BF Auction: 1953 Willys Aero

Sold for $7,000View Result

UPDATE – The seller was able to fix the fuel leak and replaced the hand brake cable. The fuel system is now working as it should with no leaks and the hand brake functions properly! The seller has provided us with a video of the car on the road, so you can see it in action.

I think we’ve probably all bought an item that seemed like a good idea at the time, but on later reflection, it wasn’t what we really wanted. That is the case with this 1953 Willys Aero and its current owner. He recently purchased the vehicle via Barn Finds, but time has demonstrated it isn’t the classic for him. Rather than persist with a car that could become under-appreciated, he feels it needs a new home. Therefore, the owner has listed this tidy survivor exclusively with us at Barn Finds Auctions.

If an enthusiast seeks a tidy survivor to enjoy immediately, this Willys ticks that box. Its Black paint shines impressively, and while a close inspection reveals chips and marks, they are within the character of a vehicle of this type. The winning bidder could treat it to a cosmetic refresh that would be straightforward, but there would be no shame in leaving it untouched. The panels are as straight as an arrow, with the best news revealing itself when you climb under this classic. The floors and frame feature a dusting of surface corrosion, but no penetrating rust can be found anywhere on this beauty. Therefore, the new owner will have no use for their grinder and welder with this purchase. The chrome provides a sparkling contrast to the Black paint, and its condition is better than average. Some glass pieces have cracks and slight cloudiness developing around the edges, but nothing requires immediate attention. History demonstrates that if the buyer chooses the preservation pathway, it could be years before they need to find the cash to replace the offending items.

Choosing a single highlight with any classic can sometimes be challenging, but this Aero’s interior stakes its claim for that honor. The presentation is better than many vehicles half its age, with no significant faults or imperfections. The carpet fit around the pedals is slightly off, and there is wear on some of the door windlace, but that is all that could be criticized. The cloth upholstery on the seats and door trims is free from physical damage or stains, and the dash is spotless. There are no missing items and no evidence of aftermarket additions. The owner may be parting ways with this beauty, but he has developed some attachment to it. Those feelings motivated him to produce articles which will soon feature in the Antique Automobile Club of America’s national magazine and the Tulsa Region’s “Runningboard Ramblings” newsletter. That will provide information on this classic’s history, and securing copies of both would create an additional point of interest or conversation starter at a Cars & Coffee.

The current owner purchased this Willys when the previous owner downsized a substantial collection and is pleased to confirm that the car runs and drives well. Its 161ci flathead six produces 75hp and 145 ft/lbs of torque. Shifting duties fall to a three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, while four-wheel drum brakes bring proceedings to a safe and sure halt. The previous owner installed an aluminum radiator in 2016, but the car is otherwise unmodified. The brakes were rebuilt in 2002, and they continue to work perfectly. The owner has undertaken a few journeys since giving the Willys a new home, including clocking a few laps at the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. It completed the trips reliably, cruising comfortably on the open road at 65mph without raising a sweat. A YouTube clip below shows the car in action, and its motor sounds pretty crisp. The car drives well, and there are only a few minor faults for the buyer to tackle in a home workshop. It has developed a slight fuel leak that causes the electric fuel pump to rattle, but the seller is investigating the issue in hopes of having it fixed before the car heads to its new owner. The speedometer doesn’t function, and neither does the high beam. The right turn signal is inoperative, as is the parking brake. He hasn’t tried engaging the overdrive during his ownership, and that is an adventure awaiting the winning bidder. With those minor faults addressed, this survivor is ready for a life adventure with a new owner behind the wheel.

There is no shame in admitting you got it wrong when purchasing any car, and parting with it sooner rather than later can be the wisest possible move. Owning a classic requires commitment, and if an owner’s heart isn’t in it, they could delay any work because they are disillusioned. This 1953 Willys Aero’s owner acknowledges his mistake, meaning it can head to a home and a buyer who feels it meets their taste and needs. If you missed out on this beauty last time, this is an opportunity to right that wrong. We don’t often get a second chance in situations like this, so it is the ideal time to strike while the iron is hot and submit a bid or two.

  • Location: Sand Springs, Oklahoma
  • Mileage: 77,912 Shown, TMU
  • Engine: 161ci Flathead Six
  • Transmission: 3-Speed
  • VIN: 653KB114215
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Auction

Sold for: $7,000
Register To Bid
Ended: Jun 22, 2023 11:00am MDT
Winner: (Sold Offline)
  • BobC
    bid $5,400.00  2023-06-22 10:38:43
  • Bailsout bid $5,300.00  2023-06-22 10:19:22
  • BobC bid $4,400.00  2023-06-22 09:50:32
  • Bailsout
    bid $4,300.00  2023-06-22 09:12:51
  • Robert Morgan bid $3,300.00  2023-06-22 07:48:34
  • Bailsout bid $3,200.00  2023-06-16 10:57:12
  • Packard8
    bid $3,100.00  2023-06-16 01:44:48
  • BobC bid $3,000.00  2023-06-15 14:04:04
  • Robert Morgan bid $2,500.00  2023-06-15 12:26:10
  • Louis
    bid $2,100.00  2023-06-15 10:17:29
  • RoadTripRevival bid $2,000.00  2023-06-14 13:17:42

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bamapoppy

    Why am I immediately thinking 1949 Ford?

