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Family Owned Original 1937 Willys Model 37

A person can hardly go wrong with a car like this 1937 Willys Model 37. It’s fairly small so it won’t take up a lot of room as you tinker with it. It has four doors so once it’s ready to go you can haul your family and friends around, and you will undoubtedly have the only one anywhere that you take it, from the grocery store to a car show. This one is listed here on eBay in Hockessin, Delaware with an unmet $5,000 opening bid and no reserve after that.

This really seems like almost the ideal first car for a family restoration project to me. The price isn’t exactly in the bargain basement of old vehicles for sale, but a car like this should be doable for almost any enthusiast without a lot of specialty tools or equipment other than a lot of weekend time with your kids. Check out those chrome spears on the engine cover, that’s very 1930s and is a nice touch.

Willys came out with the Model 77 in the early-1930s which was a smaller, four-cylinder car. The Great Depression was still raging in the US and in 1934, Willys dropped their six and eight-cylinder cars and concentrated on the Model 77. In 1937 the car was updated and renamed the Model 37 which is what we have here. That rear 3/4 view is about as cool as it gets, isn’t it?

No, it’s not a ’63 Corvette but this is one of the cars that put Americans back on the road again in tough times and for those of us who like unusual vehicles, this is the one to have.

With a 100-inch wheelbase, the Model 37 wasn’t huge but it had more than enough room for most families of the time. You can see the amount of work that’ll be needed on the inside and it’s a fair amount. The back seat area looks pretty good but the whole interior will need help. The seller says that this car has been in their family for many years and it runs, drives, and stops the way it is now so that’s a huge plus.

The engine is a Willys 134 cubic-inch L-head four-cylinder which had 48 horsepower. Combined with the three-speed manual column-shifted transmission, it isn’t a powerhouse but, what’s your hurry? Have any of you owned a Willys of this era?


  1. Avatar photo junkman Member

    That is cool looking car, kinda like an aardvark. Never seen one, not planning on spending 5k to see one again either.

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo Sunshine

      And it sold for $5200!

      Like 8
  2. Avatar photo Turbo

    I’ve actually always thought that these were hideous.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo IkeyHeyman

    Neat car, hope it gets restored.

    Like 16
  4. Avatar photo Junior Samples

    Looks floor shifted to me…?

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You’re right, sir! I saw that floor shifter after reading that they came with a column-mounted 3-speed manual but didn’t edit that part out. Thanks for catching that.

      Like 9
  5. Avatar photo scott m

    Never seen this, but love the size, and the lines are beautiful! Not trying to insult it, but reminds me of a PT Cruiser

    Like 9
  6. Avatar photo Al

    Now I know where Graham got its idea for the 1939 Graham Spirit of Motion.

    Jetzt weiß ich, woher Graham seine Idee für den Graham Spirit of Motion von 1939 hat.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Lance

      Actually Al, Amos Northup designed the Willys 37 about a year before Graham asked him to redesign their automotive lineup.They do share a basic design.Sadly, this design did not help. Joseph Frazer then became president of Willys and had this car redesigned and renamed. It was then called the Americar until the early 1940’s when the War came and Willys put their efforts into building Jeeps. Dieses auto sind hofflich!

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Bill-W

        Willys was in serious trouble at beginning of the 1930’s, running millions in the red in 1929. They brought out the model 77 with a four cylinder engine based on the Whippet Four of 1926-1930.

        Production slowly rose from 12,800 in 1933 to 30,800 in 1936. 1937 soared up to 63,000. Then the 1938 recession hit, and Willys dropped to 24,000 and down further in 1939 to 20,000. In mid-1939 Willys adopted hydraulic brakes..

        The old Whippet was said to be just like the dog it was named after – stopped at all the trees. And you could tell how fast you were going by what shook loose on the engine..

        I believe the 1937 models brought back memories of the Whippet. Thus the plunge in sales for 1938 and 1939.

        Thus Frazer’s order to make the engine reliable. The 1940 Willys was a much improved car mechanically. Willys had no money for a new body, though, thus carrying on with the 1937 body until end of car production in January 1942.

        Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Kenneth Carney

    Great find! Haven’t seen one in years even in print. Last one I saw was in Rod
    And Custom Magazine in February of ’71. Like Junior, I hope the next owner
    restores it and doesn’t turn it into a gasser. Dad said he saw them on used
    car lots during WWII commanding rather
    stiff prices due to their 30+ MPG on a
    gallon of rationed gas. Looks like a
    great start for the next owner.

    Like 9
  8. Avatar photo Wayne Thomas Member

    My Dad had one of these when he worked at the Shipyard in Brunswick Ga before WWII. He spoke of it fondly many times. He would always talk about the MPG he got when he drove it home to North Ga. Fond Sweet memories.

    Like 4
  9. Avatar photo Steve Thompson

    Amazing that it runs, drives and stops. Modify it with disks upfront, a flathead V8 a 39 trans, and narrowed 9 inch out back. Paint black, re-chrome and do interior, way cool !!!

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo John Cee

    The ugly older step child of the 40 -41 Willys Coupe! (much more desirable)

    Like 3
  11. Avatar photo Allen

    Great car wish I could afford to add it to my collection.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Courtney

    Had an old Willys Aeroace once easiest car to work on with just standard wrench kit and a few screwdrivers.

    Like 5

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