Hemi Powered 1933 Willys Coupe Garage Find

Reader Mike C just found one of the coolest hot rods finds that we’ve seen in a while. This 1933 Willys Coupe was stashed away in a garage not too far away from Mike’s home in Pennsylvania. About a year ago he heard about a stash of vintage speed parts and decided to go take a look. Their in the owner’s garage, surrounded by a honey hole of sweet parts was this Willys. He made an offer right then, but the owner wasn’t too interested in letting it go. Just a few days ago, they let Mike know that they had finally decided it was time to let it go, so he loaded up his trailer and picked it up. Now that he has it home, he’s trying to figure out the car’s history and is hoping one of you recognizes it.

So, here’s the story that Mike has been able to piece together so far. The car was originally built in California sometime in the 1960s. He has found one older photo of the car while it was still in California, but nothing that could link it to its original builder. From there it made the long journey to Chambersburg, PA. and has spent the past few years in the previous owner’s garage there. Unfortunately, they haven’t been of much help in providing any of the car’s history either. So, as you can see, he really doesn’t have much to go off of.

While he might not know much of the history, at least at this point, he does know what’s under the hood. Power comes from a 270 cui Hemi V8, which is paired to a Chrysler A-833 4-speed transmission and an early Jaguar independent rear suspension. These parts would have all been readily available in the ’60s and may give Mike a few clues as to the car’s origins. While Jaguar IRS setups are commonplace in hot rods and street rods today, this would have been cutting edge technology for the ’60s and most home builders would have needed help from a professional to get it right.

It isn’t an earth-shattering discovery, but it’s definitely one of the cooler finds to emerge so far for 2019. If this is any indication of things to come, this is set to be a good year! We hope Mike keeps us posted on the process of getting this Willys back on the road. If you happen to recognize it or know someone who might, please let him know in the comments. Our thanks to him for sharing his find with us, now we just need to get him to share photos of the speed parts he found with it!

Do you have a cool barn find story? Your fellow Barn Finds Readers would love to see it, so please send photos and story to mail@barnfinds.com!

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  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    I must say, my jaw dropped when I noticed the chain drive connecting the steering shaft and the steering box/rack down below.

    OK, I finally have to admit it, I have not seen it all. (And never will)

    • Chunk

      Nice catch – and yeah, that is crazy and bad-ass!

  2. canadainmarkseh Member

    I noticed that steering drive chain too and was also surprised. But as long as there’s a tensioner sprocket there’s no reason it won’t work. It does look well exicuted. This car is quite the score and all I’d change is to get the running boards back on it. Congratulations Mike on your purchase. I built a model of this when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite cars, that and a 1937 Packard boat tail roadster. Great find Mike.

  3. Woody

    Nice find Mike,Im in central Pennsylvania please let me know if you need help with picking thru the rest of the collection,maybe there could be another Willys hidden somewhere!

  4. Tirefriar

    As the old adage goes “What’s there not to like?”
    Congrats on a very unique car find and may it bring you tons of smiles. Be nice if you could post pictures as you progress with the ownership.

  5. Beatnik Bedouin

    Well, that’s different..! When you dig Gassers but really want a sports car, this is the machine for you.

    A 270 inch Hemi sounds like it came out of a DeSoto, if my memory serves me well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as they were pretty good engines in their day.

    Putting IRS on a street rod in the 1960s would have seriously cutting-edge. I’m guessing that the builder bought a totalled Jag and swapped over the the suspension, etc.

    Look forward to seeing more pics of this unique machine…

  6. Steve A

    Nice find!!!

  7. Chuckster

    Do not think I have seen a 4 carb setup like that before , must be fun tuning them all up together

  8. LAB3

    It’s not much different than tuning a 4 carb motorcycle engine except in this case you have actual room to work.

  9. John M.

    If the old Willys could talk, it could fill in the missing blanks in Mike’s research of the car’s history and a great find to boot.

  10. Gaspumpchas

    Amazing Find, Mike–I’ll put it up on the Pocono Drag Lodge site and see if we get any bites. Wonder if it was drag raced?? Cheers


    • Frank Smith



      On a Yellow jacket site out of so Cal

      We did it for love
      They did it for love, search will bring up link to H.A.M.B.
      Great folks with a dwindling fraternity…

      Good luck!

  11. Mike Hanna

    I live 15 mins from Chambersburg, Pa…
    I would love to have seen this in person.

  12. Kenneth Carney

    Might’ve been at the 1st Street Rod Nats
    in Peoria back in ’70. There were so many fine cars there that I can’t remember right now. Whoever built it
    predicted the future of car building as
    we know it today. I do believe that the
    way the car was built, it more than likely
    would’ve made the trip with no trouble
    at all. That 4-carb setup is something
    I’ve never seen before, but why use this
    when there were tunnel rams available
    for the hemi back then. Would’ve run
    better with 2 4bbl. Carter AFBs on it
    instead. Good luck Mike! You’ve got a
    great car there.

  13. madbrit

    The chain drive steering is not a new idea. In this case it was to get around that hemi motor.

