The 1941-1942 Willys-Overland Americar Coupe has been one of the most hot rodded cars of all time. The cars came originally with an L-Head 4 cylinder engine that made 62 horsepower that proved to be a rather unreliable engine. To that end the great swooping body lines and the lack of engine made it a great target for a hot rod, and thousands of these hot rods seem to survive even to this day. So it is very rare to find an Americar Coupe like the one here sitting on its original chassis and body.
The proud owner from Michigan state bought this beauty off a farm back in 1986 and began a slow and careful process of restoring the car to its former glory. The car wasn’t a complete basket case, the outer body shell being solid and only showing a little rust sunburn. The undercarriage needed help, the rear frame was a bit rotted and new members were fabricated and installed. The floorboards in the cabin were good, but again the rear trunk floor was riddled with holes. The details were done while the body was off the frame in the ten years that car underwent its restoration. Ten years you say? Yup but the results are worth it, and the owner wasnâ€™t in a hurry in any case.
1941 Willys Americar Coupe Deluxe, click to enlarge
The engine has a rebuilt L head 4 cylinder displacing 134.2 cid’s. Compression is 6.48:1 ratio. The engine features downdraft carburetion, and 6 volt electrical. The transmission is a 3 speed snyncro-mesh type with final drive ratio of 4.3:1. The chassis features 9 inch drum brakes, I beam front suspension and rear leaf spring type in the rear. The wheels are 16 inch steel and the steering ratio is 16.4:1. The cars 104 inch wheelbase gave an advertized turning radius of just 18 feet. Pretty nimble!
The body of the coupe is about as perfect as can be. The hood of the Willys is long and distinguished. The great sweeping fenders draw the eye along its lines. The long steep angle trunk is often greatly exaggerated in the hot rod models (see photo below). For those looking to distinguish between and 1940 and 1941-2 model, check the front grille. In 1940 the car had a split grille, and the 1941-1942 have a single piece grille.
Willys built 22,000 of these cars before World War II broke out and their manufacturing efforts turning to the war. As stated at the beginning this story, many of these cars are now either hot rods or long ago crushed. Finding one unmolested is nearly as lucky as winning a lotto top prize. Custom rods sell for $80-100,000 but I would expect a car like the one here to easily sell for near that price at auction. It does show that you can spend much less money to restore a car like this and still command the same money that big hot rod guys want and trust me, they have spent far far more! Happy Hunting!