- Innovative overhead-cam V-8 engine, derived from Hispano-Suiza aircraft designs
- One of the finest-driving, best-engineered Nickel Era automobiles
- Formerly owned by A.N. Rodway, Robert Schill, and Keith Kruse
- Once exhibited at the ACD Automobile Museum
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
- A very rare offering at auction
Childe Harold Wills was the skilled metallurgist responsible for much of the rock-solid characteristics of the original Model T Ford. He departed the Ford Motor Company and established a new concern in Marysville, Michigan. There, between 1921 and 1927, he produced one of America’s truly finest automobiles. The grandly titled Wills Sainte Claire was and remains renowned for its exceptional engineering, which included extensive use of molybdenum steel and various lightweight components. Early models were powered by an overhead-cam V-8 engine, inspired by Hispano-Suiza aeroengines of World War I.
These were fabulous automobiles that were extremely well-built, often very attractive, and superb on the road, with power and handling uncommon to the heavy and slow vehicles of their era. They were also, unfortunately, extraordinarily expensive for the time, which, along with wartime scrap drives, ensured that few survive.
The Guyton Collection’s A-68 roadster, an early surviving Wills, was fitted with a roadster body by Budd, with distinctive styling touches such as the Duolite headlamps and side marker lights fared directly into the cowl. It was part of the famous collection of A.N. Rodway of Cleveland, Ohio, where in the late 1960s it resided alongside such impressive marques as Duesenberg, Isotta Fraschini, and, ironically enough, the future Guyton Ruxton!
In 1965, the roadster was acquired by Robert Schill of New Hampshire, whose family maintained it for 37 years before selling it in 2002 to Keith Kruse of Fort Wayne, Indiana. While in Mr. Kruse’s ownership, the Wills’ engine was rebuilt and a Borg-Warner overdrive installed, allowing the car to run comfortably at 55 to 60 mph. The car was also exhibited by Mr. Kruse in the ACD Automobile Museum in Auburn. Fred Guyton finally purchased the Wills in 2009.
With its Rodway restoration now older, including obvious patina to the paint and interior, the car is now best-suited for road enjoyment, a purpose that after mechanical recommissioning it will serve ably as one of the best “driver’s cars” of its era. Its dashboard includes many original gauges, while the interior is finished in a period-correct morocco-style leather. A proper Wills Sainte Claire jack is even included.
Every collector that appreciates fine engineering should own a Wills Sainte Claire, and this is truly an example to enjoy, with wonderful rich heritage among great collectors.