1915 Willys Overland

Model 82 Tourer

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1915
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    143
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

  • Rare flagship model from Overland
  • One of a handful known surviving examples
  • 303 cu. in. Continental L-head inline-six
  • A grand and imposing car; rides on a 125-in. wheelbase
  • Well-preserved restoration with appealing patina

Established in 1903, Overland rapidly developed a fine reputation for making dependable, well-built cars. All was looking rosy in 1906 when a prominent dealer from Elmira, New York named John North Willys purchased the company’s entire annual output. He followed that with another generous order for 500 cars, sending a $10,000 deposit. When no cars appeared as scheduled, Willys traveled to Indiana to investigate—and discovered that the founder had lost everything, leaving only enough parts to build three cars. In return for his deposit, Willys took over the firm, assembling cars in a circus tent until he had enough money to buy a new factory!

Not long after, the new Willys-Overland company—now based in Toledo, Ohio—was booming, with annual production jumping to nearly 5,000 cars by 1909. By 1915, only Henry Ford sold more cars than John North Willys.

This 1915 Overland Model 82 is one of only three known surviving examples of the mighty 50-horsepower flagship. While Overland used in-house engines for its smaller models, they turned to Continental to supply the big 303-cubic-inch inline-six used in the Model 82. The smooth, powerful unit offers vast reserves of torque to propel the Tourer along with ease. Specifications include on-board starting and a three-speed transaxle-style gearbox with an H-pattern shift mechanism.

According to its previous custodians, this car’s original owner had only driven Ford Model Ts before purchasing this big, powerful Overland. The owner was so intimidated by the dramatically more powerful Overland that he parked it after just a few thousand miles. He then allegedly traded it to a neighbor in exchange for livestock. The second owner rarely, if ever, drove the car and subsequently stored it in their barn. When the car was unearthed some 65 years later, it was remarkably complete, and the Stewart odometer showed just 6,500 miles—lending credibility to the belief that the 7,900 miles it shows today are accurate.

After its extended slumber, the Oakland was sympathetically restored and used for occasional tours and shows by its enthusiastic previous owners. Finished in an attractive bright blue and black livery, the older restoration has since taken on an appealing light patina. Black button-tufted leather upholstery covers the lofty bench seats front and rear, with stitched and riveted interior panels in the typical style of the era. The rear compartment features a pair of folding opera seats and a plated robe rail, while the black canvas top provides a bit of protection from inclement weather.

This Model 82 is one of just a handful of survivors from Overland’s short-lived flagship range. Riding on a 125-inch wheelbase chassis with large-diameter artillery wheels, it is a very well-built machine, with interesting details including dual rear-mounted spares, cast alloy step plates, cowl lamps, nickel-plated klaxon horn, and a Biltrite running board-mounted storage trunk. It is brimming with character and would undoubtedly be a welcome and enjoyable mount for Horseless Carriage Club of America events and casual touring with family and friends. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/hf21.