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Thread: Red Dawson Willys Coupe Tribute

  1. #1

    Red Dawson Willys Coupe Tribute

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    I received a message through Facebook this morning from a very nice guy called Ben Johnson. In the message were two photos, showing Red Dawson's infamous Willys coupe. At first I thought these were old images from the '60s, but then realised they were much more recent. I was amazed, to say the least, and contacted Ben.

    Turns out Ben has been working away quietly building this incredible tribute of Red's racer. He started out with a rusty Willys four door sedan, which he then cut down, joining the front with a Willys coupe rear half section he bought out of the US. The car is powered by a small block Chevy, with twin 4-barrel carbs, 4-speed etc, just like the original. Its stunning, and incredibly accurate, right down to the streamlined headlight covers.

    Isn't it amazing the effort people will go to in order to create a tribute to their heroes.

    Ben will be sending me through build photos of the Willys which I'll be posting here.

    Awesome work, Ben!

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  2. #2
    This is a recent shot of the Willys, all numbered up and looking amazing.

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  3. #3
    This is what Ben started out with, a four door Willys sedan, in poor shape. The Willys were a very cheap vehicle in their day. The company found some clever ways to cut costs, such as using the front doors to also serve as back doors. They were simply flipped around. The bodies were quite light, hence they became popular with drag racers in the 50s and 60s, as, fitted with a V8 motor, were pretty potent.

    Red Dawson built one up as an Allcomer racer in the 60s, powered by a small block Chevy V8. It was a wicked car, and paved the way for the former speedway racer to push further into circuit racing.

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  4. #4
    Semi-Pro Racer Spgeti's Avatar
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    What an amazing job he has done. Years ago I heard that the original car was somewhere in the Wellington region but have never been able to prove it. Owned by a hotrodder. I saw a beaten up coupe at the Palmy Swap Meet 2013 and wondered if it was the car. Garry Price has a very nice 4 door for sale on TM at the moment.
    Look forward to more pics, Cheers, Bruce

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  7. #7
    Nita Dawson - Reds widow - is going around to my in laws within the next couple of weeks, so I`ll ask her if she still has any photos of the original coupe. Right from the Epsom stockcar days Red ran mostly No 35 on his cars, so I`m not sure about the No 36 ... Great effort and obviously gone to a lot of trouble building this replica.

  8. #8
    I think the race number was sometimes enforced by event organisers, with the single seater cars getting preferential treatment and the saloon guys getting what they were given.

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  9. #9
    Note also he has replicated the licence plate.

  10. #10
    Steve Elliott- you are correct about the number
    Pukekohe April 4 1964.
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    Coppins, Souness, Harvey, Dawson
    Last edited by John McKechnie; 01-26-2015 at 10:26 PM.

  11. #11
    First time I ever saw Red Dawson compete in the Willys was at a Hamilton Car Club hillclimb at Horahora in the early to mid 60's.
    Red arrived at the first corner sideways then disappeared up the road in a cloud of tyre smoke and flying gravel!! Although it was a sealed hillclimb, some of you will remember that the seal in those days was a single width strip in the centre of the road.

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  13. #13
    That is something else! To start with such a pile of, what could only be described as crap, and get to where he is. Makes Camaros, Mustang, Monaro and Falcon coupe builds look really easy! (sorry guys, you are doing a great job too but....)

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfart View Post
    That is something else! To start with such a pile of, what could only be described as crap, and get to where he is. Makes Camaros, Mustang, Monaro and Falcon coupe builds look really easy! (sorry guys, you are doing a great job too but....)
    Jeez, it must be time to start casting medal's for some of these guys, they deserve one.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by nigel watts View Post
    First time I ever saw Red Dawson compete in the Willys was at a Hamilton Car Club hillclimb at Horahora in the early to mid 60's.
    Red arrived at the first corner sideways then disappeared up the road in a cloud of tyre smoke and flying gravel!! Although it was a sealed hillclimb, some of you will remember that the seal in those days was a single width strip in the centre of the road.
    Must have been at the same one Nigel. Not only a single strip, but also moss along both sides. A couple of years later a young fellow named Paul Adams (correct me on this if need be) was there with a VW with huge rear guards and tyres. After the first run it got skinny rears. Maybe understeering off the road at the near to the top right hander had something to do with that decision?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Hirst View Post
    Jeez, it must be time to start casting medal's for some of these guys, they deserve one.
    See Kev, there was hope for that Reno!

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    There are a lot of true enthusiasts around OLDFART
    I have come home with cars in sugar bags myself and never considered that I had a pile of crap
    Alway looked at it as gold. Markson
    Last edited by markson; 01-27-2015 at 06:32 PM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfart View Post
    See Kev, there was hope for that Reno!
    There still is Rhys, bring your trailer, thats where I went wrong,Red orGarth or John or any of those guys never raced a reno so had nothing to make copy of. not allowed to build an original with turbo subaru in rear & race with the boys so feel free to come take away, I will help you load it on your trailer & won't shed a tear.

  19. #19
    Kevin, Think John Windleburn had one with a VW in it, Tony Rutherford had it in his workshop years back, do not know what happened to it. Now there you go Kevin, you can build a copy, but you will have to grow a flash new well trimmed grey beard to make it period correct.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Grimwood View Post
    Kevin, Think John Windleburn had one with a VW in it, Tony Rutherford had it in his workshop years back, do not know what happened to it. Now there you go Kevin, you can build a copy, but you will have to grow a flash new well trimmed grey beard to make it period correct.
    Perhaps gentleman with grey beard would like it as he already knows how to build one, will also help load onto trailer & provide liquid refreshments if needed,but I won't hold my breath.

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