Willys Hotchkiss Jeeps
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Hotchkiss M201 rebuild bolg

Blog 2. The collection and return

I travelled across the channel to collect the jeep.  It was a very exhausting days drive down through europe - but we arrived in good time and had a chat with the owner and had a look around his impressive military vehicle collection.

We were shown to the jeep which looked a little sorry for its-self as it had clearly been 'off roaded' recently and was covered in mud.

The jeep didn't start or idle very well - but this didn't phase me as it's all very fixable - I noticed it had a carter carb so put down the rough idle to it not being adjusted correctly.

I drove the jeep, and once it had warmed up the jeep ran very well and felt 'right' when pulling away, stopping and over rough terrain. There was no oil in the water and no white sludge in the oil filler neck - the oil pressure seemed fair and no adverse noises from the gearbox - sometimes a weak spot on rebuilt jeeps.

I could see the jeep hadn't been stored very well so I guessed the flat batteries and possibly stale fuel weren't helping.  (I have noticed french petrol smells very different than ours and infact smells 'stale' only after a few weeks in a tank..)

Pictures of the jeep in storage to the right...

Everything seemed in order and the deal closed - with a slight haggle that resulted in a shovel, axe and rebuilt carb thrown in.

The Jeep is a rebuilt unit.  Originally constructed in 1963 and received the french army registration 231 - xxxx.  It was then returned to the rebuild factory at la Maltournée in '73.  The MALT plate above the rear passenger wheel chassis leg confirms this date. This means the jeep was given a new registration and this unfortunately has been obliterated by overpainting since its release from the army.

Fortunately it is easy to find the chassis numbers on these jeeps (usually on the glovebox!) and this can be cross referenced against the Les Domaines auction catalogues from the 90's (and some in the 00's).  Sometimes if both the chassis plate number and demob. registration at auction are recorded together - you can find out the rebuild registration.  The original registration is childs play - that's stamped on the vehicle!! (have a look at Andy's great site M201.com!) but these later rebuild registrations can be much harder to find.

After cross referencing the catalogues it was found listed in the paper Domaines auction catalogue number 1053 on page 39. The reg was fortunately listed; 645 0637 and it apparenty had been available for viewing before the auction on an army camp at Dorignes. 

I will sand back the front bumper and I may well find the original painted-on numbering, but sometimes the french are keen to obliterate the history of jeeps in an effort to make them look more 'war time'... Thank you Domaines catalogues (and thank you ANDY!)

The engine bay was filthy and I could see the vehicle hadn't really been looked after.  This was proved by the off road maps/ plans found in the glovebox from 2004 where the vehicle had taken place in some sort of greenlaning competition. I think the mud caking the engine and underneath had been left from then!!

There was also rust in the floor pan and the top hat sections were rotted out under the steps and tin the main cross section under the passenger seat.. The picture to the right shows the wooden support showing through the floor of the drivers side footwell - its circled in white..

The jeep had a jack and wheel bracein the rear lockers - so in all we had a near complete jeep, although it had rotand some mechanical issues.

We scooped up the vehicle and made our way back to the uk ready for a full road test and assessment of works needed.

Next Blog - the good, the bad and the ugly...


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