- Famous Knight sleeve-valve engine
- Last four-cylinder Willys-Knight
- Ideal candidate for restoration
In 1914 John North Willys decided to introduce a more expensive car
than the Overland he had been building since 1908. For his new car,
he chose the Knight sleeve-valve engine, developed by American
inventor Charles Yale Knight but to that time built only in Europe.
The first Willys-Knight, introduced for 1915, was a four-cylinder
car selling for $2,475. A six was offered in 1916 and a V-8 a year
Knight's engine was a double-sleeve design in which concentric
sleeves rotated to allow gases in and out, dispensing entirely with
the need for poppet valves. Sleeve valves were silent in operation
and actually ran better the more they were driven, since
accumulated carbon helped seal the sleeves and prevented oil from
migrating to the combustion chamber. While sleeve valves were
preferred by a number of European luxury manufacturers, like
Daimler, Minerva, and Panhard, Willys was the only U.S. automaker
to manufacture them in any quantity. During the peak years for
Willys-Knight, the mid-1920s, some 50,000 of them were built
The Willys-Knight offered here is the Model 65 four-cylinder
version, the last year for this engine. A 42 hp powerplant, it
displaces 186 cubic inches. Inoperable for some years, the car is
in need of a complete restoration. It appears complete and will
make an excellent project for a dedicated individual.
As the Willys-Knight represented good value in its heyday, so will
this car once it is restored to its full potential.
Please note that this vehicle is offered on a bill of sale.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction,
please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/hf19