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History !!FOUND!! Grist Bros. chopped 41 Willys Build updates, History & Pics?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ether, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. I know you'll do a damn good job!
  2. JLGrist
    Joined: Sep 28, 2009
    Posts: 36


    Hello All, I am Jeremy, the grandson of Floyd Grist, and son of Ed Grist.

    I must say, the discovery of this Willys has been a huge relief for my family. I look forward to watching the progress unfold. I enjoy seeing the support that you all are providing to the builder/owner. I too would like to see it restored to the Shiftmaster theme as it's the only chance that I'd ever get to see it as it was with my grandfather, but I am just happy that the car was discovered and is being taken care of. Maybe someday I will get a chance to see it in person.
    Nailhead A-V8 likes this.
  3. JLGrist
    Joined: Sep 28, 2009
    Posts: 36


    The car had a fiberglass nose on it, I believe that's what caused the "uphill" slant. I'm not sure if that's the way it was made, or not, or maybe it's just made noticable due to the chopped top? Maybe my Dad can chime in.
  4. Considering how few you see chopped I'd highly suggest documenting what they did on this one. It looks fantastico'

    Glad to see the family joining in the enthusiasm of a restoration... the sheer thought of this Willy's turning into another pro-street, blown, big tire'd, huffmobile with no soul would be a tradgedy.

    Love this...

    I'll never forget this first time I saw and heard an injected straight axle Willy's coupe at Union Grove dragstrip with my dad as a kid... that same weekend TV Tommy was there... the original BigFoot... Bowser racing the Green Mamba jet car on foot and Shirley Cha-Cha Muldowney and Big Daddy himself... ton's of cool stuff... but that Willy's stuck in my brain... it always has... to see one turned into another billet clad trailer whore just makes me cringe.

    Big thanks to the owner and you for sharing the car with all of us.
  5. EdGrist
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 44


    I'm not exactly sure why the front-end has an "uphill" slant. The steel front-end shown earlier in this thread, without lettering on the door, was aligned. The "uphill" slant came with the original installation of the "glass" front-end. I know there was a reason for mounting it that way, I just don't know what it was. I'll check with my Uncle Ralph and see if he remembers.

    JLGrist is my youngest son and I have to agree with him that I'm just excited to know where the car is and that it is in good hands. And, I'm looking forward to maybe getting to see it in person again as well. We can have a big "reunion!"
    Nailhead A-V8 likes this.
  6. EXK
    Joined: Apr 21, 2009
    Posts: 924

    from SO CAL

    Hey, Thats a very cool Willys you have there. Please post some pics of the chop. I just pick up an all street roded out 37. I want to chop it as that is sort of in my blood but I am having a real hard time making my mind up to cut it or not :confused: of coarse I plan to loss the big $$$$ IFS

    Attached Files:

  7. Ill get a few pics, but I dont recommend using a set of sedan doors on that ride! Nice purchase..
  8. Cowl done, let the mudslingin begin.

    Oh and a couple of the chop and the award winning inner structure!!!!

    Still interested in any info or photos on this one.

    Attached Files:

  9. EdGrist
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 44


    I checked with my uncle Ralph regarding the "upslant" hood. He related that the hood just didn't fit. They had been working and trimming on it but never really felt like they got it right.

    Ether, your work amazes me. You are a true artist.
  10. COOL another ex-gasser willys!!
  11. hvychvy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2005
    Posts: 1,874


    Wow,please be shure and keep us posted,with lots of pics.
  12. Circus Bear
    Joined: Aug 10, 2004
    Posts: 3,218

    Circus Bear

    I'm not sure how I missed this one. It's good to see it's in good hands.

    I would love to see more pics of how the chop was done.
  13. Grist Willys gave up a little tail tonight!!!!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  14. Sweet . I missed this the first time around also. That is a wicked looking car and the uphill slant on the hood in those early pics just adds to the baddassedness!
  15. panhead_pete
    Joined: Feb 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,265


    Just another example of why I love technology, seeing this family reunited by the internet with this car is just plain AWESOME. Next time you old guys are pining for the "good ole days" just remember stories like this probably would not have happened. :) :) :)

    Ether your metal worl looks great. Its fantastic this car is being so loved by yourself and the owner. Maybe the relatives can help persuade the owner which way to go, although very few people can own a car that can only be used for competition.
  16. EdGrist
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 44


    Ether, thanks for the updates. It is amazing how new life can be "pieced" into a 68-year-old Willys. You are a true artist. I am also amazed at your Merc ... and that it used to be a 4-door!

    There have been a lot of comments as to which way to go with the restoration. I am leaning to which ever way the present-day owner wants it to go. I am very pleased that we now know where the car is and that it is being well cared for. I hope to see it in person again someday.

    The car represents an era for me. I remember my main job on the car ... helping keep it clean and polished. I remember those nights at Lion's, and the other dragstrips in the Southern California area. I remember trophies scattered throughout the house (most are gone now). While at the races I remember wandering in the pits of some pretty famous folks, like Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Stone, Woods & Cook and many others. I remember Chuck Finders running a supercharged '41 Willys Pickup that would carry the left-front wheel a foot off of the ground about 300 feet after leaving the line. All of these are good memories. They were all tucked away, and have been for a long time. The recent finding of the Willys has brought a lot of these memories back and I'm very thankful to just be a small part of it. I was 13 when dad and Ralph sold the car back in 1964. Dad passed away 10-years later in 1974 on his 49th birthday. I have a few pictures, a Mickey Thompson aluminum connecting rod from the engine, an old, old magazine, and a bunch of good memories.

