1941 Willys Excessive Needed Six Years and $400K to Be Made, How Much Can It Be Worth Now?

A custom car project is only as good as the amount of effort and cash its makers are willing to pour into it. And if we judge by these two criteria alone, then the 1941 Willys Excessive is perfection incarnate.
1941 Willys Excessive 22 photos
Photo: Mecum/edited by autoevolution
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We all know the American custom scene, and how it is literally flooded with reworked versions of the cars made in the 1960s, 1970s, and later. We’ve got hordes of Camaros, Mustangs, or Chargers, scores of pickup trucks in all shapes and sizes imaginable, and only rarely more exquisite builds based on models that predate all of the above by several decades.

It's the pre-World War Two vehicles that are of interest to us today, or more specifically the Willys Americar. This particular flavor of American engineering is one of the few pre-1960s vehicle families that get constant attention from the custom industry, and somehow manages to stay relevant in a flood of muscle cars and off-roaders.

The Americar is one of those vehicles that through no fault of their own didn’t make an instant splash on the market at the time of their production. It was produced by Willys Overland, the same brand that would give birth to the Jeep nameplate, for only five years, between 1937 and 1942. It was probably bad timing and had the war not started who knows what faith the Americar would have had?

The range was introduced as a sort of Jack of all trades before the war began, offered in perhaps the most varied of body styles available: sedan, coupe, pickup truck, and even station wagon. It was called simply Willys at first, but as the U.S. was dragged into the war, Americar became the reasonable choice.

1941 Willys Excessive
Photo: Mecum
The cars in this family were surprising pieces of automotive design, blending lines from other cars of the era (big hips in the form of wheel arches, big eyes as the headlights up front, and a curvy posterior) with an overall shape that became somewhat exclusive to the Americars. At least that’s how we see it now, when the custom world’s infatuation with the Willys keeps giving birth to incredible custom creations.

We’ve seen many of them over the years, as they popped up at various specialized events across the U.S., or became available for purchase at an auction somewhere. And to be honest, none of them looked as amazing as the one we have here.

Based on a pickup truck variant of the 1941 Americar, the build is called Excessive and was put together by an Iowa-based garage called Avalon Body Shop. The project was completed in 2004 and went on to gain recognition from the custom industry, including in major competitions like the Ridler Great 8 or the Goodguys Truck of the Year.

Work on the Excessive may have concluded in 2004, but it had started much earlier, in 1998. It took Avalon no less than six years, during which time $400,000 were spent, to turn a truck from the 1940s into a beauty of the modern age. Let's break it down a bit.

1941 Willys Excessive
Photo: Mecum
The Pearl Orange body shows little in the way of chrome, except on the grille and headlight bezels, and is shaped pretty much like the original one. It’s an all-steel affair, wrapping around a custom-made tube chassis. A narrowed Currie 9-inch rear axle supports the chassis together with Aldan American Eagle coilovers and Art Morrison front and rear clips.

The Excessive touches the ground by means of four Mickey Thompson wheels, sized 18 inches up front and 20 inches at the rear. Behind each of them, there are disc brakes of Wilwood make, tasked with bringing the truck to a stop and keeping the engine in check.

The engine would be, in this case, a 502ci (8.2-liter) Ram Jet rated at 510 horsepower. That’s about as much as this unit produces in its stock form, and in this application, it is mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission and a custom-made exhaust system for breathing purposes.

The interior of the truck is somewhat simple in design, with black leather and suede on the seats and door panels (these ones also come with a bit of chrome sprinkled here and there), and red on the dashboard where Auto Meter gauges are displayed. A Lokar shifter sits front and center, and there’s even a Kenwood AM/FM stereo hidden somewhere in there.

1941 Willys Excessive
Photo: Mecum
The 1941 Willys Excessive pickup truck is now back in the news, so many years after it was completed, because whoever owns it now decided to sell it. The truck is on the list of vehicles going under the Mecum hammer at the end of March in Glendale, Arizona.

There’s no mention made as to how much the Excessive is expected to fetch, but something tells me it won’t be near as much as the $400,000 spent on making it.

We’ll come back to the story once we learn if and for much it sold, of course. Until then, feel free to place your bets: will it go for $400k, or far, far less?
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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