Flatfender Jeep production in Spain wasn't quite on the scale of India or Japan, but among European countries, the Spanish have always been the biggest lovers of the CJ-3B. Several companies in Spain were licensed to build a variety of versions of the 3B, as well as other Jeep models, over nearly 40 years. This interesting history is reflected in the growing collection of articles about Spain on The CJ3B Page:
Willys Jeeps were imported into Spain from the U.S. starting in 1953, and by 1960 the Spanish company VIASA ("Vehículos Industriales y Agrícolas, S.A.") was licenced by Kaiser-Willys to build a version of the CJ-3B in its factory at Zaragoza. The company name "CAF" appeared on the serial number plates (20K JPEG), because VIASA was a division of parent company CAF ("Construcciones y Auxiliares de Ferrocariles") which built railway cars and locomotives.
The vehicles were called Willys Viasa, and later, Jeep Viasa CJ-3. The first few were apparently built with the "Go-Devil" L-head gasoline engine and labelled as "MB-CJ3B", but most used diesel engines by Perkins and Barreiros. Other differences from the Willys CJ-3B included the gas tank on the right side on some diesel versions, conical (not flat) steering wheel, lighting control levers on the steering column and not on the dashboard, and no tool compartment under the seat.
Much of the production was earmarked for the Spanish Army (see Military Jeeps in Spain).
Javier de Luelmo grabbed this photo of a nicely restored and built-up early Willys-Viasa, in Valencia in 2001.
VIASA also produced a long-wheelbase version they called a CJ-6 (similar to the CJ-4 made by Mahindra in India), and produced a total of some 25,000 Jeeps.
See a Jeep VIASA spec sheet for the CJ3 and CJ6 (20k GIF).
This CJ-6 was photographed by Darron Coates on the Naval Base in Rota, Spain. It was used as a wrecker for the on-base repair shop. Just visible under the long hardtop is a boom extending out through the tailgate. See a larger copy of the photo (30K JPEG).
In 1968, VIASA merged with Material Móvil y Construcciones S.A., and two years later the factory moved to Cogullada where the production of their "Comando", very similar to Kaiser Jeep's 1967 Jeepster Commando, began. See Jeepsters in Spain for details on the VIASA Comando.
In the late 1970's, VIASA was absorbed by EBRO (truck division of Motor Iberica), who continued to produce the Comando. EBRO's final version of the Comando (15K JPEG), designated the HDI, was slightly longer than the earlier versions, and the top was also higher. See more about the Comando on the website of the Club Jeep Comando de España.
"Bravo" was a later name for the Perkins diesel CJ-3B. (A prefix of HU before the model number indicated a Hurricane gasoline engine.) The Jeep had a complete makeover to face the new sport-utility market, including a roll bar, optional fiberglass hardtop, and bright colours, especially yellow and orange. The Bravo was produced under the EBRO and later the Avia brand name. The Bravo L was the LWB CJ-6 version.
Jean-Francois Lavie photographed this EBRO Bravo at Camp Jeep Europe in 2002.
Back in the 1980's, largely stock Jeeps competed in the Jeep Cross, an all-terrain competition organized by Motor Ibérica.
EBRO also built some prototypes that never reached the market. The CJ-35 prototype (30K JPEG) was influenced by the American CJ-7, and the CJ-65 was similar to the CJ-8, but neither went into commercial production.
EBRO produced some unique Jeep trucks with a design built on the Commando chassis. The trucks were powered by the in-line six Super Hurricane, or the 4 cylinder Perkins diesel. Models included the Duplex double cab pick-up (100K JPEG), Furgon one-ton van, Campeador one-ton pick-up, and Toledo 9-seat station wagon (100K JPEG). These light trucks were a commercial success in Spain, but not in France, where the Hotchkiss company tried to sell them.
EBRO Jeeps were also exported to England and France, among other countries (see Jeeps in Colombia). In 1985 however, Motor Iberica was bought by Nissan of Japan. Nissan apparently continued to build the Jeeps into the early 1990's on a custom-order basis, with Perkins diesels, 4 and 5-speed gearboxes, large brakes, and in some cases power brakes and steering. The VIASA/EBRO parts stock and apparently the tooling for the CJ-3B, still exists in Zaragoza and in a warehouse in Valencia.
Surplus, new and remanufactured parts, F-head engines, and Jeeps are widely available in Spain. It's difficult to licence military surplus vehicles for civilian on-road use, however.
The final photo shows a Jeep Bravo belonging to the local police at Caldas d'Estrach, a small village in Catalonia, in the 1980's. It has retained its original cream yellow and black paint, and reflectors on the front fenders. Photo by Roberto Flores.
Some of the material on this page is from an article by Francisco M. Díaz, originally published in Spanish in the off-road magazine Auto Aventura, and translated for The CJ3B Page by Ricardo Suárez with permission of the author.
Thanks to Javier Carrion and José Luis G. Prado. Thanks also to Sergio Lwoff and Roberto Flores for additional information. -- Derek Redmond
Elsewhere on the web, see the Club Jeep Willys Clasico de España, and a Jeep VIASA CJ3B Homepage in Italian.
See also a website with detailed information on the early Willys-Viasa MB-CJ3B, and Jaime Gomis' page in Spanish showing details of a Willys-Viasa CJ-3B.
Return to Jeeps Around the World on The CJ3B Page.
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