40 Years of Sleep

Robert U’Ren shares the story of his rare Metamet jeep restoration

The Metamet Jeep looks purposeful after fitting some original wheels

A Metamet advertisement from 1952
The logo of Metamet

In early June, I was fortunate enough to be offered a very special Jeep by the Grandson of one of the co-owners of the famous Metamet company, after his father had recently passed away. Wlodik Wisniewski and his partner Serge Crulew originally set up the Metamet company post-war after they retired from the Polish/British army. Grandson Xav offered me his late father’s Jeep, whose involvement with Metamet came about in the twilight of the company’s dealings. Xav’s family have lived and breathed Jeeps for the past 80 years.

After the war, Xav’s grandfather had sold Jeeps and spares to the general public, based out of London from some old horse mews buildings. As well as spare parts and ex-military stock Jeeps, they progressed to offering special Jeep conversions. Many of these conversions sold particularly well and were a great improvement on the standard Jeep, having such luxuries as doors and easy folddown roofs. They were also available with pickup bodies, lengthened wheelbases and as estate car conversions, among other additions. One model offered was the Metaplan, a cross between a roadster sports car and a Willys Jeep. This may have been a bit too quirky or strange to gain enough interest at the time , so as far as I am aware only one version of his model was ever made and no orders were taken. A friend of mine looked at the pictures and made me laugh when he said: “It’s so damned ugly, it’s beautiful.” The Jeep fascinated me and, despite being a strange creation, I was very excited to have been offered it. The great thing was that although it had been stored away for 40 long years, Xav’s late father had kept it dry and every few years had poured a little oil down the plugholes. This kept the engine from seizing up internally, so the prospect of getting it running again looked very encouraging. With a massive amount of help from Xav, the extraction of the vehicle from the shed went well, starting with re-inflating the tyres. The inner tubes fitted inside meant they all pumped up and stayed up, which was particularly amazing after all those years! Unfortunately, the brakes had seized up on all four wheels, but Xav’s 4x4 pickup was utilised to tow the Jeep out of its old nest. It protested, with all wheels dragging like it didn’t want to leave its home.

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