Willys had rocketed from a middle-of-the-road passenger car manufacturer to a automotive powerhouse thanks to its massive Federal contract to produce GPW, or Jeeps as they are now known, for the war effort during WWII. When peace finally came in 1945, Willys found itself sitting on a globally recognizable brand cherished by returning American servicemen for its reliability, toughness, and simplicityand respected by those that encountered the Jeeps as the receiving end of America's war machine for the same reasons. While some more car-like applications were devised, such as the Jeepster featured later in this sale (see lot 434
), Willys also maintained production of the reliable old GPW (see lot 467
), freshened for the private market at tailored for civilian use, and sold it as the CJ. The hardy four-wheel drive trucks were like their war-proven brethren, but increasing demand existed for a similar truck with less rural premonitions and rear-wheel drive.
To satiate this need, Willys rolled out the DJ "Dispatcher" model. In 1959, hoping to expand even further, Willys took its DJ-3A, a model that was originally used as a postal truck (and whose successor would remain in use by the USPS until only recently), and went to go to town, or beach, making a fun-loving pleasure cruiser. Dubbed the 'Gala-Surrey', it featured the familiar 60hp 134.2ci F-head "Lightning" four-cylinder but had the cuteness factor turned to eleven. Offered in Dark Aqua, Mint Green, or Pink, it quickly became a favorite of beaches, resorts, and country clubs. Elvis Presley encountered one while filming the movie Blue Hawaii
and fancied it so much he bought one just like the offered lot for use at Graceland.
This example's earlier history is unknown, but it spent the earlier part of the second millennia in Texas, where it was found to be a good, well maintained, 10,000 miles-from-new original. A thorough, no expenses spared frame-off restoration was conducted on the trucklet, with the resultant product showing better than just about any other Gala-Surrey on the road or beach. The restoration has mellowed but continues to show well today.
A unique, practical, and cute little truck, it is a fantastic and economical alternative to a Fiat Jolly. A great beach car or land dingy for the yacht, smiles are guaranteed with this Jeep.