Lark Parked Since 1963: 1952 Willys Aero-Lark

As a base model car, this 1952 Willys Aero-Lark sure had some modern features that would be found on cars that came a few years after it. This interesting car can be found here on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $2,000. It’s located in Lodgepole, Nebraska. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in the tip for this good-looking project Aero!

When (not if, when) the Powerball finally hits for me (remembering to buy a ticket might help), a Willys Aero will be on my list. I regret not buying a nice example of this make a little over a decade ago for $2,500 before prices went bonkers on old vehicles. The Aero was really ahead of its time, especially for one of the smaller car companies. Willys-Overland and/or Kaiser-Willys wasn’t a small company but compared to GM and Ford it was, at least in regards to making passenger cars. Having unit-body construction wasn’t a first but it was unusual for vehicles in the early-1950s and the Aero series was known for being solid and quiet.

Arguably the most famous design feature of the Aero cars would be these fantastic, subdued fins. They weren’t fins like we would see at the end of the 1950s, but more like a tailored suit compared to a stretchy houndstooth suit that may or may not (in case any of you still wear one) go out of fashion almost as quickly as they were in fashion, but then a few decades later would be in fashion again for the kitsch and/or gaudy factor. Being a unit-body car, The Willys Aero was known for being smooth and comfortable for full-sized adults and seeing 35 mpg wasn’t uncommon on the highway.

There are no overall interior photos and believe it or not, this is it – the only photo that even hints of what the interior looks like. You can tell that this whole car will need a lot of work to get it back to daily or weekend driver status. If the rust isn’t horrible this would be a fun project, in my opinion. They say that it “does have some rust (very little for its age) you can see the rust on the hood in the photos provided and the drivers side floor does also have rust.”

The engine should be the flathead L161 Lightning, a 161 cubic-inch inline-six with 75 hp which was in the Aero-Lark and Aero-Falcon. Other Aero models, the Eagle, Wing, and Ace, received the more potent Hurricane-six with an F-head design and 90 hp. This car “has been sitting since about 1963 and only has 33,000 original miles. Very rare find this Willys is not missing any parts and has been garage kept, minus the last month or so since we moved it out to take photos. Great project car and these are worth a ton when restored.” NADA is at $10,250 for a high-retail value, not that it’s the be-all-end-all for value by any means, but it’s something to go by at least. Are there any other Willys Aero fans out there?


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    Clean lines…would look good as a restoration or a restomod.I like it .

    Like 4
  2. Bob C.

    This basic design continued in South America with upgrades through Willys do Brasil until 1972. A shame they couldn’t compete with the big three around here.

    Like 4
  3. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Nice example there….at $2500 opening….maybe that will get it.

    Like 2
  4. Howard A Member

    That’s what’s great about the writers here, they can describe a vehicle, and state the facts without so much as a burp. 33,000 miles,,, this old gal got three HUNDRED 33,000 miles. These were basic cars, and many used these as salespersons cars, and racked up hundreds of thousands of miles, and this old Willys, I bet sold a lot of vacuum cleaners( or whatever) I vaguely remember my old man having one, not for long, though. This poor gal has had it. Going to need lots of new parts, and I doubt you’ll find them today. 4 bolt wheels?

    Like 2
    • James Schwartz

      I completely agree with you Howard about the miles. It’s lunacy the number of cars for sale with the old 5 digit odometer, that claim to be “original” or “actual” miles. I suppose a few really are the original low miles that the odometer is showing, but what do you figure? Maybe 5% of them are actually original miles. Yet, 75% of sellers with a car having a 5 digit odometer will claim that it’s miles are original. It should be criminal. Worse case I ever saw was a few years back an ad for a Chevette claiming 7k original miles (car was 35 years old by this time). Seller said it was owned by the little old lady who drove it to church on Sundays only. Problem was the car looked like it had been an off-road rally racer and not only the driver’s seat was trashed, but the passenger seat AND the backseat on the passenger side was worn out and ripped as well. Dash cracked in 20 places. Door panels cracked. brake and gas pedal worn down to a nub, along with the driver’s footwell carpet. That Chevette had AT LEAST 107k on it, more likely 207k. And before anyone says that a Chevette couldn’t last that long, think again. I’ve owned 2 different Chevette’s that have turned over their old 5 digit odometers TWICE!!.

      Like 3
  5. Gaspumpchas

    Saw one of these with an Olds j2. also have a bud who did one pro street, unbelievable, you will see this in the magazines. This one has so much possibility. Small block? Straight axle? 4 or 6 cyl? Personality I’d put a nailhead in this one. Real cool styling and paint. Good luck to the new owner.


    Like 3
    • Vince H

      I saw one in a junkyard in Colorado with a Caddy El Dorado engine with 2 4s

  6. Metoo

    I believe the last time I saw one was in the end scene of Back To The Future II. The guy delivering the telegram to Marty McFly drove up in it.

    Like 1
  7. Will Fox

    These are right up there with the Henry J, & Sears Allstate in desirability. Uglier than a mud fence. Even in `52, these were at the bottom of the barrell in offerings. Resto-mod the thing; put a Chevy 350 in it and a custom interior, and you might have something.

    Like 2
    • Duaney

      In 1952, none of the magazine reviews considered this car ugly. It’s similar to the 52 Ford, a top seller. The only criticism the car received when new was it was too expensive, of course smaller Willys-Overland would have struggled to price match Chevy or Ford.

      Like 3
  8. Bigun

    I must have missed something through the years, but I remember actual miles however original miles throws me since any miles would be original but not really actual. is this just a way to confuse the viewer or what is the real meaning.

    Like 2
  9. Del

    This is a very rare car and complete

    I would not dismiss the mileage as not being original. The car looks to be in good shape.

    Surprised no one is bidding

    Like 5
  10. Shane Brinkman

    Just purchased a ’52 Ace. Complete with South Dakota Title.
    Haven’t even picked it up yet.
    She is supposed to run. No dents or rust just patina & flaking paint.
    I’ll take pictures before we attempt removing it from the Barn its been in for many yrs. (Yes the Barn is collapsing around it).
    It will be for sale as soon as we get it home & set a price.

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