Classic AutoRAI 99: pre-war cars:
Overland, Willys-Knight & Pierce-Arrow
Overland was one
of America's pioneer marques that got into financial trouble in 1907. John North Willys, a
car trader, took over the company and produced cars under the Overland name as well as
under his own name.
Overland cars competed successfully in the market segment of the dominant Ford Model T. Their cars were cheap, a bit more luxurious, and offered a wider model range (and a choice of colors). In 1915 Overland was the second most car selling make in America; Ford of course was number one.
The simple but
durable Type 80 was available in several body styles, but the open Touring model was most
common. It's powered by a 3904 cc 4 cylinder side-valve engine that produces 25 hp.
It's the kind of car you'll expect Harold Lloyd to drive in one of his silent movies, don't you think?
Most pre-war Willys cars
were fitted with engines with Knight-patented sliding valves and were subsequently called
Willys-Knight. The first Willys-Knight appeared in 1914 and the line continued until 1932.
After that the Willys-Overland company returned completely to side-valves, like in its
most famous product: the original Willys Jeep.
The Model 56 was introduced in 1928 as the smallest model in the Willys range and lasted only two seasons. It had a straight 6-cylinder engine which produced 45 hp but it proved less popular than the larger models with sixes offering 53 to 70 hp. In general the Willys-Knight models were popular cars in the medium-priced field in the US.
Pierce-Arrow this is, judging by the nice cup standing next to it. It's yet another rare
and beautiful American luxury car.
In contrast to the likes of Packard, Cadillac or Lincoln, Pierce-Arrow cars were even rare and exotic in their own era. The company produced only small numbers of cars and was most of the time in a difficult financial situation. It was owned by Studebaker from 1929 till 1932, until the Studebaker company itself ran into financial trouble (later they acquired Packard, what turned out bad too). From 1933 to 1938 Pierce-Arrow was run by a consortium of businessmen and some very fine cars were introduced in that time, but at the end of 1938 the company finally went bankrupt.
The car on the picture is (probably) a V12 (1602) model and it features a fancy boat-tail body and a convertible top. The V12 engine has a displacement of 7030 cc and turns out 175 hp. After the demise of Pierce-Arrow these wonderful engines were used in the fire engines of the Seagrave Corporation up to 1970.
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