SEMA Seen: 1946 Willys CJ-2A nicknamed ‘The Outlaw’

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Amid all the polish and shine at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas sits this unrestored 1946 Willys CJ-2A. | Carter Nacke photo
Amid all the polish and shine at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas sits this unrestored 1946 Willys CJ-2A. | Carter Nacke photo

Editor’s note: Get more news from the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas by checking out our dedicated page for daily updates.


Most of the vehicles SEMA attendees see have been polished and shined over and over again, which is why this unrestored, unclean 1946 Willys CJ-2A stood out in the crowd.

Surrounded by numerous new Jeeps – along with a rare Jeepster Commando – the Willys routinely drew a crowd at the Omix-ADA Off-Road Success Center inside the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“We have plenty of new Jeeps here but everyone is coming to this rust bucket,” Henk van Dongen, Omix-ADA’s director of marketing, said with a laugh.

Zero restoration work has been done. The Willys was not even cleaned. | Carter Nacke photo

The vehicle, which is nicknamed “The Outlaw” because of a paint detail on the driver’s door was acquired by Omix-ADA founder Al Azadi in a deal to buy multiple vintage Jeeps. Not much is known about its past, other than it once had a California registration.

The CJ-2A has its original Go Devil straight-4 engine capable of a whopping 63 horsepower mated to the original T90 3-speed manual transmission. The Willys was last driven in 1963, but van Dongen said it started up nicely during the past few months.

While it certainly looked rough, van Dongen said a transformation for the CJ-2A is waiting in the wings. The plan is to restore one half of the Willys while leaving the other side untouched. Van Dongen said the project is planned to show what consumers can do with Omix-ADA parts.

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"The Outlaw" detail can be seen to the right of the front wheel well. | Omix-ADA photo
“The Outlaw” detail can be seen to the right of the front wheel well. | Omix-ADA photo

“We make sure people look at our stuff and think, ‘I can do this.’”

The company manufactures replacement parts for most Jeeps made between 1941 and 2019.

Clearly, a lot of work needs to be done to the Willys, but I’m hoping to see it again at a future SEMA show.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

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