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Jeep thrills

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With a Hurricane petrol engine and a four-wheel drive, this 1967 Willys CJ6 is just what V.N. Chandrasekhar was looking for

Vellore Nataraj Chandrasekhar is in the best position to indulge in his passion for automobiles. Dealing in used cars and running a workshop mean he gets to know of rare machines up for sale and, if he buys any of them, he is assured of the resources to get them restored.

The 67-year-old electrical engineer switched to the car business because his heart lay there. “I have always kept an eye open for unusual cars. And, yes, jeeps as well,” he says. So, when a 1967 Willys-Kaiser CJ6 came up, Chandrasekhar did not have to rifle through a tome on jeeps to grasp its value.

The features that made it special were very obvious. One of them alone could have settled the issue. The CJ3 was being powered by a Willys F-Head Hurricane petrol engine. It was a welcome change from the trend of Willys jeeps being converted to diesel engines. The CJ6 was saved from this fate, probably because it served the UNICEF in India from 1967 to 1995. As its front seats are detachable, the CJ6 must have served as an ambulance.

It has a double-layered roof with an air vent in the middle, making it the best bet to beat a sultry day on the field. The covered CJ6 appears to be a machine chiselled for hard labour, but the tool box and the battery inspection box lodged on the cowl combine utility with style. Among other features that stand out is the word ‘Willys' embossed in the rear and front.

After Kaiser had taken over the Willys, most CJ5 and CJ6 models were not marketed as Willys. They were simply called the Jeep CJ5/6. This 1967 jeep is part of a small group that escaped the stripping of the Willys identity.

In Chandrasekhar's eyes, the most significant feature, apart from the Hurricane engine, is the jeep's four-wheel drive. Two-wheel drives formed the majority of the CJ5s and CJ6s that were imported into India. As a four-wheel drive, this historical machine has an added charm. Another advantage connected with its wheels is a 101-inch wheelbase. In comparison, its twin, the CJ5, has an 81-inch wheelbase.

Chandrasekhar goes off-roading with his son, but will he take this four-wheel drive out on such adventures? “Forget off-roading. I don't take this Willys out even on city roads during heavy traffic!”

PHOTOS: R. Shivaji Rao

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