Very Rare and Well Done
Only a Handful of ’33 Willys Roadsters Exist. This Might Be The Wildest.
Vaughn Veit’s ’33 Willys Roadster
The Veit Automotive Foundation Educational Museum is in rural Minnesota, about an hour out of Minneapolis. If you noticed it from the road, which you might not, you would probably mistake it for a dairy barn. That’s what it’s supposed to look like on the outside. On the inside, its multiple floors and rooms house an impressive collection of automobilia and Americana.
The museum grew from Vaughn Veit’s once-small personal car collection to approximately 100 classic vehicles, as well as gas pumps, antique farm equipment, artwork, and other vintage artifacts.
Vaughn’s taste in vintage cars is eclectic, but it seems like he has some favorites. He owns one of every body style of ’33 Ford, and two ’33 Willys, including this extremely rare roadster. Willys production numbers are hard to find, but Vaughn did his research and told us that his ’33 roadster is one of only 71 built. Seven still survive, with three in Australia and four in the U.S.
One of those four U.S. cars showed up during Vaughn’s eBay search a few years ago—although he describes it as “pieces of rusting metal” rather than as a car. That began his effort to rebuild those pieces of rust as a piece of automotive history. The goal, as you can see, was not to restore the Willys to original equipment, but to redo it as a street rod. He contacted Roy Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco to handle the roadster’s transformation. Brizio has built some memorable Gasser-style ’41 Willys, and about a million outstanding early ’30s Ford roadsters, but Vaughn’s ’33 Willys roadster was a brand-new order for the shop.
The roadster rolled out of Brizio’s on a fresh chassis from Art Morrison Enterprises (AME), built around a 2x4-inch square-tube frame tailor made for the Willys. AME’s suspension combination includes antiroll bars, Strange coilover shocks at both ends, and a Panhard bar in the rear. The four-link rear locates a Ford 9-inch packed with 3.70:1 gears with limited slip. Four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes with 11-inch rotors are operated by a Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve to ensure reliable braking in today’s traffic. Those “pieces of rusting metal” were revived at Brizio’s, thanks in part to fabricator Andrik Albor’s bodywork. A
11⁄ 2- inch slice was chopped from the top and the rest of the original sheetmetal—including hood and grille—was returned to new condition. Headlights, taillights, door handles, and bumpers are also original parts. The exterior swan neck mirrors were provided by SO-CAL Speed Shop. The rich blue House Of Kolor paint is a custom color now known as Brizio Blue.
It was mixed and sprayed by Joe Compani at Compani Color in Hayward, California. Subtle cream-colored pinstriping was brushed along the beltline and includes Vaughn’s name on one side and his fiancée Kelly’s on the other. Sid Chavers created the black canvas top.
Sherm’s Custom Plating in Sacramento, California, and Dan’s Polishing & Chrome in Adamsville, Tennessee, made sure that the brightwork was as perfect as the paint. The wheels (four plus the spare) were painted with more cream-colored paint. Mike Curtis at Curtis Speed built the 16-inch wheels just for this project, styling them to mimic genuine vintage Willys wheels. The Excelsior radials from Coker Tire measure 7.00x16 and 5.00x16.
The interior design and execution was turned over to Chavers and the results are clean and classy. Custom seats are covered in black and blue leather stitched in vertical pleats. The custom door panels are finished with the same look. Charcoal gray German square-weave carpet covers the floor. The original dash was modified and filled with a speedo, oil, and gas gauges restored by Redline Gauges mounted on the right. Jim Vickery at Brizio’s made sure the Willys’ wiring is routed right. A water temp gauge and voltmeter from Classic Instruments
are located in the center cove. LimeWorks Speed Shop supplied the steering column, which is topped with an original ’39 Ford banjo wheel. The Lokar shifter is fitted with a blue shifter knob to match the paint color.
Powering the Willys is a traditional-dressed ’49 AB8 Ford Flathead. H&H Flatheads did a great job building the engine. The bored, stroked, and balanced engine is packed with a Scat crank and rods connected to Ross forged pistons. The valvetrain includes a Winfield cam and
Isky valves and springs. The aluminum heads and intake manifold are Navarro pieces. Dual Stromberg carbs are topped with air cleaners from OTB Gear. The MSD ignition and Taylor wires deliver juice—and a Speedway Motors water pump and Matson aluminum radiator keep the Flathead cool. Coated 2-inch exhaust pipes with Allied suitcase-style mufflers carry exhaust drawn by a pair of Sanderson headers. DND Enterprises assembled the T5 transmission adapted for the Flathead. Modern Driveline provided the clutch, flywheel, and disc.
With his ’33 Willys roadster completed, Vaughn has been successful in saving an extremely rare car. He’s not done yet. In addition to the cars in his museum, he is currently in the process of building another ’33 Willys. This time it’s a coupe modified with Corvette suspension parts, powered by a Buick Grand National V-6.
For the digital experience: https://bit.ly/2LCMoLV