1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

1937 Willys Coupe – Sheridan Hale’s Survivor

Sheridan Hale’s bone stock, survivor, 1937 Willys coupe you see before you could weaken the knees of nearly every hot rodder on planet earth. Willys coupes dominated the Gasser Wars of the late 1950s and early 60s. The car’s small, lightweight bodies made for perfect drag race platforms, and the vast majority of them were converted into nose high, straight axle, drag strip warriors.1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

Willys that avoided being turned into drag cars would stand a good chance of being converted into Pro-Street monsters decades later. One would assume that Willys coupes came from the factory with massive tires stuffed in wheel tubs and supercharged engines in the early 1990s as it was so common to see them built that way. In the current era Willys coupes are held so sacred due to their early racing heritage that collectors are paying huge money for gutted shells, and often restoring them back to their racing heyday appearance.1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

So where does this leave “stock” Willys coupes? The answer to that question is “rarer than hen’s teeth.” So when MetalWorks received a contact from Ken and Norm Hale that they were looking for a shop to restore their Father’s basically untouched 1937 Willys coupe, they figured it had to be a mistake…that is until they sent a photo…then, they all got weak in the knees.

1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel CurveKen and Norm’s father Sheridan was only 16 years old in 1937 when he purchased the brand new coupe. The reason he chose the Willys was that he had a limited amount of money, and the Willys was the least expensive car he could find. Sheridan used the coupe as his primary driver for many years to come, though he did have a 2nd vehicle in the form of a 1925 Star that he had converted into a truck.

In 1960, after decades of use around the family’s property, Sheridan personally painted the coupe in a fresh shade of green…in fact, his family still has 8mm video of him performing the paint job.

Once painted, each of the children would learn to drive in the coupe utilizing a half mile road on the families’ property.

Norm then decided he wanted to drive the coupe to high school in 1967 & 68…his driving time was cut short when he was pulled over by an officer and cited for a broken headlight. Norm parked the car as he could not locate a replacement headlight forcing the ‘37 into a long slumber.

1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

The coupe sat for nearly 50 years until Sheridan passed at 93 years of age. The coupe was pulled from exactly where Norm parked it in high school, still retaining its broken headlight. The two men then began searching for a restoration shop to restore the Willys, and reached out to MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, OR. Several shops had been considered, but after a tour of MetalWorks’ facility, they knew they had found the right shop to perform the coupe’s restoration. It was to be restored back to stock as that was always their father’s wish. Sheridan had been hounded by individuals for decades to purchase the coupe, and refused to see it get hot rodded…so to honor their father’s wish, the coupe has retained its stock appearance and drive train.

1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

The crew at MetalWorks smothered the coupe with attention when it arrived…it was just so amazing to see an untouched Willys coupe…the guys couldn’t stop smiling, and were excited to get started on the coupe’s resurrection back to its original glory…just like the day a 16 year old Sheridan Hale drove it off the lot.

1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

The first step for all of MetalWorks’ restorations is a careful disassembly process, followed by a trip to their acid dipping facility. The coupe is 80 years old, but since it had lived its entire life in sunny California the body was in amazing condition, and only required minor patch panels once in bare metal. Precision body and paint work came next with attention to not “over restore” the coupe’s body. The crew at MetalWorks is more than capable of credit card gaps, but that was simply not what was desired or correct for this 1930s era “economy” car.

When it came to upholstery, a simple and stock appearance was carried out, but materials were upgraded to leather giving it a luxurious feel.1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

The coupe’s original engine had suffered horrific damage after an unusual cold snap froze the water inside the engine resulting in a cracked block and a severely damaged head. A replacement military surplus engine had powered the coupe for years after the original engine was damaged. Ken and Norm desired to have the numbers-matching engine utilized, so after several parts engines were sourced for internal components, and some intricate welding performed, both the original head and engine block were salvaged and reunited into the coupe’s frame rails.1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel Curve

Ken and Norm are fully aware that the stocker will strictly be a back roads cruiser with top speeds of around 45 mph, and they’re perfectly fine with that. As much as we all love a hot rod Willys coupe, it’s nice to know that there are still a handful remaining as they emerged from the factory…or at least close. That leather interior sure does smell nice!!

1937 Willys Coupe, Willys, Willys Coupe, Fuel CurveIf these images aren’t enough for you, click here for the mega build gallery!

Chadly lived his first 40 years in Wisconsin, but an opportunity to pursue a dream job with MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration led him and his wife to Oregon. He has a passion for classic cars of all styles especially seeking out, photographing, and telling the tales of survivor cars. Every scratch and dent has a story of how it got there, and Chadly loves learning how… whether it’s a bone stock barn find, or a radical show car tucked away for decades. He prefers more obscure cars. His current stable includes a 1976 Cobra II Mustang, a 1960 Nomad wagon, and a 23-window VW bus.