Come View the Finest Automobiles Ever Made! Wills Sainte Claire

Current Edition of the Gray Goose News


Wills St. Claire Auto Museum, Marysville, Michigan


Written by Terry Ernest, Museum Director

PLEASE NOTE:  This website issue of the newsletter does not cobtain photos or images.  Please join us as a member of the Wills Museum to receive the Award winning "Gray Goose News" with photographs.

The                         Gray

    Wills                                  Goose

       Museum          ®                          News

Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum   2408 Wills St.   Marysville, MI  48040    (810) 987-2854    501c3 non-profit


Newsletter # 44 - July 2016 - Page #1                                           Editor/Director:  Terry Ernest



            Having a birthday party is a great event, but when it is your 100th birthday, then it is even more amazing!

            BIll Mason is a long time Wills Sainte Claire Museum member. His son, Rick, emailed me earlier this year and asked if I could attend and represent the Wills Museum, at his father's 100th birthday party in Lansing, Michigan. This is about a 2 hour drive from the Wills Museum in Marysville.  Of course, I said yes.  As director of the Wills Museum, how could I possibly turn down a request for such an important event.



            Bill Mason has been a member of the Wills Sainte Claire Club since it began in 1959. In fact, Bill's involvement with Wills Sainte Claire goes back a long time further.  In the mid 1920's, when Bill was just a tyke, he remembers the local Wills Sainte Claire distributer sending over a Wills roadster for his father (who owned a commercial meat processing company) to try out for the weekend.  Bill made sure that every time the car went anywhere, he was riding in the rumble seat!  Unfortunately, his father did not buy the Wills, as he had just purchased a different brand of car.  But Bill never  forget those wonderful rides in a Wills Sainte Claire car. 

            In June of 1930, he sent a letter to C. Harold Wills, who built the Wills cars from 1921 to 1926 in Marysville, Michigan, requesting a brochure of the Wills cars. The Wills Sainte Claire Automobile company had gone bankrupt in 1926 after building 12,107 cars, but to his credit, Mr. Wills had saved one last brochure.  Mr. Wills wrote back to 14 year old Bill and said: "Dear Sir, As requested in your letter, I am very happy to send you a catalog showing you the different models of the Wills Sainte Claire car, which happens to be the only one I have.  Trusting that this will meet your pleasure, (signed) C. Harold Wills."


            But Bill always had those fabulous Wills cars in the back of his mind and would eventually go on to become a Wills car owner by purchasing a 1926 Phillips bodied Cabriolet.  His son and daughter told me they had fond memories of riding around in the rumble seat of the Wills Cabriolet when they were kids.  As happens in life, family comes before antique cars, and Bill had to sell the Wills to pay for his children's college educations.

            Bill was a member and stayed in close contact with the Wills Club (started in 1959), which eventually became the Wills Sainte Claire Auto Museum,  and often sent in articles and information, sharing his vast knowledge of all things Wills through the Museum's Newsletter.

In 2012, Bill was awarded the "Spirit of C. H. Wills" award by the Board of Directors of the Wills Museum for his many contributions to the Museum.  The "Spirit of C. H. Wills" Award is given in tribute to the spirit that propelled C. Harold Wills and the Wills Sainte Claire automobile to the forefront of automobile quality and engineering.  This award is given by the directors of the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum to a member who has reflected this spirit in their service to the Museum over the previous year.

As I began thinking about the trip to Lansing to celebrate with Bill and his family, I thought it would be a good idea if I could bring a Wills Sainte Claire car with me to have on display.  No problem, I have a Wills Roadster and I could easily bring it to the party.  Then I considered it further and thought, it would be really fantastic  if I could bring the car that Bill used to own.  Bill's Wills Cabriolet was purchased and restored by Ray Burgess, who gave it one of the finest restorations ever lavished on a Wills, and the car just happened to be on display in the Wills Museum.   I called Ray in Florida and asked him what he thought about me taking his valuable Wills Cabriolet to Lansing for a birthday party for Bill.  Ray, as gracious as a gentlemen can be, said "I think it's a great idea!". 

As sometimes happens with antique cars that have been sitting for a while, the Wills Cabriolet did not want to be cooperative in  starting the engine.  As you can imagine, there are not many Wills engine specialists in the world, but fortunately for us, Scott Shepley of Blue Gryphon Service, whose business is a short distance from the Museum, dropped everything he was doing to come to our aid.  Because of Scott's mechanical prowess, he diagnosed the problems and in short order had the car running well.  With the Wills safely loaded in the trailer, off we went to Lansing. 

Bill's 100th birthday party was well attended by his many family and friends.  Bill's son, Rick, created a wonderful slide show of Bill's life and accomplishments, and many photos included his Wills Sainte Claire.  As dessert was being served, my wife and I slipped out of the dining room and unloaded the Wills Cabriolet from our trailer, placing it under the portico of the facility.  After lunch, Bill made his way outside, for what his son Rick told him was a "special surprise", as Bill did not know about the Wills Roadster being present at his party. 

Bill's eyes lit up when he saw his old car! Then a smile appeared on his face, that for me, made the whole trip immensely worthwhile and immensely satisfying.  Bill looked the car over and began reminiscing about the outings and memories of trips with his wife and family in the car.  I asked Bill if he would like a ride in the car.  Another big smile on his face told me the answer was yes.  It is not easy to get into a car made in the 1920's at any age (especially if you are tall) and when you are 100 years old, you certainly don't bend as well as you used to.  But none of this stopped Bill.  He worked his way into the tight interior of the Wills and we were shortly ready to go.  As we drove along, Bill told me about the sounds that the engine and transmission made as we shifted gears were just as he had remembered them many years ago....



Happy 100th birthday to you, Bill Mason, and many more!



            The Wills Museum has successfully completed the 1925 New York Auto Salon display.  The featured car is Carl Moss' 1925 Custom bodied Town Car by Willoughby displayed on a rotating turntable.



            The New York Auto Salon differed from the Auto Show in that it was for custom bodied cars.  The display shows 3 views of the Hotel Commodore with many high-end car manufacturers and custom body builders showing off their latest creations. 



Although not seen in the original photos of the auto salon, the Willoughby bodied town car was on display at the salon on the Willoughby stand. 

            Another component that makes the display and history so interesting is that Willoughby hoped to sell the Town Car to C. Harold Wills for use by Mrs. Wills.  Unfortunately for Willoughby, Mr. Wills did not purchase the car.  But someone famous certainly did:  Mrs. Horace Dodge of the illustrious Dodge brothers!

            A copy of the Willoughby letter and the rest of the display are now available for viewing at the Wills Museum.



            Our next lecture at the Wills Museum is about the Buhl Aircraft manufactured in Marysville, in buildings formerly used by the Wills Sainte Claire auto company.  Museum secretary, Carl Moss will be presenting this fascinating part of local transportation history from Buhl aircraft files recently donated to the Wills Museum.  The date for this will be September 27th, 2016 beginning at 7:30 PM.

            Who knew that they built airplanes in Marysville?    JOIN US AT THE LECTURE!



1929 Buhl Sport Air-Sedan



            The following list of known existing Wills cars follows the format used by Bill McKeand in 1980 and again in 1986, listed vehicles by car number from oldest to newest.  Cars from 1921, 1922, and 1923 are presented in this newsletter; cars from 1924 and 1925 will be published in the next Gray Goose News, and 1926 cars, and those not on previous lists will be listed on the following newsletter.  Each of these cars have individual folders kept on file at the museum.  They contain whatever information is presently known:  Previous owners, photos, magazine and newspaper articles, etc. for each vehicle. 

            It is difficult to keep this listing up to date as when cars are sold, passed on to relatives, or otherwise change hands, that information is often lost and not shared with the Wills Museum. That being the case, the current listing undoubtedly contains a number of errors.

(Spreadsheet is on page 6 of this newsletter) Readers are encouraged to contact the Museum regarding omissions, corrections, or updates of the date contained in this listing.

(Compiled by Museum Secretary Carl Moss-2016)



            Wills Sainte Claire V-8 1921-24 intake manifolds, new.  Pressure tested. Exceeds OEM specs. Made from 356-T6 aluminum. Hand machined. Increased flow. Brass tubes swaged on. Photo shows polished example. These are not polished. Show quality. Made in U.S.A., with warranty. Immediate shipment. Very limited supply.  $3,950 ea (+s/h).  Call or email:  Dr. John Baeke Phone: 913-406-2262.





