Like fashion, the collector car market is cyclical. And, like fashion staples, there are some cars that never go out of style. For instance, you just can’t go wrong with a comfortable pair of jeans. And likewise, you’ll always be admired when you pull up in a ground-pounding Willys. Back in 1941, at a small automaker that was about to go through its second bankruptcy, no one would have guessed that, 71 years later, we’d think a glossy Maroon Americar is one of the coolest street rods we’ve ever seen. But alas, great design endures. And when great design is mixed with modern technology, it’s a sure-fire bet for success! Featuring an impressive roster of components, a supple leather interior and an awesome 540 cubic inch Merlin V8, this head-turning custom is poised to draw big attention and take home very big trophies. It’s also completely sorted, scary fast, and amazingly comfortable. So, forget all that nonsensical talk about boring coupes and trendy roadsters owning the next cruise season, this first class Willys is your go-to piece for dominating the strip and stopping the show!
Okay, so it’s not really an Americar, and naturally, that paint isn’t a traditional single-stage that’s going to dull and wash off in four years. Instead, this Willys is a high quality fiberglass tribute that’s been hand-prepped, dipped in classy Burgundy Metallic two-stage, and finished to a much higher standard than anything that rolled off pre-war assembly lines. The car was actually completed around 2006, and while its shape is ultra-traditional, a few new tweaks were added to provide a unique personality. Take a look at our high resolution photos and you’ll see that every panel is as flat as Kansas, with a shine that’s only found on five-figure hot rods. At the touch of a button, a trick front clip tilts forward to reveal a highly polished powerplant. And even though there’s no mistaking a Willys, this coupe has an identity all its own thanks to careful workmanship and excellent attention to detail.
It’s hard to find any well-done street rod that doesn’t turn heads and inspire stares. But this car, with its excellent stance, sublime paint and well-planned detailing, makes most custom builds seem amateur and second-rate. At the front of its body, a tilting nose hangs a fresh chrome grille between original-style, chrome-trimmed headlights. At the top of those headlights, a contoured hood, which fits the big engine’s double-barrel scoop like a well-tailored glove, leads the eye to carefully smoked glass that’s cleared by bright stainless wipers. At the sides of those wipers, shaved doors and small chrome mirrors hang over polished side-exit exhaust pipes that look almost as good as they sound. At the back of those pipes, a polished antenna, teardrop-shaped tail lights and a retractable license plate add a healthy dose of function to some of the best automotive form ever created. And overall, this custom is simple, smooth and classic, carrying the true hallmarks of a timeless and enduring design.
One thing you won’t have to worry about in this Willys is power. Thanks to a balanced, 540 cubic inch Merlin V8, which is fitted with a Dragonslayer crank, Callies rods, a custom Comp cam and JE pistons, this sleek coupe is more than just a pretty parking lot poseur! At the top of that World Products mill, coated Holley carburetors mix air from a polished, shotgun-style intake with a steady stream of high octane dinosaurs that travels through stainless lines, braided hoses, a chrome Mr. Gasket gauge and Aeromotive pressure components. At the base of those carburetors, a polished Weiand blower rides between familiar Edelbrock Performer RPM heads that anchor high quality Crane rockers under polished valve covers and chrome, bowtie-branded breathers. At the back of those heads, a modern points distributor sequences fire through red MSD Super Conductor plug wires. Cooling is provided by a polished Weiand water pump that’s sandwiched between a polished overflow tank, two electric puller fans and a heavy duty Be Cool radiator. And exhaust is handled by a pair of wrapped fender headers that look great next to the block’s subdued silver casting. Naturally, this Willys clean engine bay is a sea of first rate hardware, from its chrome brake reservoir and high quality MSD ignition all the way to its chrome-capped Cloyes timing set and custom Moroso oil pan. And overall, the car displays a first-rate level of workmanship that conveys a quality, tailored demeanor.
Behind that professionally built engine, a cooled TPI Turbo-Hydramatic 400, which comes complete with automatic overdrive, spins a narrowed and braced Strange 9-inch and streetable 3.25 gears via a custom Denny’s driveshaft. That first class drivetrain is held off the ground by a custom, square-tube chassis which, along with its suspension, has been bathed in a pleasant shade of Charcoal Gray to provide an excellent contrast to the car’s clean, Maroon flanks. Speaking of that suspension, the front of this Willys utilizes a traditional Mustang II set up, which is equipped with tubular control arms, modern rack and pinion steering and standard Strange coil-overs, to mix a pleasant ride with vintage feel. And the back of the car combines a traditional ladder bar system with adjustable Strange coil-overs to provide drag strip worthy launches. Serious stops to counter the car’s serious speed are provided by four power-assisted discs. Exhaust duties are handled by neatly packaged side pipes that growl through glasspack-style mufflers and spotless stainless tips. And keeping all this muscle rolling down the road is a slick set of polished Boyd Coddington wheels that spin 26x8.00R18 Mickey Thompson Sportsmans in front of 31x18.00R20 Mickey Thompson Sportsmans. With a beefy drivetrain that’s been reliably built to be both tough and fun to drive, this ’41 Willys is the real deal. And with its clean floors and super impressive hardware, it will fare well at any show you chose to attend!
Pop this car’s lightweight doors and you’ll reveal a custom-tailored cabin that’s ready for the road and equipped for the strip. Featuring a stylish combination of tan leather hides and high-end carpet, you won’t want to leave the driver’s seat because, frankly, this cockpit feels nicer than most people’s living rooms. Aftermarket, racing-style buckets are coddled by a 4-point roll bar and Pro Series G-Force harnesses. Auto Meter supplied the sporty looking gauges, which are arrayed across a body-matched dash. A custom rear console holds a fresh Kenwood CD player. And billet power window switches complement small pulls and chrome handles on completely custom side panels. Look a little closer and you’ll see details like crisp Kenwood speakers, a “W” branded headliner and a billet rearview mirror. The primary controls, a polished and wrapped steering wheel, a B&M Pro Stick shifter, polished pedals and a polished Ididit steering column, make it very easy to get very comfortable. And a shaved and fully finished trunk provides enough space to stow a good amount of car show essentials.
The sale of this classy custom includes a cam card, a few build receipts and a stack of component manuals.
The Willys is an icon, no doubt about that. And this fully sorted Americar puts a highly unique spin on a very familiar face. The car’s workmanship is outstanding, and I can’t imagine what it would cost to build something like this from the ground up. If you’re looking for a fully-sorted bruiser that’s blindingly fast and aesthetically exhilarating, come in and experience this handsome street rod!