Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Spring 2020
						Undertaker Willys4

Real Steel ’40 Willys Coupe

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

Just about any hot rodder around today knows that an original Willys coupe is rarer than hens’ teeth, and that’s been the case for at least the last 40 years. Considered traditional and average in its day, the Willys’ lines have aged better than nearly any American car out there, and the car’s silhouette has come to represent an entire generation of hot rodding. Finding any steel Willys coupe is nearly impossible today, let alone one with legit drag racing history. Asking a heart-stopping $75,000 on Cincinnati Craigslist, this 1940 Willys coupe has all the right nostaligic drag racing elements.

The Willys coupe wasn’t designed to be some souped-up hot rod, but instead of an economical compact car of the Willys-Overland Motors company. The car’s styling was traditional, and the mechanicals were largely based off the aging Willys 77. Through its production run, the Willys coupe began to emulate more expensive Ford models, culminating in the 1941-1942 Americar that mimicked the ’40 Ford Deluxe. America’s involvement in World War Two ended production of the Willys coupe in 1942 though, leaving the freshly acquired Jeep trademark to sustain to company going forward.

The Willys coupe was originally armed with the lowly Go Devil four-cylinder engine, which produced around 60 hp when new. But by the 1950s, Willys coupes could be found for cheap, along with new V8 engines, making the Willys and drag racing a natural combination. Small-block Chevrolets, Pontiacs, Chryslers and probably even Ford engines were fit in the Willys coupe over the span of drag racing’s golden years. Finding a steel Willys body today is fairly unheard of, as these cars were already considered extremely rare by the early 1980s, especially one with legitimate drag history like the car offered for sale here on Craigslist.

According to the seller, this 1940 Willys was campaigned extensively around Ohio as the Undertaker, and a period-photo shows the car dressed up as a typical racer from the 1960s. The car allegedly rolls on its original chassis, which is rust free and completely redone with a Ford 9-inch rear axle with 4.56 gears. The engine is a completely built Chevrolet small-block 383 stroker with Brodix heads and a BDS 871 blower. Dyno’d at 685 hp, the car should be a real thrill to drive with the Richmond six-speed manual.

The odds of finding another Willys this nice with drag history are slim to none, as these cars just don’t come up for sale, and this one has all the right parts included. The seller is asking $75,000 for the car and all the parts here on Cincinnati Craigslist.

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