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History John Ballard's Willys coupe

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by threewindaguy, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    I am looking for any information about John Ballard's 1941 Willy's coupe. This car won Best Engineered at the Street Rod Nationals in Memphis in '71. It was at Detroit in '72 and had been changed slightly. I have a picture of it in 1970 when it had the Willy's front axle in it. It had a Jag front after that, and a Corvette rear with a Rochester injected small block. I've just recently acquired that car and I'm confused by what he did and when he did it. It has a purple dashboard, a McFall white interior with mauve inserts but the frame was still the original green. Was this car ever purple? Apparent John changed the car frequently, so I'd like to know what he did, when he did it, just any information about the car from 1972 until his passing which was around 2009. Any information or leads would help with this mystery car. Another thing: This car apparently was never out of Ballard's possession, but some of the work is great, and some...well..not so much. It's like two different sets of hands were on this car. Anybody have any information they could share? Thanks in advance.
     

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  2. paul55
    Joined: Dec 1, 2010
    Posts: 3,348

    paul55
    Member
    from michigan

    I remember this car from '72 nats and thereafter and I think there was an article in one of the mags. Wish I could tell ya more, but still a great car.
     
  3. Jay Tyrrell
    Joined: Dec 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,631

    Jay Tyrrell
    Member

    Looks like a great project car. What are your plans?
    Jay
     
  4. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 870

    cabriolethiboy
    Member

    I knew John well. We were pretty good friends but we ran with different people, and he was about 10 years older than me. He was in my car club for while. After he retired he kind of dropped out of the local car scene. He only lived a few miles from me. The car had few different engines, including a F.I. small block, and a Cosworth Vega. When he drove it, it always had the original frame under it. Before he died he made or had made a tube frame. I think it had a black diamond pleat interior then a couple of McFall interiors that I think were never sat in. It was green, candy green then brown, I don't remember any purple paint or him even talking about it. But John had a lot of ideas and some he never followed through on. He ran Cragers back in the day then "Fish" Halibrand copys (a friend has them on his 33 coupe now). When he got Best Engineered at the Nats I think it had a Jag IFS and a Corvette IRS. I don't think he ever drove it after about 1980.
    John also built the Polynesian II clone 50 Olds. It was painted the wrong color, but John was working off of magazine photographs. I liked John's version better.
    [​IMG]
    I could probably tell you more or find out more if you ask. Its hard to remember everything. Its been a while.
    What are your plans? I always wanted John to rebuild it like it was in the 70's.
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.

  5. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Thanks for the info. The interior I got with the car matches what you said. It looks like it hasn't been sat in. The dash was modified and painted purple, hence the question. He shaved the door handles and the stainless, but I have all that and will re install it. I did get a lot of the original stuff, many parts are chrome plated and they still look new (including the original bumper jack). I'm just collecting parts for right now, such as a replacement dash and some missing door hinges. I don't have any concrete plans yet, but I'm sure it won't get a blown Hemi (not that there's anything wrong with it-Jerry Seinfeld). I've got an all aluminum small block with Enderle injection that would fit just fine. Still looking for further information on the car. Anybody got any pictures of it, especially if it was brown? John was from Indiana. Any of you Indiana guy's have any info? Thanks.
     
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  6. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Well, I debated restoring this car to it's former glory as I have a couple of Rochester injected small blocks to choose from, but apparently nobody even remembers the car. I guess it's glory days were 40 years ago. I certainly remembered it as it was light years ahead of the crowd back in the early NSRA days. John Ballard's daughter apparently has a lot of memorabilia from the car when it was shown, but word is she moved to Florida and I don't know how to contact her. Still hoping for any more information or a snapshot or two taken back when. Any body?
     
  7. 193257
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 325

    193257
    Member

    HEY!!! I've seen that car before. Didn't know John Ballard but I do know threewindaguy and you can bet when he's done with it will be a nice piece.
     
  8. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,094

    Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Member

    Seeing that he had painted the car several times, my guess on the purple dash would be that it was a test shot. Drive it for awhile and see if the purple grows on you or turns you off. I've seen quite a few primered cars with dashes that are a test canvas. Purple is a love or hate color for most.
    As far as finding his Daughter and contact info in FL., try Zabasearch. Not too hard to find someone through the internet. Chances are that if you're cool about it, she may share some photos, etc of her Dad's car.
    Neat project Willys for sure that you have.
     
  9. Was that car ever red?
     
  10. landseaandair
    Joined: Feb 23, 2009
    Posts: 4,408

    landseaandair
    Member
    from phoenix

    If you spotted an old red '41 coupe, I heard a rumor that Johnny Loper's Ole' Hoss may have last been seen in TX, possibly Dallas area.
     
  11. Stuwillys
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 175

    Stuwillys
    Member

    I would love to see this car restored. I know it was on the cover of Street Scene magazine in July of 1975. It was also featured in another magazine, not sure which one though. My parents took a couple of pictures of it. I will get them posted when I get more time. The pictures are nothing to brag about, but all I have of it.
     
  12. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Thanks, Stuwillys, I would appreciate it. Now, I guess I've got to search out that Streetscene mag. I know John liked Crager mags, ran them on the car several years. They never tripped my trigger though. Here's a photo of the car at a show in 1970. It had the Willy's front axle it it then, Jag front was installed the next year. It did have the Corvette rear in it at that time.
     
  13. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Trying to get this picture posted....
     

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  14. HunterYJ
    Joined: Jul 2, 2010
    Posts: 119

    HunterYJ
    Member
    from Buda Texas

    The previous owner obviously changed it very often, so any changes you make carry on the tradtion he started. Great car. Don't worry about restoring it, enjoy writing your chapter in it's history!
     
