Mark Allen, a self-confessed jack of all trades, is a man that knows that he likes and that is his street rodded 1941 Willys Coupe. He has owned it since ‘99 and assures me that he plans to be buried with it. The car was a heavy hitter back in the day – winning over 44 trophies from ‘99-’03, with the most prestigious honour being a Top Ten placing at Summernats 15. A score like that tells you that this car was pretty special, sorry, is pretty special. In my opinion, the vehicle still kicks arse.
These days, the rod is punted around the streets and still turns heads. “People love it. They give me the thumbs up and take photos of it and always ask a bundle of questions. Most know it is a hot rod, but they aren’t too sure exactly what model. It is the sort of car that you don’t have to drive like an idiot or drop skids in to get noticed. The style says it all,” explained Mark.
No doubt it stands out, to some it may be a little outdated, but he has a different take on it. “To me, it is a period correct street rod from the ‘90s. If the older rods can be kept the same as they were in the ‘60s, then why not keep my car the same as it was when first built. Sure, I have toyed with the idea of changing things like the wheels and the interior and even that paint colour, but the funny thing is, the colour is the thing that gets talked about the most. People think it is a modern colour, god forbid they knew it was from a Hyundai!” he laughed.
Mark is very honest about the construction of the car, he didn’t build it, but he did improve upon it. “I actually went to Bunbury with the hope of buying a neat ’34 Roadster. I offered the owner what he wanted, but his wife wouldn’t let him sell it. When I quizzed him why he wanted to part with it, he told me that there was a ’41 Willys that was for sale on the down low in town and he desperately wanted that. Well, I may have missed out on the ’34, but I took my pocketful of cash down the road and bought that Willys. It was a win-win for me – I got a better car and made a new friend at the same time.”
Chris Noble was the man who first pieced the car together but rushed it a tad to get it to the Sandgroper Nats for its debut. After he completed the car, he really didn’t have the time to really sort it out, hence why it came up for sale so soon. “I will be the first to admit that Chris did a great job on the car, I just wanted to really tidy it up, finish it off right and personalise it a little. It was a fantastic starting point for me.”
The finishing touches started with a refresh of the panel and paint. The car remained the same Scarlett Red but was given a new lease on life thanks to the spray gun of Michael Williamson at Avon Valley Spray Painting. The fibreglass body is from Fairview Fibreglass in NZ and has been fitted with MX5 door handles, reproduction headlights and trims, a new grille and an original set of Willys rear lights. The ‘modern’ rearview mirrors were one of those things done back in the day. You have to remember, this is a street rod, not a hot rod – they are two very different beasts.
The car actually has four separate bonnets that Mark has created – the one the car wears in the pics; one with a hole for the carbs to hang out, one that is cut low and the last one wears a massive Hornet scoop that adorned the car when it won at Summernats. Helping slot the Willys into the street rod category are the 15-inch Convo Pro wheels shod with good ol’ Yokohama 352 treads.
The car’s stance is on point – nice and low and with just a touch of rake. The body sits deep over those wheels. Swing your head under the front, and you will be greeted by an LX Torana set up with a UC Track and pinion steering assembly and CRS 2-inch drop spindles. LC Torana suspension arms are boxed in at the rear with Lovells springs, and Monroe shocks taking up residence.
The car came with a relatively stock motor when Mark bought it, and that really wasn’t going to cut the mustard. “I had to drop a hottie in for Summernats – no ifs buts or maybes. That old combo managed to do a season of drag racing too, with the car running a best of 11.40 @ 120mph. Not super-fast these days but it was good fun back then.” Since then, the car has received a new motor recently, something that is a little more street friendly a little more reliable.
“The new donk is awesome. The only issue is the converter is a little big, but besides that, it is a winner,” explained Mark. The motor in question was bolted together by Mark’s good friend Michael Fernihough. The 383ci stroker is fitted with a forged crank and rods, along with a decent size cam. The Pro Iron Lightening 23degree cylinder heads have had a big tickle from the legendary Michael Marriott. The crowning glory of the engine though is that mammoth sheet metal manifold that wears twin 660 centre squirter Holley carbs. You would have to be blind Freddy to miss the 450 NOS fogger system that has been recently plumbed in. A Turbo 350 box is matched to a narrowed 9-inch sporting a 4.11 LSD.
Unashamedly, the cabin is all ‘90s, and the custom touches are almost endless. Commodore seats are matched to custom door trims and a Willys dash that wears a Boyds Classic Series gauge cluster. The item to have back in the day is the Lecarra wheel which is fitted to an ’81 Hilux tilt column. The custom centre console wears the air-conditioner, a heap of ’84 Mazda switches and a B&M shifter. Hidden stealthily throughout the cabin is an extensive audio system full of MB Quart, Clarion and Precision power components that were the ducks nuts back in ’99. Mounted to the roof is an Autometer monster tacho – you might think that is an odd place for it, but Mark tells me it sits right in your face. You can’t miss a trick that way.
“I am realistic about the car, it isn’t much compared to the machines that are on show these days but at the same time, she has stood the test of time I reckon and she still turns just as many heads this time around as she did back in 2002.”