    When they imported the 70’s full size Cherokees and Wagoneers into the UK, they used a chain drive to connect the steering box to the column which had been cut near the floor and re-positioned on the right hand side of the vehicle. It was a three or four row chain encased in a heavy steel box which ran across at floor level. Worked just fine. Now the conversion to a hydraulic clutch mechanism was a totally different ball of wax…….

    • Mountainwoodie

      Hmmm….I wondered about that too…….if the chain jumped the sprocket or broke how do you steer? The front end looks like a mini Pierce-Arrow.

  14. Little Cars

    Nice! Perhaps the Jag gave it’s wheels too…and are those VW headlights in place of the original fixtures? Good fabricated bumper and grille design. Taillights look British too.

    • dweezilaz

      No. That was Willys styling for that period. And not popular.

      The tail lights look like they are 49 Hudson.

      • dweezilaz

        From the rear

  15. Ronald

    Around southern ky to my knowledge the jaguar IRS rear suspension did not catch on until the late 70s early 80s and all I ever seen were totally taken apart and everything was chromed before final instillation. I can’t ever remember seeing one that was installed as is right out of the donor car so this fact alone dates it to this era for me. I surley don’t think it was drag raced with that rear end

    • tyroljag

      1961, Jag E-Type came with IRS! Front Parts also E-Type!
      regards from Tyrol!

  16. 37hotrod

    Post this up over on the HAMB. You should have an answer by lunchtime.

  17. waynard

    Post pics on H.A.M.B and Kustomrama online. There are a lot of old rodders there and can lead you to more and better info. Great find!

  18. Graham Line

    What Jaguar would have even had an independent rear in 1960? Seems like a later addition.

    • Jon Loring

      The Jaguar IRS was available on the E type from 1961 and was used on sedans after the MKII until 1986 in the same basic design.

  19. Comet

    It looks more like a show car than a dragster. Jag IRS, wire wheels, innovative chain drive steering setup, lots of under-hood chrome. Just my guess.

  20. madbrit

    Looks lie a fiberglass tilt front. Possibly correct on the VW type headlights, maybe Porsche?

    The rear lights look a little like the Lucas offering used on many UK cars of that era but not quite exact.

    Jag rear ends were raced but not in very powerful cars, limited to fast street cars of the day.

    • dweezilaz

      Not VW lights. Production Willys 77.

  21. Mark Mitchell

    Looks like it has a complete triangulated tube frame. A very high-tech build if it was done in the ’60’s!

  22. John P

    I don’t believe this car was built before the 90’s or possible after 2000. Very cool car-but too many modern and vintage hot rod touches combined to have not been influenced by a few decades of “cool” adaptations. Either way-it’s make a neat street rod.

  23. Steve

    I spy a Jag IFS in there. Would make a nice driving car me thinks.

  24. stillrunners

    Pretty sure they were using Jag rear end’s in the 60’s – cheaper than a Vette at that time. And the motor is a Dodge 270 – Desota was running a 276 for comparison then both went to the 325 – I’m sure. The intake is standard mid 50’s set up – like so many other set up’s – not a whole lot of tunnel ram’s for the early hemi’s..

    Nice car….

  25. BigBlocksRock

    I’ve never seen one of that vintage. Friend in H/S had a ’41, fire engine red with a 327-350 auto. At that time nothing was cooler for me. This one is right up there. Love it!

  26. Jake Loring

    Appears the the front suspension is also off a Jaguar E type. Should be a sweet driving car if properly set up!!!! Darn love to find one like this!

  27. madbrit

    Looks lie a fiberglass tilt front. Possibly correct on the VW type headlights, maybe Porsche?

    The rear lights look a little like the Lucas offering used on many UK cars of that era but not quite exact.

    Jag rear ends were raced but not in very powerful cars, limited to fast street cars of the day.

    Willys used flat glass on their headlights and these are domed with a separate units inside. Grill surround is custom too. As I said, fiberglass tilt front end, wonder how much else is fiberglass????….. LOL.

  28. madbrit

    Looks like a custom torsion bar suspension to me. I don’t see a spring, only a shock. You can see what looks like the torsion bar running along the frame rail.

  29. madbrit

    As a matter of interest, fiberglass 1933 Willys bodies were first marketed by Cal Automotive in around the end of 1967, start of 1968. They were made by Hart Automotive and cost $650. KS Pittman used one throughout the 1968 season. This came to pass because the NHRA had a rules change in 1967 that allowed cars to use full fiberglass bodies instead of select panels such as front ends and fenders.

    The first Jag independent suspension was introduced in 1961 with the E type.

  30. Del

    Cool car.

    Scary steering

  31. Jon Berndlmaier

    Big Block

    I love it, I agree that the running boards should be put back on, imo it would look better, But it def a car I would grab for my own collection

  32. John P

    And yes… those are VW OR Porsche headlights in the original “33 positions.. at least the lenses and bezels anyway—I hope to hear more about this car..

  33. DayDreamBeliever Member

    BTW, Mike….

    Nice trailer. People underestimate how much easier it is to tow when the platform used for the found car doesn’t double the weight being pulled.

    Current work trailers are: 25′ Aluminum open-deck, built extra wide to haul one-ton dually pickups. 36′ Aluminum open-deck, goose-neck hitch. 24′ Featherlite enclosed. Steel trailers are cheaper, but the aluminum ones are very well worth it, IMO.

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