Built in mid-1944 at the Ford plant in Lousiville, KY, GPW #208102 entered service on June 26, 1944. Part of a group of Jeeps that went to the United States Navy, it served throughout the war somewhere on the West Coast or in the Pacific. Some basic info states it might have been used with the 7th Fleet during the war, but this is currently unconfirmed. 

 208102 left the factory with the standard OD Green paint with a hood serial number of 20540356. It was one of the last Jeeps to receive a push/pull light switch before Ford switched (along with Willys) to the rotary style switch. It has an ACM II composite tub, meaning a body tub that was made by the American Central Manufacturing company which incorporated the best features of the Willys MB and Ford GPW tubs into one standardized tub, with a serial number of 68546 making it built in June of 1944. The Jeep also has the Type I Radio Suppression.

 Going into US Navy service, the original OD Green from the factory was painted over with a forest green and gold US Navy registration numbers were added. It was then painted over again with the standard Battleship Gray and Black US Navy registration numbers were added. The original US Navy numbers were not completely recoverable, but they are either 200439 or 208439 from what was recovered. Another layer of Battleship Gray was painted over everything with large US Navy numbers applied to it. That would be the last paint job the Jeep would have during WW2. Unfortunately, any unit/fleet identification information has been lost due to the bumperettes being stripped of paint at some point post-war and the front bumper replaced.


A 1944 US Navy Jeep much like how GPW #208102 probably looked during WW2. CREDIT:


GPW #208102 was used post-war as a farm vehicle, much like this one.


After the war, the Jeep was sold by the US Navy as surplus. The condition of the Jeep and where the auction was held is not known, but a farmer based in Riverside, CA bought the Jeep and took it back to his farm. It then continued to be used as a workhorse for the farm for over 60 years. There’s evidence that the Jeep was used to pull heavy things.

  In the years of farm service, the original GPW engine was replaced with a post-war CJ-2 gear-driven engine. These CJ engines were better built, reinforced, better balanced, and had a bit more power. The current guesses on the engine date are that it was built in 1947. Most of the original GPW wartime engine items were otherwise left in the Jeep. It was converted to a 12-volt system with a solenoid and 12v battery. The original voltage regulator was removed, but the original starter remains. 

  At some point during the post-war farm service, the original GPW axles were replaced with CJ2 axles, and the combat rims were removed in favor of Korean War era M38 Jeep rims. This also changed how the steering system worked, and a CJ style steering system bolted to the front cross member rather than the front axle, was added. The original GPW steering box remained, but the drag link was changed to a CJ model. 

US Army reenactor jeep

After many years serving on the farm, the beat-up, rusting Jeep was purchased by some Reenactors in the 82nd Airborne Living History Association here in Southern California. The Jeep was then put through a basic restoration getting it back to running status, adding some missing parts, and putting a new US Army paint job on her to represent the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. 

 The Jeep toured various Airshows, reenactor battles, parades, etc for the next few years carrying veterans and reenactors alike. It was during this time that I actually saw the Jeep, and even had a few rides in it! It became a staple at many airshows I attended, carrying 82nd Airborne reenactors into the mock battles and often on display for the public to look at. After the airshows would end, the Jeep (and other Jeeps) would be used to drive around the airfields, pick up food from nearby places, etc. 

 The Jeep would change hands one more time from the original reenactors to another reenactor, who also took the Jeep out to events and made plans to restore it further. 

GPW #208102 after it was restored initially around 2010 by the Levines.
This Jeep, as it arrived to the house on October 9, 2018.
Photo © Britt Dietz


When the previous owner decided to move out of California, he posted that he was going to sell his Jeep. I happened to see his post and mentioned I was interested. After some chats between us, GPW #208102 arrived at my house on October 9, 2018. I was now the proud owner of a Jeep, and only the fourth owner of #208102 since her service in World War II.

When she arrived, she had been sitting in a garage for over a year and wasn’t able to start. She was badly in need of a new paint job, and had a lot of post-war items on her. Still, she had her original tub, frame, grill, hood, fenders, seats, radiator, and about 65% of the original items. Things like the top bows, top bow hardware, canvas top, rear blackout lights, correct muffler, etc were missing. 

