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LOT 127


Sold for US$151,250 inc. premium
Lot 127


Twin Over-Head Cam V-8 Engine
Dual Throat Updraft Zenith Carburetor
67hp ALAM Rated
3-Speed Transmission
Rear Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes

*One of the most technically sophisticated cars of its day
*Stunning overhead cam V-8 engine
*Stylish and sporty roadster coachwork
*A highly correct example of a rare machine
*A Hispano-Suiza aero engine in miniature


Engineer C. Harold Wills was the chief designer of the Model T Ford and a key figure in the rise of the Ford Motor Co. An expert metallurgist, Wills introduced Henry Ford to vanadium steel, which contributed greatly to the Model T's legendary durability. Wills also designed the famous Ford script logo. In 1919, Wills left Ford on his own volition, departing to design and manufacture his own automobile.

Wills used the $1.5 million he'd received in severance from Henry Ford to help capitalize on his new car. Wills named his automobile the Wills Sainte Claire, after himself and the river that ran near his new Marysville, Michigan factory. The Canada grey goose, a bird greatly admired by Wills, was portrayed on the new car's radiator ornament.

Drawing inspiration from Hispano-Suiza WWI aircraft engines, Wills designed an advanced 265-cid monobloc V8 with two overhead camshafts for his new car. Precise bevel drive gears improved upon the noisy straight gears of the Hispano design, making the Wills' V-8 whisper quiet. The motor would be fed through a dual throat carburetor, and it exhibited the excellent response one would expect from such an advanced design.

Castings of molybdenum steel, a Wills development, helped keep the 121-inch wheelbase Wills Sainte Claire light and nimble. Starting in 1925, Wills offered a SOHC 6-cylinder engine alongside the V-8. More than 12,000 Wills Sainte Claire cars were produced between 1922 and 1927, the year production ceased. Wills' admiration for the engineering of Hispano-Suiza was reflected in the flying goose logo of the company.

Unfortunately Wills' passion and perfectionism did not benefit his business model. He constantly shut the production line so he could make improvements. His V-8 masterpiece was incredibly expensive to produce and the low output of the company would never yield a profit. Wills would fade away in 1927, with some of his team helping to develop the Ruxton front drive car.

Due to their high quality and amazing technical specification, Wills St Claire cars have always been prized collectors' items. William Harrah, J.B. Nethercutt, and Briggs Cunningham all had fine examples of Wills cars in their collections. The Wills represents a level of technical sophistication not seen in other American cars of this time period.


The Model A-68 V-8 Rumble-Seat Roadster offered here is one of the 2,162 Wills Sainte Claire cars produced during 1924. The Roadster was designed to be the performance showcase for the V-8 engine. A lightweight and nimble car, the model featured high ratio gearing to better harness the performance of the motor. The body was clean and the styling up to date for the early 1920s. Wills differentiated his cars with some novel visual features such as the distinctive headlamps and the drivers courtesy light, which faired into the cowl.

This good example is an older restoration of what was clearly a well-loved car. Though the restoration has aged a bit, the car still presents very well. The wonderful V-8 engine runs well and the dual exhaust system produces a throaty V-8 note. The car has many special options and accessories including original Wills bumpers, golf club bracket and a novel mechanical directional system. The Wills includes a full set of side curtains.

All Wills Sainte Claire models are CCCA Full Classics™. The Wills Sainte Claire Club maintains a museum, located near the original factory site, dedicated to preserving the intriguing history of C. H. Wills and his exceptional car. Rare and possessing one of the most sophisticated powerplants of its day, Wills Sainte Claires have been the treasured parts of many prestigious collections. These cars seldom come available on the open market and this is a tremendous opportunity to acquire one of the most original examples of the highly sought after model.

Saleroom notices

Please note that the chassis and engine numbers for this vehicle are 6336 and 7367 respectively, and its is titled is in transit.

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