What type of image pops into you brain when someone says Willys? More often than not, it a nose-high '41 coupe with a big, blown Hemi up front and slicked-down Halibrands and a wheelie bar out back. A little more off the mark and you'd find those who wanted to be a little different indicate a '33 Willys- the Model 77-as their first response to the question. But if you really wanted to be different, how 'bout a '40 Willys that isn't done in the gasser motif but rather with traditional hot rod styling? Hard to imagine? Then you need to meet Lynn Park.
For more than 20 years, Lynn has been a wheel manufacturer by trade (he owns Trigo Wheels, which makes reproduction wheels for Cobras), but he has been a hot rodder for more than twice that time. Lynn was exposed to all sorts of vehicles as a kid working in a gas station, but living in Southern California afforded him an opportunity to experience hot rodding up close.
More than 50 years later, Lynn's car collection at his house in La Crescenta, California, is impressive, especially if you like Fords and Cobras. He currently owns 10 real Cobras (original aluminum ones built by Shelby in the '60s, not the newer fiberglass versions) as well as various other hot rods (including a super-clean, front-engine, Hemi-powered dragster), but one of his most recent acquisitions is a '40 Willys coupe.
Lynn bought his Willys from Jerry Hagens, who had found the near-perfect '40 at a street rod meet in Des Moines, Iowa, with only 77,000 miles on the odometer. Almost too nice to modify, Jerry went about hot rodding the vehicle by adding a Hemi and a 700-R4, but then he decided to sell it. Lynn bought it and added a Tremec five-speed and different wheels and tires, took the A/C out, changed the rearend, and began to drive it.
The chassis was set up on a stock 101-inch wheelbase, with the rearend being a Ford 9-inch (3.70) with '57 Ford axles. Willys springs and Pro Shocks make up the rear suspension, while the front utilizes an independent Mustang II unit. Willys steel wheels, 16x6 and 16x7s, are shod in General rubber (205/55-16 and 235/75-16).
Lynn had Blair's Speed Shop in Pasadena, California, machine and assemble a '58 Chrysler 392 Hemi, set up with a 10:1 compression ratio. It was a concern of Lynn's that the firewall not be moved to make the Hemi fit, and it turned out fine. Not much else would fit in the engine compartment when he was done, though, save for the SPAL electric fan, Sanderson headers, and custom air cleaner.
The big-block is mated to a Tremec 3550 transmission (the older version of the Tremec TKO five-speed unit) and is equipped with a McLeod clutch, flywheel, and dual discs. To make the trans fit the Hemi, Lynn used a Chrysler-Chevy adapter plate, a Chevy bellhousing, and redrilled the Tremec to fit the Chevy housing.
You couldn't tell from the outside that there is a 392 Hemi lurking under the hood, and th
The body is all steel, and was painted with PPG Black paint by Jerry in Aledo, Illinois. All the trim (hood, door handles, trunk handle, etc.) was left on the car that, with the black rims and simple chrome hubcaps, keeps the older, traditional hot rod design element intact.
The simple hot rod look was carried over into the interior, too, as gray cloth (not leather) was used on the bench seat and door panels. Steve Ralts did the upholstery work on the Willys, and it came out clean and uncomplicated. The only splash of color in the otherwise inky interior is the stock orange-colored gauge unit that, at the time these photos were taken, reads 79,904.4 on the odometer!
With a garage full of interesting, fun cars to drive, Lynn really likes the Willys and enjoys driving it often. A recent trip to the Twilight Cruise at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum in Pomona, California, netted him a celebrity pick that automatically allowed him to take his car down the quarter-mile track during the World Finals drag racing event. For Lynn, it really doesn't get any better than that!
Doesn't look like a fire-breathing hot rod interior, does it? That's because Steve Ralts i