Their combined knowledge of automobiles consisted of Cox’s senior thesis project, in which he created a four-wheel auto out of a motorized tricycle. The company’s prototype, a single-cylinder, five horsepower runabout, was test driven in 1903. Total production for the year was thirteen units, an ominous beginning for a fledgling company. Financial backing dropped out in 1905, when Minshall determined that the Overland auto department was showing no profit. Two years later, the company was on firm footing again, with the backing of John Willys. Production increased tenfold in 1908, with 465 cars built. The following year saw, tenfold more, with 4,907 units. Despite the success of Overland with Willys at the helm, Cox was frustrated with the fevered pace set by his new boss and left the firm. 1909 was the last year the Overland name stood on its own, becoming Willys-Overland, in an incorporation of Willys’ interests. John Willys became president of the Curtiss aircraft company in 1917 and was for a time the Navy’s largest supplier of aircraft engines, including the Curtiss OX-5 and Liberty engines.
Specifications: Model 24. 20 horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Transmission: Planetary. Price New: $1250. Wheelbase: 96 inches.
Donated in Memory of Craig S. Colhoun
Accession no. 2011G004