Barn Stored 56 Years: 1927 Willys Whippet

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Today, when most people think of the Willys brand, they think of a Jeep, but they were also in the passenger car business for many years. One of the products of Willys-Overland Corp. was the Whippet, a Depression-era car that competed with the likes of the Ford Model A. The auto was named after a breed of dog that is generally calm, preserving its energy for explosive bursts of running around. This 1927 Whippet has recently come out of hibernation where it’s been in a barn since 1964. It runs well and the body is in decent condition for a vehicle that will soon be 100 years old. Located in Little Compton, Rhode Island, this unusual find is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached just $3,090.99.

Timing may have been one of the reasons that the economical Whippet didn’t last more than five years. Launched in 1927, the Whippet was just taking hold when the Great Depression came along two years later. There would be no fewer than six other cars competing at the time in the same price range (under $900), including Chevrolet, Ford, De Soto, Essex, Pontiac, and Plymouth. The Whippet sold well enough initially, but demand for cars in any price range fell back after 1930, so the Whippet was retired in 1931 and Willys moved on to something else. Their greatest success was yet to come with Jeep production and World War II.

The seller bought this ’27 edition of the Whippet from a man who had owned it for at least 56 years. With 22,000 presumed miles, said owner parked it in a barn in 1964 and there it sat for five-and-a-half decades. The future of the car was assured when he poured oil down the four cylinders so the motor wouldn’t lock up over time. We’re told that this same individual acquired the car from the original owner, so the seller is only the third party to be in possession of the Willys.

It didn’t take a lot to get this ole girl going again as we’re told the motor runs great and doesn’t smoke or make noise. The manual transmission shifts fine, but the throw-out bearing is loud. The firewall-mounted vacuum gas tank doesn’t draw from the rear gas tank, which will need cleaning and new gaskets installed unless you want to bypass the 6-volt electric fuel pump. The Whippet has a new set of tires and a roll-back top. It stops as it should, at least at low speeds.

After sitting so long, rust is not a huge issue, although patina is everywhere. We’re told the body only has a small area of corrosion on the passenger door bottom and some new sheet metal looks to be present down by the same running board. The interior has deteriorated as you would expect after all this time, but this looks to be the kind of car that you could restore while you use it. On the downside, there is no title, so the deal will have to be consummated with a bill of sale. But it looks like a great automobile that’s ready for a new lease on life!

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  1. Fahrvergnugen FahrvergnugenMember

    Very intriguing and great that this runs.

    A road trip to Little Compton is HIGHLY recommended. On the way, look for the ice cream store in Four Corners…

    Like 4
  2. That Guy

    My one and only experience driving a pre-WWII car was as an 18-year old, in a 1926 Whippet which belonged to a gearhead family friend. He wanted to take two cars to a local show, so I drove the Whippet and he drove the Packard. It was hugely educational. It would eventually reach a top speed of about 45, jiggling back and forth on its suspension which seemed to have no shock absorbers, and braking was best planned ahead with a calendar. The car was in very good condition; that’s just how an inexpensive car of the era drove. That 15-minute drive remains one of the more significant automotive experiences in my life.

    Like 24
  3. George

    It has a new top. Canvas topped cars were the norm as press steel tops were rare in the 20s. There is no such thing as a rollback roof as far as I know.

    Like 1
    • steve

      Yeah, the canvas and wood tops were simply because there weren’t any presses large enough to stamp out a whole steel roof.
      The cars that had split windows on rounded body areas were due to the fact that they had not figured out how to make curved window glass. Once we had the technology, they went wild with the wrap around windshields of the the late 50’s.

      Like 2
  4. Bob C.

    My dad told me about my grandfather (who died 8 years before I was born ) owning a Whippet. I had no idea what he was talking about, but now I have a visual.

