Introduced in 1950 and based on the postwar CJ-3A design, the M38 (or MC) was an improved and updated version of the rugged all-purpose Jeep of WW II fame. Production was relatively brief, continuing through 1952. Main M38 features included a one-piece folding windshield, bottom-mounted wipers, deletion of the running boards to improve ground clearance, a pintle-style towing hook, lifting shackles, and a driver’s side fuel-filler location. Other items included “Pioneer tools” comprising a pick and shovel mounted on the passenger side, larger 7.00 X 16 tires, dual waterproof batteries, and a “Go-Devil” 122 cubic inch L-head, four-cylinder engine mated to a three-speed manual transmission equipped with a two-speed transfer case. Frontal styling was slightly revised to better accommodate the new engine. Strengthened rear axles were another upgrade. Some M38s were built with water-fording capabilities including waterproof ignition and intake systems, allowing operation with the engine completely submerged.
The M38 earned continuing fame for its adaptability and sheer ruggedness on the extremely harsh terrain of the Korean Peninsula during the 1950-1953 conflict. Millions of veterans were reacquainted with the M38 during the 1970s and 1980s by virtue of the vehicle’s prominent big-screen use in the star-studded 1970 movie M*A*S*H and the long-running, critically acclaimed TV series of the same name during the 1970s and early 1980s.
While many civilian CJ-3As have been cosmetically modified to resemble the M38, this original Canadian military M38 was part of the production batch completed in Windsor, Ontario by Ford Motor Company from kits supplied by Willys-Overland in Ohio as part of a Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) order during the Korean Conflict. It is now offered from a military history enthusiast and as such, it is well-maintained and very well equipped with a correct new canvas top and a trailer, with the proper military markings and field equipment in place, including Pioneer tools, tow rope, and a display-only brass fire extinguisher. This M38 is also one of the original water-fording examples, lacking only the easily sourced snorkel-type air breather. Best of all, the M38 is complete with the highly valuable original brass I.D. plate confirming its Canadian military origin. A wonderfully preserved and maintained original M38, it will continue to draw crowds and provide an enduring tribute to Canada’s military personnel wherever it goes.
This M38 was offered at, and sold by, Dan Spendick’s Collector Car Productions at Canada’s oldest and largest classic-car auction, the Toronto Fall International Classic Car Auction, on Saturday, November 2, 2014. Bidding reached $14,500 on this excellent and totally affordable classic.