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History Earliest Willys Racecars

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by elgringo71, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
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    Curiosity killed the cat and I started wondering who was the first one to use a Willys for a racecar? Early on the Willys was a cheap economy throw away car, kind of like we would think of a Volkswagen Beatle. My hope with this thread is to capture early style Willys race cars and pickups and hear stories about them while we still can. Both lakes cars and drag cars are fine and I realize that many of the photos can't be documented down to the year that they were taken due to all of the time that has past. What i am looking for is cars before the nose high stance and magnesium wheels for the gassers or at least cars with that low buck look. Some of these ran as fuel coupes. I am thinking of a timeframe of up to about 1962 or that look. This was before my time but I have studied it and have some friends that lived it and am hoping to get some help from those that were there.

    In this picture taken at Muncie Indiana in 63 you can see the difference in stance and wheels on some of the cars

    image.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
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  2. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
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    You might look at C. J. and Peggy Hart. I think they bought their car from Taylor and ????
     
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  3. bchctybob
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    That's the one I thought of too. It was a street/strip car wasn't it?
     
  4. elgringo71
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    This was said to be at the Lakes in 1955

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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
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  5. Larry,you thinking Taylor and Ryan??
     
  6. Larry T
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    Larry T
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    I'd have to dig around and it look it up. As I remember (pictures only, I was pre teen when it was running) it was a pretty stock looking mid 30s Willys with a blown 400+ ci Cadillac engine.

    It's in Don Montgomery's gasser book.
     
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  7. elgringo71
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    I believe that this was owned by CJ Pappy Hart and raced by his wife Peggy. 1958 or so maybe? One of the Bean Bandits may have had something to do with this car?

    image.jpeg
     
  8. Larry T
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    Maybe Ward and Taylor?
     
  9. elgringo71
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    image.jpeg image.jpeg
    Thanks to some of the Heavy Lifters that have already posted on this thread for these pics. From the Caddo Mills (Texas) thread. George Gillmore Denton Texas ran a Chrysler, Oct 56
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
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  10. elgringo71
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    Taken at Great Bend Kansas. Also from the Caddo Mills Thread. (Edited this post because it couldn't be at the Nationals at Great Bend because that was in 54 and 55 and as pointed out below the hood scoop came out in 57) Thanks DDDenny.

    Update, Falcongeorge pointed out that this picture couldn't have been taken before 1959 due to the 59 impala in the background and based on the width of the rear tires and the stance he thinks that it was taken in the early 60s. (Thanks for the information George)

    image.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
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  11. Larry T
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  12. elgringo71
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    image.jpeg

    It looks like this was Ward and Taylor and then was sold to CJ Pappy Hart.
    image.jpeg
     
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  13. Larry T
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    And Ohio George raced his Willys in the 50's before it got jacked up. Ohio-George-Montgomery-1933-Willys-Detroit-1959.jpg
     
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  14. elgringo71
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    image.jpeg
     
  15. elgringo71
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  16. Larry T
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    The Caddo Mills shot of Gilmore Engine services car out of Denton was to big of a coincidence not to have something in common with Calvert Precision Engines. I did a little digging and Wayne Calvert worked at Gilmore before he and his brother opened their own business.
     
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  17. elgringo71
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    Paladin Special Tulare California. According to Joe Airoso the first Willys gasser or Fuel Coupe that he ever saw. About 1958. It was owned by Bruce Keiser and ran a Hemi and was all over the track. Named after the TV show Have Gun Will Travel that aired from 1957-63 with a chatacter and Theme Song called Paladin?

    image.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
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  18. elgringo71
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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  19. elgringo71
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    Airoso Brothers, Joe and Leonel 1960 or 61. Joe said you can tell that it's about that time frame because of the dent in the rear fender. Joe was The driver. They started with a stock body that Joe drove home. Started with a Desoto Hemi and built a Ufab log intake and a Lasalle 3 speed. The 57 ranchero was his tow car and daily driver and used around the dairy. At one point it was painted bronze to match the coupe and he had it in a pasture when a ram saw his reflection in the door and charged it doing body damage. They repainted it a different color.

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
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  20. elgringo71
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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
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  21. Often wondered this myself, get tired of always seeing the cliche, nose high, Willys "gasser".

    Some great pics so far.
     
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  22. elgringo71
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    Don't know anything about this one but it has the look. Since a lot of the fast early lakes cars ran moon discs this also transitioned to the early drag cars. My guess is that it was thought to cut down on wind resistance and gain speed.

    image.jpeg
     
  23. elgringo71
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    Our own Don Montgomery aka Rockerhead. This car ran at the lakes early on and later at the drags. Hopefully he will add some history for us. On the top of the picture you can just make out March 59

    image.jpeg
     
  24. elgringo71
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    Some of this information has been dug out of the A fuel Coupes thread and the 11 most important gasser threads here on the Hamb. Also taken from the Caddo Mills thread.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  25. elgringo71
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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
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  26. elgringo71
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    Wayne Harry of the Slow Pokes car club. Later partnered With Jack Coonrod on the Yellow 33 Willys Coupe. Looks like Magnesium Wheels but flat stance. Around 1961 (Correction, according to Marty Strode this picture was taken in 1963)

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
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    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
  27. rfraze
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    Jason, One of the Legends responded to my question about "Why Willys?" by talking about engine set back being measured from front? spark plug and that stock Willys engine location gave an advantage in how far back a gasser's engine could go. Does that ring true with anybody??
     
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  28. elgringo71
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  29. elgringo71
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    I am not sure about that but they were one of the lightest American made cars with short but still legal wheelbase. The gas class rules stated American made and minimum 100" wheelbase I believe. The 33-39 Willys Wheelbase was 100" and the 33 weighed 2058 pounds and the 39 Willys weighed 2181 pounds. The 39 Willys Overland with the heart shaped headlights was increased to 102"


    http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/2013/04/18/mcg-car-spotters-guide-to-the-1937-to-1942-willys/


     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
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  30. elgringo71
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    Grist Brothers Willys ran a 430 Mel The body of this car was shorter than factory. When they chopped the top they used shorter factory Willys Sedan doors and shortened the floor to make it fit. This was all done before the Grist Brothers bought it in 1960. The second picture of it was in April of 1959, at that time it was owned by Freddy Owens.

    (Correction in the 1959 picture it was owned by the Grist Brothers but they did buy it from Freddy Owens, thanks for the information JL Grist)

    image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
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    http://www.gristbrosracing.com/

    Found and rebuilt into a Streetrod but at least it survives, maybe someday it will be returned to what it was.


    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/...-41-willys-build-updates-history-pics.400697/
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016

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