David Cadorette, 48, a business consultant and vice president of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association from Amherst, N.H., on his 1942 Jeep, as told to A.J. Baime:

I can't tell you the number of times that a veteran has come up to me and said, "My Goodness, I haven't ridden in one of those since 1945."

I bought my Jeep in 1995 from a gentleman in Connecticut for $4,500. I was able to determine that it was built at a Ford factory in Louisville, Ky., and delivered to the military on Nov. 9, 1942. When I set out to do a restoration, I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible. So I went to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., and to the National Archives in College Park, Md., where there are a lot of archival photos. For me, it was fascinating detective work.

I worked with a restorer named Jim Boltrom in Ashley Falls, Mass. We found original hardware, and if we couldn't find it, we built it out of 1942 sheet metal. The job took five years.

Between the research and the stories veterans share, you get a sense of what it was like to operate the vehicle under extraordinary circumstances. And it reinforces the responsibility you feel, to be a proper caretaker for this important historical artifact.

Hot Rod

Thu May 22 2014 14:00:11 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

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