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Early California Dreaming: 1926 Willys Hot Rod


California is the acknowledged birthplace of hot rodding, and has been the source of many unusual early hot rods found in storage over the past few years. This neat 1926 Willys roadster is for sale in Yucaipa, California (San Bernardino valley east of LA) here on craigslist for a very reasonable $6,500 (at this price it probably won’t last long, no matter how much work it will need to be brought back to driving condition).


There are not a lot of pictures, nor lengthy description in the ad, but what we can see is an old fashioned home made hot rod with some interesting features and in need of a full restoration to original form. Lots of neat touches here and overall, this is a great looking car.


According to the seller, this rod has been in and around Yucaipa for over 60 years and has been stored for the past 40 years. The engine was rebuilt before being stored and is out of an early Corvette; it is claimed to be a 327 with the fuelie heads. It has a two speed aluminum Powerglide and an 8 inch rear end, both of which were also rebuilt – presumably a long time ago. The frame has been boxed and z’d in the back 8 inches.


I’d love to learn more about this car’s history. Does anyone here recognize this hot rod?


Check out the cool keg-based gas tank and likely its original black license plate.


The seller cleaned up the car, got it running and added new Coker wheels and tires, and is now ready to sell it. These kinds of hot rods often need a bunch of work to bring them up to modern engineering and safety standards, but the overall look and feel of this rod is classic and cool, and hopefully, its new buyer will want to keep the car looking the way it did “back in the day.”


  1. Avatar photo Healeydays

    It’s gone already…

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  2. Avatar photo Terry J

    Wow! Quarter elliptic springs front and back indicates he used the Willys Frame/suspension which was always rugged enough. Cool Hot Rod. :-) Terry J

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  3. Avatar photo Matt Tritt

    Dang! An actual, for real rat rod!

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  4. Avatar photo Jason Houston

    Sad waste of another rare car…

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    • Avatar photo Brakeservo

      60 years ago this was probably just another junker that would have been scrapped if not recyled as it was.

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  5. Avatar photo '72 Spitty

    How about that Studie in the background?

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    • Avatar photo Jason Houston

      Yeh… I was thinking the same thing. And it’s a Starliner, too. My folks bought a new ’54 Conestoga in that same color. Boy, those were nice cars!

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  6. Avatar photo Rspcharger

    “bring them up to modern engineering and safety standards” since when is that a requirement?

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    • Avatar photo Jason Houston

      It’s mandatory with those who think old cars are much better off customized. There is no middle ground: restorod it or part it.

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  7. Avatar photo Jason Houston

    Well, if this were scrapped 60 years ago, just think – those nice black NLK plates would have been lost forever.

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