            As we had announced in the last issue of this newsletter, we have begun the restoration of a 1926 Wills Roadster, graciously donated by Tom Lieb of California.  As most of the Wills cars in the Museum are owned by their owners and placed on display in the Museum, (as in not owned by the Museum) it is not easy to take a Wills to a concourse or other outreach educational venue to teach about the Wills Sainte Claire.  By having a running & driving car that is owned by the Museum, we will be able to take the car out of the Museum to use as a teaching tool.  Museum Board members Carl Moss and Paul Pawlosky are heading up this project.  Currently they are taking the parts out of the box to assess what needs to be done first.

            I would like to thank Ray Burgess who has made the first donation to this worthy project.    We could also use your help.  Please make your donation out to the Wills Sainte Claire Museum with a note on your check to use toward the "Wills in a Box" project.

With your support, we can accomplish this worthwhile project! 



            Paul Pawlosky's 1926 T-6 Roadster won a prestigious "Design of Distinction" award at the the annual Eyes on Design show at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford estate in Grosse Pointe, Michigan on Father's day.  This show, which benefits the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, is very much about the design of the car or "rolling sculpture" as famous auto designer Gordon Buhrig once said.  Congrats Paul!



            Steve Rossi sent in an ad for Moly Grease, a lubricant with Molysulfide in it produced by Climax Molybdenum.  In the ad, the proud owner of a 1922 Wills is telling the mechanics that he wants them to use Moly Grease in servicing his pride and joy.  One of the mechanics asks "What d'ya suppose they used in 1922 - Bear grease?"



Wills Sainte Claire Museum Board of Directors:


Terry Ernest – Director                                                                Sally Achatz – Fundraising

3546 Conger Street                                     523 N 3RD St

Port Huron, MI  48060                                 St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 987-2854                                           (810) 329-9520


Pete Cangemi – Vice President                     Paul Pawlosky – Merchandising

6621 Trillium Trail                                        904 Lake Rd

Jeddo, MI  48032                                        Otisville, MI  48463

(810) 327-2327                                           (810) 496-1948


Scott Metzner – Treasurer                                            John PorterFacilities

2211 River Rd                                            137 Brown St

Marysville, MI  48040                                  St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 989-7950                                           (810) 329-3192


Carl Moss – Secretary                                

1617 Military Street

Port Huron, MI  48060                                

(810) 982-4771

Newsletter # 39 - November 2014 - Page #1                              Editor/Director:  Terry Ernest





            The membership has spoken, and we have listened!  Although we here at the Museum had been planning on moving the national meet to Akron to be part of the Stan Hewett Concours in 2015, members let us know that they would prefer the meet to be in Marysville.  Along with a venue change, the dates will also be changing. Our National Meet will now be August 13 to 16, 2015, in Marysville, Michigan.

            This will coincide with the annual car show in Marysville Park (across the street from the Wills factory) which will showcase the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile as the show's featured marque.  In the next issue of this newsletter, we will give you details of where we will be visiting and the rest of the meet specifics. 




            It is very important that you vote yes or no on the by-laws that the Museum Board of Directors has created for the operation of the museum.  The board spent many hours crafting these rules of governance that will guide the museum now and into the future.  We hope you will vote to approve them.  Your vote must be received by December 31, 2014 to be counted.




Fig. #1 Mr. Wills' Hispano-Suiza (photo by C. Harold Wills)


C. Harold Wills was believed to have owned a Hispano-Suiza in the early 1920's.  One of the mysteries surrounding this car was what model and year was it?  Wills Museum member Richard Coulombe of St. Bruno, Quebec, Canada has written up an article (with photos) to help us explore this rare car. Richard's research and article follow:


            This picture (Fig 1) was published in our Grey Goose News a few years ago. Evidently, C. Harold owned an Hispano!  And, that is all we know. How and when did he acquire it? Who are the people? Where was the photo taken? Who took the picture and when? Which Model is it? What year?

            I've researched this mystery, making contacts in France, Spain, & getting a 500 pages Hispano book from London. I also exchanged with Robert Nester whom passed away in 2013. He was the son of Virginia Wills Chauvin (1908-94) and the grand-son of C. Harold Wills.

Brief historical info; Marc BIRKIGT was the bright mechanical engineer behind all Hispano-Suizas , Swiss born in Geneva in 1878, the same year as C. Harold was born. Birkigt went to Barcelona, Spain in 1899 and worked on many engine designs. A promising prototype won the "Coupe de l'Auto" in 1910, and so impressed the king of Spain that he secured the first "Type 15" produced (Fig 2).

Fig. #2  King Alphonso XIII and his Type 15 

The popular race/sport car became known as the "Alphonso Xlll". The monoblock (Fig 3) was a T-head of 3.6 Liters, rated at 45hp.

Fig. #3 Alphonso XIII  Type 15  Engine


            Production started in Barcelona, and moved to Paris in 1911 where larger facilities had been built. The Alphonso Xlll was deemed the best & fastest Tourer, building (439 units) prior to WW1. It evolved into a 4.5L "Super Alphonso" which raced in Brooklands in July 1914. World War I broke out in Europe on Aug. 3rd, paralyzing all production. All tooling and material were then transferred back to Barcelona along with the 56 unfinished cars of the new "Type 26".

Fig. #4 King Alphono XIII driving his Type 26 

            The first two of these good looking Type 26 (Fig 4) went to the King in 1915 and were known as the "New Alphonso Xlll". It had a lively T-head 4 cyl 4.6L/75hp, chain driven twin camshafts to 16 valves (Fig 5).

            Birkigt experimented in 1912-13 with an Over-head camshaft and valves with detachable head.  They were installed on a very few Type 20-21-22-23 Models.  The 3 bearings crankshafts proved so faulty, they had to cease it's production. 


Fig. #5 16 valve Type 26 Engine (75HP)


            The Type 22 motor (64HP) would have upgraded the "Alphonso Xlll" into a "Super Alphonso Xlll".  Birkigt urgently designed (early '14) a bigger T-Head 4.5Liter block for it (Type 25) as a temporary fix.  Only 20 or so of those "Super Alphonso Xlll" were built, competed successfully at the Brookland track

that summer of '14 but...Because...


            War priorities on military aero engines monopolized Birkigt time in Spain. The result was the superb V-8 (Type 31) of 150hp (300hp by 1918) with crown/pinion Over-Head Camshafts. Some 49,000 were produced under license in Allied countries and the USA. The sturdy Hispano V-8 evolved into the V-12 Liberty, produced in the USA, on which C. Harold solved many production problems. The V-8 design and OHC surely impressed him. This V-8 Hispano was by 1916, on the SPAD of famous ace George Guynemer on the Stork fighter Squadron. This "Stork" would become the Hispanos emblem after the war. These powerful V-8 and V-12 aero-engines helped the Allies regain control of the skies to victory and made the Hispano-Suiza name known worldwide.
            Birkigt found the time somehow during the war to correct the 4 cyl OHC, of 3.0L with a 5 bearing crankshaft and 59hp, leading to the superb Type 30 and the larger 95 hp Type 32. Both those Type 30 & 32 had the ingenious <Spur gears> from the crank, offset on the left side of the block (Fig 6) and driving the <Over-head camshaft>.

Fig. #6 Spur gear drive with OHC

            The intense war effort in Spain on the aero-engines resulted in limited car production. The Type 30 appeared slowly in 1916 and Type 32 in 1917. Being in high demand, 955 units of the Type 30 were built in Barcelona as well as 426 of the Type 32 til 1924. A total of some 3397 Hispano-Suiza cars were built prior to the H6 and J12 era.  End of brief historical information.           


            Wills was set on leaving Ford and left in March 1919, determined to build his own car, his own way, certainly influenced by Hispano's sound engine design and features. He would not have dared to get a Hispano prior to leaving Ford, Henry Ford could have reacted unpredictably. Besides, finding one during the first world war was near impossible.
Some of Wills' Hispano-Suiza features:

1- Right-hand drive, Long hood, Vertical       wind-shield (two glass panes).

2-Engine oil pan well below frame.
3- Extra engine oil reservoir below left cowl.

4- Rounded radiator shell (a post '14 style), not with a "Stork" cap but with a "Moto-meter".

5- Fenders of late-teen style. Large tool box below running-board. Rumble seat and folded panels (note A-68 like step plate).

6- Wire wheels/thin tires/Whithworth Rudge

7- Electric head lamps.

8- Rear brakes only.

What Model?   A long stylish roadster, fit for a King.  It is not shown in my 1000+ pictures, although the hood, cowl and fenders of Type 26 shown in Fig. #4 are almost alike. The engine oil pan is quite low.


