Early car designs were inevitably influenced by the country they were most likely to be sold in – in Britain for example the nearest big town is probably no more than twenty miles away whereas in the USA it is likely to be much further so their cars were generally built with long distance travel and rough country roads in mind. This resulted in American cars being very well engineered and usually having larger capacity engines than our average car – you can see these characteristics in everything from a Model T Ford to a Cadillac!
The Willys Knight is no exception and any inspection will show that it was designed with durability and reliability in mind based on a robust chassis with good suspension, a strong engine with plenty of low down torque, a smooth ride with comfortable seating and really good weather protection.
This particular example is a 1923 Model 44 which has a 3 litre 4 cylinder 40hp Knight sleeve valve engine similar to those used by other high quality car manufacturers like Daimler and Minerva – although it was relatively expensive to make this design was always highly regarded for its smoothness, reliability and longevity. This particular engine maintains good oil pressure and water temperature though, as anyone familiar with sleeve valve engines will know, their design is such that they use more oil than a conventional poppet valve engine so they do smoke a bit but that is quite normal. The car is very nice to drive with a light clutch and a quiet and easy to use three speed gearbox driving a quiet backlash free rear axle.
The coachwork is in really very good condition throughout with a very high quality paint finish which I know for a fact is many years old as I sold this car to its current owner in 2005 and it looks just as good now as it did then. The button leather upholstery is also very good and might even be original, the hood is blemish free and the car looks very good when it is up plus it comes with a full set of side screens.
The other significant factor is that, for absolutely no good reason other than fashion, early American cars are always much better value than their European counterparts. If this car had been built on this side of the Atlantic ocean to the same high standard it would now be much more expensive so you have the opportunity to acquire a really good quality machine for a very attractive price.