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1923 Wills Sainte Claire B-68 Gray Goose Special

Sold For $57,200

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 8 - 9 OCTOBER 2015 - The Richard Roy Estate - Offered on Thursday


Chassis No.
Engine No.
06916
07984
  • Offered from the Richard Roy Estate
  • Known, well-documented history since new
  • Single-family ownership from new until 1998
  • Wonderfully original and complete
  • CCCA Full Classic

67 rated hp, 265.5 cu. in. DOHC V-8 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front and rear axles with semi-elliptical leaf-spring suspension, and rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 127 in.

The automobiles built by Childe Harold Wills in Marysville, Michigan, are renowned for their exceptional engineering, including extensive use of molybdenum steel and lightweight components, and the introduction of a twin-cam V-8 engine (seen here). They are well balanced, easy to drive, and beautifully constructed, and the survivors are among the most fiercely sought after of all CCCA Classics.

The Wills Sainte Claire B-68 Gray Goose Special offered here is remarkable both for its well-preserved authenticity and for history that is probably the most complete of any extant Wills. It is undisputedly every bit the automobile that it was when new, down to its original trim pieces, and it boasts an incredible collection of documentation, which begins with its original invoice and the business card of A.C. Bigelow, a salesman at the Wills showroom at 57th and Broadway in New York City.

The gentleman to whom Mr. Bigelow sold the car was William Jay Schieffelin Jr., a descendant of John Jay and “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose family firm, Schieffelin & Company, was one of the oldest distributors of wines and spirits in the United States. Mr. Schieffelin maintained prosperity through Prohibition by importing pharmaceuticals, which, along with the trade-ins of his Franklin roadster and Packard limousine, enabled him to acquire the fine new Wills Sainte Claire.

Mr. Schieffelin initially kept the Wills at his home at 170 William Street, later relocating with it to 5 East 66th Street, for which parking garage and mechanics’ invoices from 1924 survive. At some point thereafter, the car was acquired by his son-in-law, Cameron Bradley, of Winter Harbor, Maine, a prominent businessman and antique automobile enthusiast who performed some restoration work during the 1950s, including rebuilding the engine. Mr. Bradley obviously thought very highly of the Wills, as he joined the Wills Sainte Claire Society and Museum and remained a member of both organizations until his passing in 1998.

It was at Mr. Bradley’s estate sale that year that Richard Roy purchased the Wills Sainte Claire, bringing it home to Branchville, New Jersey, where it has remained hidden away since. It remains a well-preserved original machine in every important regard, including its paint, top fabric, and interior, and has not been run in the last half-century. It is accompanied by a remarkable collection of documentation, including the original purchase invoices and receipts, the business cards of the salesman and Wills service manager, two original “Care and Operation” manuals in fine condition, other invoices and receipts from the sale to Mr. Schieffelin, and a large collection of Wills Sainte Claire Society newsletters and memoranda from Mr. Bradley’s ownership.

To acquire a Wills Sainte Claire is an unusual opportunity in its own right. To purchase one that has had only two family ownerships from new and remains thoroughly original and well documented occurs only once in a lifetime.

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