Register now to get rid of these ads!

History Earliest Willys Racecars

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

  1. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,796

    jnaki

    upload_2020-6-29_3-44-17.png
    Hello,

    In 1964, at Lions Dragstrip, one of the most popular street legal classes held an all comers meet for coupes, sedans and trucks. This was one of the first in the time period. The popularity of the Gas Coupes and Sedans has always been good for the general public. It represented any normal hot rod with street legal items to run at the dragstrip with as much gusto as possible. It was a true “run what you own…” scenario.

    But, as the class grew by leaps and bounds, the top racers battling each other for sponsor money, the builds kept advancing and the popularity was close to the top if not at the top of all drag racing. Fans associated with these so called “street legal” race cars.

    The promoters let the top gas coupe racers from all over enter in this special meet. The pits looked like a dictionary of the top racers in So Cal and elsewhere. Of course, a few big names were missing, but as the crowds will attest, it was some drag racing event that held everyone in awe. The sad thing is/was, it may have been the last hurrah, as within the next few years, this very popular class disappeared and the racers sent to meld into other categories.

    Jnaki

    Since my brother and I had a C&O Stick Hydro installed in our 1958 Impala tow car, we were partial to the small local racers that had the C&O emblem or sticker on the sides of the race car. One of them was the red 1941 pickup of Gene Ciambella from Inglewood in So Cal.

    But, if our next build had proceeded as normal, we probably liked the Willys truck, but could not fit comfortably inside without some major modifications. The Willys Coupe was tight fitting with all of the modifications, 10% set back, new trans cover and hump floor, a Moon Tank and Pump, two bucket seats, etc. Luckily, my brother and I were pretty much the same size until I started growing in the 10-11th grade to almost 6 feet in high school. My brother was 5’7” but did say the Willys coupe felt a little cramped. So, the truck cab would be a little tight for us, modifications and all.

    upload_2020-6-29_3-45-12.png
    C&O stood for Ciambella and O'Brien. Steve Montrelli doing a lot of the work, too.

    The Willys Pick Up at the 1964 All Gas Coupe/Sedan Meet...Lions Dragstrip

    upload_2020-6-29_3-49-21.png upload_2020-6-29_3-49-2.png
    1964 LIONS Willys TRUCK
     
  2. Speed Gems
    Joined: Jul 17, 2012
    Posts: 5,519

    Speed Gems
    Member

    @elgringo71 This popped up on the H.A.M.B this morning. you can see the Sparks & Bonney car at 0.49 in the video.

     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2020
    Deuces, mad mikey, elgringo71 and 2 others like this.
  3. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    Jnaki, I definitely enjoyed the video and hearing details from someone that was there. That was a famous Pickup and I never knew what the C&O stood for. You are right, the 37-42 pickups are quite a bit smaller inside than a Coupe and especially with an engine setback. I don’t know if you have ever sat in a 33-36 Willys but they are even narrower.
     
    mad mikey, loudbang and jnaki like this.
  4. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    https://ahrf.com/tom-sparks/

    Here is a link to the American Hot Rod Foundation write up on Tommy Sparks and if you go to the bottom of the page there are several interviews that they did with him when he was still with us. He talks about his Willys Coupe and his life and I found it very interesting

    Here is a picture and write up that they have of him and his Coupe. It’s definitely worth a look

    E6480925-02AE-468C-B88A-37C447F485C5.jpeg
     
  5. TheMerch
    Joined: Dec 29, 2019
    Posts: 35

    TheMerch
    Member

    Gilly’s Willys 40 Coupe was just seen in New Braintree, MA where it seems to have its new home......
     