Who are the People, and When?  Harold's wife, Mary Coyne Wills is at the wheel, the chauffeur "Rex", is likely driving  the car in the background. The two boys are Jack & Harold Jr, born in 1916 and '18. They seem to be 4 to 7 years old according to Bob Nester (C.H. Wills' grandson) which would date the scene to 1922 or 1923. C. Harold (fond of cameras) is likely taking the picture. Where? I make out <EDEN MUSEUM> and flags on building in background, perhaps an amusement park for the boys, on a warm summer day outing, fairly close to home.


Detail of photo showing "Eden Museum" in background

   Model Year?   It is probably not an ALPHONSO Xlll (1910-14), smaller and lower with square radiator shell curve at top. It is not the H6B model built in France from 1919 which had servo-brakes on all 4 wheels, wider tires and a radiator cap with the "STORK" emblem.  Unlikely to be a Type 26 of 1915, the engine oil pan profile is different, only 56 were made and it would not look nearly as new in 1922.  It is unlikely to be a big 95hp Type 32 with a much higher hood. C. Harold would have acquired his Hispano-Suiza in the early '20s from Spain since they continued to be built there until 1924.

            That car had lots to impress him, with the <Spur gear> over-head camshaft (direct drive, "mando directo" in Spanish) and tappet clatter suppressor (Fig. #6-7-8). The intake manifold was water jacketed, the fan was gear driven etc... Virginia Wills often told her son Bob (Nester)  that her father had taken the Hispano all apart to better appreciate Birkigt's genius. 

Fig. #7 Type 30 Spur Gear drive (59 HP)


Fig. #8 Type 32 Spur gear drive engine (95 HP) 

Fig. #9 Type 30 Touring (most resembles Wills' Hispano)

Conclusion:  C.H.'s Hispano was light, very fast, even dangerous with rear brakes only. Many models like it were lost. His car likely has not survived.  I conclude that C. Harold's smart, sporty Hispano-Suiza most "likely" was a 1919-21 Spanish Type 30 (Fig.#9).  Don't you find that the Wills A-68 Roadster (Fig. #10) and Wills' Hispano (Fig.#1) share many visible features?

Written by:  Richard Coulombe

Fig. #10  Early Wills A-68 Roadster


            In researching this article, we contacted some experts in the Hispano-Suiza club for their opinions of what model Hizzo that Wills may have owned:  After examining the photo, here is what they think:

            This looks like a 1914 Alphonso XIII to me.  The radiator is the later nickel plated rounded edge style as compared to the brass sharp edged earlier version.  There is the spare oil tank attached the frame rail visible just below the front right fender near where it meets the running board, which was not found on other models.  (This tank was attached with a copper pipe to the crankcase which had a float valve that allowed oil to automatically refill the crank case if the oil level got low.)  The wheel hubs are the later style as well, but the knock-off lock rings are not something I have seen before -- normally they are just a ring with holes that you turns with a pin spanner.  That is what it looks like to me.  However, with your permission, I would like to send this on to our early HS expert in Barcelona for confirmation. 

              Nelson V. Thorpe


            I had many interesting exchanges with the authority in Spain, Senior Manuel Lage.
He is of the opinion Wills Hispano looks like a 1914 Super Alphonso, classified as "Type 25", with the same "T" head 4 cyl, and only a slightly larger bore from 80 to 85mm.

Only Manuel Lage mentions Type 25. Many  early Hispano cars were destroyed or lost. Only one is left, it is in Australia.

              Richard Coulombe


            This one is very difficult to identify.  Note that the coachwork appears mid to late teens, there are knock-off wire wheels and no front wheel brakes.  All French produced Hispanos after the war were the H6 Series cars introduced in 1919.  They all had front wheel brakes.  The Spanish factory did produce cars during the war and into the twenties that were also sold outside of Spain.  All of the cars prior to the H6 cars were 4 cylinder of different displacement and different valve operation, mostly overhead cam after the T heads.  The Spanish 4 cylinder cars continued into the mid twenties.  Photos I have seen do not show front wheel brakes on the Spanish cars even into the twenties.  When I look at early photos I do not see knock-off wheels anywhere.

            If I had to guess, I would speculate that the car was either a Type 30 or 32.  Both were produced from the mid teens through the early twenties.  The Type 30 was a 3 Liter engine and the Type 32 was 4.7 Liters.  Both were single overhead cams.  There were about 960 of the Type 30 chassis produced and about 420 of the Type 32.

              Al McEwen


            I'm looking at the particulars of the Hispano-Suiza.  It looks like it is a T 32 which was produced from 1015-1924. 4.7 liter, 4 cylinder motor producing 30HP (about 100 brake HP). 

              Roy Margenau


            Interesting Terry!... pretty well same line of thinking.  Type 30 is tempting, 900+ were made only in Spain until 1924. 
The Super Alphonzo Xlll was made (only 20 or so) prior WW1 to upgrade the
Standard Alphonso, with a re-designed larger block (Type 25) but with a T-head still,
a temporary measure because the first Over-head-camshaft engines had faulty crankshafts.
In fact, they had to be scrapped and re-appeared in 1916 with 5 bearings and 4 connecting rod journals  to go in the Type 30 first, and the even larger Type 32 in '17. 

              Richard Coulombe



Every once in a while, I look to Ebay and type in "Wills Sainte Claire" in the search section to see what might be available.  To my great surprise, I located a Wills factory badge in a city about 30 miles from Marysville.  What really amazed me was the very low number on the badge, #9.

Does this mean that the employee that was issued this badge was an executive, or perhaps one of the very first employees hired?  I suppose we will never know the true story, but I am happy to find such a rare item.  The other badge in the photo with the higher number was found by a diver on the bottom of the St. Clair river (which flows past the Wills factory) in an area that rubbage used to be dumped.



            Karl Krouch once again hosted our group Friday morning to talk about what Wills items we may have discovered in our trek through the many venders.  We also discussed what was going on at the Museum and an opportunity to catch up with one another.  We also posed for the below photo, chalking up another year of old car fun!


From left to right:  Fran Warsilla, Fred Cleaver, Peter  Landsbergen, John Porter, Gary Minnie, Paul Pawlosky, Steve Rossi, Mary & Karl Krouch, Rita & Terry Ernest



            In a past newsletter, I asked for photos of members using their cars at a show or on tour.  Richard Coulombe of Quebec, sent in this gorgeous photo of his T-6 Wills Traveler out touring in the beautiful Canadian countryside.

So I am asking again, please send in your photos and associated stories about your car and I will include them in an upcoming newsletter.  Heck, even if you are just washing it in the driveway, we would love to see it!



            Greg Henkels of San Diego, CA wrote in with some photos of a relatives' Wills roadster that they sold to Wm. Harrah in 1960.  What follows is an offer and negotiation through letters, and some period photos of the Wills.  It appears to be an early roadster either an A-68 or B-68 roadster.

            Mr. Strople is asking $1500 and Wm. Harrah is offering $1000.  Per the hand written note at the bottom of the 2nd letter, the price was split in the middle at $1250.  Sure wish we could buy them now for those prices!  Wm. Harrah would eventually have 13 Wills Sainte Claire autos in his incredible collection!




            The Auburn-Cord Duesenberg club held their annual CAN-AM meet this past spring, and this year it was in the Port Huron-Marysville area.  We were happy to host one of their tour stops and enjoyed having some great car enthusiasts stop by for a auto history lesson.


Some of the many ACD cars on tour visiting the Museum



            C. H. Wills had a home built in Marysville in the early 1920's for a place to stay while he was working at the factory, although he also kept his home in Grosse Point.  He also docked his 140' Yacht, the "Marold" (named after the combination of his wife's name Mary and himself) at the dock in front of his water front home.

            At some point the home had been split into 3 apartments and is currently offered for $950,000.  The first photo is a current image of the house.  The second image is Mr. Wills with L.B. Miller, in front of Wills' home in 1926.  Miller broke the cross country speed record in both 1925 & 1926 in a Wills roadster.  Mr. Wills traded him this handsome coupe in exchange for his for his famous roadster.




            -We devoted a lot of space in this issue to discuss Hispano-Suiza.  The reason for this is because we believe that C. Harold Wills was greatly influenced by this fine automobile,  perhaps borrowing on concepts in the design of his own amazing car.

            -We could really use some help on the funding of an LCD projector and laptop for the Museum.  If you are able to help financially, please do.  We need $1200 to fund these items. Your gift to the Museum is tax deductable!

            -Remember the dates for the National Meet are August 13 to 16, 2015. 

