Licespray

Greetings, and a value estimation..

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Not a great first topic, I know. But I currently don’t own a car older than 2004 (gasp, shock, horror!) and am looking to purchase one.

 

There is a 1925 Willy’s Knight nearby, ran when parked in ‘72.. the guy who owns it is more than likely capable of helping me get it running and he said he would be willing to sell - just isn’t sure what it’s worth. I also have no clue what to offer. 

He said it’s pretty much all there, just missing the metal off of one door or something.

It’s a 4cyl.

 

Also, can anyone tell me what body style this should be, and have a photo of an example?

 

Cheers,

Troy.

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Edited by Licespray (see edit history)

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Welcome to the forum. 

 

IMO it's basically worthless unless as a parts car for a particular project. It also looks to be a very long ways from running. 

 

What is is your interest in this car, and what do you think you might do to/with it?

Edited by Chris Bamford (see edit history)
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The car is right hand drive. Is the Willys an import to the United States or is the car located in Australia, New Zealand or South Africa? Location has a bearing on the car's value.

 

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As has been said on this forum many times a car in that condition will cost you far more to restore that it will be worth when finished and will take years of work so in those terms its not worth buying unless you have a strong reason for wanting that particular car.  Buy a complete running car , the best you can afford and start from there.

If its a Willys Knight it has a sleeve valve engine which would be VERY expensive to recondition unless by some miracle it does not need it.  

Interesting car when done correctly but a huge money pit.

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It’s in Australia (as am I), probably should have said that, sorry!

 

Car has no particular history to me, I just want to get a project and save it. Funds are tight for me - but I have a lot of friends in the painting, mechanic and panel beating fields.. so most things can be done with minimal expense. The interior I’m not so sure about how to do but can work it out. Plans (if I get it) to do it over a few years. In time for its 100th birthday to take a big tour in it. Plus as a fossil collecting car.

 

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Troy, it's great that you want an antique car!

They make an interesting and enjoyable hobby.

 

I agree with the others:  This car is too far gone,

and needs too much, especially for a person's first

antique car.  Cars of this vintage are not especially

popular these days, so finding a good one can be

affordable--and is a much better proposition.

Searching around, you may find a nice 1928-31 Ford

Model A sedan, for instance, for $8000.  That would

be in a condition that is perfectly driveable and

cosmetically very nice, though probably not an

award-winner.

 

Do you have a lot of scenic country roads around your

house where you can enjoy a circa-1925 car?  Most

such cars would be comfortable at 30-40 m.p.h. and

incapable of modern highways.  In 1928, most people

in a survey NEVER drove more than 45 m.p.h.  My own

car from 1916, being earlier, is in its "sweet spot" at

25 to 35 m.p.h.

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Lots of back country dirt roads and it’s pretty much all flat around here.

 

 

Amount put in vs final value isn’t a factor here as it’s about bringing back an old timer. How does one determine what’s too far gone? As far as I can tell it’s basically - engine + drivetrain, interior, exterior.

 

Unless there’s wooden body work to do.

 

A fellow I know restored a 1918 Studebaker that was even more far gone than this.

 

Oh! Another question - anyone know good places to find old cars? Or is it literally just driving, door knocking, talking?

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Licespray, I think you're correct that money shouldn't be a factor in all cases.

 

It may be a true statement that you'd end up with more in it than it's worth, but being true isn't always relevant.  Think of the enjoyment of bringing a car back, all the interactions with people in the hobby the car would bring both during and after restoration, and the pleasure of saving a piece of history, all factors to be considered.

 

It's a shame we dwell so much on money and so little on life's pleasures.  In the end, would one rather have money in the bank, or lots of great memories?

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Once again this forum reduces everything to money. "Beware the Philistine who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing". If everyone had taken the advice offered here over the years there wouldn't be 50 cars at Hershey on a good year.

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Troy, for what it is worth, I agree with Trimcar and  Restorer32.  Been said in many ways by many folks that the journey is more important than the destination.   That car CAN be redone. Just ask fellow Aussie Bernie [  OLDCAR ] . 

 

  Value is another problem.  It is not worth the national jewels. No more than, probably not as much as, any other make of that era.  The owner probably thinks it is. Hence sitting 46 years.  Whether the price one acquires it for is $500 or $2000 makes little difference in the final cost.

