70-year-old army jeep completes 1,152-mile road trip across the US, but not without its share of headaches | Taza Khabre

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  • Westen Champlin’s ride in a 1953 Jeep was beset with vehicle problems, the main issue being overheating, which resulted in frequent breakdowns.
  • Despite the Jeep’s problems, it proved its mettle on Moab’s rugged off-road terrain and outperformed newer, more expensive vehicles.
  • Vintage Willys Jeeps from the 1950s can cost up to $44,000, but having parts available is critical to not getting stranded on a road trip.


Road trips can be a fun way to get to know a new vehicle. This was the plan for YouTuber Westen Champlin, who planned a trip of over 1,000 miles to Moab, Utah. However, his new acquisition, with which he planned to travel, was not entirely new. He recently purchased a WWII-era 1953 Jeep, and as the video shows, things didn’t go as planned.

Westen’s ambitious journey with Jeep had car trouble, and despite his best efforts, he just couldn’t get very far without the car breaking down. Westen admitted that the whole point of the trip was to get to know his new acquisition better, to see if it can handle off-road enough, and to take some Instagram-worthy photos if and when the Jeep manages to climb the planned summit. , but whether it would eventually be done was a mystery.

With a vehicle as old as Westen’s Jeep, if it hasn’t been properly cared for and serviced regularly, there’s always a chance that problems will arise while driving. All that said, the video really shows how far you can go with a car like a ’53 Jeep if you have access to a few quality parts and the right mentality.

All information in this article was taken from Westen Champlin’s YouTube videos and from classic.com, where prices are used.


The main problem of the jeep was overheating

As Westen begins his journey, he hopes to be able to drive a few miles in the Jeep before serious problems arise. However, the Jeep immediately begins to overheat, and Westen and his crew are forced to stop to try and fix the problem. It is at this point that Westen comes up with a rather interesting solution: to completely remove the hood to solve the heating problems plaguing the Jeep. “Things under the hood can’t overheat if there’s no hood,” he continues. Needless to say, this was not a permanent solution.

A little later, Westena and his crew are seen stopping at a gas station to try and find parts for the Jeep. All they had managed at this point was a fabric roof for the open-top jeep, so if nothing else, at least Westen could put an end to his own body overheating. However, by his own admission, things were to become much more difficult for the old Jeep. The ambient temperature ranged from 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and their destination point was closer to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

And the trouble is, Westen and his crew can’t seem to go more than 20-30 miles without the jeep overheating, and what was even more painful for them was that it was done at an average of 30-35 miles per hour . At one point, after fixing the gas pedal problem, Westen was able to push the Jeep to a top speed of 50 mph, but no more.

Soon after, the jeep is discovered to have a clogged radiator and they are forced to stop again. And after washing it at a nearby car wash, the team set off again. Although he made it 20 miles or so without a problem, the Jeep once again gave a pretty good cry and had to be towed by the team’s support vehicle all the way to Moab. Once there, they also replaced the thermostat, but the radiator was still giving them problems and they had to take it back to Kansas to get a new one.

This seemed to help the old Jeep as it made it to Moab with a fresh radiator without any issues.

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Jeep demonstrated its strength in unevenness

via Westen Champlin YouTube

As mentioned earlier, Westen’s main motivation was to see how well the old Jeep would handle Moab’s notorious off-road terrain. For him it was the greatest test of his ability; one which, if he had succeeded in making the summit, would have been well worth the trouble he had taken on the way to Moab.

Before heading out, Westen and his crew went in search of a Jeep roll bar at a nearby auto shop and were lucky enough to come across someone who seemed happy to give them exactly what they needed. The Jeep was then properly fitted with a safety arc that would help protect Westen in the event the Jeep flipped the turtle on its way to the top.

According to Westen, the road they’re headed for takes four hours up and another four hours back if you’re driving a brand new Jeep Rubicon with 35-inch tires. At this point, how a ’53 Jeep would drive is anyone’s guess.

For what it’s worth, Westen and his team needn’t have worried. The old jeep, having passed through numerous tracks, proved that it copes with the task. Westen was delighted with how his Jeep performed compared to the cars around him, which were much newer and more expensive.

The only slight problem for Westen came when they finally caught up on all the clutch slippage action needed to navigate the trails. With the clutch completely burned out, the team hastily tried a few makeshift solutions that would allow the Jeep to make the short trek to the summit, and in the end, Westen was relieved to have succeeded.

ON TOPIC: This restored Willys Jeep is ready for anything you can throw at it

Today, old Willie’s Jeeps can fetch $44,000

Jeep on the highway 1953
via Westen Champlin YouTube

If, like Westen, you’re looking to get yourself a 50s Jeep, there aren’t too many options on the used car market. Most owners of vehicles like the M38A1 or CJ-5 keep them as collectibles that are rarely used, or they remain abandoned in a garage or shed somewhere.

However, a quick scan shows it Today, a Willys M38A1 sells for an average of $20,000. Prices can go as low as $7,500 and go as high as $44,000 if you find one in good working order.

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It is important to remember the availability of spare parts. As Westen’s video proved, if you’re planning on giving your old Jeep a bit of a run, it’s ideal to have plenty of spare parts along for the ride so you don’t run aground. The good part, though, is that replacement parts aren’t too hard to find, and they don’t cost an exorbitant amount either.

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