Vehicle: Willys CJ2A Jeep
OWNER: Roger Kassner
Generally we feature radical built-up rigs with some amazing modifications in this section, but every so often we hear the story of a classic… Stories of affection and a longing for days gone by. One such story is that of Roger Kassner’s little Willys Jeep.
Verneuk is the Afrikaans word for mislead or swindle. Verneukpan, on the other hand, is a dry salt pan south of Kenhardt in the Northern Cape where a friend of my dad’s – in the 1970’s – was once prospecting. While we’re still wondering whether he ever struck gold, he did find a gem of another sort when he happened upon a Willys CJ2A Jeep and promptly started negotiations with the owner, who was a farmer in the area.
As the story goes, the negotiations lasted a good hour or more over a few tin cups of straight brandewyn and the “verneuk’ed” price for the Jeep was settled at R250 (yes – that is only three digits!), which was a rather hefty sum in those days for what essentially was a “chicken coop”. To cut a long story short, the chickens where evicted, and the Jeep was transported to Johannesburg and parked in our garden at home. When I was growing up our driveway had many interesting vehicles parked in all the nooks and crannies, the majority being military vehicles from World War II, which was and still is a passion of my old man. And of course there were always lots of Jeeps! Little did I know at the time that being around these vehicles all the time would spark a raging fire in my soul and my love of old vehicles grew from there.
The minute I returned from my conscripted twoyear military service, I decided to get stuck into the aforementioned Jeep from Verneukpan, which had been parked at the bottom of our garden for many years now. Over those years the bamboo planted nearby had eventually claimed part of the Jeep, so I knew an uphill battle to breathe life into the old girl was ahead of me. It took me about two-and-a-half years to fully restore the Jeep, although my dad will always argue that it took much longer! He may very well be correct, as many difficult decisions had to be made back then on weekends – building a Jeep or chasing the girls (we’ve all been there so don’t judge!). Not to mention the insane amount of rust that had to be removed. Regardless, I did finish and that was probably my proudest moment ever.
Thirty-odd years later I am still the proud owner of the Verneukpan Jeep, although many people have tried in vain to verneuk me out of it!