The Overland story is a combination of the Standard Wheel Company which started in 1903 in Terre Haute, Indiana and became the Overland Company of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1905. This was taken over by John Willys in 1908 when it was renamed as Willys-Overland of Toledo, Ohio which is perhaps best known for its famous World War Two Jeep. In 1963 it merged into what became the Kaiser-Jeep Corporation of Toledo which was then sold to the American Motors Corporation in 1970 before ultimately becoming part of Daimler Chrysler and finally FIAT.
Anyway, enough of the history lesson and on to this very impressive motor car which came to the UK from Phoenix, Arizona in 1990. It is powered by a 25.6 hp four cylinder multibloc engine which originally had a capacity of 4.8 litres but has since been increased to 5.23 litres by virtue of a set of oversize aluminium pistons. I am also informed that the car has had new timing gears, a new oil pump gear and a rebuilt engine bottom-end. In addition it was repainted in October 2004, a new hood was fitted in 2010 and it had a new radiator in 2015 plus it comes with two new half-shafts and a reprint of a full manual.
I think it is fair to say that it is very smart indeed with sound attractive coachwork and a high quality paint finish. It is very clean underneath as you can see and the upholstery is smart with seats which are spacious and comfortable. I have included a picture of the car with its owner it to give you an idea of its size which is imposing without being too big.
The car starts readily on the handle though it has an exposed flywheel so it should not be too difficult to fit an electric starter should you wish to do so. Out on the road it drives very well with no untoward noises or smoke, it appears to be very well put together and there is no doubt that the powerful engine makes it very easy to drive. It has a three forward and reverse sliding gear gearbox mounted adjacent to the back axle and although gear changing is easy it is fair to say that with an engine of this size and power you won’t need to be doing much of that!
This Overland is typical of many early American cars in that it was designed to travel long distances and its big unstressed engine was built to give the sort of reliability you need for inter-state motoring. American cars of this period are remarkable value for money when compared with their European counterparts especially when you consider that they will easily match them for design and build quality.