The 1954 Aero Willys

… was a very good car, for the time. Unfortunately, it was taken out of production after the 1955 model year. Many years ago, the Hemmings folks did a comparison test of a low-mileage sample of the Hudson Jet, the Aero Willys, and the Nash Rambler. While each model excelled in one or two categories, they named the Aero Willys as the overall winner.

It’s funny how most of the ad text channels countless car buyers who switched from American to Japanese cars in the '70s and '80s.

Unfortunately the Aero-Willy’s target market was folks who usually bought one of the “low priced three” (Chevy, Ford, or Plymouth). These were practical people who feared buying a car that would be “orphaned” by the demise of their parent company. By 1954, the demise of Willys appeared imminent. Also, by this point, the low priced three were developing modern ohv-V8 engines and much flashier styling. Willys was doing neither. They were simply not competitive.


Just my two cents but the war had just ended in 1945. By 54, a large population of potential market had just been home for a few years so don’t think they cared to buy a German or Japanese model. In fact I think vw was the only one with much of a market. More alternatives in the 70s and 80s and different buyers. Some of us would not buy a Mitsubishi though well into the 21st century until they made amends. Just from foggy memory with no facts.

Fast forward to the 1970s and nothing had changed for some people. The father of one of my fraternity brothers owned three car dealerships, including a VW shop. They are Jewish, in Brooklyn NY, and couldn’t use the family surname on the dealership for fear that the local Jewish population would cause significant problems for them.

That is very interesting, since the first person aithorized by VW to import Beetles into the US in 1953 was Max Hoffman, with a showroon in Manhattan. IIRC Mr. Hoffman was Jewish.

In Sioux Falls the dealership was owned by mr. Bosch. No idea what he was. Maybe German since his daughter was blond. You have to remember that no one ever even gave it a thought what the nationality or religion was. In high school we thought one family was but only that it meant they probably went to a different church.

At work the person in charge of our film library was Jewish in Minneapolis. She complained once that I was discriminating against her by delaying delivering her films so she had trouble getting them processed. She went to the boss boss with the complaint. It was a total surprise when questioned about it and had nothing to do with her film delivery. When I was told she was Jewish, I said Jewish? I thought she was Scottish because she took a trip to Scotland every year. I made sure she got her films first thing anyway but some of us just had absolutely no background in any of this.

Oh oh really got off topic.

The 54 or 55 Willys were used in the movie “Johnny Dark”. It was about a sports car racer driving for a fictional auto manufacturer whose name I can’t remember but all the factory sedans were Willis.

Thank you, when I saw the movie in the 60s had no clue on the car brand.
Johnny Dark! Would like to see that movie again. As I recall, the sport cars used were kit cars of the era. Teenage age me fell in love with Piper Laurie.
The Willys did receive slight appearance modifications for the movie.

My friend is not named Hoffmann if that is what you are implying. NYC is large enough that there could have been several VW dealerships in NYC in the 1970s. According to Wikipedia Hoffman was the importer and distributor for VWs between 1950 to 1953.