Thursday, September 27, 2012
When East Brainerd resident David Levi brought home a rusted-out 1946 Willys-Overland CJ-2A Jeep seven years ago, his family laughed at the idea of the vehicle running again.
“It came from New York where it had been sitting out in a field for about 12 years,” said Levi of the jeep. “When I brought it home it was pretty rusted, and I literally had pieces falling off all the way from New York to Tennessee.”
But that was seven years ago. Levi recently celebrated his 40th birthday with a 1940’s themed party where he took guests on rides in the refurbished jeep and showcased his collection of other antiques from that decade.
“It’s funny because the folks who laughed at me the most are the first ones who ask to take a ride,” he said of his children and his wife.
As a distribution management professional, Levi said he didn’t have too much experience with restoring cars before he took on the project.
For him, it was about achieving a childhood dream and having a way to relax more than anything else, he said.
“When I had tough times at work or a lot of stress, I would just go out and work on the jeep, and I’ve had some pretty good naps under there,” said Levi. “I’ve just always wanted [a jeep]. When I was a kid growing up, “M*ASH” was a really popular show and one of the first shows I remember watching growing up.”
According to him, he was able to use a combination of resources online, restoration books and advice from friends to completely overhaul the jeep. He said he also had help from Coker Tire and Quarter Ton & Military in Chickamauga, Ga., with answering questions and moving forward on the project.
For his birthday, Levi displayed the jeep, a 1940’s gas pump and all of his other memorabilia for friends and family outside his residence.
“I just took my fortieth birthday as an excuse to get all my toys out and have a big reunion of family and friends,” he said.