Can It Be Saved? 1952 Willys Aero Wing

As the 17th largest manufacturer of cars in 1952, Willys-Overland didn’t have the budget that many other US car makers had at the time. It’s a shame because cars like this 1952 Willys Aero Wing were really unique and they’re rare to see today in nice condition. This one can be found here on eBay in Boring, Oregon with a $2,950 buy-it-now price or you can make an offer.

I still have nightmares about passing up a nice 1952 Willys Aero about a dozen years ago for $2,500. It wasn’t perfect but it was rust-free and dent-free and had a nice interior and it just looked like a regular, fun, old car for hardly any money at all – something that’s been missing from the car hobby for probably close to a decade. Deals are still out there but it seems like they’re getting harder and harder to find. I love the simple design of the Aero and this model, the Wing, was only made for 1952.

This car, as with all Willys Aero models – the base model Lark, the Wing as seen here, the Ace, and finally the Eagle – were unit-body cars. Checking the rust situation will be critical with these great looking cars. This one has a bit of rust on it but hopefully it’s on the body parts only. The Wing was close to being the base model but it had chrome trim around the windows and a little nicer interior, that’s about it, at least in looks. It came with the more-powerful F-Head engine which the base Lark didn’t have. The little aviation-inspired rear tail fins are pretty elegant here. You can tell that it’s a low price point car with no backup lights (which were an option) and exposed trunk hinges.

This car is more than a little rugged and most likely will never be restored, but parts of it do look pretty nice. The seats and door panels are pretty rough but until the structure is checked out and any rust fixed, the interior will have to wait. The driver’s door glass is gone so that’s not a good sign as far as water getting in to add to the rust situation.

This is a Willys Hurricane F-head 161 cubic-inch inline-six which would have had 90 hp compared to the similarly-sized L-Head flathead-six with 75 hp in the base Aero Lark. The seller hasn’t tried to turn it over so it may be stuck. A buyer would have to have a real soft spot in their heart (or in their head?) for a Willys Aero to take on this project, but I’ve seen cars in much worse condition being restored and I hope this one can be saved.


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  1. sir mike

    Needs saved if possible and brought back to original condition.

    Like 7
  2. Bultaco

    Looks a lot like a Volvo 122.

    Like 3
    • GeneB Member

      And that’s a good thing!

  3. CapNemo CapNemo

    Needs to be saved, if possible, and brought back to original condition.

    Like 9
  4. Bob S

    I remember them well. When I was a kid, one of my neighbours had one, so even though they were not common, I got to see one almost every day.
    It would be nice to see this restored.

    Like 4
  5. IkeyHeyman

    It can be saved, but unless you’re looking for a project, you can find decent running examples in the $5K-$8K range. I look at a lot of listings, I’ve seen several of these come up in the last year with seemingly little interest from buyers.

    Like 4
  6. Michael

    I don’t think this is a Continental engine. Willys made their own motors. The L-226 found in later Willys (inherited from Kaiser) were a design from the Red-Seal motors from Continental, but they were even built directly by Kaiser, then Willys.

    Like 5
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You’re right, Michael, my mistake.

      Like 4
  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    Yeah, it would be fun to see it restored, but it’s got “GASSER” written all over it. I can’t believe it made it this far not being turned into one. I vaguely remember the old man had a Willys Aero. I was pretty young, but remember that “W” on the trunk.Tell you one thing, it may not have been a hit in 1952, but wouldn’t it be great to buy a no frills, basic car like this again. Can you imagine having to choose a Willys Aero or a Henry J in 1952? Sadly, it will never happen.

    Like 5
    • Jerry Brentnell

      you would have to have rocks in your head to want a henry J they were junk when they were new, dad had a used car lot and ended up with 5 of these heaps new to clear a debt that was owed to him! I got the pleasure of cutting them up for scrap after sitting for a year and not selling!

