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Rarest car ever made into a gasser? Steel Willys

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by oldebob, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. rapom
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 3

    rapom
    Member
    from CT

    I found this in a April/May 1988 West Coast Willys newsletter, which seems to support the mention of Keck/Decell car....
     

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  2. oldebob
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 782

    oldebob
    Member
    from Spokane WA

    Thanks for this post. Thanks to real good PM's I was able to contact the current owner and get him in touch with both Keck and DeCell. The car ran mainly at Island Dragway in NJ. 65/66 seasons. Ran both C/G &C/A. Orange paint. Maybe some body from back there has something else they could post.
     
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  3. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,694

    Weasel
    Member

    Great oldebob - well done.

    Now to set the record straight as there is a lot of urban legend bs, willd guesses and inaccuracies flying around here posing as 'the truth':

    Willys Overland made three roadsters of the 1940 style. One for FDR in the Little White House Museum Warm Springs GA. The roadster which is subject of this thread and one more - whereabouts or survival unknown, although allegedly one in CO. The US factory roadsters where made by hacking the top off a coupe, welding or leading caps over the window openings in the doors, welding a cap over the rear where the roof was hacked off and using a crude set of top bows to make a roadster.

    No roadsters as such - two seater passenger car were made in Australia by any body builder other than TJ Richards who made a few rumble/dickey seat roadsters in 1937 (as well as a tourer/phaeton). Hope Body Builders of Queensland made a few Roadster Utes - but they are, strictly speaking, commercials. Some of these TJR rumble seat roadsters have been fitted with later front sheet metal and passed off as 1940s or 1941s - they were not built by TJR after 1937. Peter Eames did at least one if not more of these later nose conversions. The only open Willys after 1937 genuinely built in Australia that I can recall is the rare Flood bodied tourer of which a handful exist and Holden's 1939 Overland Tourer. Floods handcrafted a body with a separate bolted on windshield assembly whereas Holden hacked the roof off a sedan to produce a 4/5 passenger convertible with integral windshield. The so called 1940 roadster which has been listed for sale for a long time in Australia (post #30 by 3day) is not a roadster (2 seater), but a 4/5 passenger Flood bodied tourer.

    Paul - 33Hemi, has pretty much covered the scene with the photos posted above. The top two photos are two of five originals taken in 1942 of a 1941 convertible. These original photos sit on my desk as I type this. The history of this car is unknown and the conversion to a convertible (wind up windows) is definitely period but unknown. It may have been a factory one off , but more likely was done by a custom body builder when the car was new. The next picture of a 1939 Holden bodied tourer (convertible sedan in US parlance) is a car that is still in Australia. The red 1940 Flood below that is in Switzerland. The burgundy red car below that is a 1937 TJR roadster with a later 1940 nose grafted on - I believe this was a Peter Eames car and it currently resides in So Cal in the Lorenzen Collection. The flat black 1940 Floods Tourer below that has belonged for many years to a friend of mine in Melbourne, Australia.

    That about covers the 1937 thru 1942 Willys open car scene - but as always with Willys, there are no absolutes, so results may vary....;)
     
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  4. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,694

    Weasel
    Member

    Moving on to the 1933 Model 77 Roadster posted by ssaza25, these were built by Holden's from 1933-35 and in a modified version with integral windshield in 1936. A handful of these still exist - I have a couple of 1933s. Holden's also built even rarer roadster utes during the same period. Below is one that I sold a couple of years back....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,694

    Weasel
    Member

    And lastly - apologies for straying O/T but trying to set the record straight - Willys woodie wagons:

    Indeed factory built -contracted by Willys to three different manufacturers to build the woodie bodies - US Body & Forging (1940), Hayes (1940) and Mifflinburg (1941). Generrally believed 5 built in 1940 and five built in 1941. I sold a 1940 last year and all five survive. At least four of the 1941s survive - two in MI, one in Prescott AZ and one found on an oil field near Bakersfield CA.

