Established in 1903, Overland rapidly developed a fine reputation for making 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. When no cars appeared as scheduled, Willys traveled to Indiana to investigate—and discovered that the founder had lost everything, leaving only enough parts to build three cars. In return for his 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—now based in Toledo, Ohio—was booming, with annual production jumping to nearly 5,000 cars by 1909. By 1915, only Henry Ford sold more cars than John North Willys.
This 1915 Overland Model 82 is one of only three known surviving examples of the mighty 50-horsepower flagship. While Overland used in-house engines for its smaller models, they turned to Continental to supply the big 303-cubic-inch inline-six used in the Model 82. The smooth, powerful unit offers vast reserves of torque to propel the Tourer along with ease. Specifications include on-board starting and a three-speed transaxle-style gearbox with an H-pattern shift mechanism.
Story by RM Sotheby’s