When it comes to building classic hot rods, there is no shortage of industry leaders, builders, and talented minds to assemble and create something great. For Race Star Wheels, they’ve chosen to partner with the talented folks at American Gasser and KB Racing to build a car that will not only display the company’s latest wheel offerings starting at the 2017 PRI show, but also grab at the heart strings of every nostalgia-loving enthusiast out there. The platform – a 1941 Willys gasser powered by a big-block Chevy. And, they’re streaming the build LIVE!
The Companies Involved
Race Star Wheels has been creating high-quality alloy wheels for the automotive industry for many years, specializing in wheels that not only look good, but also perform to top standards. While the entire lineup of Race Star wheels can be found on anything from classic cars to race machines, president of Race Star, L.B. Davis, wanted a vehicle built specifically to showcase the latest wheels the company had to offer. It was at the 2015 Hot August Nights event that Davis, having met and talked with John Shelton, President of American Gasser, that Davis decided a ’41 Willys gasser was the platform he wanted, and that American Gasser would build it!
“In 2015 L.B. Davis of Race Star Industries was selling his 34 Rattler and 32 Mirage wheels and ran into John from American Gasser,” Carl Robinson of Race Star Wheels told us. “John loved the Race Star wheels style and finish, not to mention the price. As L.B. and John talked, a fire was lit, and L.B. Davis ‘had to have’ a ’41 Willys gasser, and American Gasser was his choice!”
Having been in the business of creating not only top-notch rollers but also turn-key gassers since 2008, American Gasser was a no-brainer choice for the build.
I had to say yes – it sounded like a cool project to be part of. – Jason Line
“L.B. Davis approached our booth and initiated a conversation that took place over 18 the next months,” Shelton explained to us. “L.B. was looking for a platform to advertise the upcoming release of Race Star’s new line of nostalgia 12-spoke gasser wheels – the Rattler 34. L.B.’s thoughts were to put the wheels on the platform of the greatest nostalgia platform made, [a] 1941 Willys straight axle gasser with an estimated 1,100 horsepower supercharged big-block Chevrolet engine, and display the relationship between nostalgia, performance, and the 34 Rattler wheel.”
With that goal in mind and both companies on board, the Race Star Wheels Willys gasser build began. But not without notable consideration about was what was going to be put under the hood of the car and who was going to build it. For that, Race Star turned to KB Racing, where four-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion, Greg Anderson, and current reigning, three-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion, Jason Line, took on the task of building the gasser one hot engine!
“I met L.B. Davis, the president of Race Star Wheels, at the Hot August Nights car show in Reno,” Line told us. “We got to talking about wheels and cars and engines, and one thing led to another. Our friendship progressed over time, and eventually he asked me if we would be interested in building an engine. I had to say yes – it sounded like a cool project to be part of, and it was something we hadn’t really done before.”
While talks of the build began in late 2015, building the car didn’t officially start until early January 2017. Having previously built the frame and done some initial body panel fitting, a process American Gasser takes the utmost care in after receiving all the individual body panels from ScottRods, which produces the panels for the company, American Gasser started piecing together the ’41 Willys on January 2nd. So far, the car has gone through complete body assembly and suspension sizing, with a full suspension system, including parallel front leaf springs and shocks, and rear coilovers and ladder bars, set to be under the car soon.
Having started their part of the build last fall, KB Racing is already finished with the engine build for the gasser.
“We started with nothing, and ordered a Dart Big M big-block Chevy from Summit Racing as the foundation with Trick Flow heads, and went from there,” Line explained. “It took a few months, but we’re very pleased with the results.”
So what are the results, you ask? Well, the engine that will eventually power the ’41 Willys is a 572ci monster with PowerPort 365 heads from Trick Flow, a 10-71 blower, and two Holley Dominator carburetors. The engine also features Diamond pistons, Total Seal rings, Crower lifters, a COMP Cams camshaft, Jesel rocker arms, an ATI Performance Products super damper, MSD ignition, and a Moroso oil pan.
We can’t divulge the amount of ponies this bad boy is pushing just yet, but rumor has it that it is somewhere above 1,000hp.
“This was a very fun build for us, and something a little bit new,” Line told us. “We have never built a blower engine before, so we had to put some good thought into it before we even got started. In the end, it turned out really well and certainly made more power than it needs to. It’s going to be fun to drive, there is no question about that!”
Backing the KB Racing-built supercharged engine will be an ATI Performance torque converter and transmission, which will push plenty of ponies to the American Gasser-built Ford 9-inch rearend, complete with Moser components. Wilwood units will be used on the car for braking power behind the Race Star’s Rattler 34 wheels, which will make the last connection from the rearend to the pavement-gripping Mickey Thompson rubber that will propel the gasser forward at one quick lick.
Be Sure to Watch!
The Race Star Wheels ’41 Willys gasser build is well underway, with many components still to be added to the car. Be sure to check out the live video feed of the build while it’s at American Gasser either on Race Star Wheel’s website or on the American Gasser site. We too will be following the build on its way to the car’s 2017 PRI Show debut and getting updates from the companies involved, so stay tuned.