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Willys by nuMBers

 

 

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    The defining event of the 20th century for the United States was the Second World War. Every institution of government, society and business changed faster with more profound impacts than ever before. The automotive industry was no exception. Prior to the war the auto industry could be characterized by the large number of independent auto makers, independent auto parts suppliers and craftsmen’s guilds of body men, upholsterers, painters and machinists, and the list can go on and on. Cars were designed by the Company, the parts and major assemblies were outsourced, and then assembled into the final product on the Companies assembly lines. Only the three largest auto makers had begun to execute the key mergers and acquisitions to control their entire production resource streams under one company’s leadership in the decade before the war.

 

    In that same decade, Willys, struggling to make money and cars, was still a perfect example of the quintessential pre-war independent auto maker. They did not have the funds to buy their critical suppliers and so they really did not make autos; rather they assembled them from parts supplied to them in accordance with their design. How Willys built MBs during the war was no exception. Willys was a union shop whose labor force was comprised of hundreds of journeyed tradesmen in many departments that assembled MBs with parts sourced from the suppliers in the list below. While the list is not complete, it does show that the MB was really only assembled by Willys, as opposed to being “made” by Willys. Building autos in this manner contributed in great part to the fall of every independent auto maker after the war as the “big three” auto makers squeezed off the supply lines of resources to those who did not control their own.

 

WAR TIME NAME

PRODUCT

A.O.Smith

Frame Rails

AC Spark Plug Co.

Air Filter Assembly, Fuel Pump, Fuel Filter

Acklin Metal Stamping

Unknown (Fenders?, Mufflers?)

Alemite

Grease Gun

American Central Manufacturing

Body Tubs and Hoods, Trailer assemblies

Atwood Vacuum Machine

Clutch/Pressure Plate Assembly

Bassick Co

Windshield and Hood Catches, Oil Can Holder

Bendix

Brake shoes

Borg & Beck

Clutch Disc

Carter Carburetor

Carburetors

Champion

Spark plugs

Columbus Auto Parts

Steering Connecting Rod

Corcoran-Brown (C-B)

Blackout Marker Lights, Taillights, Reflectors, Headlamp Assembly

Deutschman

Radio Filter

Ditzler (PPG)

OD Paint

Eberhard Mfg Co

Footman Loops

Electric Auto-Lite Company

Distributor assembly, Generator, Starter, Coil, Guages, Speedometer, Battery

Fram

Oil Filter Assemblies

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

Tires, Tubes, Flaps

Guide

Blackout Marker Lights, Taillights, Reflectors

H.A. Douglas Mfg Co

Light Switches

Holland Hitch Co.

Pintle Hook

Jamestowne

Radiator

Kelsey-Hayes

Wheels, Bead Lock Rings, Brake Drums

King-Seeley

Speedometer, Guages

Libby-Owens-Ford

Windshield glass

Midland Steel Products

Frame Components

Monroe Auto Equip Co

Shock Absorbers

Oakes

Air Filter Assembly

P.R. Mallory & Co.

Radio Filter

Purolator

Oil Filter Assemblies

Ross Gear and Tool

Steering Box, Column, Horn Button

Schrader & Sons

Tire Guage

Schwarze Electric Co.

Horn

Shakespeare Products

Choke and Throttle Cables

Sheller

Steering Wheels

Solar Mfg. Co

Radio Filter

Sparks-Worthington

Horn

Spicer

Axle assemblies/Transfer Case, Drive Shafts, U-joints, Tie rods

Sprague Specialties

Radio Filter

Spun Steel

Jack

Stewart Warner

Grease Gun, Speedometer Cable

Trico

Windshield Wipers

Wagner

Master Cylinder, Wheel Cylinders

Warner Gear Division

Transmission

Willard

Wet/Dry Battery

Wilson Foundry and Machine

Engine, Head, Manifolds, Bell Housing Castings

Yale And Towne

Tool Box Lock, Spare Tire Lock

     

  I have collected many different sets of numbered data that can help a restorer complete his MB in a more authentic manner and created this web site as a resource for their use. This will help a person work towards a “numbers matching” vehicle that many in the old car hobby strive for and with MBs it is not hard to do. I also think a restorer should know more than just what part in what configuration from which supplier goes on an MB of a certain vintage or serial number range. I have included as much historic background about the vendor who supplied the numbered part as I could find.

 

   If the restorer knows WHY the certain brand part with its unique design only fits on a particular set of MBs, and WHO made those parts, they have accomplished more than just a “numbers matching” vehicle restoration. They have helped to preserve a part of America’ s golden age of automobile manufacturing by learning , remembering, and maybe telling some one else, how the industry operated in the past. This is what this web site is about.

 

  Additional information, corrections and suggestions are welcome. Look for me on G503.com and send me a message!

 

 

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Copyright © 2012 Jimmy W. Kilbourne, Jr. All Rights Reserved.