HANDCRAFTED MASTERPIECE: Aluminum-Bodied ’41 Willys Coupe

Credit: Original article published by Barrett-Jackson.

Written by Eric Becker


Showing remarkable execution inside and out, this ’41 Willys – offered with No Reserve at the 2020 Fall Auction – is a truly special build that celebrates the art of just what hot-rodding is all about.


Some cars just make you look twice, stopping you dead in your tracks – your eyes dancing in delight as you look end-to-end, taking in the all the shapes and contours. Offered with No Reserve at the 2020 Barrett-Jackson Fall Auction, an all-aluminum-bodied 1941 Willys Americar Custom Coupe is one such car. Designed over a four-year period, fully road-legal and titled, this Willys is nothing short of remarkable: A stellar testament to metallurgy, artistry and engineering, combined to create a hot rod born from ingenuity, passion and appreciation of the automotive art form.

The entire body was handmade from aluminum. The incredible amount of fabrication and design makes it easy for the eye to get lost in the mélange of corrugations in the aluminum’s bare skin. The striking machine-brushed finish is complemented by authentic black chrome. The badges, door handles, grille and headlight bezels all sport the shadowy chrome trim for an astonishingly beautiful and almost wicked presence.

Wicked presence indeed. The ’41 Willys would look just at home as an extra in a “Mad Max” film as it would cruising down Woodward Avenue in late summer. The first-generation cast-iron 392ci HEMI has been bored .030 over, and sports heavily ported high-flowing “Triple Nickel” 331 HEMI cylinder heads. The forged steel crankshaft rotates Molnar billet steel H-beam connecting rods and custom J&E blower pistons.

A custom ground Herbert cam operates the giant intake and exhaust valves, and an Enderle 80A mechanical fuel pump draws from a hand-built fuel cell. Perched on top is a big Rudy Petra 8-71 supercharger with Hillborn mechanical 4-port injection. A work of art all its own, the monstrous V8 commands presence with its black anodized finish and the blower’s gaping maw. Most astonishing is the full “brass section” of custom “Zoomie” exhaust pipes, making it sound like a Top Fuel car.

Putting that power to the road is a custom-built TH400 transmission with Strange 3.89 gears, Fab 9-inch rear end and Strange helical posi-traction differential. A set of Wilwood 12-inch discs are tucked behind Weld Racing V Series wheels, measuring 17×4.5s up front and 31×18.50-15s in the rear. The gorgeous wheels are wrapped in Mickey Thompson Street radials, keeping the Willys hooked to the tarmac.

But it’s more than just the body and running gear; the chassis and interior were handcrafted and fabricated as well. Even the glass was hand-cut and shaped to fit the distinctive Willys silhouette. The body and powertrain ride on a custom Chris Alston Chassisworks Eliminator II chassis that features double rear frame rails and a 4-link rear suspension. Additionally, the Willys features Chassisworks double adjustable coilovers mounted at all four corners.

Beautifully minimalist, the entire interior could even be described as hot-rodding meets Bauhaus design. The entire interior is fabricated from sheet metal and aluminum to match the machined look of the exterior. The contoured dash houses six bespoke Classic Instruments gauges that bathe the cabin in a warm glow, and a pair of Tenzo-R bucket seats keep occupants securely in place.

Showing remarkable execution inside and out, this ’41 Willys is a truly special build that celebrates the art of just what hot-rodding is all about. Don’t miss your chance to bid when it roars across the block with No Reserve at the Barrett-Jackson 2020 Fall Auction.

For up-to-date information on this vehicle, click HERE. For a look at all the vehicles on the 2020 Fall Auction Preview Docket (with more being added daily), click HERE.