Jeep Jamboree USA Museum opens
July 25, 2012 saw the arrival of 4x4s of all kinds at Georgetown. With very little publicity, Jeepers and myself were invited to view Mark Smith’s outstanding vintage Jeep collection. Smith, himself conducted the open house from 1-3 pm that day. Just in time for the 60th anniversary running of the Jeepers Jamboree, which Mark Smith and others founded in 1952 for the 1953 event.
The museum contains six WWII 4x4s, a Vietnam era “mule” and two special early 1950s civilian Jeeps, each with interesting provenance.
When Smith retired as Jeepmaster for the Jamboree he founded Mark A. Smith Off Roading Inc. Jeep Jamboree USA is an international Jeep resource for adventures, expeditions, 4×4 training and consulting. Now well established, the Smith family and staff conduct the day-by-day operations, giving Mark Smith the opportunity to follow his many other interests.
The new Jeep Museum is at the outskirts of Smith’s Buffalo Hill Center, below the office of the Georgetown Gazette.
The WWII-era Jeep. was restored by the late Fire Chief Jack Anderson, who served as a motor pool supervisor during Korea. The mule looks like a couple of pallets with a steering wheel and small wheels under it. Look to the right and see a very unusual 4×4 amphibian Jeep. There are very few of these left, however the much larger “Duck” was produced in greater numbers. Lined up at the right wall, side-by-side, are three proto-type 1941 Jeeps. They are all very unique and to see the three together is a treat for WWII vets, anyone interested in cars in general and Jeeps specifically.
A Ford, Willys and Bantam are on display and one can see the development of the WWII Jeep. Owing to government specifications, these all look-alike, but look closer and see these were developed independently from a common guideline. One of the pre-Jeep 4x4s, the Willys, has a column shift, the Ford has headlights mounted inside the grill and covered by the hood and the Bantam has a tapered hood, wide at the windshield and more narrow at the front. The other WWII Jeep on display was used mostly by the British in North Africa and it is panted to blend with the sandy color of the desert.
Looking left, two special civilian Jeeps are displayed. A bright red Jeep 4×4 fire truck gets the award for cuteness. It is followed by a flat fender Jeep bought new from the late Ken Collins, the original Jeep dealer in Placerville. It was purchased by the late Bill Kelley of Bear Creek. After Mr. Kelley passed on, Smith acquired it. Smith told me, “my first Jeep was just like it.”
Another important Jeep, not on display is the one used by Smith in his Darian Gap Expedition of 1979. How special is his “newer” Jeep? “That one is going to the famous Sema Automotive Show in Las Vegas and will be on display at a major 4×4 accessory booth. That is about as good as it gets. A CD of the Darian Expedition as well as the “Driven By A Dream” hardcover book published by Mark A. Smith is available at the Jeep Jamboree USA Website.
Large picture windows reveal all of the collection. The museum is open by appointment: Call 333-4126.