OUR WILDFIRE
THE FIRST WOODILL WILDFIRE



The Wildfire was one car I thought I would probably never find but amazingly it turned out to be one of the first, only 3 years after I started my collection of production American sports cars. In the summer of 1973 I had produced a national west coast event for the Milestone Car Society in Santa Barbara, Ca. We even included several tech sessions on post war cars and I hosted the one on American Sports Cars. Since they were so rare, as a humorous aside, I ended my presentation with the line that one of the cars I had a great desire to find quickly was a Woodill Wildfire followed by a chuckle.



Three months later, I was being contacted by club members, telling me that there was a Woodill advertised for sale in the L. A. Times. They caught me on a busy day and I let it slip for over a week. When I came to my senses, I immediately called the number in the ad, asking if their was a chance the car was still for sale. The man on the other end of the line said ''You bet!'' He went on to say that the callers would ask him ''What is a Woodill? I told em, if you do not know what a Woodill is, you aint interested anyway and I hung up on em!'' I quickly told the guy I knew what a Woodill was and made arrangements to meet with him the following afternoon.



When I saw the car, my heart sank. That did not look like any Wildfire I had ever seen. I told the guy I thought it was a modified Glasspar rather than a Woodill and he said ''Oh Ya!, well check these out!'' He dropped a pile of literature on the hood of the car. I quickly realized that I was not as smart as I thought I was. Apparently they had built a model before the ones that got all the publicity. I made the deal and he delivered the car to my home that very evening.






After extensive research, we found that we had acquired the first Wildfire built which made a debut at the 1952 Motor Trend Motorama here in LA. We found the car had been painted twice over the original fire engine red paint job which we found under the tail lamp housing. (This was a trick many small manufacturers would do to give the public the illusion there were more out there than had really been built.)



The Restoration was relatively easy by my standards since the car was in such nice unmolested shape. The second owner had added an aftermarket floor shift in place of the column shift to make it look more sporty as well as some bucket seats to replace the bench seat. He also stored the car inside for over 15 years. We went 100% back to the way Woody had intended it to be.






I did do a frame off restoration and reapplied that Fire Engine red. The original tires were still on the car although you could see the air in them. The only component that was in bad shape were the brake drums which I replaced. Apparently, looking at the plaques on the dash when I got it, the first owner slalom raced the car which did a number on the brake drums. I figured he must have changed wheels when he raced. Aided by a void of any accidents plus thanks to the genius of Bill Tritt, the condition of the fiberglass was near perfect. We did all the work ourselves and are very proud of our achievement. The car was ready to show by early 1990




Our little Woodill has been shown all over Southern Calif as well as Pebble Beach and Amelia Island Florida. I has won many first in class trophies as well as several best of show awards. It was also featured in a fiberglass display in 2010 at the Petersen Automotive museum in Los Angeles.When alive, both Woody Woodill and Howard Miller came here to visit my little museum and I got to know both men quite well.



The Woodill Wildfire has been a real pleasure to own and we have enjoyed all 40 years with it. Every once in a while I pat the fender and say “Yup, sometimes it pays to shoot your mouth off at car events.”



Frederick J. Roth 2014



All current photos in this article done by
Evan Kline
copyright 2014





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