Built With Speedway Motors: Chris's 1941 Willys Gasser
We love featuring our customers’ cars, and this one is a knockout. Chris Gaynor has owned a few Willys coupes over the years after falling in love with the Stone, Woods, and Cook gasser as a kid. But this one is special. After retiring, Chris wanted to start from scratch and build up his ultimate vision of what a Willys gasser should be.
To see his vision through, Chris enlisted the help of the crew at American Gasser in Saginaw, Michigan. As the name implies, these guys have the expertise to turn Chris’s ideas into a solid, drivable gasser. With the project finished, Chris can’t say enough nice things about them and their work.
The chassis features a 9-inch in the rear that hangs on period-correct ladder bars. In the front, a Speedway Motors straight axle kit and Vega box keep it steered straight. Wilwood brakes actuated by a Speedway Motors electric brake booster and master cylinder kit slow it all down.
A nose-up Willys needs a killer powerplant, and this one is no exception. Starting with a ’58 392 Hemi that originally left the factory topped with the rare 2x4 setup, Chris had Big Al’s Toybox in New Milford, Connecticut build it up into the piece of jewelry that you see when the tilt front is lifted. The alternator and Vintage Air AC compressor are mounted low so as not to clutter the view. The 8-71 is underdriven to keep things cool and happy on the street, but it still makes over 700 horsepower, which is way more than enough in the 2100 lb Willys. It’s backed up by a TH400 with a manual valve body. When asked what it’s like to drive, Chris says “It’s like going on a ride, it just stands right up!” We can imagine. Outrageous power to weight ratio aside, Chris also says that it goes down the road, steers, and stops surprisingly well.
Since Chris wanted this car to be the best of everything, the interior needed to be more than just a couple plastic race buckets and some tinwork. Instead, you’ll find a full leather interior stitched in an era-appropriate diamond pattern. The long Lokar shifter evokes something that Rat Fink would cruise around in, and the NOS Moon pedal was shipped all the way from England.
As the project was nearing completion, The American Gasser crew stopped sending pictures, instead telling Chris that the car was really best seen in person. So, Chris’s freshly finished Willys what unveiled to him at the Detroit Autorama. While there was some initial concern from the build team about Chris’s silence, he was quick the make it clear that he was just overwhelmed by the amazing finished product.
Chris would go on to win his class that weekend, and the pictures show that he and his sons Joe and Chris are all smiles. You would be too if you’d just taken delivery of your lifelong Willys gasser dream car.
Thank you Chris for sharing your story with us!
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