Gear Head Tuesday – “The Adequate Willys”

Gear Head

Hat tip today to Rick Kamen, Roster keeper for the Willys Aero Survival Count.

Adequate Willys-ls
If Ford can battle Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans,
certainly a 1952 Willys Aero-Lark can do battle in the 24 hours of LeMONS!

24HoursLeMons_logo

“Racing shouldn’t just be for rich idiots. Racing should be for ALL idiots.
That’s where LeMONS comes in!”

Fabulous Hudson Hornet

If the Twin H-Power racing Hudsons of the 1950s, were the “Fabulous Hudson Hornets”, then a racing Willys Aero-Lark of the same vintage should prove to be (ahem) at least Adequate!

Adequate Willys

And Adequate it was, completing the 2016 24 Hours of LeMONS at the Sonoma (Sears Point) Raceway in the California wine country, campaigned by “Four Yak Press Racing”. The car was almost bone stock except for the addition of a roll cage:

Willys roll cage

Breathtaking power was supplied by its 67 year-old 75 horsepower flathead six:

Willys 6

A set of Westlake tires was installed, with the idea that low-traction tires would spare the ancient suspension from excessive cornering stress.

Willys-rs

Not every modern driver knows how to work a three-on-the-tree column-shifted manual transmission, so this handy diagram was added:

Willys-shift pattern

When the green flag was dropped, the Adequate Willys was ready to go:

Adequate Willys-racing

It was tippy around turns, and the decades-old clutch couldn’t grip at more than about half throttle. Still, the Four Yak Press Racing Willys was knocking down lap after lap:

Adequate Willys-in turns

When the race ended, the Aero-Lark had completed 132 laps around one of the most challenging courses in the LeMons world. The team finished 160th out of 183 entries, beating five BMWs, two Nissan 300ZXs, a Mustang, a Camaro, and a pair of Mazda RX-7s. For this, the Adequate Willys was awarded the top prize of LeMons racing, the Index of Effluency. Congratulations, Four Yak Press Racing!

Adequate Willys-finish

See our previous posts about the Aero Willys >>HERE<<.
Also, don’t miss “Pappy’s” poem, “’54 Willys“.

Another fun post: The “Twin-H Brothers

Willys Service

willys-aero-willys-02

1953 Aero Ad - Hats Off to Cadillac

gear

Hat tip: “Cousin D.R.S.”:

Drag in the 70s vs. now

8 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Always thought the Willys Aero/Bermuda was a fetching design, especially in two-door trim. If the make is remembered today at all it’s because of Jeep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I certainly agree with you about the design. The apparent size of the Willys Aero is deceptive because it is so well-proportioned. It is a compact car that doesn’t look compact. It’s a nice, clean design that has held up well over the years. You are exactly right about how it is remembered – and I would wager that it is mostly Jeep fans who also admire the Aero. No doubt Rick Kamen could educate us on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris Marshall 10/12/2019 — 12:59

    I wish that I could have seen this race. On a side note, I have a 1959 Studebaker Lark IV ( automatic,…for now ) 4 door in my back yard that might be fun to compete with. We’ll replace the 170 CID Champion six with a 185 CID Champion engine that I have laying around the garage somewhere…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gary J Lindstrom 10/12/2019 — 17:42

    I believe that you have a Lark VI, not a “Lark IV” (4).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. michael cenit 10/12/2019 — 18:50

    Fun story, I always like the Aeros, nice cars, a bit over priced but most likely it was still born because it must have been really tough selling cars through a Jeep/John Deere type dealer network.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Willys Aero IMO is among the very best designs of the era.
      I think you are exactly right about the dealer network. The dealer network was an issue all the independents faced and the independents lacked the resources to remedy the dealer issue. I have it in the back of my mind that in 1962 or 1963 before cancer forced Sherwood Egbert out at Studebaker the company tried at least one factory-operated “mega dealer” store. I think it was in Chicago. The laws in some states, Texas being one, prohibit that. This has been an issue for Tesla. I’ll ask George Hamlin (who is noted for being a historian for both Studebaker and Packard) about the Studebaker factory store. Perhaps you know about it. In any case, no doubt Willys dealers weren’t exactly common.

      Like

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