"Secret Willys Revival" (My chopped '53)

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Snake Farm

Ol school snake charmer!
Nov 16, 2010
Paradise Road.....last house
Hello and welcome to my build. As I mentioned in my intro thread I have decided to build my first Rat Rod out of my '53 Willys PU that has been buried under a pile of boxes and junk for the past nine years! I am still in the process of digging it out and switching places with it and my other project in order to work on it, so as of right now the only thing building is my interest:D Still I thought I'd go ahead and start this thread and post up a few pics and a little background on my truck.

This is how the Willys looked when I brought it home in 1980........no, that's not a typo, I've owned this thing for THIRTY YEARS:eek:

When I bought it monster trucks were the rage and I intended to build it with a big lift, double roll bar full of lights, skid plates, winches on each end and a big set of Swampers. However I didn't get around to working on it for a year or two and by that time the urge to build a mudder had worn off. In fact to the point that when my then brother-in-law who owned a body shop was asked by a customer to chop a top he said "I've never chopped anything before but if I had something to practice on first I might give it a shot" And I said "why don't we practice on my Willys"......and so it began

Here's the Willys as we towed it to the shop behind my '65 Ford PU

Dec. 31, 1982....This was our New Years Eve party:D
Getting ready to do our first chop, my wife and I in the center and my sister and brother-in-law

What a bunch of goofballs:rolleyes::eek:

Off with the doors....

Make some marks.....

.......to be continued,

.........Whack off the top!

.....and then snap a couple "obligatory" pics with no top

Kilroy was here....

We did take several pics that night but I'd hardly consider them a "how to"....I mean, just look at that bracing :eek:.........man we had NO idea what we were doing, LOL ......but we were having fun!

And of course as soon as six inches were cut out of it we had to set the top on and go for a test drive!

To be continued,

So here's where we were at midnight.........Dick Clark was counting down to 1983 and we had just roughed in our first top chop......emphasis on "rough":D

Split in 4 pieces (the sides of the cab really angle in towards the top) and tacked back in place

Couple weeks later doors are chopped and back on suicide style

Making some tunneled cab lights out of exhaust tubing...

Rolled it outside for the first time.........chopped top and 4X4 just doesn't look right:(...........

.......have to see what we can do about that?

To be continued,


Hey, I got it turned right side up now but a chopped 4X4 still doesn't look right does it?
Shortly after this pic was taken my brother-in-law bought a '76 Chevy Luv truck theft recovery from an insurance company to get the cab and front clip. He had no use for the frame and it looked like it might be just what the Willys needed so on it went....

All in all not a bad fit. Gave me a low stance, torsion bar front suspension with disc brakes and about five feet for a bed with the rear axle centered on the bed. Unfortunately the project languished for the next few years without much progress except for mounting the engine and tranny, installing a steering column, building an exhaust system and replacing the Luv rearend with one from a full size Chevy Blazer.
During that time the Willys sat outside:eek: I snapped this pic on New Years Eve 1989 just before loading it up to move it to a garage my father-in-law owned.

....and in it's new home, hoping to get back to work on it!

To be continued,

But alas, not much progress on it again for a couple years and then the property where it is stored gets sold...........so it's down the road again

To another temporary home where it sat for another couple years while life went on........

All this time I never had a garage at my house to put the truck in so if I worked on it I had to drive to my in-laws. They once again sold out and moved in the early nineties and their new house didn't have a place for the Willys so home it came and sat outside again (under the plastic behind the Buick) until 1997 when I finally was able to build a garage.

To be continued,

I have a old willys found I have had a few in the past I like your chop top looks great with the really small back window. The last one I had I had a 350/400 tubo and ran very well. keep posting great build
Well folks, I'd like to tell you I'm making progress on the Willys but the fact is I'm still digging and organizing so I can move the truck to the front of the garage where I can work on it. I have a lot going on right now so time is limited but I anticipate some slower times in the near future when I'll be able to spend more time on the "Secret Willys Revival"......... The reason I'm trying to keep it a secret is because the Willys has always kinda been my wife's truck and I don't know how she'll like me building a Rat Rod out of it:eek: but the way I have it figured I can get forgiveness easier than permission...........that is if I can get far enough along before she finds out [ddd:D The only person I've told is my son-in-law and he is all for it and I'm looking forward to him working on it with me.........however my daughter was here the other night and I was helping her change out some tires and wheels on their DuraMax and out of the blue she says "when are you getting the Willys out?" and I said...why, have you heard something? She said "yeah, I'm married to that guy you told your plans to...remember?":rolleyes:..........so I made her promise not to tell her mom but I had to let her go for a spin though...


