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						Willys Sport Custom10
1940 Willys Sport Custom

1940 Willys coupe-based custom sports car

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

Call it crude, call it ugly, call it what you will, but this custom-built 1940 Willys special is an excellent example of early American sports car construction. It’s representative of an era when enterprising young men could build something at home in their garage with nothing more than standard commuter car components, and go compete with best European cars landing on U.S. shores. It’s unknown whether or not this Willys special has any significant racing history, but as the early Devins, Allards and Kurtis Kraft racers continue to increase in value, homebrewed builds like this one become more and more attractive.

The auction for this Willys will be closed by the time you read this, but this car is just too unique to let it slip by without a quick look. It’s based on a 1940 Willys coupe (imagine cutting one of these up today, you’d be strung up by the vintage drag racing community!) Best we can tell, the builders omitted the hood and most of the cabin and trimmed up the rear some. New filler panels were welded in around the engine bay area and cockpit areas, and the door shells were welded shut and trimmed down.

The owner admits to not having much of the car’s history, but knows it was once powered by a flathead Ford, before a Chevrolet small-block replaced it. He’s since swapped it out for an early Chrysler Hemi engine, this one a 325 ci “KD-500” variant — a rare engine in its own regard. It’s been rebuilt, but the seller notes that it’s only installed for mock-up purposes, and is not properly mounted. Beyond that, it appears to have been some type of car show advertising prop, as seen by the faded script on the driver’s side.

In all, this Willys is a pretty cool cobbled up old race car. Its right in line with V8 powered cars like the Allard J2, which it bears a striking resemblance to, along with early Kurtis Krafts and Max Balchowsky’s iconic Old Yeller II. It’s hard to assign a value to such a unique car, but its rare Willys underpinnings ensure that its value is several times the current high bid of $3,550.

The auction for the Willys closed on Saturday November 7th, and the car is located in Saint Augustine, Florida. The eBay link may still be live here.

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Sports Special Willys