  15. Stuwillys
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 175

    Stuwillys
    Member

    Here they are, as i said not the best. I will be at my parents on Thanksgiving I will try to find the feature and get it scanned and posted.
     

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  16. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Great pictures. I talked with Ballard back then and he pointed out what I see on the fender which was the headlight dimming system he installed. My photos early on showed the green paint to be different from 1971 to 1972, but I didn't know if it was just old pictures fading. Apparently he did repaint the car from one green to another back then. Thanks a lot for the pictures, I really appreciate it. Any others out there?
     
  17. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 870

    cabriolethiboy
    Member

    I am still looking for more pics. About the headlight dimmer, John worked for Guide Lamp Div. of General Motors and that was one of their feature products. I mentioned earlier that the car had a SB Chevy and a Cosworth Vega engine in it. I had forgotten until someone reminded me that it also had a Cadillac Northstar motor and a turbo V6 Buick Grand national motor.
     
  18. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Well, we're getting some history now. Did he ever drive the car with the Buick or Cosworth or Northstar engine? It's been said he didn't drive it much after 1980 or so. Any pictures of it being brown? Here's a picture of an engine I have that could go back in it.
     

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  19. Stuwillys
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 175

    Stuwillys
    Member

    Here is a picture.
     

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  20. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Well, the original stainless is going back on. Luckily he didn't get too far with the hidden hinges. I've got everything I need except the hinge piece that attaches to the door on the passenger side (I need two if anybody has them). I just got an original dash to replace the high tech dash that is it it. I've got the door handles which will go back on and I have the original tail lights, too. The original frame that I have may have had just too many modifications to be usable, so another frame might be in the works. I'm just collecting parts so I'm ready when the build begins. Thanks to everyone for their input so far, and I'm still hoping for any further information or input that anyone who knew Ballard might have.
     
  21. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 870

    cabriolethiboy
    Member

    I found some more pics. The first is with the brown paint, Tru Spokes, turbocharged Cosworth Vega motor, I think at Columbus 1978.

    [​IMG]

    Next it is on a trailer getting ready to go to McFall's for an interior;

    [​IMG]

    Next is John and his first wife dancing. She looks in the pic as tall as John, but John was about 6'3" and Janet was about 5'. He is holding her up off the floor.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v638/cabriolethiboy/BallardWillys005_zpsa7c5df11.jpg?t=1385855351
    I am still hunting for more.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013
  22. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    That is fantastic! I doubted that I would get a picture of it being brown. The rear fender treatment is the proof. Those fenders were peculiar to this car, and prove that it's the real deal. They were done in lead, and probably contribute to traction based on what they weigh. Thanks, and I'd be grateful for any others you might be able to find.
     
  23. Stuwillys
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 175

    Stuwillys
    Member

    Great pics. cabriolethiboy
     
  24. 33HEMI
    Joined: Jan 16, 2007
    Posts: 449

    33HEMI
    Member

    Threewindaguy my friend went to Columbus in 78 and took a lot of film,
    he recently had it all transferred to dvd and I asked him if he would do me a copy,
    I have it here and as I am a Willys fan I make a point of looking out for them.
    I am sure I have seen your car on the dvd, I wont be home for a couple of nights
    but when I get back I will watch the dvd and see if I am right,
    I will let you know if it is on there.
    Paul in the UK.
     
  25. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    That would be great. I'm finding out a lot about this car from a lot of sources. Now, it's international! Thanks for the effort.
     
  26. 33HEMI
    Joined: Jan 16, 2007
    Posts: 449

    33HEMI
    Member

    Had an afternoon to myself yesterday so watched the dvd of the 78 Columbus nats
    unfortunately it wasn't your Willys on the dvd, the brown willys I remembered seeing turned out to be a gasser, so I watched the 74 Columbus nats to see if it was on there but no luck sorry,....But I did have an enjoyable afternoon.
    Paul.
     
  27. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    Glad you enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane. Thanks for your attempt. Tidbits keep rolling in, but they're getting slower. I'd really like to know more of the history of this car. Ballard kept changing it and it always was a quality car, but I can't seem to get anybody that will let go with any of the later photos of the car. I've considered restoring it to it's former glory, but without any more info, that plan is vaporizing. Maybe all I've got here is a darn fine Willy's to work with and do as I please. Any body got anything else?
     
  28. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 870

    cabriolethiboy
    Member

    I've got more pics coming. I talked to a guy that lived next door for a number of years and he says he has some pics. I will see him Saturday (14De2013)
     
  29. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 870

    cabriolethiboy
    Member

    As promised I have more pics. Probably not much more than you already have. But I have other pics too, of other cars that were built, worked on, and visited John's house. Here goes;

    First a pic of John's show sign;

    [​IMG]

    Here's a shot of the engine;

    [​IMG]

    Here is a bad front suspension shot;

    [​IMG]

    rear view;

    [​IMG]

    Rear suspension;

    [​IMG]

    dark view of the chassis;

    [​IMG]

    dark view of front of chassis;

    [​IMG]

    seats;

    [​IMG]

    dirty? interior;

    [​IMG]

    trophy from 1971 NSRA Nationals (Best Engineered);

    [​IMG]

    I'll post more later.
     
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  30. threewindaguy
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 274

    threewindaguy
    Member

    That is a gold mine. I've not seen any of these photos. I didn't remember that interior, but your pictures bring it back to me. Ballard did some damn fine work 40 years ago. Anxiously awaiting any other photos you might have. Thanks.
     

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