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Street Rod Icons - 1940-1941 Willys Coupes

  • Drag racing high performance has always been the overriding theme for ‘40/41 Willys coupes. - 0
  • Some Willys owners like to run without hoods to better showcase their incredible engines. - 1
  • The classic Willys NHRA gassers competed with a nose-up front suspension. - 2
  • In the weeds or scraping the pavement are the most popular stances for Willys coupes today. - 3
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  •  - 5
  • The relatively wide rear ends left plenty of room for massive wheel tubs. - 6
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by Bruce Caldwell  More from Author

Top Ten Iconic Street Rods.

Images by Bruce Caldwell and Jerry Heasley.


Willys coupes came to street rodding by way of drag racing. A broader spectrum of Willys coupes (1933-1942) enjoyed success in the various gasser classes, but the 1940/1941 models have made the largest impact and get our vote as iconic street rods.

The 1937-1942 Willys share the same basic body shell, but with differing front ends. The most handsome front styling came about in 1940. It endured through 1942, but since so few cars were made before Willys switched over to Jeep production, we didn’t include the 1942 models. The 1937-1939 models had a more bulbous nose, but plenty of them have been converted to the 1940/1941 noses.

Fiberglass Willys parts were available pretty early on, due to the demand for lightweight racecar parts. One-piece tilt fiberglass front ends were a popular way to pare weight from the front of racecars. Doors, rear fenders, and trunk lids were also made out of fiberglass. Eventually, complete fiberglass bodies were built. Today, you’re as apt to encounter a fiberglass Willys coupe as a steel one.

Willys coupes have always been about straight-line performance, so monster motors are nearly mandatory. Big-block Chevys and Hemis are the engines of choice. Large, through-the-hood superchargers and multiple carbs are more prevalent than concealed small-block engines. Many Willys coupes run sans hoods to better showcase their massive engines.



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