If there was one car that stood out on South Island drag strips this season, it would have to be the Alsop brothers’ Willys coupe
“What the..?” is a common enough reaction. This car doesn’t meet everyone’s expectations of what an Altered should look like, or what a Willys coupe looks like for that matter. Exactly what the doctor ordered then. In a sport where everything is screaming, “Look at me!” something that screams even louder.
It was a then unknown drag racer from South Carolina that sparked off the Willys drag racing resurgence in a class called Top Sportsman, a fast dial your own bracket that was full of interesting machinery including dragsters, Altereds and Doorslammers. Intense media attention was focused on the class while everyone waited to see who would break the six-second, 200mph barrier in a doorslammer.
Scotty Cannon, successfully racing a rear-engined dragster, was getting none of that attention and wanted it, so he picked on a body shape that stood out from all the slippery late-model stuff and shoebox Chevs the class was famous for, a little red Willys coupe with a Top Fueller-style wing out behind it. The ploy worked, magazines fell over themselves to photograph the thing and Cannon, acutely aware of the value of being in the media spotlight, courted controversy at every step.
One of the ways he did this was to modify that classic Willys shape. His next Willys had a chopped top, was wider and lower and featured a wing on the back that resembled an implement shed. But the next one is what got the pundits jumping about. In a class full of chopped, diced, sliced, wedged, stretched and generally mutated body shells, this thing stood out like a hooker in church.