 

 I hope you are able to make a deal . Please keep us informed .

 

  Ben

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I have restored a number of cars from far worse condition than that one and there is enormous satisfaction in doing so.  I highly recommend the process but you need to be aware of some potential major costs, if money is not a problem then read no further.    

Engine rebuild costs on a Knight engine, if the sleeves need replacing , crank grind, new pistons etc etc $10- 20k.  Maybe more.

Upholstery in all of the correct materials, seats top etc maybe $10k if you are lucky , my last car cost over $20k

Nickel ( that car predates chrome)  bumpers, radiator surround, handles headlight surrounds   $5-10k, my last car cost over $15k for plating.  (BTW the headlights are missing , hopefully stored away).

Tyres tubes rust bands maybe $2k

Painting, panel beating etc, do it all your self . around $1500 for materials.

That car would make an excellent long term project , there are are not a lot around.  Its an interesting car.  

I am, the last person to discourage a major restoration project but just have some idea of what you are getting into.  I am also  in Australia.

If you want to buy a car look at the classifieds in "Just Cars"  https://www.justcars.com.au/cars-for-sale/search  lots of later model cars but a few earlier ones.  Otherwise join a local club and ask around among members. 

 

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I applaud your passion and desire to bring something back and have years of enjoyment from it!  This is exactly what the editorial in the most recent AACA magazine was all about on page 10.  Antique cars is a hobby and not an investment.  Do you know how to make a small fortune in antique or classic cars?  Start with a large fortune! 😃

 

Seriously, for the average hobbyist we should be looking more at ROE (Return on Enjoyment) and ROF(Return on Friendships) instead of always focusing first on ROI (Return on Investment).  Of course, as you mentioned you don't have a lot of funds so you need to start looking at what all work you think needs to be done, what type of condition you want it in when it is done, and what all work you think you are capable of doing or know someone that can  help.  Then start to figure out the potential costs of materials and how much time you have.  Then you can compare it to what needs to be done and you can start to determine if the car is right for you.  From a project like the one you are looking at you can get years of enjoyment from bringing the car back and then years of more enjoyment with using it and having pride in the work that you did.  A lot of connections and friendships can be made through the journey as well.

 

 

Edited by kfle (see edit history)
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Lots of good advice.........but that is a BIG project, and I have been at this for more than 40 years. Maybe take a tour with the Ford T or A guys, and get a taste of the hobby first? That car is no faster or better than a T but it will be twenty five times the work.........which is fine.....if your eyes are open before you start. 

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Hi Troy. And no, this IS in fact a great first topic ! Particularly if this is your first experience of looking to purchase an ancient car. We here frequently encounter various inquiries along this theme. You are in exactly the right place for help, and MOST WELCOME !! Without at this stage knowing your skill sets, age,and expertise, please allow this mid 70s old codger to give you an insight into human nature. People who are "more than likely capable of" getting a decaying, poorly kept 100 year old car not started for 50 years running again, should do so BEFORE you and he agree on a value. Counting on post purchase continuing help from a human being is "more than likely" not a particularly astute bet. And as far as a RARE car being "pretty much all there" is concerned, it is the "pretty much" NOT THERE that is the problem. Also, if you are unsure of what the task of rewooding and interior work on this car implies, my suggestion would be to pursue the hunt for "good places to find old cars". 

 

All the advice in my response and that of the really world class experts above being said, you Aussies seem to be about the most energetic, resourceful, ambitious,  capable people on Earth. Not that I have those qualities myself, but I do share a certain amount of familial DNA with an Aussie to come. My nephew and his wife (who by nature embody the aforementioned "Aussie" qualities), have emigrated to your fair continent, and their first child is expected in a month. If you yourself have those attributes and are deeply in love with the W.K., perhaps you could artistically structure the deal like this : rather than you expecting significant ongoing help from the seller, why not reverse the "helper/helpee" roles ? Agree on a price subject to YOU helping HIM to get the car going. After all the "ran when parked" syndrome over a 50 year span just means that it hasn't thrown a rod. YET !! (Or something like that). At a bare minimum you will learn plenty about old cars, yourself, and the nature of teamwork in such endeavors.

