Jeep® Heritage | 1959 Jeep Willys Gala Surrey

1959 Jeep Willys Gala Surrey

Each Friday on the Jeep® Blog, we explore the Jeep brand’s iconic heritage by highlighting different historical vehicles. This week’s vehicle is the 1959 Jeep Willys Gala Surrey.


And now for something completely different.


Which Jeep vehicle came in colors like Tropical Mist/Coral, Cerulean Blue, and Jade Tint (or pink, blue, and green in laymen’s terms)? Why, the Jeep Willys Gala Surrey, of course!


In 1959, there existed a surplus fleet of DJ-3A vehicles that the USPS used after that contract ended. Enter the Gala and Surrey models, similar vehicles introduced in different markets. The basic concept was the same, however: they were fun, open-body vehicles that didn’t need the four-wheel drive in models like the CJs. Instead, they were get-around vehicles and rentals to drive in warmer climates and resort areas.


The Gala model, made for export markets like Mexico and the Caribbean, and the Surrey model, made for the U.S. market, came with striped fabric tops to match the bright body color. Fringe around the edges and chrome hubcaps were just a few of the additional features to make this unique vehicle stand out.


Approximately 1,000 Gala/Surrey vehicles were manufactured. Along with prominent features in contemporary movies, the bright, fun vehicle is cemented as one of the more unique Jeep heritage vehicles.


We’re now moving into the 1960s with our weekly Heritage Friday series on the Jeep Blog. Check back next week as we dig deep into the next decade of Jeep heritage.


9 Responses to “Jeep® Heritage | 1959 Jeep Willys Gala Surrey”

  1. I know this is a branded Jeep brand branding environment, but isn’t the name of this adorable trucklet Willys Jeep Surrey Gala. Willys being the manufacturer, Jeep the make, Surrey the model and Gala the variant?

    You certainly won’t publish this comment, but please keep up the fine work anyway.

  2. Colin Peabody

    In response to Bob, at the time in mid to late 1959, Kaiser owned Willys Motors Inc.  Willys marketed the DJ3A 2 wheel drive Jeep in several body options.  In 1959, what was to become the Gala/Surrey Jeep option, Willys put together the striped top, spare tire cover, interior, hubcap and chrome package for sale in tropical locations. Willys Export Corporation developed the marketing and rental plans for the Jeep GALA for sale outside the limits of the continental United States.  Places like Acapulco, St. Thomas, the Bahamas, and Hawaii(Where Henry Kaiser had large hotel interests) were targeted for sales. Almost simultaneously, Willys Motors Inc. marketed the Jeep SURREY for sale to private parties and resort hotels within the continental limits of the USA. These were for all intents and purposes the same vehicle, but marketed by two separate Willys corporations in separate parts of the world. Even though Hawaii became a state in April, 1959, sales of the Gala there was handled by Willys Export Corporation.  Kaiser, doing business as Willys, did not change a lot of their advertising from year to year.  Initial advertising was for the Jeep Gala and then included the Surrey . The advertising eventually dropped the Gala nameplate and Surrey became the prominent name for these neat little Jeeps.  I have copies of separate descriptive press releases from Sept. 1959, sent out by Willys Export Corporation for the Jeep Gala and  by Willys Motors Inc., for the Surrey.  In each release, the mention of the “other similar” model is mentioned and where the marketing was targeted.
    So I guess the real name of this little Jeep belongs to where it was initially sold and whether it was sold through Willys Export Corporation or Willys Motors, Inc., at least in 1960 and 1961.  The problem here is that the Gala/Surrey models didn’t carry an identifiable tag or plate to show which corporation the vehicle was sold through.  The serial number plates all carry the same model number 56337 as the rest of the DJ3As followed by a 5 digit production number.  In 1964, the model numbers for all Jeep products changed with the Surrey(no longer with the Gala nameplate) became 8204.
    We still don’t know how many Gala/Surreys were actually made, but estimates are around 1100, but how many were sold as Galas and how many were sold as Surreys, we don’t know.
    I hope this clarifies what these Jeeps are called, even though the explanation is lengthy.
    Colin in Phoenix
    Owner of 1960 Surrey 56337 19170

    • Marc Meyer

      Dear Colin

      You really have got an immense knowledge about those pretty little Jeeps.
      I even think to remember that you bought once your Jeep at ebay some time ago, when I bought it first but then withdraw as I was thinking, that the number is not correct. What obviously was wrong.
      Anyhow – it seems that this Gala Surrey is in good hands now.

      I still am searching for another Gala Surrey to bring to Switzerland.

      Now I have the following question: May be you can answer this to me:

      Why are there Gala Surreys with blue or pink steering wheels and some with black ones.

      I think the one you have got has a black steering wheel.

      Maybe one is a Surrey and the other a Gala?

      Kind regards

      Marc from Switzerland

  3. Dear Colin,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. What a fantastic synopsis.

    Dear everyone,

    This is why Jeepers are awesome.

    – bob 

  4. I have a ’90’ Jeep Wrangler YJ. How can I change it to round head lights … can I buy a grill from another Jeep ??

  5. Colin Peabody

    This late reply is to Bob first- Thanks for the kind words. I try to be as knowledgeable as I can and pass what I learn on whenever it will help anyone.

    Marc, thank you also for your compliments. As for the steering wheels being black or pink or blue, yes, mine has a black steering wheel. When it was restored at Pioneer Jeep Garage in Peabody, MA, the Jeep had been sitting out in the back lot at a motion picture studio in Southern California and the top, interior fabric and spare tire cover were rotted from the western sun and heat. The steering wheel also did not survive, so Mr. Chmiel replaced it with a black wheel. I have considered repainting it, but probably won’t do it very soon. I suspect that other Surreys you have seen with black steering wheels had the same problem with cracking in the heat. they can be repaired, but don’t look as good as a new or reproduction wheel.

  6. Gary "Bear" Usinger

    I have a 1960 Gala Surrey that is in OK condition. It needs engine work and although it has the framework, it is missing the surrey top and the hubcaps. Any idea what this Willys is worth? With only 1100 produced, I would think even one that needs work is worth a little. Thanks for feedback.

  7. I have a 1964 Surrey. Runs good just needs restoring. If anybody is looking for one of these let me know.


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