GEE-WILLYS
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GWILLYS

Article and Photos by Gary Rosier

Willys, also know as the Americar, was introduced as a Sedan, Coupe and a pick-up in 1941. It managed to turn out 22,000 Americars in ’41 and a further 7,000 in ’42, before World War II put an end to civilian car production. In the years following the war, Americars with dead engines or some other catastrophic failure (pretty much all of them! LOL!) - where repair costs exceeded the value of the cars, became popular with drag racers. This was due to its short wheel base, light construction, and no doubt that in most cases a Willys hulk could be had for the asking. Today, it is almost unheard of to find a stock Willys/Americar.

Tracey Miner of Ormond Beach Florida owns this well traveled and now gorgeous '41 Willys pickup. Several aftermarket companies produced the Willys and this one by Auto Classics is exceptional. You rarely see the pick-up version. 

In the Spring of 2016 Tracey decided to retire at the end of the year and wanted a HotRod to enjoy. He found this car advertised on E-Bay when they were living in Genoa, Nevada. The car was located in Prescott, Arizona so he had a friend who lived nearby go check it out - even producing a video to show him the car.  

The car checked out...getting it home was an altogether different story! Turns out he couldn't arrange for any trucking company to pick the car up because of it being in such a remote location. He had no choice but to drive the nearly 800 miles down and personally drive the car back. Now remember, its AZ and its HOT in the  summertime....like to the tune of 124 degrees so Tracey was less than thrilled! He did get it home safely (driving in the cooler VERY early morning air of 118!) and really had no major issues with it so dodged a bullet there for sure!

To make a long story short, Tracey and his wife Betsy retired from out West and relocated to Ormond Beach Florida in 2017. They had the car shipped from their Genoa Lake Tahoe home. The trucking company delivered the car alright - they must have dropped it at some point, body damage was evident everywhere! Upon closer inspection they determined that the exhaust was broken off at the manifold. On top of that - the engine kept breaking fan belts - leading to the discovery that one of the motor mounts was broken too! Once that was determined, this then led to a total body-off frame do-over/upgrade of the car.

Body work and paint was handled by B&D Auto Body in Edgewater, Fl. It was now painted a PPG 2012 Jaguar Candy Apple Red. Engine work was also updated by New Smyrna Beach Performance, including upgrading the fuel delivery system. This included a custom fabricated Velocity manifold, fuel rails, and throttle body. She now rocks out a solid 400+hp. Dual exhausts, 2.5 inch stainless, with Flowmaster mufflers sweetens the rumble. Its all monitored by a complete Auto-Meter gauge package.

Its powered by a Synister Billet-crate LS1 Corvette motor with Hooker Headers. The trans is a 4L60E and rear end is an 8.5 GM 10 bolt. It all squeezed in with a "#2 shoehorn", as Tracey likes to say, in an S-10 Frame with a new Sweet Rack & Pinion front end. It rolls on a set of Cragar Classic Chrome Moonie wheels shod with Cooper Cobra Radial GT Tires (P235/60R15's - front and P295/50R15's - rear).

The interior, which originally was handled by the Upholstery Guy in Chino, AZ was left alone. A GM Tilt wheel with Lecara steering wheel helps in the comfort department as well as creature comforts like S-10 (power)Buckets, Vintage A/C, power windows, power disc brakes, cruise control and remote door locks with poppers. A Kenwood CD keeps the tunes handy whenever they need to listen to something besides the sweet music that engine makes. 

His wife Betsy LOVES the creature comforts! She regularly accompanies Tracey to the many local car shows. They've been married nearly 40 years now and while they've each had glorious but separate career's - this is something that they can enjoy their retirement years with...together she says....GWhiz....no.... GWILLYS!! 

 

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01/16/2019 (01/16/2019)
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