The Fertile Turtle, a ’39 Willys gasser, calls from eBay
If you’re in the market for an interesting car show cruiser or a good first start at a nostalgia drag racer, this big-block Willys gasser pickup may be worth a look. We stumbled across this former racer at BarnFinds.com. Someone may have discovered the truck by searching for “gasser,” a fun term to throw into the eBay Motors search bar to find interesting projects, in case you find yourself with some free time.
The pickup, dubbed the Fertile Turtle by its former owner, is located on the southern California coast in Solana Beach, less than 100 miles south of the famed Lions Drag Strip where it used to race. The pickup, parked since the ’80s, is rumored to have been built by well-known chassis fabricator Chuck Finders, according to the listing. Its lineage may be tough to trace, however, especially considering that it’s no longer equipped with the same powertrain it used during its SoCal racing days. On the other hand, with such a unique name and livery, maybe not.
Its drag-racing small-block and Powerglide were replaced with a Chevy 396 big-block and Turbo 400 after it entered storage. The new engine is topped with a mid-rise single-plane intake and Holley four-barrel with vacuum secondaries. It even has Mickey Thompson valve covers for the right drag-car flair. An HEI ignition was recently added by the seller to get the truck back in running order, but an older distributor and some cleanup could have the pickup looking like a mid-’60s racer with little effort, especially if the manifold were swapped for a tunnel ram. Out back, a 1957 Oldsmobile rear axle provides a sturdy foundation to put the power to the wheels and also offers a removable third member. It may look like a Ford 9-inch, but you’ll have a much harder time scrounging up parts.
Those with a love of the ’60s gasser wars may want to give this auction a visit. With five days remaining, bids have just crested the $15,000 mark. Even without a verifiable link to one of the better-known chassis builders of the era, this pickup represents a snapshot, if an incomplete one, of a vibrant part of drag racing history.