Willys Americar

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Willys Americar
1940 Willys Coupe.jpg
Manufacturer Willys-Overland Motors
Production 1933-1942
Assembly Toledo, Ohio
Body and chassis
Class Compact
Body style 2-door hardtop
2-door pickup
4-door sedan
3-door wagon
Layout FR layout
Engine 2,433 cc (2.4 L) 66.5hp Go-Devil engine I4
Wheelbase 2,642 mm (104.0 in)
Predecessor Willys 77
Successor Willys Aero
Hot Rod 1941 Willys

The Willys Americar was a line of automobiles produced by Willys-Overland Motors from 1937 to 1942, either as a sedan, coupe, station wagon or pickup truck. The coupe version is a very popular hot rod choice,[1] either as a donor car or as a fiberglass model.


The car started production in 1937 with somewhat traditional styling, a product of the internal reorganization that turned Willys-Overland Motor Company into Willys Overland Motors. It was itself an evolution of the aging Willys 77. When Joseph W. Frazer joined the company in 1938 he decided that a modern-looking and cheap compact car was the answer for the struggling Willys. Models 37, 38 and 39 gradually evolved into a more Ford-like appearance, culminating in the very much DeLuxe-like '40 model.

The Americar[edit]

Only the 1941-1942 models were called "Americar" (441 and 442 models respectively), following the patriotic trend of the time. It sold 22,000 units in 1941 and 7,000 more in 1942. Its price was about US$ 630. As war broke out, civilian production was abandoned by all US motor companies, in order to assist the military, and the Americar was no exception. However Willys was one of the companies awarded a contract to produce the highly successful Jeep. After the end of the war they managed to secure the trademark on the Jeep name, and the much higher sales of its civilian CJ version kept the Toledo firm from resurrecting the prewar models, sealing the fate of the Americar. Despite failed attempts in 1940 and 1945 (both times with Frazer's 6/66 prototype), the 1942 Americar would be Willys-Overland final "civilian" passenger car model until the Willys Aero, ten years later.


There were three variations—Speedway, DeLuxe and Plainsman—offered, each with a coupe and sedan, plus a DeLuxe three-door woody wagon.

Hot rod career[edit]

Critical four-cylinder engine failures, lack of reposition parts and the sheer lack of assistance from Willys turned many Americars into perfect targets for the nascent hot rod community - the Go Devil engine was replaced with many other alternatives, some weaker, some much stronger than the original specification. It became such a favorite that today a 100% stock Americar is a very rare find.


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