After getting off to a respectable start in the automobile industry in 1903, Overland developed a reputation for its 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. But when no cars appeared and nothing was heard from by the factory, Willys traveled to Indiana to investigate. He arrived to discover the company founder had lost everything, with only enough parts to build three cars. In return for his lost 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 was booming, with annual production jumping to nearly 5,000 cars by 1909. Willys moved into the former Marion plant in Toledo, Ohio, and established Overland as one of America’s most successful car companies, and by 1915, only Henry Ford sold more cars than John North Willys.
Powered by a mighty 50hp Continental inline-six, this 1915 Overland Model 82 is one of only three known survivors of this rare flagship model. 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. It is believed that the 7,900 miles it shows today are authentic.
The grand and imposing Overland was sympathetically refurbished after its extended slumber and used for occasional tours and shows by its enthusiastic previous owners. Finished in an attractive bright blue and black livery, the Overland’s older restoration has taken on an appealing light patina. Riding on a 125-inch wheelbase chassis and large-diameter artillery wheels, this fantastic Model 82 makes a bold statement. It is a very well-built machine, with interesting details including dual rear-mounted spare tires, cast alloy step plates, cowl lamps, nickel-plated klaxon horn, and a Biltrite running board-mounted storage trunk.
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. Period repair manuals, advertisements, and sales literature show the interior restoration is faithful to original specification. 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.
While Overland used in-house engines for its smaller models, they turned to Continental to supply the big 303 cubic-inch ‘six used in this Model 82. The smooth, powerful unit propels the Overland along with ease, thanks to its abundant reserves of torque. The engine compartment is orderly and well detailed, with period-correct wiring and fixtures. The technical spec includes on-board starting and a 3-speed transaxle-style gearbox with an H-pattern shift mechanism. The car runs and drives respectably well, needing little to prepare for more extensive touring events.
This Model 82 is one of just a small handful of survivors from Overland’s short-lived flagship range. It is brimming with character and would undoubtedly be a welcome and enjoyable mount for Horseless Carriage Club of America tours and casual driving with family and friends.
Offers welcome and trades considered