    Cantrell also built a 1938 model 38 based woodie wagon they called the 'Suburban' and this may have been a one off built to try and sell their services to Willys....
     
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  6. oldebob
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 782

    oldebob
    Member
    from Spokane WA

    Couple of things about the Keck / Decell car I'll add here to go along with Weasles comments. The 1st time I saw the car was Feb of 1963. DeCell was using it for a driver. He had a 40 4dr they had bought to make a gasser out of but Dee needed a driver. The 4dr was cherry but had broken rear axle. Dee heard of another Willys that was complete and availible so he ended up buying it for $25. That one was the convertible. I knew the difference between a roadster and a convertible, I remember it as a convertible. But with all the roadster talk on this and the 37_41 thread I was begining to think twice about it. When I talked with Dee last week I asked him that and he said he was pretty sure it was a converible as John had made a deal with a glass shop friend to cut new side glass . He made the pattern for both cuts from one of the doors and the glass and frame only fit that door. The doors were different from each other slightly. The story that came with the car then was it had been bought off the stand at the New York Auto Show. This car definately has the windshieldposts from a closed car body. The owner after K&D moved to Co but sold the car before that. The guy who is the current owner has a bunch of Willys. He said about 15yrs ago an old Willys dealer came to see the car. He looked the car over and over and said he had ordered 4 from the dealer lit he had received but was then notified production was canceled because of the switch to straight military production. He had never seen one in person but was sure this one was the same as what he had seen in the dealers info 60 yrs before. Not really def proof of any thing but it might help out later on matched up with some later info.
     
  7. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,298

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    That's nothing, right now some guy is hot rodding one of the last original 1933 Continental coupes in the world.

    Ah what the hell, they're just second hand cars. They make new ones every day.

    (sarkylert)
     
  8. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,694

    Weasel
    Member

    Thanks oldebob for the history - makes for fascinating reading....
     
  9. willyscoupe
    Joined: Jan 11, 2010
    Posts: 151

    willyscoupe
    Member

    I now own the one out of Bakersfield as I'm sure you were already aware . But now that I have it I'm not sure I can or should keep it ? I think this was the last one to be found or brought to the public . Any idea on a value if you all don't mind me asking here ?
     
  10. oldebob
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 782

    oldebob
    Member
    from Spokane WA

    This threads been quiet for some time. I have some photos now. One stock as found in '62 and several others in transition to Gasser, one at the strip finished. I will scan them and post as soon as pos.
     
  11. Chrisbcritter
    Joined: Sep 11, 2011
    Posts: 1,853

    Chrisbcritter
    Member

    While we're waiting for the convertibles, here's one of the woodies; I posted this on the "Vintage Shots" thread a while back. Plates are Nevada, 1940.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. In around 1992/93 a mate took me to a wrecking yard at Bentley,near Lismore northern NSW, Oz..........there were two 1937 Willys 2dr Tourers sitting side by side, both were incomplete but one car would easily have been made from the two......Norm Darwins History of Holden Book lists 12 tourers made by Holden in 1937......no idea what happened to them as the wrecking yard was cleaned out in the mid 1990's........andyd
     
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  13. the car in question is now owned by Ralph McKewen of Feeding Hills, Mass. the car was from Phillipsburg New Jersey, and was owned by Dave Crouch, now a well known race car restorer. he took the car with him when he moved to Colorado. I don't know how Ralph McKewen acquired the car. I have seen the car personally in his garage. if you want more info, Ralph's phone numbers are, 413-786-5499, or, 413-786-3199
     
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  14. Man this place .... so many curiously fabulous rabbit holes. What's better then that ΔΔΔΔΔ post ?? Awesome pictures coming hopefully ...
     
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  15. I was amazed to see the finished car featured in a magazine. All that work and it looks just like every fenderless 33-34 Ford five-window out there. If that was what he wanted why not build one of those?

    Oh well.