 

I do think that you should shop around a bit, whether you are in love with/have a "crush on" this car or not. As you have asked, here is a Marmon phaeton which is already rhd. Although it is not the more desirable OHV model, it is a vastly more desirable, capable  vehicle than the WK. Mechanical condition superior to said WK, wood certainly better, and you would not have to respoke wood wheels. I took these pictures in Washington state almost 3 years ago, it could still be available.

 

I need to finish an interrupted nocturnal necessity at this point. When I re-awaken, I hope to see a bit more about your age and abilities. We will then be more able to help you. Again, welcome ! I am sure I speak for all of us in saying we are glad to have you here.  -  Carl 

 

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It seems the Knight engine is often the reason this model is less desirable to restore.  It’s not very common and few engine rebuilders seem to want to take it on.  If you are looking for a challenge I think you found it!

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Woah, lots of replies piling in!

 

To answer the above message - I’m 27, and, quite handily, been a fitter and turner for the last decade. Been predominantly doing power station jobs the last 3 years (which are Urgh!). Have access to both manual and CNC machines (lathe/mill) and presses. My main hobby is finding fossils. That involves door knocking properties to get permission to search on their land, a nice old car would sure help making an impression and breaking the ice there :) (though I do well anyways, in 14 years I’ve only had 1 “no” and it was by a young guy worried about being sued (sighs) ).

Ive been for a few drives in a 1926 Oakland Six and enjoyed it. Always had a liking for the old vehicles. Would love a 1930ish Cadillac V16, but that’ll never happen! Or building a big Speedster on a LaFrance. (Which seems to be the easiest way to go).

 

Funny the mention of memories of money - that’s exactly what my wife always stresses. She says it’s far better to have memories rather than things. I’m in the middle ground - some memories I want to make with certain things :P

 

About the fellow who owns it - he’s currently working on an 18cyl radial that’s not running. Getting it going for a fellow. He’s a wizard with engines.. pulled apart and got running 3 x Hall and Scott 36L V12’s, diesel radials, other radials, has a Merlin engine still in its crate. Built (from raw material..) a little Diesel engine, several petrol ones (including one that is a diminutive half a CC 4 stroke!). Makes his own spark plugs for the tiny engines. If anyone can get the sleeve valve going it’s him. He’s also currently building a 3 wheeler using a 1921 Harley Davidson motor.

Oh, and for you Speedster fans, he built a 16L 4 cylinder, and the chain drive for it.. it’s rather impressive (and loud!).

 

@DavidMc May I ask where abouts in Aus are you? I’m Queensland.

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Off to sleep, going by the responses received I’ll definitely have to stick around on this forum, even if I don’t get it. You guys are great (and at least I can live vicariously through you lot! :D )

 

Goodnight, or Good Day to all you Americans (my wife is from Enid, Oklahoma. Home of the Geranimo car company.)

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I like that Marmon. 

 

If there is a spouse involved or may be at some point,  that's important to remember even with friends and ability, money will be required. If that significant other controls the purse strings  then that's why we discuss cost and length of journey in relation to outcome.  Many people think for a couple of grand and a few weekends they'll have a nice old car,  only to find out all the little things add up to thousands of unexpected dollars and alot longer time to finish as you have to source parts you thought that were good for a make that has little to no aftermarket parts being made. 

Even on projects that seem straightforward I always find small ones like even a brake job taking alot longer to finish with plenty of those while you are in there better do this.  This is on good running driving cars that the brakes didn't feel right or it didn't run quite right.  Many old cars were put away because they were worn out sometimes it was one small thing that took them off the road,  but I found it was many things and the small thing was the final straw that caused them to stuff it in the shed and just never get back to it.  Over time the owner's forget that the steering was shot,  it ran like crap and the brakes ere the final straw when they got bad to park it.

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  Take all of us with a grain of salt, Troy.  Some are more top dollar than others.  While I am nowhere near the top, I am a long way from the bottom. A car does not have to be  completely restored to enjoy. Get the rascal running and stopping and drive.  

 

  Ben

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3 hours ago, Licespray said:

so most things can be done with minimal expense

 

That ranks right up there with:

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Unless you are loaded, looking for a very deep money pit, really like frustration, have a wife that just loves watching you throw good money away: Run away, Run away........Bob

 

 

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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To your original question, this is what the car might be:

Image result for 1925 willys knight

 

As to your other questions, I would ask: do you want to have fun or do you want to read about the fun that others are having?

