From 1912 to 1918, the Willys Overland Motor Company was the second-largest auto manufacturer in the United States, after Ford Motor Company. But the Great Depression wasn’t kind to the company, and after surviving a few bankruptcy scares and reorganizations, Willys-Overland Motors began designing a simple and affordable 4-cylinder automobile, available as a 4-door sedan or a 2-door coupe. The car was fairly popular, but as World War II broke out, all of the American auto companies stopped building civilian vehicles and started working for the war effort.
Willys was lucky enough to win a lucrative contract to produce military Jeeps, working from a prototype design provided by the American Bantam Car Company. By the end of the war, Willys had produced about 360,000 military Jeeps. In 1945, the company secured the trademark to the Jeep name and began producing the popular civilian Jeep (CJ) line.
Like many coupes of the 30s and 40s, the Willys coupe is a popular choice for hot rod conversions, especially the 1940 and 1941 models. As a result, it’s quite rare to find an untouched Willys coupe from this era. Take a closer look at this beautifully restored coupe from Spud’s Garage in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Fiberglass replica Willys bodies are also hot sellers for rodders who want the look of an authentic Willys, but can’t find one or don’t want to pay the high price.
Photo by Greg Gjerdingen