 After tinkering with the Jeep for the first two weeks, I was able to get her to start and idle for a few seconds. Originally I was just going to clean her up, repaint her, add missing items, and be done. But after taking a close look at the Jeep and weighing my options, I decided she deserved a complete frame-up restoration back to how she was during World War II.


The frame-up restoration began in November of 2018, just a few weeks after I got the Jeep. This was my first time restoring anything like this, I’m not a mechanic in the least and, at the time, couldn’t tell you the difference between a carburetor and a manifold! But I dove right into it with the help of youtube, the G503 forums/Facebook Groups, the original wartime Technical Manuals (TM Manuals), and close friends who are Jeep Experts having restored probably near 60-70 Jeeps between them. 

 Restoration started slow, as I was learning the proper ways to remove 75-year-old paint, clean them up, then repaint them with the proper Rex Oxide Primer and 33070 OD Green Paint. Damaged and worn out items were removed and replaced with either New Old Stock (NOS) items, other original take-off items, or reproduction parts. Countless hours of research, google searches, forum searches, questions on forums, searching through books, etc have all contributed to this restoration. 

As of this writing (March 2021), the Jeep is just about complete. The final major project (the transmission) is in progress and should be finished in a week or so. This will mark the end of the main restoration and a two-and-a-half-year journey learning more about Jeeps and automotive restoration than I even would have imagined. 

GPW #208102 as of January 2021 with GPW axles, Combat Rims, Canvas Top, etc.
Photo © Britt Dietz
GPW #20812 from the rear of the Jeep showing off the 8th Air Force, 95th Bomb Group, 412th Bombardment Squadron, Jeep #5 markings on the upside-down bumperettes.
Photo © Britt Dietz


I debated on if I wanted to restore it back to the wartime US Navy scheme she carried, and if this wasn’t my first Jeep, I would have done that very thing. But I’ve always loved the classic OD Green look on Jeeps and decided to keep it in post-war ‘Army Service.’ As an aviation photographer and volunteer at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA, I knew this Jeep will be around warbirds quite often. That, plus my interest and collection with US Army Air Force items during World War II, I decided to mark her up as an airfield Jeep, one who would have taken crews out to the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers in England. 

 I settled on the 8th Air Force, 95th Bomb Group, 412th Bombardment Squadron with the markings in honor of the often overlooked mission on March 4th of 1944 (ironically before my Jeep was built). They were one of the few squadrons to hit Berlin in a daylight raid for the first time… but they don’t get much credit. The 412th took part in this raid as pathfinders for the mission. The brief story goes, the large bomber force was approaching Berlin and the weather got worse. Mixed with confusion over fake German messages making it sound like they had recall orders to return back, much of the bomber force turned around and headed back for home. But 31 B-17s of the 95thBG and 100thBG decided it was fake and they were going to go for it anyway. They hit Berlin with minimal fighter escort (most had turned back as well) losing 5 bombers. While it was technically the first strike on Berlin by the USAAF, March 6th is considered the first strike because the entire force was able to attack. 

 This story always appealed to me, and along with photographing/flying in various Warbirds, it was a natural choice to make it an Army Air Force Jeep! 

THE FUTURE of gpw #208102

Once the restoration is finished, GPW #208102 will be taken to airshows, parades, military events, car shows, etc. After a two+ year restoration, who wouldn’t want to show it off? Work will probably always continue on the Jeep, adding fine details and replacing repro parts with original parts over time, but the bulk of the work will be finished once the last restoration project is completed. I hope to photograph her with as many warbirds as I can, eventually with a B-17 Flying Fortress since she’s a B-17 bomb group Jeep. My hope is to also take her to Europe one day, even Normandy in France. Till then, she’ll grace the streets of Inland Empire and events I can take her to. 

I will continue to keep this blog update with the latest posts as I finish the restoration and updates on the various other projects that come along. I appreciate you finding this blog, and I hope it helps generations of people who will be in the same spot as I was, just getting started on a monster project restoration. This information is my way of giving back to the world and sharing the knowledge to keep these Jeeps rolling! 


GPW #208102 Jeep with a Lockheed P-38J Lightning from March, 2020. Note, the Jeep does not have the GPW axles nor Combat Rims when this was taken.
Photo © Britt Dietz