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To add to what others said I'll input from my experience. I funds are tight for the purchase, they likely are for the restoration. You're like myself in you don't care how much it costs compared to it's final value.... but if you don't have a little bit of funds to keep things going you end up spending alot in storage (if you have to rent as I do) and you end up buying parts twice because you lose them in the mean time and you have to do work twice because the reupholstered seats you did 10 years ago now have mice in them. It hasn't kept me from loving the hobby, but I still don't have a first restoration done and can't advise someone to follow all of my footsteps. The other thing to consider with your perspective of final value not being a huge factor is that you could but one of these cars in much better shape for far less than you or I think it's worth. 

All that being said there is another side to this story. If the fellow who has it is willing to mentor you, that is worth quite a bit, both practically and as a great experience with a fellow human. If he's realistic on the cars current value (which might be tough as that car was likely not running when parked given the number of pieces missing (spark plug wires for one.... who takes them off and stops there?)) then it might be a worthwhile expense. For me, that would be the biggest factor. Is he going to mentor you fully and help out with the space, tools, parts, knowledge? It would be quite the gift then, but he might be an older version of yourself and just want to see someone getting into the hobby. If that were to be the case, I'd find a way to make it happen.

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I'm just about the same situation you are... lots of imagination and relatively little extra case. If I took a lot of the advice offered here seriously, I wouldn't have anything at all because the chances I'll ever have 50,000 (or even half that) to spend on a car are nil. I also have access to machines and know how to use them. It is, even to me, sometimes amazing what can be accomplished if you are willing to take the time to think about the job. The difference is, I'm at the end of my working life and only have one or two of these jobs left in me.

 

Go to the "Our Restorations" sub-forum and take a look at the threads on the 1914 Humberette  and the 1910 Mitchell. It will give you an idea of what you may be in for if you undertake something like this. My guess is that the car you've found needs less than either of those - I know it needs less than the Mitchell. If you decide to pursue this, owning a car is the ticket of admission. I've been helped, and continue to be helped by several fellow enthusiasts and, fortunately, have been able to return the favor. The amount of money out of pocket has been a tiny percentage of the estimates you will hear here but it has been and continues to be a lot of work.

 

My only real reservation is that you really want the finished product. There will come times when it just seems too much but if the goal is worthwhile to you, you'll get there.

 

 

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The problem isn't necessarily the condition of the car, or the cost to restore it, or even the wood--it's that sleeve-valve engine. Most Knight engines have overhead water jackets that tend to leak over time and permanently rust the sleeves in place. It's almost impossible to get them apart without damage and it's not something you can fix with a boring bar and some new pistons. Replacement sleeves are probably going to have to be fabricated, since I bet the last of the NOS parts are long gone, and it isn't the kind of thing your local machine shop will be willing to tackle. Finding someone who knows these engines is going to be a real challenge--I think I saw that Al Giddings passed away recently, but I dearly hope I'm wrong. Art Aseltine might be another resource, but he might just focus on the Stearns-Knight, I'm not sure. 

 

Anyway, that engine is going to be the mountain you will have to climb. Any other car with a standard engine in that condition, I'd say, "Go for it!" I agree with the others that cost shouldn't really be a primary factor if you love the car and enjoy the process, and I certainly understand being upside-down on a project, but that engine is going to cost orders of magnitude more to rebuild than a poppet-valve engine. You'll have far more in the engine alone than the finished car is worth, never mind everything else. There's upside-down but it's OK because you love the hobby, and then there's so far upside-down that you're suffocating in orbit, and that might be the case with this car. Do it for love, yes, but at some point you're going to feel that you're buried in the project with no way out, and it's going to be that engine that does it.

 

Interesting car, worthy car, and the Knight engines are wonderful when they're running (although a little smokey). But it's going to be a long, frustrating, and ultimately very expensive journey to put that car back on the road. Elbow grease and a good attitude won't work with something like that. Anything can be done, but you're just not going to rebuild that engine in your back yard with a buddy using mail-order parts. And that's what gives me pause here.

 

Check out how complex it really is:

 

 

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