~Please plan now to attend!~

            -Finally, don't forget to vote yes or no on the proposed by-laws by Dec. 31, 2014.  They can be reviewed at the Wills Museum website:



            Terry Ernest, Director         


Newsletter # 33 / 34 – Nov. 2012 - Page #1                                Editor/Director:  Terry Ernest



            Because of the quantity of information and articles to be published, this issue is a double issue; chock full of information about our favorite topic, C. H. Wills, his cars and the Wills Sainte Claire Auto Museum.  Enjoy!



          Wills Museum Secretary, Carl Moss, found a great photo of the Wills Sainte Claire Dealer of Columbus, this year at the Hershey swap meet.  A Wills car can be seen in the service door and another in the window to the left of the sales staff and managers.  No address is listed and it begs the question if the building is still there.  (photo below)
























            Automobile Quarterly volume 51, No. 2, published an article by writer Michael W.R. Davis, entitled; MARQUE HISTORY
Man and Machine: C. Harold Wills and the Wills Sainte Claire.  This well written article can be purchased from AQ for $24.95

Henry Ford’s Last Race -- Part 1 (Photos from the Virginia Wills’ Collection) Article by:  Robert Wills Nester


I have been working on my mother, Virginia Wills’, photo collection, including my Grandfather C. H. Wills' ancient red photo album – scanning and digitizing the pictures and trying to identify the people and events for the larger Wills family and, for images of historical interest, for our Wills Sainte Claire Museum. There are four images of this 1904 event, Henry Ford’s last “race” in one of his racing machines, the “Arrow.” Identical to the “999,” it had four giant in-line cylinders displacing about 1100 cu. in. and produced an estimated 70 to 100 horsepower. Published accounts of this event vary in details.

I do not know yet who took these pictures or whether there were other copies made at some time. I am not aware of any pictures ever published of the event. Because C. H. is labeled “Wills” in two of these, someone who did not know him by sight probably took them. Peter Collier and David Horowitz[1] tell the story of Henry Ford's last great auto speed race this way: 

 “....he (Ford) reluctantly agreed to one more race – this time against the clock instead of another car. In the dead of winter, he readied the Arrow, twin of the 999, for a one-mile straightaway course on the frozen surface of Lake St Claire. Barney Oldfield was not available this time; Ford had to do it himself. Clara was there on the day of the race, so still in the bitter cold that she looked like a statue; eleven year-old Edsel was beside her, jumping up and down to keep his blood circulating. Harold Wills was present, languidly tinkering with the racer's engine and then standing back and shrugging at Ford when it was fine-tuned. Another Ford Motor Company employee, Ed “Spider” Huff had been conscripted to ride as copilot.                                        Later on, Henry Ford called this run across the frozen lake the most frightening experience of his life.

             “That ice was seamed with fissures which I knew were going to mean trouble the moment I got up speed. But there was nothing to do but to go through with the trial and I let old

“Arrow” out.  With every fissure, the car leaped into the air. I never knew how it was coming down. When I wasn't up in the air, I was skidding, but somehow I stayed topside up and on the course, making a record that went all over the world.”[2]

    Bringing the buffeting car to a stop, he was pale and shaken, but he had done a mile in thirty-six seconds. It was a world's record; it was also a rite of passage. Determined to own what he had just risked his life for, he would now fight all the harder to control the company. … To celebrate the fact that he was still alive after the record run on Lake St Clair, Ford took Wills and Spider Huff to the Hotel Chesterfield for a dinner of muskrats.”

(photo 1, below)

The four wide angle pictures with this article show that the sun was bright and high in the sky – it was at least mid-day– and C. H. and Spider Huff are in shirtsleeves. Clara Ford is hanging on to her hat in the breeze. This is a warm and windy winter day, but hardly the “bitter cold” described by Collier and Horowitz. To do almost 100 mph over a frozen lake surface in these warm and maybe gusty conditions was certainly a risky proposition. The “fissures” Ford noted in his book were probably opening up as the lake surface warmed in the sun and melted, making the track rough, slippery and mushy, in spite of the cinders they spread to improve traction. I doubt any sane driver today would want to try to repeat this feat inside a modern car, let alone an 80 horsepower gasoline behemoth with a single seat, two steel I-beams for running boards and four balloon-tired wheels.


Ford was probably more than a little nuts to do this. C. H.'s face (at age 25) seems to express a sense of worry that his friend, recent best man and boss is determined to “race.”  Henry Ford (photo 1 & 1a, foreground, in racing goggles) watches the photographer while Spider Huff (?) in cap and shirtsleeves confers with a goggled copilot (kneeling, identity unknown) and Wills (photo 1 & 1b, also in shirtsleeves). Dark smudges are finger-smeared glue that degraded photos when they were originally put in album.

         It is hard to understand today why Ford would have allowed his wife and 11 year-old son (Edsel) to witness the wild run unless he truly had no idea of the risk or believed he was immune to the danger. Here, she holds a 2-3 year-old girl, possibly a grand-niece. Edsel is already out of the car and roaming the area. Here it looks like Ford has set this up as a picnic outing for the family and a few Ford business friends, rather than as a serious world record auto race.


Here, the apparent (goggled) copilot and another man in a white panama hat, who talks with Ford as if he is an official with the “race,” seem to scout one of the race support cars looking for something. Someone (C. H.?) has tossed a coat in the front seat. This might be the car that towed Arrow on her trailer. White uniformed Ford Arrow race technician “tinkers” in the background, readying the machine for Ford’s run. It is nice to be able to produce a close-up of C. H. in historic action so young (25).  Photo 1a left; Ford – 1b below; CH Wills



















                            Photo 2 (above)




















                   Photo 2a (above) detail





Our last photo, shows a few of the 15-person party focusing on the roar of Arrow as she is started up and the carburetor(s), ignition and throttle are run through tests at various rpm. [“The roar of those cylinders was enough to half kill a man.”] Ford stands beside the Race official in the white panama hat (note his shadow); Clara and her baby-in-arms stand behind those two men (see shadow at Ford’s knee and the baby’s head at his chest); the two suited men (Ford employees?) with white boaters seem impressed with the race preliminaries.












































Above, Henry Ford and Barney Oldfield pose with the Arrow’s twin in 1902. According to one account, the 1904 timed run pictures here required “Spider” Huff to “sit” on one of the “running boards” to shut off the carburetor(s) to stop the racer after the mile was finished. With the racer bouncing around and sliding over the ice, it is a wonder both men managed to hang on to their perches and finish the race.

        At the end of the race day, I assume her chauffeur drove Clara and the children home. The Ford employees probably packed up Arrow and supporting equipment and took that all back to its garage. The race officials went home. Henry Ford, thoroughly pumped at making his last and best world speed record, captured C. Harold Wills and “Spider” Huff and treated them to a muskrat dinner at the nearby Hotel Chesterfield. What in the world does a “muskrat dinner” signify?









Edsel, who will be a Ford employee in five years (at 16), Corporation Secretary in ten, and CEO in 15, watches the noisy spectacle carrying a mysterious box with dials on its side.


Henry Ford’s Second Last Race -- Part 2

The Model K Racer at Atlantic City


As I finished Part 1, I was still curious whether I had identified Ed “Spider” Huff correctly in these photos. I thought he was the fellow in shirtsleeves and a driving cap (only he of all the guys in the pictures deserved that nickname) but there was someone else wearing the goggles of a race car driver. Who was he and why was he there if Ford was driving and Huff had to be “conscripted” to drive? I Googled “Spider” Huff, hoping to find a picture of him, and found several of him racing with Ford on a Flickr web site that has 41, The Henry Ford Museum (THF) pictures of Ford racers. Among them I found this one.

So, the fellow bending over, in shirtsleeves, suspenders and a driving cap is “Spider” Huff and his colleague wearing the driver’s goggles is Frank Kulick, one of Ford’s premium race car drivers, along with Barney Oldfield. This picture was taken within a few seconds of the one I presented on page 2 above, thinking we were racing in the winter of ’04. Suddenly, our warm and breezy winter day on Lake Saint Clair has turned into a summer day in 1905 in Atlantic City. The Arrow and Ford’s “last” race have morphed into a new “Model K” race car and another full scale Ford racing attempt (although one that is ignored in Ford’s own book, My Life and Work and in Collier and Horowitz’s The Fords: An American Epic). I will have to look further into the Atlantic City “race” and why it dropped out of sight. In the mean time, THF shows us pictures of the real January 1904 race, as follows.                                         

          The Lake Saint Clair race course looks foggy, which suggests that the air temperature was above freezing, though certainly not shirtsleeve weather. Note that Spider Huff is leaning forward, unsupported, in position to kill the carburetors(s) if Ford’s controls freeze up.




















