Two of the oldest Jeeps around are the Willys MB and the Ford GPW. These classics make for great restoration projects, but due to their similarities, it’s easy to misinterpret one as the other at first glance. Despite how similar these two classic Jeeps look, there are some key features that will help you distinguish one from the other.
This guide will show you how to tell whether your vehicle is a Willys MB or Ford GPW Jeep. How to tell the difference between these two classics will become much easier, thanks to the three components below.
Front Frame Crossmember Shape
The first action you should take to determine whether you have a Willys MB or a Ford GPW on your hands is to inspect the vehicle’s frame. The front frame crossmember on both Jeeps is very different. If you’re looking at a Willys MB, the crossmember will be a steel tube. If you’re looking at a Ford GPW, the crossmember will be an open-bottomed, inverted U-shaped piece of steel.
For this one, you’ll have to look at the engine block of your Jeep. Locate the serial number, which should be clearly displayed near the front side of the engine block. The beginning of the serial number will begin with one of two letter combinations: GPW or MB. Suffice it to say, GPW means you have a Ford GPW, and MB means your Jeep is a Willys MB.
Left Rear Body Panel Stamp
Another place you should look in order to identify your Jeep is the left rear body panel. There’s a good chance that on that panel, you’ll find a stamp that says either “Ford” or “Willys.” This will clearly signify its manufacturer.
That said, not all Jeeps will have this stamp. This is due to the fact that the stamping procedure had effectively ceased by mid-1942 at the request of the Army. Earlier Jeep models, however, will still have the stamp on display.
Now that you’re more familiar with these three components, you should be able to swiftly tell whether you’re in the presence of a Willys MB or Ford GPW Jeep. How to tell the difference between the two vehicles can be tough at first, but as you can see, it’s incredibly easy once you know the ins and outs of each Jeep.
When you finally identify your Jeep, you can begin gathering the parts for your restoration. At Army Jeep Parts, we have a wide selection of WW2 military vehicle parts for restorations of Willys MB’s, Ford GPW’s, and many more classic Jeeps.