Despite the endless innuendos this car gained it soon became one of the up and coming stars of the Tamiya Plastic Model Company and he is now regarded as an icon. The ďheĒ part canít go unnoticed here for Willy becomes more than a toy car in very little time and demonstrates the respect given to him that no other car out there has ever gained turning him from plastic car to friend. It isnít unknown for people to talk to him and place him in front of the TV so he too could enjoy the cartoon that you watched also. In some ways ďheĒ also set a trend in the industry for stunt vehicles. Following on from this came Willyís weekend hatchback the Wheeler and the much flawed Pajero stunt cars. Other companies were soon to follow. Despite the limited ability to hot it up, the Wild Willy soon found itself as one of the big sellers around the globe and single car racing was probably born out from this very car. Everybody loved it and everybody liked to watch it. Which was kind of a good thing as it needed quite a lot of help because it fell over a lot like a drunkard at a summer music festival? The Wild Willy had it all, stunts, water-proof chassis with long or short wheel base adjustment, big wheels and a superbly detailed Jeep body. And it took a hell of a lot of abuse. For some reason however this did little to detract from its beauty and the hard graft you had spent on painting it was all taken by the roll cage that took the brunt of the hits. The sprung body mounts also doing everything they could to take some of the shock away from the bodies mounting holes. This could well explain why so many examples still survive today. Unlike the Audi and Opel it spawned into that were far from being the great cars that they could have been due to inferior design when compared with the rest of the cars they went up against, the Wild Willy was designed just right. Not one part took too much stress and breakages were very few and far between. The only parts that ever needed replacing if you were unlucky were the front suspension arms but even those were pretty much robust items. Setting up the servoís was probably the only vice this car has and replacing servos was a headache due to the cramped are and mounting system. Stress on the steering servo was taken up by a proper spring system so broken teeth in the Acoms was very unheard of. Like Iíve mentioned before with the Opel, the gearbox is the sweetest of all the Tamiya gearboxes out there. Despite its scary looks and amount of time it takes to build, the gearbox is such a joy to build but it sadly needs very little else doing to it over the years of use but every now and again a complete strip down and re-build doesnít go a miss and is never a chore. Even getting it out of the Jeep is part fun too. This isnít a simple case of 2 sides, some gears and thatís your lot. You have a floating motor connecting its power to a solid axle with differential. One of the best ways to display a Wild Willy is with a mirror under the rear just so you can see this. And if youíre feeling extravagant you would have it illuminated too like they do at the motor show. Never get Wild Willy confused with Wild Willy 2 and think that they are both the same car for they are not. For one the WW2 is a totally different car and can take as much power as you can give it. Like his older brother the WW2 also has strong mechanicals but its simplicity looses a lot of character over the WW1. And the driving experiences from both are very different. Driving the Willy home (innuendo intentional just to show how easy it is to do) on the road with its narrow track does take some getting used to. So too does the constant wheelie-popping-front-wheels in the air stance from pulling away but it never gets boring. If anything the Wild Willy is one of those very rare cars that despite its lack of power is a car you want to master and though you never totally master it, it soon becomes clear that despite trying to resist his charms and temptations you just better not forget one important thing, Wild Willy is YOUR master now and he owns you!
My second Tamiya model, still love the cartoonish looks of it. The handling is horrible because of the high CoG, but in terms of pulling wheelies it does deliver what it promises on the packaging.
Chassiswise the only weaknesses I found with mine was the front strut assembly on the J-part tree that holds the front suspension together. In frontal collision this has to take all the impact from the front bumper. Also the wheelie bars wear out eventually, mine turned into sharp spikes in the end :-)
The body is extremely cool looking, and something parts can be interchanged with the WW2 re-release. Unfortunately not many of the damage prone, and thus rare, parts can. Look for damage to the roll bar (interchangeable with the WW2), front grille (not interchangeable), winch and winch hook (interchangeable), wind screen surround (not interchangeable due to different mounts), rear corners of the body and the inner front fends where they and and front grille attach to the main body.
Personally, when I'm done restoring my WW1 it will go on the shelf, and I might get a WW2 if I fancy pulling wheelies.
A simply superb kit. There are two versions of this kit. The earliest version more commonly referred to as the short wheel base SWB had several modifications to the later long wheel base model. The gearbox, rear trailing springs and H-parts are very slightly different in design allowing the car to have a short, and better looking in my opinion, wheel base but also subsequently slightly more unstable to drive. The easiest way to tell the difference between a SWB and the later LWB is to look at the metal plate that attaches the chassis to the rear trailing arm. In the SWB version the part has a round hole. In the LWB version this part has a slightly larger slot.
According to the book written by Mr Tamiya the car design was conceived by a famous Japanese cartoonist who believed that a model would be more attractive if certain attributes we exaggerated. I believe he was indeed correct.
Wild Willy 2 is still available today and shares the same body design but with some subtle changes to the grill, roll bar, window and the side and hood of the body mold. The chassis is of a completely new design.