           Next page is a photo of some of the January 12, 1904 race observers, directors on Ford’s board, including John Dodge, A. J. Malcomson, John Anderson and James Couzens. There are no pictures of Clara or Edsel Ford, though Collier and Horowitz say they attended. Likewise, there is no sign in any of these January 1904 race pictures of C. H. Wills, though his participation is documented.                                                     

So, it looks now as if the January 12, 1904 world’s record automobile speed race was run in a cold winter fog and that the photos C. H. Wills put in his album were actually of the next Ford racing event, a summer, 1905 “race” apparently on sand near Atlantic City. We now have our pictures correctly located because they correspond with at least one additional picture of the event owned by the Henry Ford Museum, timed among the photos we have showing the same people in different positions.

            I have more loose ends to follow up about these four C. H. Wills photos and more to scan in the album. I am sure there will be enough material there for another WSC Newsletter article but I am now a little wary of where it can lead.









































When There’s a Wills, There’s a Way…

By Steven Rossi

           The long-standing relationship between Harold Wills and Henry Ford is well known…so much so, that Wills is truly recognized as one of the chief architects behind Ford Motor Company’s spectacular success. And Wills’ endeavors that followed within the world of Wills Sainte Claire itself are obviously well known, too. But it came as a surprise to learn that Wills also had a connection to Charles F Kettering and what would become a part of General Motors?!

            Kettering was the inventive mind behind the creation of coil ignition, the self-starter, leaded gasoline and much more. His Dayton Engineering Laboratory Company (Delco) would go on to become the General Motors Research Corporation, after GM acquired it






























during the 1918/1919 timeframe. Kettering became a General Motors Vice President in

January 1920, and joined the GM Board of Directors that December.

            Other inventions and innovations soon followed, including Chevrolet’s Copper-Cooled engine, quick-drying Duco paint, Freon refrigerants and more. The ever-expanding scope of the GM engineering enterprise even reached as far as diesel locomotives and…guided missiles. And Wills added his engine expertise into that equation.

            It’s all spelled out below in the following excerpts from BOSS KETTERING: WIZARD OF GENERAL MOTORS by Stuart W. Leslie, which I’ve recently been reading. The 382–page biography was published in 1983 by the Columbia University Press.


“Kettering faced a two-sided challenge as the head of the army torpedo project. He had to develop a body and power plant for the weapon, and he had to devise a guidance system.”


“For the former task, he could rely on an impressive array of aeronautical engineering talent from Dayton, notably Orville Wright and two of his assistants, Roland V. Hutchinson and Louis Luneke. Together, this design team worked up a prototype that met Kettering’s cost requirements. For some reason, Kettering, who knew very little about aviation design, felt compelled to offer his advice on ailerons.”


“C.H. Wills, the former chief designer at Ford, and Ralph de Palma, a race car builder and driver, had charge of the torpedo’s engine. Here too, Kettering felt qualified to give advice. Initially, he insisted on an air-cooled, two-stroke, opposed cylinder design; a configuration he thought would save weight. Though they did build such an engine, even the best efforts of Wills and de Palma could not get it to run right. They later convinced Kettering that a more conventional four-stroke, in-line design would be better. Their final model pulled a strong forty horsepower and cost only $40.


Subsequent efforts to improve performance and save weight had mixed results. A model with aluminum pistons gave forty two horsepower on the test stand, and then exploded spectacularly in front of terrified spectators. Wills did improve cooling by repositioning the carburetor to feed the front and rear cylinders individually.”


“On September 13, 1918, the trials of the torpedo began. At five o’clock in the evening de Palma whirled the engine into life, and at Kettering’s signal, sent the biplane down the test track…It flew respectably for about a hundred yards at a height of a few feet…A full-scale flight on October 2…”


“C.H. Wills recounted the event for Elmer Sperry (Sperry Gyroscope): You probably heard of the flight that they made at Dayton last Friday. I think it was terribly funny…A great many were skeptical and thought the engine would not fly…the ship went up about 500 feet and then she nosed straight up into the air…and started up in circles about a mile in diameter…Kettering watched it until it was up about 12,000 feet and out of sight…there were a couple of hundred people there and they got into automobiles and started to chase it…They finally located it about twenty one miles away…There wasn’t a thing hurt on the engine, not even a spark plug broken, but the gasoline tank was dry. It would have been going yet probably had it not been for the lack of gasoline.”


So Kettering may have been the “Wizard of General Motors,” but Childe Harold Wills obviously remained a wizard with engines after leaving Ford. Witness what followed with Wills Sainte Claire!



          What was the first recognized vehicle to employ an electric fuel pump? 

The All - American 1924 Wills Sainte Claire of course!



          Recently the Museum received a set of car keys and a photo with these remarks:  “While we no longer own this car, we have an extra set of keys that perhaps you could put to good use.”


Original Russwin WSC Keys and photo (bottom of

page 9) of the A/B-68 Wills Roadster they are from


Our thanks to John Libaire for the donation.



          A recent article in Hemmings Classic Car (October 2012) had an article written by Jim Donnell about Amos Northup which included his work at WSC.  “It was all good.  Everything was bold, advanced, daring.  Each design penned by Amos Northup, regardless of who employed him at the time, was exciting and still vital.”

            “Wills had been lead metallurgist at Ford, persuading Henry Ford to adopt high-grade vanadium steel for the manufacture of the Model T’s.  With a severance package and other financing, he set up a colony in Marysville, MI, to build his dream car, which incorporated advance Molybdenum steel and a radical OHC V-8 engine.  Until Northup was persuaded to join the company as a stylist, however, they were conservative in appearance, in sharp contrast to their advanced technology.  Northup was the lead designer for Wills Sainte Claire from 1924.”

            The article goes on to mention the other manufacturers that Amos worked for including:  Pierce-Arrow, Willys, Reo plus coachbuilding firms, Murray and Rubay.  Unfortunately Amos died in February of 1937 when he slipped on an icy sidewalk, hitting the back of his head at age 47.



          Wills owner Bill Stout of Florida has a very interesting Wills Sainte Claire because it has a Rochester-Duesenberg engine in it.  Bill explained to me that years ago the original Wills engine was damaged and taken out.  At that time it was replaced with the current R-D engine. Here is a brief look at the Rochester-Duesenberg engine.  After WWI, the Duesenberg Brothers had decided to change from the four cylinder engine to the straight-eight. They sold the rights to manufacture the four cylinder walking beam engine to the Rochester Motors Company and helped them change the engine from a two-main bearing crank with ball bearings to quieter plain babbitted bearings and added a center main.

Rochester ended up with a powerful 80 h.p. engine which found a market with makers of high quality and distinctive assembled cars. Most of these cars were very sporty and attractive designs that appealed to the motorist of means who wanted something different than the very conservative and plain Jane cars which were being produced at the time.  Roamer was one of these car companies and there is a very good chance that this engine is originally from this type of car.  (below:  Stout Wills w/ R-D engine)


          Jim Caldwell of Florida has a 1924 Wills Roadster for sale.  This car had previously been his father Ken’s car, who founded the WSC Club in 1959.  Contact Jim at: 
20490 Sugarloaf Mtn. Rd. Clermont, Florida 34715
phone: (407)-376-1770 for more information. 
(photos below)



            The Museum was honored to share our history of C.H. Wills with the Marysville School systems 2nd grade classes on May 29, 2012.  Docents spent the day teaching how the history of the city changed with the construction of the automobile factory in 1919, for the schools Michigan and local history component.  We received handmade thank-you notes from the students with drawings of the cars and their interpretation of the Museum.  2nd grader Nicholas wrote:  “Dear Will St Clair.  Thank-you for showing us the cars that Will made.  I never knew what a rumble seat was.  My favorite car was the red one with the duck on it.”  Another gaggle of little girls told me during the tour that they made up a song, and then sang it for us: 

“I have a car, it’s made of tin, nobody knows what shape it’s in. It has 4 wheels and a rumble seat. Hear it chugging down the street.  Honk honk, rattle rattle, crash, beep beep.”


Thank-you to our docents who volunteered to show the students around:  Marlene and John Porter, Dorothy Burgess, Sally Achatz, Pete Cangemi, Carl Moss and Terry Ernest.

Docent Dorothy Burgess discusses what the school group will see on their tour, with Sally Achatz (L)  and Marlene Porter (R)

Museum VP Pete Cangemi shows the students the jump seats in

Gary Wurmlinger’s 1926 T-6 seven passenger sedan



            We have created a display that allows the guests of the Museum to vote their opinion. In front of Carl Moss’ 1926 T-6 5 passenger sedan, we have placed the following display regarding restoration.  Votes of $1 or more can be cast either for its restoration or to have it saved as an original.  Special thanks to Grant Achatz for his woodworking handy-work in building this new display.


