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Exploring Merapi Mountain in Willys Jeep

When you are planning to explore Mount Bromo, you will see a lot of Toyota Land Cruiser of Hardtop type offered to you. This car is perfect for difficult terrain like those found in Bromo. However, if it is Mount Merapi that you are visiting, you will see a lot of Willys Jeep. Willys Jeep is another classic car widely used in Indonesia, especially in Mount Merapi National Park.

This car is strong enough to handle the steep and bumpy track around the mountain. Jeep Willys has come a long way to Indonesia since its first production around the 40s. Here is the history of Willys Jeep since its first production.



Upon seeing its shape and body, most people should already now that this car is a classic beauty made a very long time ago. In fact, this car was first produced in the 40s in the United States of America. Willys Jeep was known as a strong car and even used in the military.


1. A request for a light surveillance car

When it is clear that World War II was unavoidable, the US Army offers to 135 auto & car manufacturer to make a light surveillance car. It should weight around ¼ tons and adjusted to the specification determined by the Army. Three companies responded to the offer, the Bantam, Willys, and Ford. Within a year, they submit a model which then was recognized in the world as a “Jeep”.

The request for a new car model is for easier use during the war. The US Army wants a lightweight and compact-sized car, low silhouette with high ground clearance, as well as capable of carrying weapons and men through any kind of rough and difficult terrain. They want a small vehicle perfect for sending messages and reconnaissance as well as a weapon carrier car.


2. Specification

The US Army has specific requirements for this car. It should have a carrying capacity of 272 kg, ground clearance of 914 mm, with a four-wheel drive system. In addition to such requirements, this Willys Jeep carry M38A1 engine with four 60Tk cylinders. It also has a three-speed manual transmission and two-speed rear transfercase.


3. Unique car shape 

Willys Jeep has a unique shape with a strong frame and body. It was designed without a roof, although it does have a frame where you can set a tarpaulin roof to protect you from the sun or rain. Of course, there are challenges with this type of design since you have to manually set it. But considering that this auto & car was meant as a war vehicle and that it was produced years ago, it is easy to say that this car has an amazing design.




Exploring Merapi Mountain in Willys Jeep 2This car may come with some unique history and some superiority. However, there are also things that do not really fit into the modern need and safety. Here are some of the downsides found in the Willys Jeep.


a. Large body but only fit for 4 people and without luggage

The very earliest jeep actually has only enough seats and space for four people and that is even without the luggage. While it looks like a spacious car from the outside, it’s not so much from the inside. However, the modern jeep nowadays can carry one more passenger in the middle of the rear seat, although the size is still quite small.


b. Uncomfortable for smooth road 

The Willys Jeep was designed for off-road driving. It is great for drive-through rocks, the up and down of the rural area’s tracks, difficult terrain, and many others. However, this car is not suitable for a ride on the smooth road or tracks. The dodgy suspension will make your ride uncomfortable and generate a lot of noise that can be quite annoying.


c. Not really aerodynamic 

As mentioned previously, Willys Jeep has a quite tough exterior, solid wheels, and great for conquering obstacles on the way. However, the straight and sharp angle of the car makes it impossible for this car to be perfectly aerodynamic. It shouldn’t be a problem for off-road driving, but it can be quite frustrating if you want to speed up a little on the public street or highway.




People considered Willys Jeep as a legend for its formidable war fleet. It is a very tactical vehicle both in terms of size and flexibility. Today, this car is not used as a war fleet anymore and non-army can also try this car. In Indonesia, you will find hundreds of Jeep Willys ready to be used around Mount Merapi.

In the Mount Merapi National Park, the Willys Jeep is used as a touring car. The Lava Tour is one of the popular tourism activities in this National Park. Dozens of jeep communities in this lava tour use the Jeep Willys to pamper the tourists exploring the area formerly affected with the Merapi eruption in 2010.

There is around 29 jeep community in this lava tour with more than 800 fleets, most of them using the Willys. In fact, Willys was the first car used for the Lava Tour. This car was used because of the history and the legendary name that the Jeep Willys have. The distinctive and iconic shape gives an additional experience for the tourists.

Since this car is an old production, it is understandable that some of them in Mountain Merapi can looks a little bit old. However, the engine was checked regularly to make sure that this car can still run strong and well. Some spareparts are modified to ensure that the car is safe to use not only for the driver but to the drivers as well. Besides, nobody wants to ride on questionable vehicles.


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