Monday, January 11, 2010

American Sports Cars~ Part 2- The WOODILL WILDFIRE 1952 - 1956

In the 1950's "Woody" Woodill become one of the most successful Dodge dealers in the nation. He was so successful that he was allowed to add the Willys line and had always wanted to drive as his own personal mode of transportation a sports car. He loved sleek lines of the new Jaguar X K 120, but had been discouraged by many people from buying one based on it's reputation "to be a rather unreliable car and definitely hard to get parts for."

In a conversation with his neighbor Howard Miller, Howard suggested "Why not build your own sports car using all American running gear?" This set Woody on the path to creating the Woodill Wildfire.

What Woody wanted was a sports car that used all Willys' components. He solved this problem with the guidance of Howard Miller by having Shorty Post, a noted hot rod builder of the day, fabricate a sturdy frame that would accept all Willys Jeepster suspension components and adapt itself to the Glasspar body.

The hand laid body was of the highest quality, far surpassing the Kaiser Darrins and Chevrolet Corvettes which were to come later.

Once the bodies were delivered, Howard Miller assembled the components and made the final adjustments. The little Willys engine was set far enough back in the car to give them an almost perfect 50/50 weight ratio. Cornering was superb and the car with a hot cam, three carbs and headers has supposedly obtained speeds in excess of 120 MPH!

Woody ended up with many obstacles in getting his little sports car into production, but Woody managed to keep the Wildfire alive until 1956 in this country. After that time, he went to other countries where he almost made it big in Australia. The little car he built was definitely a notable piece of American automotive history.

Woodill Wildfire seen below, in the movie "Johnny Dark". The car was named the "Idaho Special"

You can read the full story on the Woodill Wildfire here


  1. Jeez Sharon!

    You've dug deep here! I can't comment as to it's abilities as there were so few made. It's like if Buz Aldrin tells you that the Apollo drives well you just have to take is word for it as there are few others who have the experience of it.

    Certainly is a pretty car.

    Jaguar XK120 unreliable? Pfft! Bloody Americans! :)

  2. Lol...Yeah, it is a stretch :-) Love your reply re: Apollo drives well! And for the record- I am one American who would never say anything against a Jag! That was not my quote...I love Jags, I don't care how difficult or expensive they are to work on, I'd have one in a nano second!

    Ok then, I'm on to find another one :-)

    Oh, and I have been reciting this: It's an A4 Audi Avant, It's an A4 Audi Avant, It's an A4 Audi Avant! I think it's committed to memory now. I have vowed to not treat my Audi like a stepchild and learn all there is to know about her :-)

  3. ha ha,
    I love it, a stepchild! Tell yourself one day that she too will be a classic (remember the rule that ALL machinery is female)

    Glad that you're a Jag lover. I've had more Jags than any other make of car. I've owned 9 of them in the past twenty years and I've loved them all.

  4. That is one cool car, I would love to see one in person. I love all the older muscle cars but unfortunately my barely classic is only a 1978 camaro.

    I'll be back to read more of your posts a little later.

  5. I've seen this. Jay Leno's Garage maybe My Classic Car. It's been a while I'd forgotten. Cool story about the Willys.

  6. This all cars look so Retro and classic I am very glad to seen thisone It is so nice one I am very excited about this one It is so cool.