within it.

It should also be noted that this research is ongoing and errors will be worked out as data comes in.   Anyone that has hard data on any of the above, please come
forward with it so all can benefit from it.

Harold West

I have not heard from Harold about helping with a new page to display all of the info he has collected so please send your info to me at


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