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Rad Rig: Dave Ratcliffe’s 1950 Jeep CJ-3A


Words and image by Andrew Middleton

Jeep Cocktail

There are many distinct factions in restoration – some add modern touches, some keep it original and others go full nutter and create a 1000kW Rat-Rod, retaining only a hint of the standard vehicle. For Dave Ratcliffe, originality is paramount – yet his CJ-3A is surely the only one like it on Earth. The culmination of Dave’s years of Jeep experience and thousands of personal man hours have led to a creation that’ll cause even the most knowledgeable Jeep fanatics to scratch their heads in puzzlement.

Dave’s obsession with Jeeps started at the age of twenty, when, shortly after leaving the army he bought his first Jeep – also a Willys. Since then, he has been obsessed with the old army 4x4s. So much so he now runs a home business expertly restoring old examples to their former glory, and beyond. In the case of this unnamed, orangewheeled creation, Dave started with a 1950-model right-hand drive CJ-3B: the high bonnet version of the Willy’s which is so famous today.

Originally, the Jeep was bought for its extremely rare dual lever Koenig PTO winches – original Jeep accessories – and was destined to be pillaged for parts for use on a variety of other projects. Fortunately for the original Willys, Dave changed his mind and decided to restore it as a ‘retro trails vehicle’ using a cocktail of the best original parts from various period models.