The original Overland car was developed in the early 1900s by the Standard Wheel Company, of Terre Haut, Indiana, and the latter had already changed hands once before John North Willys, a New York auto dealer and major Overland customer, arrived to rescue it from oblivion in 1907. Building four-cylinder cars only from 1910, the revitalised company went from strength to strength, production increasing steadily until by the start of WWI only Ford could claim a higher output.
Willys first put his own name on an automobile in 1914 when he adopted Charles Knight's sleeve-valve engine to create a new car - the Willys-Knight. The Knight engine's chief virtue of near-silent operation proved an effective selling point for Willys' new model, which within a few years had established itself as a successful contender in the medium-price market sector, selling 50,000-plus units per annum at its peak in the early 1920s. Models with four, eight, and six cylinders were offered initially, before the six became the sole Willys-Knight from 1926 onwards. The longest-lived of the many Knight-engined cars, the latter continued in production until the end of 1933, when the last of these charismatic automobiles left the Toledo, Ohio plant.
This six-cylinder Willys-Knight saloon was sold new in New Zealand in June 1929 to one Wilfred Langford Minson and comes with its original registration document listing a further seven owners (including motor dealers) up to August 1964. The car was still in NZ as late as the 1980s, as evidenced by documentation on file, and was restored in that country before making its way to the UK. The previous owner, Anthony Power of Hawbridge, Cheshire acquired the Wills-Knight in July 1992. 'DS 9932' has belonged to the current vendor since August 2001.
The vendor advises us that the car is in generally good/very good condition, the engine pulling well and emitting no smoke when warm, and that it will cruise happily at 50mph all day. The dynamo has been rewound and changed from three-wire to two-wire, and the electrics further upgraded with an electronic voltage regulator and LED bulbs. Described as very useable in all weathers and a very comfortable ride, this rare Willys-Knight is offered with a V5C registration document and four folders of history relating to its life and restoration in New Zealand (inspection recommended).