Bill Richardson and 1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

The Story of Bill's 1928 Willys-Knight

  • 26 September 2017

Willys-Knight began with the meeting of two men: John N. Willys and Charles Y. Knight. John N. Willys was the head of Willys-Overland Company in Toledo, USA. He was visiting England in 1913 when he met Charles Y. Knight, who convinced John that the sleeve valve engine was way better than the noisy, weak, inefficient poppet valve engine.

Charles Knight 1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

John Willys 1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

Charles Knight, patented the Knight sleeve motor and John Willys, developed the Willys Knight truck

John tried out a Daimler with a Knight engine and covered 4,500 miles of idyllic English and Scottish countryside in 15 days – a great feat in those days. John was sold. On his return to America he bought the Edwards Motor Company of New York (which had a licence to build Knight motors) and went to work.

The finished product was the Willys-Knight, which was produced in various models between 1914 and 1933.

Meet Bill’s 1928 Willys-Knight

Bill Richardson found Transport World’s Willys Knight on a farm in Christchurch, where it had been all its life. It had been supplied by South Island Motors, Willys Knight Distributors. 

Willys Knight Advertisement American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

Parade 1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

Its cab was built by a Christchurch company, Steel Bros. Transport World’s truck has the Knight sleeve valve 6 motor with 228 cu in capacity. The paint is peeling, but you can still read ‘Kaiapoi – The best that grows into Kaiapoi goes’.

Kaiapoi Woolen Mill 1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

The Kaiapoi Woollen Mill was at once one of the most important industrial businesses in the colony of New Zealand. In 1928, that mill bought their Willys-Knight to cart wool and products. 1928 was the Kaiapoi Woollen Mill’s jubilee year and the mill was working at full capacity again after a downturn in the early 1920s. The profitable year and celebrations probably prompted the purchase of this brand new truck.

Kaiapoi Woollen Mill Burton Bros 1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

It was unfortunately downhill for a bit afterwards as the Great Depression hit New Zealand. It is unknown when the truck was sold, but we can guess it was sometime during the Great Depression.

The truck was sold to a Mr Moore, a farmer from Kaiapoi, for £10. It passed from him to a relation, Ansell Moore, who sold it to Bill Richardson. See it being loaded for delivery to Bill Richardson Transport World below. 

1928 Willys Knight delivery American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ1928 Willys Knight delivery 2 American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

1928 Willys Knight American truck vintage vehicle Bill Richardson Transport World automobile museum Invercargill NZ

And in all its glory, the 1928 Willy Knight truck outside Bill Richardson Transport World. 

Now you can find it in the Les Kennedy Shed of Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill.

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Comments

  • 2 November 2017 @ 20:00pm

Great stories that go with these old trucks. Keep up the good work
I hope one day you feature your 1936 Federal that my father drove while working for C S Wycherley of Ashhurst , near Palmerston North

  • 29 September 2017 @ 11:59am

Me thinks that this truck would garner
a bit more than 10 Pounds today! Wow, that's a fascinating history.

  • 26 September 2017 @ 20:20pm

Really enjoy and appreciate your weekly "Ignitions", keep up the good work. :-)

  • 26 September 2017 @ 10:24am

Great story - love the "history" of these vehicles