Willys-Overland was an American automobile manufacturer. It started in 1908 by John North Willys. The company began as the Overland Automobile Company, but became Willys-Overland in 1912.
John North Willys sold Willys-Overland in 1918 to Durant Motors, a Billy Durant company. Durant was previously founder of General Motors. Willys remained president and chairman of the board until 1921. He then served as a consultant to the company until his death in 1935. Durant Motors was a struggling company, and Willys-Overland was one of its few profitable assets.
Passing Between Bankrupt Parent Companies
In 1921, Durant Motors went bankrupt, and Willys-Overland joined Associated Motor Industries, a holding company owned by the stockholders of Durant Motors. Associated Motor Industries was also a struggling company, and it sold Willys-Overland in 1926 to Graham-Paige Motor Company.
Graham-Paige Motor Company was a more successful company than Associated Motor Industries, and it was able to turn Willys-Overland around. The company introduced a number of new models, including the Overland Whippet, which was a popular small car.
In 1937, Graham-Paige Motor Company went bankrupt, and Henry J. Kaiser bought Willys-Overland. Kaiser was a successful industrialist who had made a fortune in the steel industry. He was also a World War II hero, later building Liberty ships for the United States Navy.
In 1940, Willys-Overland contracted to produce the military Jeep for the United States Army. The Jeep was an immediate success, and Willys-Overland produced over 360,000 Jeeps during World War II. After the war, Willys-Overland continued to produce Jeeps for civilian use. The Jeep became one of the most popular and iconic vehicles in the world.
After the war, Kaiser continued to produce Jeeps for civilian use, and the Jeep became one of the most popular and iconic vehicles in the world.
In 1953, Willys-Overland joined Kaiser-Frazer Corporation. Kaiser-Frazer continued to produce Jeeps under the Willys-Overland nameplate, but the company struggled financially and eventually went out of business in 1955.
Summary of Models
Here are some of the most notable vehicles produced by Willys-Overland:
Overland Model 40 (1908): One of the first mass-produced automobiles in the United States.
Willys-Knight (1913-1935): A car with a unique sleeve-valve engine that featured smoothness and quietness.
Willys Whippet (1926-1930): A small, sporty car that was popular with young people.
Willys MB Jeep (1941-1945): The military Jeep that operated in the United States Army during World War II.
Civilian Jeep (1945-1986): The civilian version of the Jeep that succeeded with farmers, ranchers, and off-road enthusiasts.
- Year Started: 1908
- Year Ended: 1955
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: John North Willys
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Jeep
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Toledo, Ohio USA