John North Willys started his business career selling bicycles and expanded into manufacturing his own line of bicycles. In 1900, he turned to selling Overland automobiles and acquired the company in 1907 when supply problems disrupted production.
In 1913, Willys-Overland was the number two selling automobile in America, just behind Ford. That same year, John North Willys was told by his doctor that he had been working far too hard and should either go abroad or to a sanitarium. Not surprisingly, Willys choose Europe, but couldn't stray far from his work. While there, he met Charles Knight, who had invented an engine with sleeve valves rather than the usual poppet valves. Willys wasn't a mechanic or engineer by any means, but he was a proven salesman who saw the sleeve valve's novelty and promotional possibilities. The sleeve valves were much quieter operating, though they had a propensity to burn more oil. Willys-Overland produced more Knight-engined cars than virtually all other manufacturers in the world combined.
Although the Willys-Knight was middle-market range, Willys couldn't resist giving his namesake car an upscale edition. Introduced at the New York Automobile Show, the car was styled by designer Amos Northup, better known for styling the Reo Royale. It was Northup who gave the car its distinctive grid work on the doors (offered on both a roadster and a phaeton), to which the New York press nicknamed 'plaidside' - the name stuck. Roughly 400 Plaidside roadsters and phaetons were produced, of which eleven are known to survive.
The Willys-Knight 'Great Six' 66-B series was created by famed designer Amos Northup, who added some special zing to this line-up by designing a 'plaid side' roadster, phaeton and coupe - three very memorable cars of the early 1930's.
The bodies were built by the Griswold Body Company and shipped to the Willys-Overland plant in Toledo.
Willys-Knight was the most popular car built with the Knight sleeve-valve engine - advertised as 'The Engine You'll Never Wear out' and 'The Engine That Improves with Use.'
This outstanding car was owner-restored (an estimated 95%), including body work - a remarkable achievement. The owner also has two Willys-Knight 'Great Six' 66B phaetons.Also photographed at :