Blank Canvas: 1956 Woodill Wildfire


UPDATE 12/12/17 – This one has been relisted here on eBay with a $9k starting bid. Thanks for the tip AC!

FROM 7/7/17 – In the early 1950s, we were a can-do country. From the space race to TV dinners, we were a nation that could do anything. Cars were one of our specialties. While in most automotive categories we were world class, our sports cars were not so hot. Some attempts had been made, such as the Crosley Hot Shot and various homebuilt racecars. Sensing a demand, and wanting some pizzazz for their showrooms, Kaiser and Chevrolet were hard at work on the Kaiser Darrin and the Corvette. Unfortunately, they ended up as more boulevard cruisers than real sports cars. Woody Woodill had a different idea. While he wanted to mass produce his version of a sports car, most ended up as kits like this 1956 Woodill Wildfire listed on eBay with a buy it now price of $12,000.

Woody Woodill was a car dealer and promoter in early 1950s California who admired the new Jaguar XK 120. Dissuaded by his mechanics who assured him that the Jaguar would be unreliable, Woodill lamented that there were no real American sports cars to buy. Working with a multi-talented friend and a young boat builder, he ended up building a fiberglass sports car that used mainly Willys components. Named the Wildfire, he struggled to convince Willys to mass produce the car, but they ultimately didn’t have the financial ability to do so. Determined to make the car a success, Woodill and his team pressed on independently. Incomplete records suggest that up to 12 complete cars were built, and maybe as many as 200 kits were sold to eager enthusiasts with presumably boatloads of mechanical talent.

The Woodill Wildfire pictured is the automotive equivalent of a blank canvas. Sold as a kit, the seller believes that the car has never turned a wheel under its own power. The fiberglass parts of the car appear to be in fairly good shape, but the frame, which appears to be heavily modified with 1986 Capri components, will likely need a lot of work. A Ford Y block V-8 and a 3-speed transmission is included, but the new owner would have to engineer a way to mount it. On the plus side, the correct documentation is there, and these sell for a lot when they make it to market. Putting it all together and ending up with an automotive Mona Lisa is possible, but you had better know what you are doing before you pick up your tools.

There are two questions any prospective buyer must ask themselves. First is, what type of Wildfire would you create? Period correct street rod? Cruiser? Vintage racer? Second, do you possess the ability to complete such a project?

Fast Finds


  1. Jim

    This would be a cool project, I’d use the Y-block, 50’s Stewart Warner gauges, tuck n roll padded bomber seats and a nice set of wheels-tires from Coker. You’d have the only one at the local cruise night.

  2. Edward Matula

    The best thing to do, would be to start with a clean sheet of paper and build a custom tube chassis, using modern day components and a crate engine & trans. This wouldn’t make it a classic, but It would be one hell of a unique show car or driver.

  3. ROAR

    I good project for a motivated guy, with the Y block and three on the floor it would make a noteworthy driver.

    Needless to say, many of these were roadraced, sometimes with the Willies F head engine which did well in the small bore classes

  4. Lee

    make a nice salad bar

    • boxdin

      Plus grill area in the trunk. Kabobs ahead…..
      My bumper sticker; I brake for a steak break.

  5. GaryC Gary charlton

    Morrison chassis, Ford 4.6 supercharged, TREMEC 5 or 6 speed, 9 inch ford position.
    Pearl white, tan interior
    Long twisty road.
    Ok I’m done.

  6. GaryC Gary charlton

    Morrison chassis, Ford 4.6 supercharged, TREMEC 5 or 6 speed, 9 inch ford position.
    Pearl white, tan interior
    Long twisty road.
    Ok I’m done.

  7. LAB3

    The only questions I have about cars from this era is where do you source the trim and glass? Granted, from what I saw on that TV show this car used a basic piece of glass as a windscreen but what about the rest?

    • Austin

      When I was building an AC Aceca (one of less than 300 made) I was surprised that for every rare car I have come across, there was always someone out there hoarding parts for them. In that case, it was a gentleman named Jim Feldman who lives in portland OR who bought up Ace and Aceca parts as they became available. He helped me get one of 3 windshields left known to exist, and boy was it a scary feeling to open the box after fed ex dropped it off. I had a backup plan for the windshield if it arrived broken, and that is a local auto glass shop that has an old timer there who can take measurements of the size and curve of the windshield on vintage cars and can source glass made for a different car and can “nibble” away bits of glass very slowly to shape it. He charges 350$ plus whatever the glass costs and if it cracks, he starts over and you pay for the broken one as well. usually ends up between 800-1200$ for the glass, but when that’s your only option, that’s what you have to do. As far as trim, my Aceca was missing some parts, notably the driver side window frame and glass channel. The good thing was that manufacturing in the 1950’s was so simple that it only took simple steel square tubing and many many hours of labor to get it curved right and welded up, then I had all the trim Chromed at the same time to uniform everything.

      This is actually my Woodill for sale that got posted here, so I was interested to see what the comments were on it. I was very conflicted with building it vintage or modern and I see from the comments so far, everyone else is as conflicted as me!

      • Loco Mikado

        You would think that today lasers can cut glass there would be someone out there using a laser to do what this guy does.

  8. Gaspumpchas

    I owned one of these a million years ago. Had a v8 flatmotor and a 40 ford frame,was so ugly we called it the fiberglass dog turd. i paid $100 for it and traded it for a toploader 4 speed. Turns out the engine was brand new, not rebuilt. ran like a swiss watch. saw one restored at a car show a few yrs later. who knew……

  9. Jack Quantrill

    I saw one raced at Santa Barbara airport SCCA course in the 50’s. Went like the hell!

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