Lot 181

Amelia Island 2014

1929 Willys-Knight 66B 'Plaidside' Roadster by Griswold


$264,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
  • An iconic American Roadster of the Jazz Age
  • One of only 11 known survivors
  • Meticulously restored and award winning
  • CCCA Full Classic

87 hp, 255 cu. in. inline “Knight Sleeve-Valve” six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission with synchro-mesh, front and rear leaf-spring suspension with Watson Stabilators, and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

In 1913, the Willys-Overland was the number two selling automobile in America, just behind Ford. That same year, John North Willys was told by his doctor that he had been working far too hard and should either go abroad or to a sanitarium. Not surprisingly, Willys choose Europe, but he could not stray far from his work. While there, he met Charles Yale Knight. Knight had invented an engine with sleeve valves rather than the usual poppet valves. Willys was not a mechanic or an engineer by any means, but he was a helluva salesman, and he saw the novelty of the sleeve valve and its promotional possibilities. The sleeve valves were much quieter in operation, but they had a propensity to burn more oil. Ultimately, the poppet valves won out, and beginning in 1914, Willys-Overland produced more Knight-engined cars than virtually all other manufacturers in the world combined.

Although the Willys-Knight was in the middle-market range, Willys couldn’t resist giving his namesake car an upscale edition. The car was introduced at the 1929 New York Automobile Show, and it was styled by designer Amos Northup, who was better known for styling the handsome Reo Royale. It was Northup who gave the car its distinctive grid work on the doors, which the New York press labeled “Plaidside,” and the name stuck. Some 400 of the cars were produced, all with bodywork by Griswold of Detroit, and only 11 survivors are known today.

This particular example is alleged to have been the New York show car and to have been sold to an IRS agent in Denver, Colorado, following the exhibition. It was acquired by the consignor in 2008 from an avid Willys-Knight enthusiast who had owned the car for decades. An exhaustive restoration to original condition then commenced, and in order to ensure that no detail was overlooked, a copy of the original specifications for the body from Griswold was consulted. The body was even refinished in the correct-factory color combination of Hunter Green with Harper Green fenders and accents.

The restoration was completed in October 2012, prior to the car debuting at the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey, where it received its First Junior award. It has gone on to win Senior and Preservation honors, as well as the AACA President’s Cup, one of the organization’s most prestigious national honors, in February 2013. Other honors include Best American Open Car at The Elegance at Hershey, Best in Class at the Hilton Head Concours, and Best in Class and the Founder’s Trophy at the Ault Park Concours. As an added bonus, the successful bidder receives immediate acceptance to display the car at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours, which takes place the day following the auction, Sunday, March 9, 2014.

As one of the most beautiful and eye-catching cars of its era, and one of few seen in such exquisite condition, this wonderful Plaidside will fill an important gap in any collection of CCCA Classics.