Moss’ original T-6 with new display on the right


Close-up of new “Original or Restore” display



            Recently C. Harold Wills’ granddaughter Elaine (Schenck) Hawes, donated a fancy silver cup used aboard Wills’ yacht the Marold.  Her son George was kind enough to bring the cup to the Museum where it will be permanently displayed with the Museum’s model of the 140’ ship.  We would like to thank Elaine for her donation and her wiliness to share this artifact with Museum visitors.

(photo top of next column)


           Thanks to members of the Museum for donating funds to have a flag pole erected at the Museum.  US Air Force Veteran (& Museum Board member) John Porter brought up at a meeting that it would be appropriate to put up a flag pole to display the American flag.  A few months later, and after financial assistance from some very special people, we now have a flag pole and flag that we can be proud of.


Our new flag and pole flying proudly in front of the Museum


The flag was officially flown for the first time on November 11, 2012 (Veterans Day), with Korean War Vet John Porter and Vietnam Vet Dan Hable on hand for the raising.  The Museum would like to thank the following members contributing to this project:  Ervin Graber, John McMullen, Bobbiedine Rodda, and Raymond Gularte.  The Museum would also like to specially thank Sylvia Jung for her valuable assistance and donation to this worthy project.  


            For the past 14 years, Museum BOD secretary Carl Moss and his wife Trish have been lovingly restoring a Victorian era home in Port Huron affectionately known as “the folly”.  As they completed the restoration project, they approached the Museum about doing an event to raise funds for the Museum.  On October 20 more than 300 people waited patiently in line to see the grand job that the Moss’ had done with the 1860’s home.  Wills Museum docents and others dressed in period clothing and told visitors what was special in each room.


Carl & Trish Moss with a Wills in front of the “folly”

This fabulous & fun fundraiser brought in $2,000 for the museum, funds that will go toward projects that the Museum has been working on, including new electronic displays, building maintenance, and toward the ongoing literature and file cataloging project.  The Museum BOD wishes to thank Carl & Trish for their generous use of “the folly” for this successful fundraiser.

Visitors first stop in the home’s grand entrance


Sharron Revere (L) tells about the bedroom & furnishings


Fred Cleaver’s Model A, as the crowd gathers on left


Rudy & Sharon Vernon (R) show the updated kitchen



            Over the past 10 years, the Board of Directors (BOD) has done an admirable job in running the Museum.  As the Museum project matures and grows, the establishment of by-laws is becoming critical as we continue to improve how the Museum functions.  Over the last year, a committee of members, and the BOD have met to craft these by-laws that govern how the Museum operates.  In the near future, we will make a copy of these by-laws available for members to vote on for approval.



            David Kasny of Pearl River, NY donated a great addition to our “Harold’s Garage” display recently.  It is an antique Hood Tire sign that is period correct for our display.  Thanks David!




            Attached to this newsletter is your 2013 dues statement.  We hope that every member continues his involvement with the Museum by paying their dues in a timely manner.  As you probably already know, the Museum has no paid employees.  All positions are voluntary, from the president/director to our many docents, so no money is spent on staff.  Membership dues remain the same as last year, $25 for a membership that has the newsletter e-mailed or $35 for a printed copy that is mailed to you through the US Post Office.  However you select your membership, we want you to know that your continued membership is important to us.

Don’t know what to get that “car guy” or “car gal” in your family?  How about a year’s membership in the Museum?  This solves the dilemma of Christmas giving and helps the Museum at the same time.  Or perhaps a hat or other Wills Museum gift idea.  We have lots of Wills logo items available.  Go to our website at: www.willsautomuseum.org and see for yourself.



            I would like to take this opportunity to thank Steve Rossi and Bob Nester (CH Wills’ grandson) for contributing articles for this newsletter.  Steve has supplied many articles in the past for publication and I appreciate his contributions.  Bob has many unpublished photos of his grandfather, especially when CH was with the Ford Motor Company.  I hope he continues to explore and write about his findings about the family photo album.


            I am especially thankful for the many docents who volunteer at the Museum.  Without their good work the Museum would cease to exist!  They man the hours that the Museum is open, clean, paint, repair, build and otherwise keep the Museum going.


Our website brings us attention from people around the country who would never know we exist.  It was the website that allowed the Libaire family to locate us and donate the photo of their Wills and the original set of keys.


Artifacts allow us an opportunity to touch a piece of history.  The donation of the silver cup from the Yacht Marold ties us to the past.  Holding this cup I thought back to the days when C. Harold Wills may have held this very same cup. Very cool indeed!

Until next time,


Terry Ernest,  Director


Wills Sainte Claire Museum Board of Directors:


Terry Ernest – Director                                                                Sally Achatz – Fundraising

3546 Conger Street                                     523 N 3RD St

Port Huron, MI  48060                                 St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 987-2854                                           (810) 329-9520


Pete Canjemi – Vice President                      Fred Cleaver – Merchandising

6621 Trillium Trail                                        1001 N River Rd

Jeddo, MI  48032                                        St. Clair, MI  48079

(810) 327-2327                                           (810) 329-6522


Kay Carlisle – Treasurer                                               John PorterFacilities

PO Box 96                                                 511 Jay St

Marysville, MI  48040                                  St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 364-7635                                           (810) 329-3192


Carl Moss – Secretary                                

1617 Military Street

Port Huron, MI  48060                                

(810) 982-4771

[1]The Fords: An American Epic; Peter Collier and David Horowitz; Encounter Books, San Francisco, CA; 2002; p. 33.

[2] My Life and Work; Henry Ford; www.classichousebooks.com. New York, NY. 2009. p.

ntain photos or images.  Please join as a member of the Museum to receive the award winning "Gray Goose News" with photographs:  



Newsletter # 29 - March 2011 - Page #1                                      Editor/Director:  Terry Ernest







Lost & Found; Article by Carl Moss:  

Recently, Director Terry Ernest received several e-mails from a new Wills owner, Aaron Burkett, who had the car passed onto him by his grandfather.  The Wills had been stored in a barn for the last 8 years and he requested any information the Museum might have on it in our files. After receiving the car and engine numbers, we were able to confirm that the vehicle is a 1922 7-Passenger sedan whose last owner of record was Bill Ramsey of Greenwich, Ohio.  This car was in attendance at the 1990 National Wills Meet in Marysville Park (see photo, second from right).


In 1980, Bill McKeand prepared a list of 81 Wills Cars known to be in existence; the Wills here (car #3525, engine #4633) was not on his list, but did appear on a compilation in 1986.  By 2005, however, the car could not be accounted for and was on a list of two dozen cars designated as missing.

            The Wills Museum attempts to keep a folder on each Wills known not just for historical purposes, but to aid new owners when cars change hands.  Ongoing records obviously depend on car owners contacting the Museum when their vehicles are sold or passed on via inheritance. We at the Museum would encourage you to contact us with such information so our files can be updated when ownership passes.  The current example shows the worth of keeping track of each of our wonderful Wills automobiles.



            Did the legendary Wills V-8 engine really begin life as an Oldsmobile Light Eight?  Former Wills owner Bill Mason from Michigan sent in this possibility from a paragraph he discovered in the book on Oldsmobile “Setting the Pace”, by Earley and Walkinshaw.  In the chapter “Bumpy Road 1920-1929” a paragraph mentions that when Olds decided to concentrate solely on the Model 30, instead of a combination of engine types, they sold the tooling for the Light Eight  “at 20 cents on the dollar” to Wills Sainte Claire, which used the engine in some of its later cars.

            I have never personally seen any Wills factory records that make this a possibility.  But it does beg some questions; did Wills have another eight cylinder engine up his sleeve to be used on cars produced after 1926?  With the multi-cylinder race among the car manufacturers in the late 1920’s, did Wills feel he needed to bring back his beloved V-8 engine updated for the times?  Or did he purchase the Olds tooling to be used for another project?  We may never know the reasoning for this purchase, but it does make one wonder….



By Tom Kleinschmidt with lots of help!


Part of the fun of my Wills Sainte Claire is figuring out how to fix it and then doing so. I am an electrical engineer by training and that means I’m an electrical engineer and not a certified nut mechanic. What I tell you is based on my experience and should be questioned at all times. Many know more then I, and I welcome your inputs. Contact me at tomkleinschmidt@comcast.net or cell: 1-847-722-0758 metro Chicago / Central time zone.

