In 1950, Willys-Overland and Alcoa partnered teamed up to create a four-passenger prototype coupe based on the automaker’s boxy station wagon. Here’s a closer look at the unusual beast.
Willys-Overland found reasonable success in the years following World War II with an assortment of Jeep-based consumer vehicles. But all the while, the Toledo-based automaker continued to search for ways to reenter the mainstream passenger car market. The familiar 1948-1950 Willys Jeepster, designed by Brooks Stevens, and the stillborn 1947 Willys 6-70 program (read the Mac’s Motor City Garage story here) were two such efforts. Here’s another one that never quite saw the light of day: The Willys Alcoa Jeep project of 1950.
Also known as Project 6100, the Willys coupe was a joint effort between Willys-Overland and Alcoa, formally known as the Aluminum Company of America, and it was designed in part to explore applications for aluminum auto bodies and components. And as we can easily discern, the coupe was closely based on the production Willys Jeep station wagon and its 104-inch wheelbase chassis.
But in place of the boxy wagon shell, there was a rather oddly styled coupe body—formed in aluminum, naturally—with Jeepster-ish fenders and a panoramic rear window glass that mimics the 1947-1952 Studebaker. Another novel departure from the production models is the wraparound rear bumper, not found on any other Willys product we can recall. Seating for four in the close-coupled cabin was accomplished with a pair of side-facing jump seats in the rear, and a large deck lid opens to a generously sized cargo area.
It seems there were at least two Alcoa coupes built: one with a standard production-style grille assembly as show in the photo just above, and a second example with a unique, customized front grille section as pictured in the lead photo at the top of this page and in the final photo below. Reportedly, the standard-grille version was equipped with a four-cylinder, 134 CID Willys engine, while the custom-grille example was powered by the company’s 161 CID inline six. Obviously, the project never progressed beyond the running prototype stage.
The Alcoa custom-grille job is shown below parked in front of the old Willys-Overland administration building across the street from the Toledo factory. (Next to it is a Brazil-built Willys 2600, based on the American Willys Aero of 1952-1955, wearing 1970 Ohio license plates.) While the stock-grille version was reportedly destroyed, the Alcoa coupe in this photo is still around today in fine condition, owned by the family of a former Jeep engineer. Displayed at vintage car shows around the Toledo-Detroit area, the unique Willys never fails to turn heads.