Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cactus Rose WWII Jeep Rescue

This is a true story about Cactus Rose the jeep pictured below that I helped my husband, also known as "Jeep Rescuer", to get on the internet tonight. Ragan Simpich dictated the story to me:
"Cactus Rose" is the name of this 1942 slat grill Willys MB Jeep. I got a call one day from a friend, Tom, who said, "There is a really old jeep at the crusher that you might want to check on." I went over to P and L Scrap Iron in Colorado Springs to see it.
(if you happen to be wondering about the gold line at the bottom that is a the cloth behind the photo when I took the cell phone copies of these photos to get them quickly on the internet in response to posting on Facebook wanting this story on her Blog. I do have better photographs available. Maybe someday I will get them here.)
It was next in line to be crushed, a pitiful yellow hulk sitting next to the crusher. It had 4 tires holding air and an engine compartment reasonably complete even including a radiator.
The grill, windshield, seats and many small items were missing. It said, "Willys" on the back panel. When I saw that writing along with the age of the body, I new it was a slat grill. I ask how much he wanted for it. Three hundred dollars was the price. I had just sold some jeep parts so I went to the ranch and got the trailer and the money and came back to get the jeep.
My son and I went to lunch to celebrate the rescue!
We took it home and began the long process of restoring it. Three years later and much hard work it was finally ready for the Veterans Day Parade in November 2013. I had spent months tearing things apart welding, pounding, and fixing, all the while looking for missing original WWII parts. I purchased three other WWII jeeps plus traded for a WWII original canvas top. Parts were also used off of jeeps I already owned to get the jeep restored.

At the 2013 Veterans Day Parade, Colorado Springs Colorado. I am sure someone has a better photo of it in parade.
Two months of spare time were used welding on the frame alone. Three more months were spent welding on the body before the body work could begin. After much intensive labor it started coming together. Each piece seemed to take several hours to prepare before it became functional.
Cholla Cactus copyright with all rights reserved by Corawithacamera July 2011
She was named "Cactus Rose" for the cholla cactus that bloomed rosie red around the jeep during restoration. Most of the restoration was done during three of the years my wife and I lived on our cattle ranch.   
It was a big day when it was finally driven down to the creek behind our new house, two weeks before the parade.
In the new to us garage two transmissions were fixed and moved back and forth into the jeep three days before the parade to make sure it would not get stuck between gears!

Cactus Rose in the distant upper right corner in its new to us jeep rescue shop.
She was good girl and functioned flawlessly for the Parade with Veterans of the First Cavalry group marching beside and behind it. They had all worked hard to march all the way so no one needed a ride in the parade after all!
Cactus Rose is not quite finished yet.

Ragan Simpich, " Jeep Rescuer" in Cactus Rose after the parade. Photo by Corawithacamera Jan 2014

Cactus Rose now has its name painted on her.


Looking for the meaning of the 2 on orange paint that was original on the first layer of paint on this jeep.

Just received word from Amy of Kaiser Willys that the Cactus Rose story is posted there at the following sites as of Mar 25, 2014:
Hi Cora,
Thanks for sending in the photos and story of your Willys MB! Would you mind if I use this as our Willys Jeep Life Blog and link to your own Blog? I set up an album for you on the Kaiser Willys Blog - (links are below). Feel free to send more photos, special stories and / or information updates at any time to this email address and I will post them for you - Have a great week!
- Amy

Personal Gallery Pages:

Willys MB Customer Photos:

Amy Bodiford

Story has since been published in part in Kaiser Willy Magazine.

Now Cactus Rose is on the way to the National Military Vehicle Preservation Convention in Topeka, Kansas. Hope to see you there!