While living in Moab, Utah, I was out for a drive and saw this cool old Willys Pickup grill leaning up against a rock wall. It was enough that I stopped to check it out. It was awesome. Chrome crossbars on it, nicely faded paint, beautiful patina, couple of the lights were there, a couple missing. It just looked like it had an awesome story to tell. I pulled into the yard and noticed the property had quite a few old Willys Pickup and Wagon parts around. I knocked on the door and found that the current occupants were just tenants, but were able to get me in touch with the landowner. After a few phone calls and probably not just a little begging, the gentleman agreed to sell me the grill and a few other parts I had fallen in love with. Little did I know, the purchase of this one, simple grill was the beginning of an obsession. An obsession to collect every Willys and Jeep Grill made between 1941 and 1990.
This wasn’t an instant decision, but rather one that came about over the next few months as I began scouring Facebook, Craigslist, and pestering Jeep friends I knew to see how many different types of early grills I could collect. I figured I might end up with a dozen or so—just a sampling of some of the different makes and models. But pretty soon, it became more than that. Easter Jeep Safari 2017 brought many grills my way. I was lucky enough to find a handful of grills scattered throughout the country, many of them within driving distance of friends making the annual pilgrimage to Moab. Due to the graciousness of these friends, I had grills delivered from as far away as Texas, Nebraska, Michigan, Delaware, Colorado, and Arizona. I was able to find quite a few grills within a reasonable distance of Moab, it made it easy to get those, but many were across the country. Distance didn’t stop me from having them shipped from Florida, California, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. I got pretty good at being able to guesstimate the shipping cost of various size grills.
About the time I moved from Moab to St George Utah, I had a decent collection of about twenty-five grills from different Jeeps and Willys. I was pretty pleased with myself, it gave me a good sampling of most of the traditional Jeep vehicles from the World War II-era MB stamped grill to the various CJ models, and most of the Willys Pickup and Wagons. I figured that would be good enough. After I got settled in St George and finally had a decent place to display my collection, I decided what the heck, might as well go for gold. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to get them all. It was then that I decided to go after ALL of the Willys and Jeep models made between 1941 and 1990. Not an easy task, and one I wasn’t sure I’d be able to accomplish, due to the scarcity of so many of the grills.
After hours of research and learning way more about Jeep grill designs and variations than anybody probably should ever know, I came up with a comprehensive list of all of the different makes and models, and the associated grills that went with them. One by one, I began to find each of them. Much to my surprise and delight, the list of grills I needed began to get smaller and smaller. Including many rare grills, and some grills I had never heard of. By early 2020, I declared my collection complete by adding the last missing piece to my collection, a Jeep M715 pickup. As of now, I have a list of the 40 unique grills in my collection. I’m not saying I won’t find some obscure grill out there that isn’t currently on my list, but I’m pretty confident that I now have the most extensive, unique, and complete grill collection of any private collection in the world.
Grills in the collection (In mostly chronological order):
– Willys MB slat Grill
– Willys MB / Ford GPW stamped Grill
– Willys Wagon or Pickup 10 slot flat nose
– Willys Jeepster VJ
– Willys Wagon or Pickup V-nose with 5 horizontal bars
– FJ-3 / FJ-3a
– FC-150 or FC-170
– Willys Wagon or Pickup V-nose with three horizontal bars, middle bar being towards the top
– Willys Wagon or Pickup V-nose with 3 evenly spaced horizontal bars
– Willys Wagon or Pickup V-nose with three horizontal bars and air intake hole
– CJ-5 or CJ-6
– Ford M151
– FSJ Rhino Nose
– Jeepster Commando
– FSJ Razor
– Jeep Commando Bullnose
– FSJ Cheese Grater
– DJ-5b through 5m
– CJ-7 or CJ-8
– FSJ Egg Crate
– FSJ Pig Nose
– CJ Laredo stainless steel overlay
– CJ-10 or 10a
– FSJ Muscle
– Mitsubishi J54
– MJ or XJ early style
– FSJ Final Type
– XJ later style
Now I realize I don’t have a TJ grill, or very many other grills from any of the Jeeps made since 1990. I’m okay with that. There have been so many different types and varieties of grills made in the last 30 years, that it seems unnecessary to collect them all. Plus, many of them were plastic. I don’t have a lot of interest in plastic, I would rather collect good, old American-made steel Jeep parts.
It’s crazy to think that all of this started with one lonely grill leaning against an isolated rock wall. In addition to all of my grills, I’ve also collected over a dozen unique tailgates, and more than half a dozen different hoods. My collection has just about overgrown my house and yard, with pieces displayed throughout my home and yard. My goal is a big garage or shop where I can properly display all of my collection in one place.