    Attached Files:

    bowie, das858, elgringo71 and 6 others like this.
  6. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 40,169

    loudbang
    Member

  7. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 22,426

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    Just for laughs..... Still a cool Willys!.... ;):) DA6F7538-F809-4DED-9B67-F8F2DA201C81.thumb.jpeg.9e937dfb7b7f3887af6dcef4853667b4.jpeg
     
  8. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 22,426

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    One move pic... Goodnight fellas! 1941-willys-gasser-hot-rod-rat-rod-pro-street-street-rod-stone-woods-cook-4.jpg
     
  9. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,796

    jnaki

    upload_2021-5-12_5-12-44.png 1955 So Cal

    Hello,

    One of the earliest Willys Gas Coupes on the Westcoast was one owned by Chuck Bennett. The times and speeds were consistent with those early days of street legal Gas Coupes/Sedans. Hence the name: Gas Classes, Street C/S (Coupes/Sedans).

    Jnaki

    upload_2021-5-12_5-14-0.png Jan 1955


    upload_2021-5-12_5-14-36.png
    Note: The early 1955 class winner in a different class than we all are accustomed to seeing is for D/Gas. An Oldsmobile powered street Gas Coupe/ Sedan is none other than Dick Harriman.

    “The cool part was about the time Dick Harriman was "IT," when it came to running at San Fernando. (Harriman ran a ’50 Olds Gasser at San Fernando Drag Strip. Harriman was the guy who named San Fernando “the Pond” by saying, “Rather than run other big dragstrips he’d prefer to be a big fish in a small pond,” and Pond stuck.) “He ran a B&M Hydro in his ’50 Gasser Olds. We’d sit on the dirt mound and watch him race. Harriman never had a front bumper on his Olds, for the weight I guess.”




     
    elgringo71 and hendelec like this.
  10. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    Fantastic post, that’s one of the earliest ones that I have ever seen and it’s well documented to top it off. Thanks for your efforts, it’s gotten hard to find new ones for the thread. It was also very fast for its time.
     
    hendelec, loudbang and jnaki like this.
  11. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    I believe that this is Mike Kuhl

    0B649982-BF83-4047-8831-318142BA70BB.jpeg
     
  12. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    Elvern Pfeifer, from Kenosha, Wisconsin I believe.

    5C77E2AB-1DBA-48A2-A5B4-C566955548B5.jpeg 9AEC25C5-3429-4B20-8F73-7DCA56CD3553.jpeg
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
    mad mikey, bschwoeble, das858 and 7 others like this.
  13. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 40,169

    loudbang
    Member

    Hampton 'N' Walher

    1 earliest.jpg
     
    mad mikey, bschwoeble, Deuces and 4 others like this.
  14. Love the stock front wheels. ^
     
  15. Pyro Chuck
    Joined: Nov 19, 2015
    Posts: 15

    Pyro Chuck

    OH WOW! I have looked at this photo many times and loved it and just now realized those are 3 window rear wheels. Can someone please identify them for me?
     
    elgringo71 likes this.
  16. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 40,169

    loudbang
    Member


    Can't identify them but this makes it easy for everybody to see them. :)

    1.jpg
     
    mad mikey, NHRANUT and Deuces like this.
  17. They are Rader the ad is from 1965
    20210527_101142.jpg
     
  18. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    Can someone help me out on this one? The big guy kind of looks like Dave Zeuschel?

    3D6BF74C-6701-4140-A9CB-26709FA7E80B.jpeg
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2021
  19. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,796

    jnaki

    upload_2021-10-4_4-4-27.png

    Hello,


    Luckily, the Phil Parker Red, 1940 Willys Coupe was featured in the popular video of the Dragmaster Group during the U.S. Nationals back in 1959. Filmed by the NHRA. They were associated with the So Cal group and were included in the 59 Nationals film.
    upload_2021-10-4_4-5-23.png
    Thanks @elgringo71


    The U.S. Nationals were held in September. By December, 1959, they made the trek to So Cal to enter in the Riverside Raceway East vs West drag meet. It was a short film clip, but for quite some time, it was hard to decide which Willys it was in the pits filming sequence.

