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1955 Willys Bermuda Hardtop


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Marty, are you familiar with the 1955 Willys cars?

Or do you admire their nimble good looks and

want one for your collection?

 

People who lived during a particular era may

know things that people today don't realize.

In 1955, Consumer Reports, based on readers'

experiences, gave the '55 Willys an atrocious review.

It's probably the worst car review I've ever read in

old issues of their magazine.

 

I have that automotive issue.  I will be happy to

quote from it if you want more insight.  Getting the

right or wrong car can greatly influence your

satisfaction in the hobby.

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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23 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

In 1955, Consumer Reports, based on readers'

experiences, gave the '55 Willys an atrocious review.

It's probably the worst car review I've ever read in

old issues of their magazine.

That would be something to read. Do you remember which month it was?

Edited by Fossil (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, Fossil said:

That would be something to read. Do you remember which month it was?

 

I have the magazine in front of me at the moment.

The rating of the 1955 Willys is in the May 1955 issue,

which is devoted to auto ratings.  See pages 233-234.

 

Here is a major excerpt for everyone's interest:

"Willys Custom 6, with Hydra-Matic transmission.  $1904.

...The particular model chosen to keep the Willys name in 

the passenger-car field is the Kaiser-engined 4-door sedan

introduced last year.  The F-head engined Willys 6 sedan--

one of the least gas-eating American cars CU has ever

tested--has apparently been dropped.  The current engine

is larger, heavier, and of older, long-stroke design.  It is

mounted far forward in the short Willys chassis, where its

added weight is ruinous to easy steering and to the excellent

handling characteristics Willys once had.  The current engine

has a very poor frequency-of-repair record;  this is fortunately

coupled with better than average accessibility....The unit-body-

and-frame structure of the Willys is staunch and usually free 

of rattles...Variability of quality from car to car has plagued

the postwar Willys.  Resale value has been very low."

 

The car was considered "acceptable," but ranked last (worst)

among its group in "estimated overall quality."

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I wouldn't put too much stock in that. Some of Consumer Reports choices of the 1980s and 1990s would make great entertainment today. Likely not much different in the 1950s.

 

As for the 1955 Willys engine mentioned, it's just the Kaiser 226, also known as the Continental Red Seal, also known as the Graham Six before the war. Graham ran them with superchargers in the late 30s. Kaiser may have as well after the war. It is 226ci vs what maybe 161ci for the Willys engine? They called the 226 an "older, long stroke design", and admittedly it is dated as a car engine in 1955. You might want that extra torque though if you are going to have a Hydra-Matic behind it, and the car mentioned did. Personally I would much rather have a stick and a Borg Warner overdrive. If I am not mistaken, Willys offered it. I imagine that would be derided as an older design as well, dating from several years before the war.

 

Those engines were used long before and long after 1955 in industrial applications where reliability is greatly valued. Nobody else thought it was a bad engine.

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Bloo said:

I wouldn't put too much stock in that.

 

Bloo, I think their reviews are at least interesting to read.

I give them credit.  While there can always be bias in car reviews,

someone who was living at the time, and involved heavily

in the subject, likely has a knowledge that we are missing.

Their rankings of reliability were (and are) based on the

experiences of many readers, which should be more accurate

in aggregate than the anecdotal evidence of one or two

of our friends and neighbors.

 

Their rating of the 1955 Cadillac was exceedingly complimentary:

reliable, economical for its size, very high resale value at that time.

Consumer Reports may not be perfect, but people have relied on them,

and I've noticed that the most reliable cars thrived while

the least reliable cars gradually declined to nothing.

 

Their reviews are interesting, to say the least.

 

 

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