Charles Knight

Willys-Knight sleeve-valve engine development in Collectible Automobile

I always wondered why John North Willys shared the name Knight on his cars. Now I know.

I read all about it in the February 2010 issue of Collectible Automobile. It’s a great article not only about the development of the sleeve-valve engine but also about the lives of Willys and the engine’s inventor Charles Knight.

I learned that after Knight developed his engine in the early 1900’s, he shopped it around all over the country. Nada. So he went over to Europe and licensed it to Daimler.

Knight did two smart things. First, he licensed the engine to only one country’s automaker at a time. Second, he insisted that any automaker who licensed his engine added a hyphen and his name to the product.

When he returned to America, he attracted Willy’s attention, and voila! The Willy’s-Knight was born. The most well-known Willys-Knight model was the Great Six built from 1925-33.

The article is a great mix of human interest and mechanical innovation stories. Check it out.

Comments