John North Willys


Saturday 25th October 1873

Born on this day, John North Willys, American automotive pioneer and statesman. His very successful car dealership sold the Overland brand of automobiles. However, in 1907 supply problems with the Indianapolis, Indiana Overland factory led to John Willys acquiring the company. He proved an astute operator and quickly turned the company’s sagging fortunes around. In 1909 he acquired the Marion Motor Car Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana and a few years later shifted operations to a production facility bought from the bankrupt Pope Motor Car Co. in Toledo, Ohio.After changing the name to the Willys-Overland Motor Company in 1912, the next year John Willys acquired the Edwards Motor Co of New York which gave him a license to manufacture the patented Knight “sleeve valve” engine. Success saw his car company become the second largest carmaker in the United States and in 1915 he built a seven-story headquarters in Toledo, Ohio that was the most modern of its day. The Great Depression of the 1930s saw numerous carmakers go out of business and the Willys enterprises went into bankruptcy reorganization in 1933


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