...climbing in for the first time since she was a little girl

.......and striking her tough "Rat Girl" pose:cool::D

So I'm not telling anyone else and don't you guys tell anyone either:D

To be continued,

Looks like that roof is plenty strong enough judging by the wood support and how much stuff is piled up on it! Looks good! let us know how it comes out. I will keep quiet![P
Soooooo........ what is my silence worth to you. [ddd

Just kiddin. I wouldn't bust a fellow builder, but don't underestimate the decernment of a woman. They know things. :eek:

BTW, nice chop.
Man it's tough to keep a secret these days. It's cool that you have the photos from the 80's to go along with the story. That truck deserves to be finished. Good luck with it. Another New Years party is in order.
Great photos and cool story,that poor old neglected truck deserves to come back to life finally.I hope it will drive again soon.
That truck deserves to be finished. Another New Years party is in order.

Yeah, that's what I'm hoping for:) I'm really anxious to get started on it but right now I'm just trying to make room:eek: As stated earlier I went years without a garage to work in. I consider myself blessed to now have one that is fully insulated, finished inside and heated.....but now for the problem, it measures 16' X 26' and contains the following items; welder, air compressor, blast cabinet, 3) small work benches, 2) engines, a transmission, 8-10 loose tires and wheels, numerous car parts and ..............TWO CARS:eek: Now that's full by any standards!:D The Willys now sit's cross wise in the back (had to jack the back up on a floor jack and spin it around to get it in there) and my Chevy II barely fit's in what's left. The Chevy II is down to the shell with the front subframe standing on it's end on casters and I've made some casters for the firewall so that I can roll the car around. I have most of the car parts boxed and put in the attic so the car is about ready to move. Just have to get the rest of junk off and from around the Willys so I can switch places with them. Hope to work on that a little bit today along with my other chores.
Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement, I'm stoked:D

To be continued,

Well, I had a lot going on this weekend but still made a little progress moving stuff out of the way and now I just need a little break in the weather because they'll both have to go outside to make the switch........no room to pass in this garage, LOL. I got sidetracked a bit and dug around through some parts and tried to recall the last time I worked on the truck. I found this ram horn manifold that I had ground mostly smooth........

..........and remembered that I had been cleaning up the engine some and bolting up the exhaust. A peek under the fender (can't open the hood yet:eek:) confirmed that I had one side done....

This was on my Chevy II when I bought it but I'm replacing it with an original so I put it on the Willys the other night.........
" the obligatory three spoke steering wheel with no horn button:eek::D"

Also about 10 years ago I got a Lokar goose neck shifter for Christmas and installed it on New Years Eve that year........I'm not getting too much chrome on this thing am I:confused::D

....lot's of New Years events with this project.....wonder what this New Years Eve will bring?

To be continued,

Come on Snake, let's get it done......mama will forgive. If you don't believe me just ask my wife.....when she saw my 41 roll the first time, ask me "I thought you were gonna fix the body". This is after I told her it was finished, I used the excuse that the body was to far gone to try to fix. I'm having a blast with it now because little kids climb all over it and I don't have to worry about scratchs or dings.


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Hey Snake Farm

I love those old pictures. I dont feel as old now. Most people I know cant even remember back 30 years ago. Most of them werent even alive yet. I know my son is 1983 kid and my daughter is a 1986 kid. To them them those pictures are ancient history. Save those pictures and most of all save that old truck too. You have a rare piece of pre "rat rod" history there. Back then it was either a stock restored piece or a Street rod (dont even think there were rock crawlers then?). Hope you enjoy the journey.
Keep us informed.


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