Surrey Off-Road Specialists Limited

There was a farm auction down the road back in 2004. A friend had attended and told me in the pub that evening that there was an old wartime Jeep in the auction that was a late entry and hadnít sold. I went round to have a look to find a very tidy rust free ex Dutch army M38A1 from the 50ís. I spoke to the farmer who was selling on behalf of his mate, a deal was reached and I became the new owner. It hadnít run for a couple of years and the batteries (24 volt) were shot, so I stuck a couple of new ones on, tipped some fuel down the carb, turned it over and it burst into life! The clutch plate was seized, so I put it in gear restarted it with my foot on the clutch and it freed itself off. I drove it onto the trailer and bought it to the workshops. On close inspection, it was in very good condition bodily and really just needed a coat of paint to tidy it up. The existing multiple layers were very thick and pretty flakey in places, so I started unbolting parts to clean up and repaint. Thatís when the project went haywire, before I knew it, it was in hundreds of parts and was now becoming a major make over. Worst still, a friend informed me he was taking the mildly tuned 3.5 Rover V8 conversion out of his wartime willys and thought I might like it for the M38A1. Having given the M38A1 a quick blast before stripping it, I had wondered about whether I really wanted to drive a vehicle with a 50MPH top speed. I wanted to use it as a toy in the summer to drive topless (the jeep, not me) to the sailing club. Part of the journey involves 25+ miles of fast dual carriageway down the A3, I didnít really want to be in a vehicle at 45-50 MPH with traffic zooming up behind me at 80+. So the decision was made, the V8 was the way forward and on paper should be an easy conversion. (Well that was the theory anyway). I continued to strip it down and was surprised to find all sorts of changes made by the Dutch. The front floor section had been cut out and replaced with what appears to be Macrolon (a composite fibre used to assist with mine protection etc). It is a very neat conversion. The front wings have been moulded in Glass fibre. Again very nicely made and no rust of course!

It had some very hideous lighting mods that were removed. I decided to strip out the fuel tank and dash. To my delight, I found some used .50 cartridge cases down the back of the tank, so presumably this must have had a .50 Browning cannon on a pedestal in the back at some point. The Ammo was date stamped 1984. The vehicle had obviously had a mid life makeover, the metric speedo only showed 150 Kmís, so I donít know what its genuine mileage would have been from new. Its overall condition was very good, but there were lots of leaking seals, wheel cylinders etc from where it had been standing. The previous owner had been thrashing around a muddy field on its last drive and hadnít bothered to wash it off, so there was a lot of dried on mud everywhere that was rock hard and difficult to remove.

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