Here goes:

Spark plug update:

Back in 2007 I was trying to figure out what spark plug to use in m ’26 T-6 and created a spread sheet based on the plugs in cars at the WSC museum with lots of help from Terry Ernest. It was published in the news letter back then. Just recently, I found a four page pamphlet from Champion Spark Plug published in 19661.  The listing for Wills Sainte Claire 6 & 8 is “Old type 9”, “New type D-21”. Checking the Champion web site2 it is still listed as an industrial spark plug, stock number 502 and part number D21.


Contemporary aftermarket WSC service information links:

From the 1928 Radco Repair Manual with some 1929 supplements, printed in California3

1.    WSC Shop Manual: http://www.geaaonline.org/willssaintclaire.htm

2.    Wheel alignment specifications: http://www.geaaonline.org/alignment.htm

3.       Stewart Warner vacuum tanks: http://www.geaaonline.org/vacuumfuelfeed.htm

4.       The entire document can be found at: http://www.geaaonline.org/ Click <1920s Repair Manuals>


Schebler Carburetor – Model “S” adjustments:

When my T-6 was returned to a running state after sitting for some ten years it would only run with the choke out about half an inch. Although it ran fine the gas mileage was about 5 MPG and lots of black smoke from the exhaust mixed with blue smoke from the burning oil!

As quick side note, my son Derek and I were at the WSC every five year meet in Marysville for the first time last August. We had a great time and met great folks that are very friendly and helpful. I commented to Derek on the way out that we should make sure we are in the back-of–the-pack for the tour as we would smoke everyone out –only the blue kind now. I was surprised to see that all the WSC cars on the tour were smoking blue. Not as big a deal as I thought!

The problem with the choke was related to the setup of the carburetor mixture of which there are multiple adjustments that must be done in the proper order.  There is a wonderful adjustment procedure in the book: Supplement to Dyke’s Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia – Carburetors… The edition I have is from 1928, The Type “S” is on pages 1258 to 1260. (It is a thin book. They continued the page numbering for m the main volume.) They are available sometimes on EBAY and used book sites like Abebooks.com. I will send anyone who wants a scan of the pages for the price of an email.


Some tips from my experience on the SCHEBLER:

1.       Before you do anything take the carburetor apart and be sure the idle mix knob freely rotates the shaft perpendicular to it. This raises and lowers the needle seat to set the idle mixture. Here is the CAUTION: Multiple people warned me that the knob rotation feels the same if it is all varnished up as when it is free. The difference being is you strip the brass gear linking the knob shaft to the seat shaft when it is varnished up and the adjustment doesn’t change!

2.    The idle adjustment can take many turns to have an impact

3.    The idle adjustment has hysteresis or a time lag between the setting of the knob and the engine reaction – adjust and check.

4.    Just as on a “modern” carburetor a vacuum gauge is a help on the idle adjustment – tune for maximum vacuum. I found in my sedan the easiest place to tap vacuum was at the wiper motor as it has a rubber hose feeding it and it is on the carburetor side of the car. The wiper hose is smaller than the coupling on my gauge so it slid right in and made a good seal.

5.    During the tune up put a tachometer on the coil under the dash so that the meter face is visible on the floor of the car with the door open or on the driver’s running board. The Idle mixture will affect the RPM – lower RPM when misadjusted and higher RPM when properly adjusted. Once the idle mix is set for maximum vacuum. Set the RPM to around 500 if memory serves. It will idle slower but my engine tended to die when slowing to a stop. My goal was to set the hand throttle to minimum and have the RPM be proper on a warm engine to have no stalling problems.

6.    Most of the adjustments on this carburetor are interactive. Changing one thing affects others. It takes patience and the willingness to move back and forth between adjustments. Once you get the carburetor settings close I found it is best to start from the beginning of the manual and adjust everything again to get it all set properly.

7.    The carburetor assembly and disassembly is not fool proof. I had trouble with sticking mixture l linkages and a stuck choke after taking it apart. It turned out that the internal clamp on the needle valve dragged on the carburetor body - I needed to reorient it over so it would work properly. This was strictly a reassembly error on my part. Pay close attention and take pictures.

1.     Champion extra-range spark plugs for cars and taxicabs built in the USA 1920 (to) 1942

2.     http://www.championsparkplugs.com/results_cross.asp?pid=d21&x=43&y=7

3.     Thanks to Rick A. Jorgensen of Golden Era Automobile Association for his permission to link to our newsletter and the source document information


            Ray Gularte of California was having trouble with his 1922 A-68 not running well.  Let’s have Ray explain the trouble for you: “The engine is missing on #6 & 7. All cylinders have compression and all are firing with new plugs, but I think I have a distributor problem.  I have 5 WSC owner’s manuals, but they don't explain how the distributor works.

They each give a different firing order.  Taken out of the owner’s maual they are;


1-8-3-6-4-5-2-7   (This is on my distributor cover)


1-5-3-7-4-8-2-6    (This is on my dist. cap, the motor runs but misses)  


I would appreciate any help you can give me.

You and your crew of volunteers have been doing a wonderful job with the Museum, it looks great.”  Signed, Ray Gularte.

            Ray recently emailed me that he has solved the problem and was willing to share his solution.  “Concerning my 22 Wills roadster that I wrote you about needing some mechanical help, well I finally did my math, then slept on it a couple of nights, and it finally works. That double ended rotor on these A-68’s was quite a challenge for me.

So I just want you to know that I have it running good on all 8 cylinders at last.

I had contacted Bruce Frumveller (Wills owner in California) in the past.  He told me he read about a Canadian restorer that had connected rubber balloons to the cylinders to determine the exact firing order. That sounded like an oversimplification, but I tried it anyway and it worked.  Then I was able to time each bank of cylinders separately with the rotor with two pointers that it has.  No where in all of my instruction books did it suggest that.

Anyway, I want to let you know that I don't need assistance any longer, and I can now start driving my car on tours like I used to.  People have been asking about my Wills, and I do notice that I am usually the only one driving a Wills on tour.

If someone else in the club ever contacts you with this same problem I would be happy to help them.

Best regards, Ray Gularte



            Gray Smith of Maine is in need of a Steering arm for his T-6.  The Wills part number is 3107.  Gray would like to purchase one or if one is not available to purchase, he would like to borrow one so he can duplicate it.  Contact him at:  207-596-6676



            Bill Mason has begun to compile a list of famous and well-known Wills Sainte Claire owners.  Here it is thus far:

            *Elizabeth Arden: (cosmetics) a personal friend of Mrs. C. Harold Wills

            *Jack Miner: Owner of world famous Canadian bird sanctuary.  C. Harold Wills presented Mr. Miner with a very early Wills Roadster.  It has been rumored that Mr. Miner designed the WSC Radiator badge.

            *Frank, Herbert and JB Book:  Owners of the Book Cadillac Hotel and Book Tower, Detroit, MI.

            *Norman Rockwell:  Famous for the design of the Saturday Evening Post covers.

            *RB Lepper:  Well known Dodge dealer.

            *Conrad Nagel:  A Hollywood star of the silent film period.  A photo exists of Mr. Nagel and his WSC.

            *Henry Ford:  Mr. Ford purchased a 1926 WSC Roadster for his niece.  This same car is on display at the Henry Ford Museum.

            *Mrs. Horace Dodge: Owned a WSC Town Car, now undergoing restoration by Carl Moss, soon to be displayed at the Museum.

            *Mrs. Fred Duesenberg:  A photo has been published in Newsletter #26, March 2010.

            *Virginia Briggs:  Daughter of Walter O. Briggs, Owner of the Briggs Body Co. and the Detroit Tigers.



            Bill Mason also sent in an article from The Detroit News dated March 22, 1959, which details the memories of Mrs. Russell Chauvin (who was C. Harold Wills’ daughter, Virginia) upon seeing a WSC after more than two decades.  The car she was viewing was owned by Bill Mason at the time and is now owned by Ray Burgess of Michigan.  A copy of the article appears on page 5 for your reading pleasure.



            Richard Coulombe of Quebec, Canada, recently had his 1926 T-6 GG Traveler on the cover of the French speaking magazine Le magazine de L’Auto Ancienne.  The cover shot and the three page article appears on page 6.  Unfortunately my French is not good enough to translate it, but if you speak the language….

            Congratulations to Richard, and thanks for keeping the Wills name in the public eye.



            Richard Coulombe requested that a reprint of the original “Gary Goose Bulletin” which featured the New York to San Francisco record breaking transcontinental run in 1925 by LB Miller in a Wills 6 cylinder, be published.  I am happy to oblige and this article appears on pages 7 & 8 of this newsletter.



            I am happy to welcome Kay Carlisle to the Museum BOD.  Kay is replacing Treasurer Laurie Baker, who is leaving to pursue a college degree.  Kay is lifetime Marysville resident with previous experience in the banking industry.  We welcome Kay to the Board and wish Laurie great success and we appreciate her service to the Museum.

