1923 Willys Knight Model 64 Tourer
Reg. no. BF 4991
Chassis no. K3198
Engine no. t.b.a.
John Willys, of Willys-Overland, met engine designer Charles Knight on a ship bound for England in 1913. The two came to an agreement whereby Willys would start using Knight’s patented sleeve-valve engines in its automobiles. Knight’s engines were an ingenious design; instead of conventional valves, instead the cylinder sleeves moved to perform the same function. This resulted in larger valve openings, hemispherical combustion chambers and a far less complicated valvetrain, while sleeve-valve engines were also much quieter in operation. However, due to the tighter manufacturing tolerances required and the fact that Knight was owed a royalty for every engine made, their use tended to be restricted to luxury manufacturers – Daimler were the prime exponents of sleeve valves in the UK, while on the continent, such high-quality manufacturers as Minerva, Mercedes-Benz, Panhard and Voisin all used them. Thus, the Willys-Knight, launched in 1914, represented one of the first mass-market cars available with this fascinating engine. Over the next 20 years, almost 500,000 Knight-engined Willys cars were made, some also being built in Manchester as part of the company’s joint venture with Crossley.
The car offered here is a Model 64. Launched in 1923, this was a three-litre car producing around 40bhp. Riding on a 118-inch wheelbase, there is ample room for four passengers, and the car exudes a sturdy feel, as American cars of this era tend to do. This strength led them to become popular vehicles in Australia, where the road conditions were challenging to say the least, and indeed, that is where this car was first owned. The first owner was The Most Reverend William Barry DD, later Archbishop of Hobart, who was one of five Irish brothers who joined the Catholic priesthood. In his ownership, it travelled many miles over the country tracks of Tasmania as he carried out his Church duties and missionary work. Thought to have remained with his family for many decades, it was imported to the UK in 2008. Purchased by the current owner in 2015, it is in good all-round condition, and the engine is said to start easily and run smoothly. With a good hood and side screens, it offers good weather protection, and has also been sensibly fitted with flashing indicators for modern driving.
Extra details and estimates:
£12,000 - 15,000
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