Greg Margison and His Blue Spruce

Greg Margison and His Blue Spruce

Owner of OVERLAND DIESEL, Greg Margison’s engine adaptor kits have sold worldwide, inspiring Jeep enthusiasts to repower their Willys Jeeps with Kubota diesels. His own repowered ’47 CJ2A, dubbed “The Blue Spruce” owing to its Royal Blue paint and homebuilt marine-grade plywood/fiberglass tub, features an Overland Diesel-adapted Kubota V2203 Turbo-Diesel. The driveline and suspensions are Willys parts with the addition of a Warn Overdrive that helps expand the gear selection on the T90 3-speed.

The decision to adapt a Kubota diesel into the CJ2A came after Trail Guiding at an off-road event with his soon-to-be wife: the group was given faulty directions and slogged through an unrated boggy trail, with the ’47 CJ2A leading the way out on some soggy terrain. Despite a wet ignition system and a spun bearing, the Willys made it out of the bush and back to camp, but Greg knew he could improve on the Go-Devil’s overall performance using a diesel engine without having to modify the rest of the original driveline. Ten years later and Overland Diesel’s engine adaptor kits are being sold around the world and The Blue Spruce is still going strong.

A devoted Jeep driver whose roster of daily drivers has included everything from Cherokee Chiefs to a ’67 Willys M38A1, Greg is a Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic who has worked all over North America in extreme conditions. Currently he is posted near Hudson’s Bay working on some of the largest mining equipment in the world, but his passion remains the steadfast Willys Jeep. He makes his home in St. Marys, Ontario, with his wife, two sons and baby girl.

After a fantastic time touring Moab last Easter in customer and friend, Daniel Buck’s, repowered CJ2A (featured in JP Magazine), Greg is looking forward to the challenge of travelling to Alaska in The Blue Spruce with Bill Reiss and the Eastern group.


There are numerous false histories regarding how the jeep got its name. One of the more well-known incorrect stories claims the jeep was named after the initials GP or general purpose. While Ford introduced a Ford GP as a pilot vehicle in late 1940, by that time soldiers testing the Bantam vehicle had already begun calling the jeep by that name. According to this 1944 article, court-case testimony suggested that drivers began calling the vehicles “jeeps” by November of 1940:


But, jeep wasn’t the only named used to describe the vehicles. Even by April of 1942, Army editors still couldn’t decide what to call it. Some editors called them “Bantam cars”, some “Peeps”, some “Jeeps”, some “Blitz Buggies”, among other names.

Eventually, a decision was made. In May of 1942, newspapers announced the armored division officially named the quarter-ton command/reconnaissance car the ‘Peep’, while the half-ton armored car was called the ‘Jeep’. The Milwaukee Journal published two photos to help readers distinguish between the two.


This confusion, in part, explains why there is confusion surrounding the name.

A second reason for confusion had to do with a lawsuit over the trademark by Ford and Willys Overland. Willys Overland wanted to trademark the term Jeep, but Ford objected, arguing it had contributed to the look of the jeep, especially their invention of the nine slot stamped grille, one of the iconic visual aspects of the vehicle.

By mid-1945, WWII was nearly concluded. Willys Overland, ready to introduce the jeep, was forced to stamp “Willys” into the hood and windshield of the ready-to-be-released CJ-2A, the first civilian jeep. This led to some jeeps being called jeeps, a marketing device Willys continued to use, while other folks called them “Willys” due to the stamped hood.

Ford and Willys fought over the Jeep name for years, until Willys Overland was finally awarded the name in 1950.

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