Willys-Overland Company - remembering a piece of automotive history
A brief history of Willys-Overland Company, Toledo, Ohio. Founded in 1906, the company has experienced many transformations throughout the years.
1920 Overland Model Four Touring Car
I have always been amazed at the number of cars produced in the 1920s. The Wills-Overland Company sold 126,000 cars in 1920, successfully competing with both Ford and Chevrolet. This Overland Four Touring Car seated 5 persons and was finished in “hard baked enamel”. It weighed 1,900 pounds and sold at a low price of $595.
A Brief History of Willys-Overland
Claude E. Cox designed the first Overland. Claude E. Cox with financial backing from David M. Parry, started the Overland Automobile Company in 1906. With its origins in Indianapolis, the Overland Company ran into financial trouble as the result of an economic downturn in 1907 that nearly bankrupted the company. J.N. Willys was the unlikely savior of the company.
John N. Willys bought the Overland Automotive Division of the Standard Wheel Company in 1908 and renamed it the Willys-Overland Motor Company in 1912. From 1912 to 1918 only Ford produced more cars than Willys-Overland. In 1917 Willys made Willys-Overland a division of the Willys Corporation and added the Duesenberg Motors Corporation as a division in 1919. In 1936 the Willys-Overland Motor Company was renamed Willys-Overland Motors.
In the middle 1920s the Overland Company decided to bring out a new machine in direct competition with aging Ford Model T; this was the Whippet, one of the least powerful, but most remembered, cars of the 1920s. The Manitoba Antique Auto Museum displays one of the very first Whippets, a 1926 Whippet 96 tourer with Serial Number 161!
1906 Overland Automobile Company founded by Claude E. Cox
1908 John North Willys buys the Overland Automotive Division of Standard Wheel Company.
1912 John North Willys renames the Willys Overland Division to Willys-Overland Motor Company.
1936 Coming out of bankruptcy following the Great Depression, the company is reorganized as Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.
1940 Working from a Bantam Car Company design, Willys contracts to build military Jeeps for the war and produces about 360,000 vehicles by 1945.
1945 Willys-Overland begins producing the Civilian Jeep (CJ) line, with the introduction of the CJ2A model.
1946 Production begins on the Willys Jeep Wagon. Over 300,000 are manufactured between 1946 and 1965. Initially the all-steel wagons are only available in a burgundy and cream color scheme, the appearance of which suggested the "Woodie" wagon look typically found on wagons of this era. 1947 Production begins on the Willys Jeep Truck. From 1947 to 1965, more than 200,000 are manufactured.
1948 Production begins on the Willys Jeepster. Only 19,000 vehicles are manufactured from 1948 to 1950.
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