1931 Willys, Model 6-97, Sport Touring Sedan, 5 passenger
Owner: Bernie and Janice Taulborg Collection
Original cost: $545.00
Number made: 51,341, all models (including the Whippet) in 1931
Engine, etc.: 6 cyl.; 65 hp; 3 speed’ 110″ wheelbase
John North Willys rescued the Overland Company from failure in 1908, reorganized it, built a new factory and by the end of 1908 was selling cars as fast as the company could make them. The name was changed to Willys-Overland Motor Company in 1912.
From 1912 – 1918 Willys was the second largest producer of automobiles in the U. S. with Ford Motor Company coming in first.
Financial setbacks in 1919 caused the company to be put on the auction block but John Willys regained control. Car sales soared from 50,000 cars to 200,000 between 1921 and 1925.
Production of the Overland ceased in 1926 and Mr. Willys introduced the Whippet. It ceased production in 1931 and was replaced by the Willys Six and Eight.
By 1933 the company had decided to make only two models, the Willys 77 (4-cylinder) and Willys 99 (6-cylinder) but it was on the verge of bankruptcy again. By selling their Canadian subsidiary and massively reorganizing, the company rode out the storm.
John North Willys died in 1935.
In 1936 the Willys-Overland Motor Company became Willys-Overland Motors. It came out with a redesigned four featuring a semi-streamlined body with a slanted windshield, integral headlights, and one-piece rounded hood hinged at the rear.
The company moved into manufacturing of the Jeep during World War II and today survives as Jeep Corp., a division of Chrysler Corporation.
Sources: Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805 -1942. Beverly Rae Kimes, et al. 3rd ed. Krause Publications, 1996.
http://www.americanautohistory.com/Marques/Marque831.htm (History, 1902 – 1915)
http://www.wokr.org/gallery/ov_hist.htm (Willys Overland Knight Registry)
See also: http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Willys%20Overland/1930%20Willys-Overland/1930%20Willys%20Folder/dirindex.html (Original brochure, 1930 model)