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Lot 36
1926 Whippet Model 96 Rumbleseat Roadster


From the Pugsley Collection

CHASSIS NO: 649362W2

• First year of marque name; rare early production car
• Only known running example
• Designed to compete in affordable price field
• Artillery wood spoke wheels
• Internationally inspired styling
• Reliable vintage motoring; easy to drive and maintain

134 cid L-head inline four-cylinder engine, 30 HP, Tillotson SP8A carburetor, three-speed manual transmission, drop-forged alloy steel I-beam front axle, semi-floating rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel mechanical drum brakes; wheelbase: 100.25”

From the start of John Willys’ ownership of Overland and his moving operations to Toledo, Ohio in 1909, he found his main competition to be the Ford Model T. While the “Tin Lizzie” was rugged and easy to fix, Willys designed the Overland to be a more reliable car that didn’t break down as often, but also didn’t cost a king’s ransom to buy. By the mid-1920s, the Model T had about run its course and looking to capitalize on a wider market in the low-price field, Willys phased out the Overland and the Whippet was born. Much more than just a warmed-over Overland, the Whippet had a new steering and suspension for an improved ride and the Whippet’s little four-cylinder engine was a major advancement from the Overland. This new engine had a full-pressure oiling system, pump circulating cooling was physically a bit smaller with a smaller displacement, but still delivered 30 horsepower which was 50% better than the model T. So well-engineered was this new engine that it would go on to live well into the 1950s and, during World War II, it would power over 400,000 dependable Jeeps. The Whippet name came from the speedy and fun-loving breed of dog that John Willys was fond of. As he was once quoted as saying, “If you want to beat the competition, you have to Whippet!” Introduced in mid-1926, only three models were initially offered: a coupe, touring car, and sedan. Later in 1926, a peppy little roadster joined in. With a factory list price of $695, it was a couple hundred dollars ahead of the Model T, and about $170 more than the smart little Chevrolet, but considerably less that the Essex or Star, two other lower priced entries. The Whippet built on the Overland’s heritage of quality materials, reliable service and was a trend setting car. The Whippet was a bit more compact than many of its competitors. Later Whippet models would have larger engines and grow in size, but the early models were what helped launch a successful brand until the world’s financial situation forced Willys to discontinue the Whippet brand in 1931. Unfortunately, no production records exist from Whippet’s early days; however, it is believed that the roadster was a popular model when new but is rarely seen today.

Our consignor acquired this early Whippet roadster in the early 2000s from Floyd Vickers of St. Clair, Ohio. It had been given a cosmetic restoration most likely in the 1980s when it was repainted a popular two-tone color scheme for the time, Crème body with brown fenders, chassis, wheels, and top bows. The interior was done in a durable dark brown vinyl neatly stitched, while the tan canvas folding top replicates the original style used when new. It retains its original engine which is in good running order with the exception of some fuel delivery issues. The original mechanical brakes are also in working order and stop this car with little effort. The original nickel-plated radiator is topped off with a Boyce Moto-Meter ornament with the “dog-bone” spinner and the enameled Whippet badge is in excellent condition. The original drum style headlights, which are painted to match the fenders, are in working order. For passenger comfort are the folding glass wind-wings, while the driver can monitor engine operations with factory gauges plus the speedometer-odometer combination. To the rear of the car, the spare tire is properly mounted as is the factory installed taillight and license plate holder. Even the cast aluminum steps for the rumble seat are still in place and an expandable luggage rack is mounted to the right running board. This is an intriguing car that was an important part of American automotive history. With over 600,000 Whippets produced over its five years of operations, and its engine helping to win the war, this Whippet really is a part of American history.

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