The coming-of-age movie American Graffiti immortalized a unique time in the history of the USA. The movie, which is set in Modesto, California in 1962, reflects an era of innocence, when the Vietnam War was just a “police action,” rock ‘n’ roll music was just gaining a foothold (thanks to Bill Haley and His Comets and Buddy Holly), and America’s youth hung out in drive-ins and cruised down the street in their souped up cars. It was the generation of sock hops, Wolfman Jack, and hot rod racing. While we can’t transport you back to those times via a Back to the Future-inspired DeLorean, we can show you one of the souped up hot rods for you to bid on and (perhaps) bring home.
Today’s remarkable find is this 1941 Willys Americar Gasser:
If you are unfamiliar with the term “Gasser,” it is defined as a “type of hot rod originating on the dragstrips of the United States in the late 1950s and continued until the early 1970s. Gassers were based on production models from the 1930s to mid 1960s, which have been stripped of extraneous weight.” According to the seller, today’s find is the “real deal,” having been raced back in the 1960s. The listing has many more details about the car:
“An authentic, untouched time capsule veteran from the Gasser Wars of the 1960s. It still has the shoe polish on it’s original slicks from it’s final race! I have numerous pictures and video of the car racing back in the 1960s. This is the Pat Stewart/Carl Costa 1941 Steel body Willys coupe. This is the coolest car I have ever owned. There are so many killer period pieces on this car it is hard to even cover them all. If you want a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a significant piece of racing history and a true warrior from the most interesting time in drag racing (at least in my opinion), THIS IS IT! The car was the cover car/featured article of Hot Rod Deluxe magazine in 2012.”
For nostalgic car fanatics, this item stirs up another association — that of the kustom kulture cars popularized in Southern California by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the early 1960s. During this time, Roth and other car nuts and gear heads were building, rebuilding, and customizing old cars in a hot rod style. Among Big Daddy Roth’s creations were kustom kars named Little Jewel, Outlaw, and Beatnik Bandit. He also invented the cartoon characters of Rat Fink, the now-famous green rodent with a penchant for racing souped up vehicles that looked quite like today’s item for auction.
The seller includes the following video of the car in action:
The clip above is the trailer for Tales of the Rat Fink, also known as “Walt Disney’s Worst Nightmare.”
This cinematic ode to hot rods and kustom kars might strike you as all cartoons and funk, a world away from the sophisticated cool of other retro cars we’ve written about. But they are not so dissimilar. Vehicles of bygone days have the ability to capture our imagination and transport us (only figuratively, to the regret of some people) to the places and people of our past.
Owning an old school hot rod might not seem like the most practical choice (though imagine the looks you could get rolling in to pick up the kids at daycare or to buy a carton of milk at the neighborhood market). So to heck with practicality! As the high school teacher Mr. Wolf advises the recently graduated Curt in American Graffiti, “Hey now, don’t be stupid. Experience life! Have some fun.”