    Like 4
  5. HoA Howard AMember

    “When somethings going wrong,,you must whip it”,(Devo),Great find, obviously still out there. Got a snowballs chance in Cuba somebody might actually want this. Very rarely does a nice one come across the auction, and barely musters 4 figures, so the fizz has gone. They show the buyer, it’s ALWAYS some old guy. Not sure what’s going to happen to all these restorable classics. Like this, probably nothing. It’s a fantastic find, but it’s uses are limited today for any kind of travel, but I’d still consider it fun, even if it is just down the driveway or the ice cream shop.

    Like 8
  6. Curt Lemay

    My Grandfather bought a new 1928 one of these. He would be in the market for another, but he died in 1955. There lays the problem, no one around who has any connection. Maybe my father, but alas he is gone too and I am almost ready for my departure as well. Too bad for this car, I heard nice stories about Grandpas when I was young. If it sells cheaply enough, maybe some young gearhead can have and love it, but I suspect it will get rodded. Oh well.

    Like 8
  7. Lanny McNabb

    A front bumper was very often an option. I wonder if this one exists? Where is it located? Thanks and God bless, Lanny

    Like 1
  8. Jack Leary

    When a problem comes along, you must Whippet.

    Like 0
  9. Royal


    My mother said her father had one of these when she was a child right around this era as she was born in 1925. This looks like the one they had from photos they took back then.

    Curious as I am in NYS and she lived between Staten Island and Phoenicia, if this one might actually be the same car.

    Like 2
  10. KurtMember

    This car would be great restored to stock but then just used around town to advertise ones ice cream shoppe, maybe to shuttle people back and forth from the beach to the ice cream and back.😮

    Like 1
  11. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Love the radiator cap. Back in the 50’s I was a youngster of preteen years. An Uncle by marriage had a wrecking yard where many pre-war cars had gone to die. I liked the many hood ornaments/ radiator caps so my Uncle let me start a collection. But alas! Somewhere along the line of my strange and poorly decisioned life they were all lost. Sure wish I had them now, but then again I’ve got a house, garage and shed so full of stuff I don’t know what to do with it all. Should I sell? But where would I start? The things my wife left behind? China, Chrystal, silver? I haven’t the heart. What about my junk? Tools, oh yeah that’s mostly all I collected over the years. Besides I do have a grandson of 9 years and a granddaughter on the way in August, my wife wanted her to have her Barbie doll collection of which there are many never opened in mint condition.
    Oh well, in the meantime I’ll just sit here in my recliner reading Barn Finds till my time comes. Then the kids can figure out what to do with all this stuff.
    God bless America

    Like 7
  12. Howie Mueler

    Whippet whip it good!!

    Like 4
  13. DON

    Considering its age , location (East coast) and that it sat forever , it amazing that it still runs ,seems complete and really isnt in that bad of condition . Its a shame theres not much interest, but hopefully any buyer would be looking to restore it and not rod it.

    Like 6
  14. DuesenbergDino

    Says he bought it from the owner so I’m wondering where title is. Seems like that’s the time to apply for lost/stolen title with someone who owned it for 60 years. Anyhow, these are the types of cars young people should be jumping on. Seems complete, it runs, body doesn’t need roof, quarters, doors and fenders like the average overpriced rusted hulks. Everyone says the market is only for deep pocket restorations but here you have a cool beginning entry into the hobby. Father/son project anyone?

    Like 1
  15. Greg

    Simple, if I could just complete one of my car projects I would bid like the dickens and buy this great looking car. This would make a great around the town driver that no one has or know what you have. That price really seems super reasonable. Now just to finish one project.

    Like 1
  16. Lee Foglesong

    Back in the nineties I owned one of these and used it to run around town and even used it as a “Campaign” vehicle while running fir City Council. Great little car!
    FYI- only car I have ever seen with three brake shoes on each front wheel!

    Like 0
  17. KurtMember

    I know I would probably Not try to restore the vacuum powered fuel pump.

    Like 1
  18. Steve RM

    The right side running is literally a board. The splash apron above it looks like it has been replaced or worked on.
    Would make a great low budget entry into the hobby with a car you could drive

    Like 0

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