      Like 1
      • Marshall

        Let’s see if I got this straight, you cut up five brand new cars for scrap because they could not be sold in a year’s time? Even if they were junk and only lasted a year, I would think you would’ve at least driven them (one at a time to save on insurance costs) until they crapped out and then sold at auction for whatever you could get for them

        Like 4
      • GeneB Member

        Marshall, I like how you think…brand new cars? Gotta remember he was running a business not a hobby, tho!

        Like 1
    • Ike

      F..Yeah, Fire breathing ‘little’ BBC ..( straight axle Posi rear, ..on street…’ well, you’ll get the ‘hang of it ) visible carb linkage above hood mandatory……

  8. Ken Carney

    I vote for a 3800 GM V-6 mated to either a 4-speed or an automatic from a ’90’s
    S-10 pickup. In the end, you’ll have a very
    unique daily driver. If I could, I’d build this
    for Mom. She’d probably get a kick out of it. Got too many projects around the house to take it on though. Someone
    correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t these
    things built in Brazil until well into the ’60’s? I’ve either read or heard it somewhere that indeed they were. Can’t
    seem to recall it clearly though. Anyone
    out there know for sure?

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Hey Ken, I’ve long thought that, take a classic like this, and update it with a modern drivetrain, without going gonzo, of course. I read, the Willys Aero was made in Brazil through 1971. It sold almost 100,000 cars there, so they must have liked it.

      Like 2
  9. Dave

    Isn’t this the same kind of car driven by the Western Union man at the end of Back to the Future 2?

  10. DJN

    Produced in Brazil from 1960 to 1967

  11. Gaspumpchas

    Saw a couple of these hotrodded, one had an early olds in it, and it fit in there nicely. Also have a friend who made a pro street out of one; hand built a subframe and installed big block chevy. This model was a hardtop. Amazing work, its been in most of the magazines! Very cool looking little Willys. Had one on the movie “back to the future”. Good luck to the new pwner.

    Like 3
  12. Pete Phillips

    Way over-priced. Hub caps are missing, driver’s door glass is missing, obviously the body-side moldings are missing, listing says the rear seat cushion is missing, air cleaner is missing, and it does’t run, needs paint, need upholstery, needs tires. Looks like a $500 car to me.
    That said, it needs to be brought back to life–these are too rare to junk or to make into a street-rod.

    Like 3
  13. mikestuff

    I was in Sao Paulo Brasil from Nov 1968-for 2 years. Being a car geek even at that age, I liked looking at all the kind of odd cars that were built, usually in big production plants on the outskirts of town.I know Ford had a big one as did Willys. As odd as they were, Willys always were interesting to me. Lots of “Fusca” Volkswagens were built in very big numbers in one of the first factories which was closer to the city and we’d occasionally take a bus past their plant. Cars were very expensive for the average person there, but there were some people we knew who had one and one of my favorites was the Willys Itamaraty which was fairly common and owned by people with some money. Ford also made a Galaxy based on the 1967 body style. It was in production many years after that.

    Like 2
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I always liked these little basic cars. As a youngster in the 50’s I saw several of these around town. I remember once saying to my dad how cute they were, he firmly pointed out that they were not built for a farm family, which we were. I grew up on a small farm (120 acres) just north of Redding, California. The driveway was about 1/4 mile long and was difficult to pass over in the rainy season until my dad eventually had truck loads of rock brought in over a ten year period. Small cars would not make it.
    God bless America

    Like 1
    • TimM

      I always like the idea of restoring something to its original condition but when it’s a car that’s almost 70 years old and the manufacturer has been out of business for almost that long the question comes to mind…. where do you get parts for it??? I just read about the air cleaner for sale for $6000 dollars for a Chrysler 300D!! What would the cost of the parts be for this car???

  15. Willowen Member

    These and the Hudson Jet came out around the same time, both compact sedans with 6-cylinder engines. The Willys was my favorite, just for looks if nothing else, but the F-head engine clinched the deal for me. Not that it mattered much, as I was only 11 years old at the time … but a confirmed car freak already.

    Like 1
  16. KevinLee

    sir Mike and Capn Nemo owe each other a Coke

    Like 1
    • CapNemo CapNemo

      I’m down for the coke! Cheers!!

      Like 1

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