By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

It seems that the guiding principle in truck and SUV design these days is excess. Excess space, excess gadgets and definitely excess grill real estate (take the new Chevrolet pickup for instance). Yes, everyday our off-roaders look more and more like they were designed to tackle Mars rather than Moab. It’s times like these when I turn to Craigslist for solace, and father Craigslist never disappoints. Take this 1954 Willys CJ-3B for instance.

Sure, it’s not quite as handsome as the earlier flat-fenders, and the raised hood line on the CJ-3B is downright goofy at some angles. But in some ways, it enhances the Jeep’s utilitarian appeal. After all, this was during a time when Willy’s legitimately marketed the Jeep as a farm implement. Circling back, it seems that Willys was able to increase grill real estate without doubling gaudiness — end of rant, I promise.

But why the weird hood? Well, the CJ-3B was the first Jeep to make use of the Willys Hurricane engine, a four-cylinder, F-head design. F-head, or intake/inlet over exhaust engines, were a sort of compromise between overhead-valve designs and side-valve, or L-head designs. A simple side-valve in the block handled exhaust functions while an intake valve was mounted above the chamber. There were some advantages to the design, including the use of a larger intake valve and better intake flow, but the design was more complicated than the side-valve design and added height to the cylinder head, case in point.

The F-head sounds a little strange, but it was actually a pretty successful design for Willys and bumped power up 25-percent. The F-head Hurricane engine was used in the CJ-3B, CJ-5 and some CJ-6 models up until 1971.

With the basics on rudimentary valve designs covered, lets get back to this Jeep. There’s a lot to like about the little CJ in my eyes, including a completely rust-free tub, which was sourced from Willys-Overland Motors. The firm is legitimately what remains of the Willys-Overland and Willys Motor Company names. Since 1975, the company has served the Jeep community as wholesale/retail parts business, and they’ve been constructing replacement body tubs since 1998.

With a new tub and fresh paint (in an all-too appropriate shade I might add), it’s clear someone spent some time and cash to make the CJ right. The seller reports that the electrical system has been converted to 12-volt, and that the F-134 engine was rebuilt about 8,000 miles ago. Conventional military rubber ups the curb appeal and the Koenig hardtop makes the Jeep better equipped for plowing snow, hauling mail and general “fartin around.”

While it’s a little pricey at $8,250, I can’t deny that I want this little CJ. It’s fun, different and legitimately full of character. Personally, I’d clean it up, service it, and make put the Overland back in Willys-Overland by making this my new camping rig and off roader.

And the seller says the Jeep must be sold, as they’ve lost their storage (can relate), so it’s open season on low-ball offers.

Check out the CJ-3B here on Long Island Craigslist.

**Over the weekend, the price of the CJ-3B was lowered to $7,900.**