Tropic Thunder: 1955 Willys Bermuda

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Here’s a rare bird: a Willys Aero two-door sedan in Bermuda trim. Interestingly, this Willys is located in the same small community where I found my Toyota HiAce project, the rolling countryside of Copper Hill, Tennessee. I’m willing to bet it’s the same gentleman I bought the Toyota from, as this Willys is the kind of project he’d like. If so – hi there, Steve! Find this rare Willys here on craigslist for $4,500. 

I can’t find much information about what set the Bermuda apart from other Aero models, but it effectively amounted to a trim line. Like other high-end models of a low-selling product, the Bermuda was only made for a short time before the poor sales stemming from the hardtop Ace and Custom sedans led to the cancellation of the Bermuda, and eventually, the entire lineup. Today, the Bermuda remains one of the rarer models produced.

This particular Bermuda is far from an original  car. A later Chevy 350 and Turbo 350 transmission have been swapped in. There are several issues, including the paintwork which is rough and incomplete, and wiring troubleshooting needed due to an updated harness install that was never completed. In addition, the carb needs rebuilding after the current owner set the points wrong and flooded it.

The seller says he planned to make quite the street rod out of this Willys, and the design of the body would suit that use of the car well. The Bermuda was basically Willys’ swan song before focusing entirely on the truck and 4×4 market, so there’s no doubt it’s rare – but is it special? Worth preserving? I don’t think so, which is why I feel a tasteful rat rod is the way to go. The lack of the original motor and other tweaks kill off most of the value, so why not have some fun with it? FYI, it’s listed for $4,500.

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Comments

  1. Mitch

    Had my attention until I saw a SBC was slammed in it.

    7+
    • Joe Backer

      It seems to me that it should not be called a barn find. When someone puts a completely different motor and trans in it.

      3+
  2. Ed P

    Interesting car in decent shape for restoration. The SBC would make this car quicker, but I prefer the car be restored to as new condition with a proper drivetrain. The 4 and 6 were in continued use in Jeeps for quite a while so a fixable engine should be available.

    5+
  3. Coventrycat

    Cleaned up with decent paint, and those slotted mags polished up it wouldn’t be bad.

    3+
  4. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

    I’ve never heard of that model and I thought that I was a huge Willys Aero fan. So much to learn in life. Nice find, Jeff!
    A car like this deserves to be restored back to original specs, in my world, but you’re probably right about it already being tainted so why not just go for it!

    4+
  5. Vince Habel

    Saw one of these back in 65 with a Caddy engine with 2 4s from a Eldorado

    3+
  6. Howard A Member

    This is quite a rare car indeed. I think the old man had an Aero for a short time, but I never heard of the Bermuda. This was a last gasp effort for Willys in the passenger car market. A swoopy Brooks Stevens model, similar to the the Lark Daytona was planned for ’56, but never made it. Prices were slashed to $1895, making it the lowest priced hardtop. Originally had the 226 flathead 6. ( We’re not missing anything there). Apparently, only 5986 1955 Bermudas were made before pulling the plug. This is like something you’d see in Cuba.( from what I’ve seen, never been, don’t care too either) Great find. SBC sweetens the deal.

    6+
  7. John M.

    For $4500, it’s a smokin deal compared to that VW bus that was seen earlier.

    4+
  8. Fred W.

    Quite a following for these in the Kaiser-Frazer club I once belonged to- the marque was somehow related.

    0
    • Bill McCoskey

      The basic connection to K-F is This: [From Wikipedia] While Joseph W. Frazer had left Kaiser-Frazer by 1950, Frazer had been the one-time president of Willys-Overland. Going it alone, Henry J. Kaiser pursued a merger between Kaiser Motors and Willys-Overland, which was arranged in 1953.

      This merger was also the reason Willys built the Kaiser 161 AKA the Kaiser Darrin. The 161 had a Willys automobile drive train using the 161 cu in f-head Willys engine.

      0
  9. Wade Anderson

    I remember my step dad having one of these in stock condition it was our family ride for a long time the last time I saw it was when he sold it and a 55Hudson Hornet to junk yard for 15dollars a piece

    0
  10. Wade Anderson

    I remember my step dad having one of these when I was young it was our family ride for years it stayed with us till I was 15 years old the last time I saw it was at a junkyard alongside its stalemate a 55 Hudson Hornet that was also our family ride one time going all the way to Ohio from Central Florida and back sold both cars for 15dollars each

    0
  11. Don

    Must be an early 350 if it had points 1968 our 71 somewhere around there !

    0
  12. Blindmarc

    Would make a great project for me. I could handle the wiring and carb rebuild. The $ is what I don’t have. A very good deal for the buyer!

    0
  13. Wayne

    From memory these weren’t a flathead six, but a F head.

    0
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Wayne, from what I’ve read, the 4 cyl. F head was dropped for ’55, leaving the 226 L head 6 the only choice.

      0
  14. Wayne

    Just checked wiki the 6 cylinder was definitely a F head

    0
  15. Vince Habel

    How stuff works shows the 161 cid ohv. I would think this is the f head. They show the 226 as a flathead.

    0
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Vince, to be clear, ( I think, it is confusing) Willys offered 2, 6 cylinders in the ’54 Aero. The 161 Hurricane “F” head 6, and the “big” 226 L head 6. For the Bermuda in ’55, the 161 was dropped, and the “Super Hurricane” 226 L head 6 ( Continental) was the only one offered.

      1+
      • Rolf Staples, Sr

        My folks had one back in 1957. It was quite a goer with that continental engine, albeit a bit heavy in front. Mom hit a tree with it…….. She wasn’t hurt, but the car…….

        0
  16. rando

    Listing says carb needs rebuild because the FLOATS were set wrong, not the points. That really stuck out to me, because the two shouldn’t be related. So I checked the listing. Tsk, tsk writers. That was a big one, to me.

    And it can still be a barn find, I think. Doesn’t have to be original to be found in a barn, storage locker, garage, etc. I like it and would enjoy having a project like this. Not original anymore. Noever will be again. So why not make a “Year 3” car of it. Fix it up, keep the period Fenton mags. Drive the snot out of it. Enjoy the ease of SBC maintenance and reliability.

    0
  17. MARK BOYCE

    Sadly no title,,

    0
  18. Wayne

    Again with the title dilemma.
    Anyone have a good way to get a title for a car that does not have one?
    I heard that there are a few states that will issue a title without seeing/inspecting the car.
    Who would these be?
    Thanks anyone that can help!

    0
    • MikeH

      I got a title for a pre ’73 car out of NY. No questions, $350. There is also Broadway Title, out of Alabama I think, but they were around $700. This was about 10 years ago, so I’m sure it is higher now. Let me know if you need me to dig up the name of the NY outfit. I held my breath at the title office [and this was a Citroen 2CV], but all sailed through with no questions asked–Texas.

      0
  19. Wayne

    Yes please! info on New York.
    Also if anyone else has had good luck with this kind of thing. Please let us know.
    I heard Tennessee and $100. But don’t know where to start.
    Thanks to everyone helping out!

    0
    • MikeH

      Wayne–Unfortunately, I’m out of town at the moment and will be for a week. I can get you the NY info when I get home. Send me a PM @ mharrel2009 at the popular site that begins “Y” and I’ll get back to you.

      0

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