    Jnaki
    upload_2021-10-4_4-7-18.png
    1959 Riverside Raceway Phil Parker Team


    The Phil Parker Crew at the start of the “pits” film clip
     
  20. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    @jnaki, I believe the video is called Ingenuity in Action. I have read that at one point the roof was damaged in a towing accident and they put a new roof on it. The coupe has been bought back by Phil Parker and recently has been returned back to how it used to be.

     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2021
    Deuces, mad mikey, Speed Gems and 3 others like this.
  21. TheMerch
    Joined: Dec 29, 2019
    Posts: 35

    TheMerch
    Member

     
  22. ttwomotor
    Joined: Jul 26, 2012
    Posts: 676

    ttwomotor
    Member
    from Illinois

    Page 27 - post 809.
     
    loudbang likes this.
  23. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

  24. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    I’m curious if this could be the Safeway Sandblasting car? Does anyone know anything about it?

    F2B9CBC5-3A15-45AA-9BF1-EB221F19CCC6.jpeg
     
  25. drumyn29
    Joined: Feb 16, 2006
    Posts: 2,021

    drumyn29
    Member

    Not Zootch. Looks like a young Larry Steinegger with Al Eshenbaugh to me. Arizona team.
     
    elgringo71 likes this.
  26. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,796

    jnaki





    Hey EG71,

    It looks like him in that old Willys team photo. (although, the tall guy does not look like Bones Balogh) But, here is a question about the Safeway Sandblasting Willys. The red car raced in a later year of competition.
    upload_2022-4-15_8-36-14.png

    I took some films of Doug Cook and his 37 Chevy racing a White Willys Coupe that should have had Safeway Sandblasting printed on the side in 1959-60 years.


    Doug Cook vs White Willys in C/Gas at :41 sec

    So, if your Willys files can be accessed, did you ever see a door panel that said Safeway Sandblasting on a White Willys coupe?
    upload_2022-4-15_8-17-36.png
    Jnaki

    Back then, we knew the Gas Coupe names, owners, motor power, transmissions, and drivers. We had some association with several teams. But, we never had the need to write anything down. Teenage actions thinking we will live forever with those keen young minds. Ha!
    upload_2022-4-15_8-17-54.png
    It was not until I had the old color films digitized and found a very short list created when those films were transferred to VHS, during the heydays of tape. The blurry lines were/are perfect for Safeway on the first line, Sandblasting on the 2nd and the following lines would have the city in two words and the last line would he the phone number like He 60457. "He" was the shortened public version of Hemlock. The whole Los Angeles County phone numbers had prefixes starting with the first two letters of a word.
    upload_2022-4-15_8-18-20.png A digital editor goes frame by frame, but those old C/Gas Coupes were fast and whizzed by quickly. Also, my movie camera was a point and shoot version, not a $$$$ Beaulieu Movie Camera with a telephoto lens.

    So, if you or any of the Willys historians/photo keepers have any mention or photo proof to show the name on the door, please post it or PM me a copy. A massive library awaits your contribution... Thanks.

     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2022
    mad mikey and hendelec like this.
  27. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    @jnaki, I didn’t have any luck finding any pictures of that Coupe. I think that the best chance is looking in Drag News. Maybe it won a meet or raced in the finals and is mentioned in there. If we had the name of the owner or driver that might lead to finding a photograph. There couldn’t have been that many Willys Coupes racing in that area that early on. One more clue that would eliminate some possible matches is that it must have raced in the same class as Doug Cook.
     
    mad mikey and jnaki like this.
  28. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    You’ve got me thinking that it could be Johnny Loper from Arizona With his Coupe Ole Hoss

    F21E4BE0-B388-46D1-88EA-68B745F484F3.jpeg

    01E41F2B-9491-43F4-91D0-AF4F39E25ECA.jpeg
     
  29. drumyn29
    Joined: Feb 16, 2006
    Posts: 2,021

    drumyn29
    Member

    Deuces, LOST ANGEL, mad mikey and 7 others like this.
  30. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,633

    elgringo71
    Member

    @drumyn29, I think that you meant to say bored Olds engine. That would be a cool early engine in that Coupe.
     

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.