The History of the Willys Viasa MB-CJ3B

 The Story of my MB-CJ3B
 My Restoration
 The History of the Willys-Viasa MB-CJ3B
 Other MB-CJ3Bs

This is some information I've been compiling from several web pages, forums and by comparing pictures. Some other information was provided by Francisco M. Diaz and Miguel P. Laborda who have a good knowledge about Jeeps. Since there's nothing published about this model of Jeep I can't give references. My only goal is to keep this information somewhere so that it doesn't get forgotten. If you know of any reliable information regarding this model, I would appreciate if you let me know. 

The MB-CJ3b, is the first Jeep built in Spain.

In the late 50's, Kaise, owner of Willys Overland (which was named Willys Motor Company) gave exclusive rights to C.A.F. to allow them to build the Univesal Jeep in our country. C.A.F. decides to perform this task at its daughter company  V.I.A.S.A

It's in 1959, when the first permit to import parts and machinery was given by the Trade Ministry, in order to assemble the first units in the V.I.A.S.A factory located in Zaragoza. These units weren't launched until 1960. 

It seems that this allowed V.I.A.S.A to build the CJ3b model, with different engines and features from the original American model.

As for the information given by Miguel Pascual Laborda, there's a picture of the first unit assembled in 1959, which was taken outside the factory, and you can see it here, courtesy of Miguel.

First unit assembled in Spain, standing outside the V.I.A.S.A. factory in Zaragoza

It seems that the very first units were assembled with parts coming from the American surplus, though from the unit number 200 and on,  all the parts were made in Spain.

V.I.A.S.A builds the Jeeps under the make Willys-V.I.A.S.A, and the first model built and released was named MB-CJ3B, probably due to the fact that the engine chosen for that Spanish model was the American 'Go-devil' model,  famous for being the MB model engine, in a CJ3B body.

This name often causes misunderstandings due to the mixture of the MB name (regarding the famous MB model) and the CJ3b name (regarding the civilian Jeeps).

Following, a few photos from the CAF archive.

 MB-CJ3B Technical drawing

As per the plate, this seems to be a test model. Interesting the hard top installed

Close up of the plate where you can read the year 1961 and what could be a batch ready to go.

V.I.A.S.A. factory yard in Zaragoza with a batch of MB-CJ3B ready to be transported

On the lef a paint line where you can see the same type of windscreen as the MB-CJ3B´s. This phote in in color so it's likely to be from a few years later.

Leaflet, courtesy of Miguel Pascual Laborda

Three more pictures of several Willys-Viasa parading in the Rostrogordo fort, in Melilla.

In adition, other models of CJ3B were built with different engines such as a Perkings (the P4-195 to be exact), some units with Barreiros on demand, and it seems there was even a large version named CJ6 with a Go-devil engine (MB-CJ6) and also with the original CJ3B Hurricane engine (HU-CJ6)

I'm going to focus on the MB-CJ3B model, though you will find much more information regarding the Spanish Jeeps on the CJ3B Page.

Viasa's assembly line in their factory in Zaragoza

The engine, therefore, was the Go-devil model, instead of the more modern and powerfull Hurricane which was being assembled in the American CJ3B model and which had the hood modified on purpose in order to make room for the new F-Head engine, with intake valves in the head, and therefore more height.

 The Go-devil engines belonged to the ones built after the WWII, and therefore, unlike the first ones, the head was reinforced and the distribution used pinions.

The carburetor was also replaced by a Solex 32 PBIC (like in the French Hotchkiss) instead of the Carter which had the genuine Go-devil in the  MB and Ford-GPW.

MB-CJ3B Plate, exactly the one belonging to number 560

Probably, the destination for most of these units was the Spanish army.

Actually there's very little information regarding this model, and from what you can see in the documentation there are several differences between the early and late models, such as the speedometers, or the fact that ones have glove compartment while others don't.

Unlike the American Jeep manuals, the MB-CJ3B mechanical manual published by VIASA doesn't give many details, and therefore we can't see in it what the rear part looked like or what kind of tail light they had installed, or where the spare tyre was located.

Although this information hasn't been confirmed, probably less than one thousand units were built. At least none of the few units found has a serial number above thousand, and none was built later than 1966, therefore that must be the year when the production of that model was stopped.

The Jeeps were built by V.I.A.S.A. (Vehiculos Industriales y Agricolas, Sociedad Anonima) in its factory in Zaragoza, and distribuited by Autotrade.

Some differences between the MB-CJ3B. Early and late models.

As I said before, there were several differences even in Jeeps within the same model. The most important ones are on the dashboard.

As per the original Willys Viasa parts manual, the MB-CJ3B dashboard was like the one in the picture below. But on the other hand there's also a Viasa manual regarding a Universal Jeep model, where a different dashboard is shown. This one is exactly the same as the dashboard in several models with MB-CJ3b ID plate. In the pictures below you can tell several ones apart, like the speedometers and other gauges and the glove compartments. In the first picture of this section, where an assembly line is shown, you can see that in the Jeeps being assambled, the dashboard has only a big hole designated for the speedometer gauge, shown in the second of the pictures below.

Two different pictures from two different Viasa manuals

The next picture shows the 1953 American CJ3B dashboard (on the left) and the 1957 (on the right). The pictures show how both, the American models dashboards and the Spanish ones are the same, excluding the glove compartment, which doesn't exist in the American CJ3b. The windshields are also different, and therefore it's quite likely that Viasa built both models with different dashboards but the same windshield.

American 1953 and 1957 CJ3B dashboards

I guess the early MB-CJ3B model were built following the American 1953 model, and the late MB-CJ3B model like the American 1957 model.

[Update July 2017] There seem to be a few units between the early series and the late series combining the 5 gauges with the globes compartment like the units 343 and 424.

Some differences with the American CJ3B model

Eventhough the Spanish model shares the body with the American model, there're a lot of little differences, and some others not so little, which give each model their own characteristics, and allow to distinguish them at a glance.

The main difference looking at the front of both models is the plate with the make Willys-Viasa on it in the Spanish model where in the American one has the make Willys stamped on the top of the grille.

The American CJ3b in the upper picture above, and the MB-CJ3b in the lower picture.

You can also see that the American model has two wooden blocks fixed on the hood in order to lean the windshield on when this is lowered. On the contrary, the Spanish model has two supports on the top part of the windshield which lean on the hood.

The back door is completely flat in the Spanish model, only showing the word Willys stamped on the middle, unlike the characteristic door in the american model. Another difference are the rear lights. Although there's not reliable information about the rear lights in the MB-CJ3B, they were probably different. The spare tyre was  llocated on the rear door in the Spanish model instead of on the right side, like in the American model.

The American CJ3B in the upper picture above, and the MB-CJ3B in the lower picture.

Give us all the information you know/have

If you're reading this english version I don't think you have an MB-CJ3B, but if you did have one and you'd like to show her, send me an email with you car's serial number, the year when she was built and the place where she is currently. Send me pictures and the story of your MB-CJ3B and I'll be glad to publish them in the Other MB-CJ3Bs section.

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