    Like 4
    • Will Fox

      The greenhouse & door frames. I thought of `49 Ford too.

      Like 2
  2. TomP

    It’s nice. There’s an identical car at a nearby abandoned house. The house just fell in a few months ago and the forlorn Willys is still sitting there in the weeds.

    Like 4
    • Redman Redman

      Know who it belongs to?

      Like 2
  3. Steve Mehl

    Too bad the Willys is 4dr, the 2dr model is really cool looking. Also, too bad the paint is black. This one looks like some kind of British sedan. I had a chance to buy a Willys in great condition before I decided upon a Hudson in 1991 or 1992. I steered clear of the Willys because I was afraid that finding parts could be a problem.
    If it has to be a Willys, go for the 1940 Willys coupe.

    Like 4
    • Yblocker

      Yeah, the one that looks like a 40 Ford. Well almost

      Like 2
  4. SubGothius

    Tip for those unaware:
    It’s pronounced “WILL-iss” (as in “Wha’chu talkin’bout”), not “Will-eez”.

    Like 13
    • Yblocker

      Whatever you say, Will-iss, but I’ll stick with Will-eez, like the rest of the country has for the past 75 or so years.

      Like 13
      • Chris Cline

        They were made in Brazil until 1971 so parts still should be available.

        Like 3
      • MikeH

        Must be a regional thing. I have never head anyone pronounce Willys as will-eez.

        Like 5
  5. TheOldRanger

    Growing up since those ancient days (and I was 11 then), I’ve always heard Will-eez The only person I ever heard calling it Will-iss was a guy whose last name was Willis, and I just thought he was being funny… well, sort of Not a car I would particularly care to have, but others will like it…. it is clean and looks well taken care of

    Like 7
    • Paul Draver
      • Yblocker

        First time I’ve ever heard Will-iss pronounced that way, the commercial must be right, but I’m still going with Will-eez, it sounds better. While we’re at it, we could start a debate over the correct pronunciation of Porche, Renault, and Jaguar. That should light a pretty good fire. Lol

        Like 3
      • TomP

        Hmm, How to pronounce Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Lancia, Graham and Clenet… The world may never know…

        Like 3
    • Vince H

      The man who built thes pronounced his name like Willis but even the dealers in my area called them a Willeez.

      Like 1
  6. Doug

    I also have passed one identical to this one on the way to work for the last 2 years. Been in the same are surrounded by grass and weeds. paint is thin in places.

    Like 4
  7. GH

    Are these the ones that were sold by Sears?

    Like 3
    • MikeG.

      The Henry J was sold by Sears as the Allstate.

      Like 9
  8. LarryS

    Gotta go with the Will-eez crowd here. Never heard them called Will-iss when I was growing up (and they were relatively “not uncommon”). Same with the Willys Jeep.

    Like 4
  9. Dlegeai

    ….rather rare I think? was it a marketing success? I like the “reasonable” proportions considering it is from the 50’s; seems to be in the same size category as my 1955 Nash Rambler Super; sober styling all around, a perfect candidate for a first time classic buyer. GLWTS

    Like 3
  10. Threepedal

    How does he expect to sell it posting a video where the vehicle transitions from stationary to moving without producing any of the obligatory tire smoke?

    Like 1
    • mehalley mehalleyMember

      I’d be shocked if any tire smoke fans found this auction of the least interest.

      Like 3
  11. mehalley mehalleyMember

    Here’s an outline of the car’s story:
    – Bought new from the Grimsley Kaiser-Frazier dealership in Stillwater, Oklahoma by a lady named Mary Jane.
    – Purchased from her estate in the 1960s for $50 by a family familiar with Mary Jane.
    – Repainted its original black as a holiday present in 1970 (interior refurbished a few years later).
    – Driven from Stillwater to the 1981 Kaiser-Frazier national meet in Wichita, Kansas.
    – According to Oklahoma safety inspection receipts found in the glove box, the car was driven 2031 miles between May 1982 and July 1998.
    – Added to a private museum, circa 2000, after the car was sold to the son of the owner of the Grimsley K-F dealership.
    – In order to maintain the car in driving condition, the brake master cylinder, all wheel cylinders, shoes and hoses were replaced in 2002. New 15″ tires were mounted around 2013 and an aluminum radiator was installed in 2016.
    – Missing from the car – but subsequently sourced and replaced – was the parking brake T-handle assembly, the intermediate parking brake cable and the “AERO_LARK” script on the trunk. Both hydraulic and parking brake systems are now functional.
    I have put nearly 100 miles on it that includes several slow laps driven around Oklahoma’s Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Due to spinal cord damage done flipping a Mitsubishi truck at a Texas stage rally event in 1999 I’m forced to end my gearhead life driving manual transmission machines. If this Aero had an auto trans it wouldn’t be for sale.