     
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  16. cavman
    Joined: Mar 23, 2005
    Posts: 630

    cavman
    Member

    Someone sent me these about a year ago of another Continental. dcp_5007.jpg dcp_5006.jpg
     
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  17. thehazguy
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,805

    thehazguy
    Member

    A friend of mine gave me this picture in the late 60's. He knew I took pictures at Island and he had some he didn't want anymore. I had written JP & D Willys, so see for yourself and enjoy.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. oldebob
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 782

    oldebob
    Member
    from Spokane WA

    I just came up with some pictures I have been looking for ever since I started this thread. These show
    the car under costruction. Were taken in 61 -63 and show the car as a gasser as well as this altered version. I haven't posted pictures on the HAMB for a long time so bear with me.
     
  19. oldebob
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 782

    oldebob
    Member
    from Spokane WA

    Gasser is final version. car1.PNG car2.png car3.png car4.png car5.png car6.png car7.png
     
  20. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,006

    elgringo71
    Member

    Deuces and loudbang like this.
  21. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 30,598

    loudbang
    Member

    Found a couple more one the add already posted

    4.JPG
     
  22. foxbrosrcn
    Joined: Jul 7, 2011
    Posts: 1

    foxbrosrcn
    Member
    from mass

    just realized that car is in a garage a mile from my house.
     
  23. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 3,006

    elgringo71
    Member

    Wow, that’s very cool. Can you get some pictures of it and post them here? Does the owner want to sell it?


     
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  24. ididntdoit1960
    Joined: Dec 13, 2011
    Posts: 1,003

    ididntdoit1960
    Member
    from Western MA

    I went over Ralph's (off poplar st) 20 years ago and saw the car......rust with a little bit of orange.....the cut at the back was crude - my buddy and I thought the convt story was a farce.. ...shows you what we knew - IIRC Ralph had a 40 chevy he drove around - havent seen it or him around in a long time - i'm off cooper, between the hs and pajers
     
  25. steven e ryder
    Joined: Oct 3, 2020
    Posts: 3

    steven e ryder


    Have known Ralph for decades and been quietly trying to purchase the Willys, but Ralph always planned to build the car himself.
    Time has passed and like so many of us things have changed for Ralph and he knows the build is not in the cards for him.

    So, be it ever so humble, we brought this project (including a pile of great parts) home over the last two days and now it's my turn to take a crack at it.
    Ralph and his family have provided me with what they new of it's past and these threads are a big help. I am beginning my search for as much detail as I can get.
    It is my plan/intent to put some other projects on hold and work on this car practically full time, at least to the stage of running and driving so that I can take an old friend for a ride in the car he saved so long.

    There are some tough choices I want to make fairly quickly as to what direction to take this build.
    It will be a 392 Hemi with existing Olds rear. Not sure on the transmission.

    I am struggling with the level of deterioration and my instinct toward preservation.

    All input is welcome!
     

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  26. I'm glad that you got the Willys. I have known Ralph for many years. When I was into Willys cars and trucks, mostly 1933-1936, I had some pictures of the 1940 Willys convertible in my Willys literature collection. Ralph was always bugging me for the pictures, but I was never able to dig them out before I sold all of my Willys literature to Steve O'Neil from Worcester, Mass.
     
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  27. ididntdoit1960
    Joined: Dec 13, 2011
    Posts: 1,003

    ididntdoit1960
    Member
    from Western MA

    Heard this was in the works - good for you - hope you get to take ralph for a ride
     
  28. steven e ryder
    Joined: Oct 3, 2020
    Posts: 3

    steven e ryder

    Thanks guys,
    Hay Nick, Lee told me you had moved to Pa. I hope you are doing well. I will try to track down Steve O'Neil in case he has found any of those pics. you had.
     
    Thor1 likes this.
  29. panhead_pete
    Joined: Feb 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,537

    panhead_pete
    Member

    Threads like this are AWESOME! Good luck with the build Steve!
     
    Thor1 likes this.

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