    Anyway, I'm rambling now. I'm hoping to put these and other memories together on a new tribute website. I'm very new at building web pages and it's going kind of slow right now. Anyway, if anyone cares to take a look, go to (I've not made any new updates in a few weeks.) I have some photos I'm trying to get scanned and will hopefully do some uploading in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

    Keep up the great work Ether!
  17. Guys, Thanks for all the encouraging comments!!!

    Ed, Ramble on!!!!! We'd love to hear the stories and memories!! I keep checking on the statis of the tribute website and look forward to it. Im just glad to be a part of it, no matter which way it goes.

    If anyone has anymore pics or tid bits of information on this Willys, please post. Right now the owner is trying to locate, and has a pretty good lead, on the original chassis. Ya just never know!!!!
  18. Im trying to find a good starting point for the floor on this coupe. Its a bit of a challenge dealing with the stages the Willys has gone through. The rockers have been cut out and replaced at some time, the A-piller mounts have been made as the originals were removed as well as the ones on on the B-piller. The home made frame has some mounts that are in question if they are in the correct location.
    Does anyone have a frame dimension chart and measurements of mounting locations. If I get the frame in close to original dimensions, I can move forward. Any dimensions would help. The Willys came to me with no reference of the original floor or location of mounts and measurements. Anything would be appreciated.
  19. Chuckles Garage
    Joined: Jun 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,366

    Chuckles Garage
    Alliance Vendor

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! Bring it back to its old glory. Maybe you should show the new owner the response it has received here. Whatever it takes......
  20. outlawsteel
    Joined: Feb 19, 2009
    Posts: 361


    Just show the current owner this post if he has a brain and a heart he will put it back to its former glory.
  21. It's neat the way these threads can bring out a personal history from previous owners.
  22. S.F.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,880


    I really like the version where it had lookin
  23. The recent owner has been lurking on this thread and we have discussed everyones comments from time to time. In his defence, other than he is paying the bills, he has been a fan of this type of drag racing since a young age. With that being said, he is well aware of where the soal is in this coupe but has wanted a prostreet since forever and bought the Willys with that intention even before he knew of its history. He is in the process of finding the original chassis and has pretty good leads (hopefully) on it. So for now I am building the Willys in this style knowing that the coupe is a state that it will not end up as a Campbells soup can in a scrapyard but has the potential to be put back in its glory state. The owner has his heart and soul in this build and is willing to go to any expence to get the history and state of the car in presentable condition. He has been in contact with the Grist family and is keeping them in the loop on the whole process as well as sharing the experience with them, with gratifying results. I am glad to be a part of it whichever direction it goes, no matter what my personal opinion is...

    If anyone has a frame measurement chart for a 40-41 Willys or any other measurment info, I would highly appreciate it.

    Off my soapbox and back to the shop,,,,,,,,,Ill post updates soon. Thanks in advance.
  24. EdGrist
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 44


    Chad, you and the current owner have the Grist family behind you 100%. It is a win-win situation. We can't loose. You are a true artist and I'm thankful the car is in such good hands ... that goes for the current owner as well. As long as I can see the unique body lines of that particular chop, I'm good. If it ever turns into a Campbell's soup can, then I'll be sad.

    I like to think of it as though the current owner is turning it into a living piece of my early history. The owner and his wife are behind this project 100%. I'm behind them the same. I am feeling pretty blessed just to know where the car is and knowing it is in such good and capable hands.

    Thanks to all of you who are commenting on and following this thread. I appreciate your desires to see it back to the "glory days." As Chad said above, with it being put together the way it is, it still "has the potential to be put back in its glory state." It is not something I'm personally dreaming about, but just knowing the car is going to be rock solid and is going to be around for a long time makes me feel good about everything.

    Sorry about the slow progress on the tribute website ( It has now had a little over a hundred hits. I'm digging for some more pictures and am waiting on some copy from my Uncle Ralph in Texas. Please keep watching for updates. -- Ed
  25. Buildy
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,521


    It`s not my car,but if it was it would go right back to as raced condition/configuration....

    That is no knock on your craftsmanship,which is first rate.

    Just that I value racing history....
  26. wlspdshop
    Joined: Jun 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,585


    I donn't know how I missed this! Ether awesome work!
  27. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,898


    I think I have a frame drawing on my work computer along with tons of Willys photos, including floor shots, etc.

    Maybe shoot a PM to KiwiKev or Weasel. They are the Willys experts. RoyalShifter who restored the Teixiera (sp?) Willys would also be able to help. Check out the build thread on that car. It has lots of good pics.
  28. SP55, Anything woud help. Thanks
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2009
  29. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,293

    from California

    I will do some research the way Kiwi Kev has an archive of old Willys photos PM him he would love to see that car done right.
  30. Here are a few of what got done in the last few days. Trying to button up a couple things while I try and figure out where we go from here. Tail is all buttoned up as well as the lower front quarters. Now I have something to weld to!!! A little more work in the front, some toeboards and inner rockers and I'm hoping to tie in the floor. Still looking for a frame meas. chart for some reference. Stay Tooned!!..

    Attached Files:

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