by Magnus Sigurjonsson
My name is Magnus and I live in Reykjavik, Iceland. You could say that I'm one of those people who owns a CJ-3B because of The CJ3B Page. The following is my Jeep story.
I bought a Jeep (which was also my first vehicle) in 1978 at the age of 16 -- a 1955 CJ5. I did not have that one for long, but since then I've always had a special interest in Jeep vehicles and always wanted to have one again.
When I started using the Internet a few years ago, one of the first things I started looking for was something about Jeeps. I soon came across The CJ3B Page, and it made me realize that 3B's were becoming very scarce in our country.
In general, most Jeeps over here have come from the USA. The exception seems to be the CJ-3B's, which seem to have come from Israel. They are never referred to as 3B's but as "Israel Jeeps". It's pronounced as "Israelsyeppi" in Icelandic -- hear it as a WAV file (40K).
I've heard that the Israelis traded these Jeeps for fish. Fish and fish products were Iceland's major export goods. In those days much of the foreign commerce was exchange of goods and government representatives often participated in negotiating the deals. My guess is that the "Israel Jeeps" were some form of US assistance to Israel, and that the Israelis traded some of them for fish. Possibly they were assembled or partially assembled in Israel. It is also possible that some of them came this way and that others came directly from USA.
Note: see Israel Jeeps on The CJ3B pgae.
This picture taken at a farm shows a small section of the retired vehicles kept there in a field. Of course such a collection would not be complete without a CJ-3B. The hardtops in this photo are very typical for Iceland, being common on both CJ-2A's and CJ-3B's. The front fenders are also a common modification that was made to the old flatfenders. Probably to prevent dirt from being thrown over the vehicle.
About two years ago I noticed this 1955 CJ-3B standing outside on a parking lot in an industrial area. When I saw it still standing there few months later I could not resist any longer, tracked down the owner and asked him if he was willing to sell it. He sold it to me for an amount that roughly equals US$400.
"Registered in 1954, it had serial number 57348-11369 (actually an early 1955 model), and had all stock running gear and stock steering gear, but had been lifted with a leaf over, and the front differential had been welded to lock it 100%. It had extra wide front fenders to cover the 36" tires that had been used on it.
My idea is to bring this "Israel Jeep" back to original looks. It needs to have the front fenders replaced, and probably most of the tub. (See a rear view photo, 60K JPEG.) The tailgate has some rust at the bottom but is repairable.
See also the Willys copyright tag found on the rear fenderwell behind the passenger seat (75K JPEG).
This red 3B was offered to me by the same owner. The serial number 57348-11353 is only 16 numbers from mine. I would have liked to have it, with its Icelandic-made tub and hardtop, but did not have a place to keep it. Oldtimers tell me that this top was made by the Jeep dealer (there is only one dealer in Iceland due to the small population of the country).
A farmer later gave this 1953 CJ-3B to me when I was looking for spare parts. He said it had been sitting where it was for over 15 years. The sticker from the annual vehicle inspection on the windshield glass read 1978 (I got this Jeep in the summer of 1998). The motor could be turned by hand. Three tires were flat. We pumped them with air, sprayed penetrating oil on the hand-brake cable and moved the handle back and forth a few times to get the brake working, and towed the Jeep away.
The sides and doors of the hardtop are made of steel on a wooden frame, and the roof is wood with some kind of canvas stretched over it and painted. (See a rear view photo, 80K JPEG.) The tub looks to be the original.
See also an interior photo (70K JPEG).
And here's an unusual photo. This picture of a six-wheeled CJ-5 or 6 was taken in 1987. It was 6-wheel drive, but I don't know much more about it -- I just took this picture outside a gas station in the countryside. (See a larger copy, 50K JPEG.)
I think this was a unique 6WD conversion, but extending the frame of early CJ's was quite common to increase their practicality as transportation vehicles. Mainly 2A's. About 50 cm. was added to the center section of the frame and a hardtop built. I do not remember ever seeing a CJ-3B extended this way. -- Magnus Sigurjonsson
Note: Michael Fletcher comments, "This 6x6 conversion of a CJ-6 looks like a conversion done by Ed Holbrook in Oregon in the late '60s (see Jolly Jeepers of Portland, Oregon). A rubber cleated track around the rear tires was an option. It also had a 3" diameter R&L rollcage." Think it's possible one of these could have ended up in Iceland?
Magnus replies: "I am sure that the 6x6 in my photo was converted in Iceland by its owner. I remember reading an article about it in a newspaper some years before I took the photo. Whether it was a CJ-5 or 6 I really don't know but my feeling slants towards a CJ-5. I find the information that similar conversions were done in Oregon, very interesting."
Chris Holland wrote in June 2002, "I am stationed in Iceland as part of the US Air Force contingent here. I found this 3B in Núpsstaur which is west of Skaftafell National Park. It appears to be in running condition as the vehicle's registration is current.
"As you can see, being just a few kilometers from the ocean, the salt water has taken its toll on the body. The body has obviously been altered to create a seamless hardtop with doors, and whoever did it appeared to do a good job. I didn't even realize what they had done until I had walked all the way around it."
See also a left side view (60K JPEG).
After seeing Chris' photos, Magnus Sigurjonsson stopped by to look at the Jeep, and says the historic farm of Núpsstaur belongs to two elderly brothers over 90 years old, one of whom still occasionally drives the Jeep. It's a 1953 model, and Magnus says some of the buildings on the farm date from 1657 or earlier. See Magnus' photo of the magnificent scenery (100K JPEG.)
As of 2008, it unfortunately looks like the Jeep is no longer carrying the brothers around, and some of the distinctive hardtop has rusted away to reveal the wooden frame underneath. Dan Pinson wrote: "We just completed a trip to Iceland in June and while there photographed a 3B in sad shape. I then noticed you have pictures of the Jeep we photographed. Thought you might be interested in an update."
See Dan's side view and front view (130K JPEGs) , again with beautiful scenery in the background.
Thanks to Magnus and to Chris Holland and Dan Pinson. More information, particularly on the "Israel Jeeps", is welcome. -- Derek Redmond
Elsewhere on the web, see Jeppar á Íslandi on The CJ2A Page.
Return to the Index of Unusual Photos on The CJ3B Page.
See also Jeeps Around the World.
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