    Like 2
    • Dennis Bailey

      I am currently the high bidder in this current auction and I lost to you in the first one for this car. I was envisioning driving it back to central California. Sounds like I might have had some trouble with the fuel system. BTW, what happened to the original fuel pump that I assume was manual? Any reason to suspect that the overdrive wouldn’t work?
      I was kinda glad you won that first round. I wasn’t looking forward to a long bus ride. Does Amtrak come thru Oklahoma City?
      I had also sworn that I would never buy a black car again(I live off a dirt road.

      Like 3
      • mehalley mehalleyMember

        Hello Dennis!
        Since it was recommended that I fetch the Willys from Stillwater (less than 50 miles from my house) with a trailer I’m confident my bid saved you from bad news. FWIW – it was the lack of brakes (both hydraulic and “emergency”) that kept me from attempting to drive the Aero home in the first place.
        The fuel system issues initially reported were simply misdiagnosed by me. Running the tank near dry during the run to, and around, the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit let the electric fuel pump lose prime. Overfilling the gas tank did nothing to help prime the pump but it aided the leak misdiagnosis which then led to purchasing a new 6-volt electric fuel pump. Once time was taken to prime that new pump the car returned to its reliable starting and running self. No fuel leaks have been discovered since.
        In addition to the time and expense of buying the missing parking brake parts and hiring help to install/adjust the mechanism I also scored the missing “AERO_LARK” trunk script and a replica service manual.
        According to a quick online search, AmTrak can get you to Oklahoma City (via San Antonio and Dallas) but you’d still be over 100 miles from my place on Keystone Lake. While I’m confident the car is up for a trip to the west coast, driving a black, un-airconditioned car over 1400 miles through OK, TX, NM, AZ and CA during summer will be a daunting task.
        Finally, the car came to me with an A/C Delco electric fuel pump so I have no knowledge of a manual fuel pump.
        Likewise, I have no experience with overdrive in the Willys but have, on good authority, been told that driving it 65mph on Oklahoma state highways going to HMRC last month would have been distressingly noisy (from over-revving the engine) if overdrive was not working. But I can’t guarantee that one way or another.
        Let me wrap up this ‘testimonial’ with this – If this Willys Aero had a functioning automatic transmission in it, it would not be offered on this auction.

        Like 1
  12. Harry

    6.0 ls.

    Like 0
    • MikeG.

      Why ??

      Like 0
      • Fewwordsjoe

        I’m with Yblocker. Always been Willeez.

        Like 1
  13. mehalley mehalleyMember

    An explanation for the recently added video (expertly edited by Josh at –
    I drove the Aero to the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit for the 25 May 2023 Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Oklahoma track day where I chauffeured four aspiring high performance drivers around the track in low speed familiarization laps (hence all my ratchet-jawing while on track) before taking their own machines to the circuit.
    The final few minutes of the video is what I recorded from my dually on the short trip from my friend’s place (where we had the Willys on a lift to get the parking brake pieces fitted and discovered no actual fuel tank leaks) toward my house.
    The squeaking sounds while on track were likely the tires under unaccustomed cornering stress. They haven’t made any such sounds while driving normally on the street. The grinding sound when applying the brakes was the brake arm scraping against a piece of the floor.
    The car has started easily and has run strongly since getting the new 6-volt electric fuel pump to prime.

    Like 3
  14. CeeOne

    I realize this is a Willys (Will eze) and not a Henry J, but in the 50s, my mom was dating a Hollywood stuntman named Jack Williams, later of High Chaparral fame, and he would pull up to the house in a Henry J.

    The 12 year old me did not like that car at all, so the dude was not very cool to me.

    He must have gotten some money from a movie and one time he arrives in a 56 T-Bird with the top down. Now he was very cool!

    My mom’s cousin from NY was visiting us and the T-Bird must have impressed her too. The two of them were in their 30s and off they went with smiles on their faces!

    I was in Sand Springs last November, would have loved to have at least looked at it.

    Like 2
    • mehalley mehalleyMember

      Last November this Aero was still residing in the private Kaiser-Frazer museum in Stillwater, OK.

      Like 1
  15. mehalley mehalleyMember

    Evidence of the new brake lines installed when the shoes, master & wheel cylinders were replaced.

    Like 1
    • mehalley mehalleyMember

      Rear brake hose.

      Like 1
  16. mehalley mehalleyMember

    RF brake hose.

    Like 0
  17. mehalley mehalleyMember

    Functioning parking brake rear cable.

    Like 1

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