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FOR SALE: 1941 Willys Coupe

by Dave on December 27, 2019


Our buddy Rick Kimes spent his career with PG&E – Pacific Gas & Electric – the mega-utility that serves most of the state of California. His job description was simple: keep the lights on. During those freezing, gale-force Central Coast storms, when the rest of us were tucked in our warm beds, Rick was up a power pole, swinging like a metronome. Much of his work was done at night and on weekends and for the overtime Rick was paid well – and deservedly so. It was his Hurricane Money. He wasn’t about to spend it on a sissy car.

Rick started with a body and chassis from Outlaw Performance. There are a number replica ’41 Willys bodies on the market, but Outlaw is pretty much considered the gold standard. Rick knew exactly what he wanted to build and knew he’d need an experienced fabricator – someone with design, fabrication and sheet metal skills — to make it happen. He came to see Gary. Over the years Gary had been instrumental in several Willys builds; often there was more than one of them in the shop at the same time.

Rick wanted a killer motor, killer stance and a full aluminum interior. But he also wanted something well-engineered. A car that was a joy to drive. Here’s the result.

Rick brought the body and chassis to the shop and Gary went to work. While the body was beautiful – Outlaw gel coats are so flawless, they’re actually as nice as most paint jobs – the chassis was going to need work. Outlaw outsources these frames and this one didn’t mate up well to the body’s subrails. Gary did a lot of work to remedy the problem, plus the additional work needed to ensure the wheels sat squarely under the car’s fenders.

The front end is a Heidt’s Superide with RideTech air suspension and polished stainless steel components, all steered by a manual Flaming River rack. The MII spindles, rotors and caliper brackets were custom machined by Gary to run Wilwood brakes and a pair of American Funny Car spindle-mount wheels. When it was all together, Gary whittled up a pair of custom hub covers.

The motor is a ’64 Chrysler/Eagle 426 inch Hemi, bored .030 over for a total of 430 inches. It features aluminum Dick Landy heads, a Kellog crank, Eagle rods and Arias pistons, and a Comp cam with solid lifters. The machine work was done by the legendary Renteria Brothers of Pro-Mod racing fame with Rick himself pitching in on the assembly.

The crowning glory is the Crower port injection, a set-up that’s been converted from mechanical to electronic. It was well-engineered, but the supplied plumbing did not do it justice. Rick wanted to step up, so Gary started from scratch. The result is a system is straightforward, handsome and functional; a fabricator’s work of art.

An Accel Gen 7 controller helps smooth out the fuel injection, but to make the car even more drivable, Gary built a mechanical throttle system that modulates pedal travel through a set of bell cranks. In spite of its nasty demeanor, this car fires up and behaves as amenably as your daily driver — until you put your foot in it.

Dyno’d at 560 horsepower, the big Hemi gets its grunt to the ground through a Chrysler 727 trans and a Strange 9 inch Detroit Locker. The trans features a manual valve body, a B&M shifter and a 3000 rpm stall speed. The rear end is located by a four bar/Panhard Bar set-up and features streetable 3.70 gears, RideTech air bags and QA1 shocks.

Gary also scratch-built the headers and collectors, plus a set of four-inch baffled road pipes. A bit of experimentation went into the baffles. A number of versions were tried before they found the perfect exhaust note: something between a neighborhood-friendly rumble and the roar of a fire-breathing dragon.

Walking around the car there are lots of subtle details from Gary: the ’33 taillights in handmade bezels, the custom-fabricated mirrors and fender struts, the handmade louvered hood, and the one-off grille surround and insert. (The Moon tank now serves as a recovery for the Griffin aluminum radiator). The mile-deep PPG 683 two-stage black paint is also by the Renteria Brothers and, while nothing on the car shouts “look at me,” the fit and finish throughout is all show quality.

Inside, the incredible fabrication work continues. The body has been insulated with DynaMat, then treated to a full custom aluminum interior. Secured with Dzus fasteners, Gary designed it all to be easily removed without unbolting the six-point roll cage.

The firewall and floorboards are also done in aluminum. The Funny Car-inspired instrument pod was hand-built by Gary, as was the roll bar and center console (which houses the Accuair suspension controls). The interior features a number of race car touches: Jerry Bickel Pro-street pedals and switches, Deist seat belts, and a quick-release Momo wheel.

Gary’s tin work continues into the trunk, it’s finished just as nicely as the cabin. Carpeting throughout the car is by Sid Chavers.

California-registered as a 1941 Willys, Rick has put 3500 miles on the car. He’s ready to build a new project. The Willys is totally dialed in and has been meticulously maintained. All it needs is a new home.

More build photos can be found here and here



Owner Rick Kimes  


Outlaw Performance ’41 Willys

Custom louvered hood/nosepiece

Custom fabricated grille insert and surround trim, Moon tank

Recessed license plate

’33 Willys taillights, custom fabricated bezels

Custom fabricated mirrors

Power windows, remote doors, bear claw latches


Two Stage PPG 683 black by Renteria Brothers Racing, Morgan Hill, CA


Full six point roll cage

Full custom fabricated aluminum interior

DynaMat insulation

Custom fabricated Funny Car-inspired instrument pod, Motometer gauges

Momo quick-release steering wheel

Jerry Bickel Pro-Street pedals and switches

Deist seat belts

Fully-finished trunk: aluminum panels, custom fabricated deck lid supports

Outlaw Performance fuel tank

Interior and trunk carpeting by Sid Chavers


Outlaw chassis, modified to match contour of the body’s subrails


Heidt’s Superide polished stainless independent front end

RideTech air ride suspension with Accuair control

Flaming River rack and pinion steering

QA1 shocks


Wilwood four-piston calipers, drilled rotors

Custom fabricated rotor mounts to adapt spindle-mount wheels to MII spindles



Strange 9 inch differential, Detroit Locker, 3.70 street gears

Four bar with Panhard bar

RideTech air ride suspension with Accuair control

QA1 shocks



Wilwood four piston



15 x 6 American Funny Car Spindle Mount, fully polished, custom hub covers

1.45SR15 Michelin



17 x 12 P & S five spoke, fully polished

LT-345/55R17 BFG


’64 Chrysler/Eagle 426 Hemi block, bored .030 over to 430 cubic inches

Aluminum Dick Landy heads

Kellog crank

Eagle rods

Arias pistons

Comp cam, solid lifters

Crower port injection converted from mechanical to electronic

Accel Gen 7 controller

Jeff Johnson aluminum billet-rail valve covers

MSD electronic ignition

Machine work by Renteria Brothers Racing


Custom fabricated headers and collectors

Four inch road pipes, baffled and tuned exhaust note

Exhaust fabrication by Gary Evans



Chrysler 727 with manual valve body

3000 stall speed

B&M shifter with custom cast shift knob


Enos Black Box fuse panel

Aluminum driveshaft

Custom made Griffin aluminum radiator

Striping and graphics by Big Mike at Chaparral Signs, Morgan Hill, CA

California licensed as a 1941 Willys Coupe

Seabright would like to thank Michael Christian for his beautiful vineyard photos of Rick’s Willys.

From → For Sale

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