            As we continue to organize the Museum’s WSC factory records, we also welcome Kendra Wisson to our group.  Kendra has a degree in Library Science and has begun the task of scanning documents into the computer and attaching them to the appropriate files.  Welcome Kendra!






Standing (l to R):  Stephen Miller, Rick Mason, Ray Burgess, Fred Cleaver, Larry Williams, John Porter, Gary Minnie.  Seated: Bill Mason, Mrs. Miller, Dorothy Burgess, Rosemary Cleaver, Fay Williams, Cindy Minnie

Standing (L to R): Rudy Vernon, Bob Carlisle, Carl Moss, Jerry Saunders, Stan Mitchell, Don Herber, Terry Ernest.  Seated: Sharon Vernon, Kay Carlisle, Trish Moss, Debra Wurmlinger, MaryAnn Herber, Rita Ernest.


            The Wills Club/Museum celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its founding in January 1959, when Club Founder Ken Caldwell sent out the very first newsletter.  Ken’s opening statement in 1959 was: “The purpose of the Gray Goose News is to accumulate, organize and distribute all available Wills Sainte Claire news, which will assist the owners and restorers to complete, repair, or put into the operation their Wills and help those already enjoying their Wills.”



Our speakers for the evening commemoration:  Bill Mason, Terry Ernest, Sally Wills Achatz, & Fred Cleaver.


            Original member Bill Mason spoke about the club in the beginning and how they shared information with one another and hoped to eventually have a National Meet, which was finally accomplished in 1976.  Terry Ernest moderated the event and discussed the Club history and how the Museum came about.  A WSC stock certificate from 1926 was provided to the members by Karl Krouch.  Fred Cleaver showed slides and talked about the first National Meet in 1976, and Sally Wills Achatz displayed tableware and mementos from her grandfather’s yacht the “Marold”.

Tableware from the Yacht “Marold” and Wills family photos. 

(The name of the yacht comes from the combining of Mary and Harold Wills’ first names.)

Bill Mason discusses the Club’s beginning in 1959


Fred Cleaver showing slides of the first National Meet in 1976


Special thanks to Sally and her husband Grant, for putting on a first class event in their restaurant.  A “thanks” also goes to Nancy Wills for sharing her photos of this “trip down memory lane”.

Sally Wills Achatz and mementos from the yacht “Marold”


Wills family members present:  Sally Wills Achatz, Elaine Trazasko, Nancy Wills, Elaine Hawes, David Trazasko.



            Karl Krouch once again hosted the Wills members to a morning devoted to Wills Sainte Claire. 

First row (L to R):  Terry & Rita Ernest, Dorothy Burgess, Rosemary & Fred Cleaver, Mary Krouch, Gary Minnie.  Back row:  David Hausgen, Ed Hausgen, Ray Burgess, Stan Mitchell, John Porter, Peter Landsbergen, Karl Krouch.


Here is Karl’s report:  “After a week of sunny skies, cooler weather, and many miles walked throughout the Hershey Car Show, the Friday morning annual meeting convened at 9:00 AM under a cold drizzle. Karl and Mary Krouch hosted the event under the tent at their flea spaces. After greetings, Karl brought the meeting to order, starting with an update from Museum Director, Terry Ernest. The progress on the museum’s newest display, a 1920’s gas station, was described in greater detail. With its completion near, member Ed Hausgen was again thanked for his generous contribution of a vintage gas pump. Terry was able to find a glass globe for the top to complete its restoration. Fred Cleaver, former Museum Treasurer, assured us that the club was on good financial ground, but always looking for donations. Terry reminded members of the Wills club 50th anniversary dinner to be held Saturday, October 17, 2009 at the restaurant of Will’s granddaughter, Sally Achatz. There were no Will’s parts found to be shared at swap time. Karl had a unique find and had made copies which Mary passed out. They were of a Dec. 20, 1926 Will’s stock certificate of 10 shares, a value of $1,000.00. Karl had background information on the share holder, Llewelyn Sherman Adams, former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff for Pres. Eisenhower. He had been involved in a scandal over a mink coat he received as a gift when chief of staff that resulted in his resignation. He left politics and opened a ski resort in New Hampshire that he operated until his death in 1986. He was a young man of 28 when he purchased the stock, only to have it be worth nothing a month later when Wills closed in Jan. 1927. Karl also noted that Wills was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was pointed out that it may have been done as a result of Wills reorganization in 1923 and financial backing of Northeast banking investors. The extra copies, as well as the information on the original owner, were donated to the museum. The meeting was concluded with the annual group picture. See y’all next year in August at the National Wills Meet in Marysville, Michigan!”  (Submitted by Karl Krouch.)

Karl has been kind enough to allow a copy of this Wills stock certificate to be enclosed with this newsletter (page 6).  Thanks to Karl and Mary for hosting us at Hershey!




            Now that we have a restored Frye gas pump (donated by Ed Hausgen and restored by Don Herber and his crew), we decided to create a facade of an early Marysville Gas Station.  With the assistance of the Marysville Historical Society, we were able to obtain photos of a Standard Station operating in Marysville in the late 1920’s.  With the groups input, Rita Ernest designed a facade which Jerry Saunders and his father constructed in the Museum.  Jerry and his father are more than casual hobbyists and did a fantastic job on the construction.  Now that the wood working is complete, paint comes next.  I would also like to thank Jerry Taylor for his efforts on the pump restoration and in engineering and building the base.  This great display (with two Wills cars parked at the pump) will be ready to be enjoyed by our guests next year during the annual meet.


Harold’s Garage gas station display ready for paint and signage.



            We would like to welcome Gunnar Gudmundson as a new Wills car owner.  Gunnar joined last year and told me he was interested in finding a Wills because of the superior engineering.  This fabulous Wills was once in the Wm. Harrah and Wm. Ruger collections.  Gunnar wrote in with some info:


                        Chassis: 7550

Engine: 8541

Mileage 24,492


“It is incredibly original.  Blue with black fenders.  All black paint is original.  The blue also is original with considerable cracking but has been touched up in a few places.  All electrical components and wiring are original.  The only nuts on the engine that look like they have ever been touched by a wrench are the valve adjust access covers.    Engine compartment splash pans are still in place etc, etc....    Never had bumpers and the radiator shell was never plated.   It is an absolutely original car except that the seat leather, top and running board linoleum have been replaced. It is really a good reference for how they were delivered.”(Submitted by Gunnar Gudmundson.)




            Did you know that Mr. Wills owned an electric car?  Galen Handy recently contacted the Museum about what we knew about the Detroit Electric car that Mr. Wills owned.  Suffice to say, I had never heard of his owning an electric.  So thanks to Mr. Handy, you will find attached to this newsletter an ad for the Detroit Electric Car Company from the April 2, 1914 issue of Motor World.  Please note in the lower part of the first column, that Mr. Wills is noted in a “partial list of critical owners…” as: “C.H. Wills, Factory Mgr., Ford Motor Co.”

            In 1914, Mr. Wills was working for Ford Motor and had not yet struck out on his own.  The Detroit Electric car was probably used by his wife.  Mr. Handy adds:  “The reference to CH Wills having a Detroit is from an ad in Motor World, April 2, 1914, which listed the people in engineering and manufacturing who owned Detroit Electrics. The ad featured H. Ford & T.A. Edison.  Clara Ford drove Detroit Electrics from 1908 through WWI and Mrs. Wills was possibly a passenger.

Wm Anderson (founder of the Detroit Electric Car Co.) was a Member of the Detroit Athletic Club. There is a wonderful photo of the preview for member’s wives, the day before the Clubhouse opened in 1915. Parked on the streets are perhaps 70 cars of which about 50 are electric. Anderson was clearly successful in selling his cars to the members for their wives.

The list of gasoline car makers whose spouses drove electrics is rather long.”  (See ad on page 7)



            Tom Lieb of California has donated another Wills car (V-8 Roadster) to the Museum. Four cars have been donated to the Museum to date, 3 of which were from Tom.  The BOD thanks Tom for his donation and appreciates his thoughtfulness.  If any members would like to donate cars or Wills parts, please contact Director, Terry Ernest.


Early Wills V-8 Roadster donated by Tom Lieb.



            The literature organization continues at the Museum.  Tom Adamich from Ohio continues to work his way through the material organizing it as he goes.  We expect this project to take a couple years as Tom works on it periodically throughout the year.  It is a very large project and we are happy to have Tom’s professional abilities to do the job properly.

            Two changes have been made to the Museum Board of Directors.  Gary Wurmlinger has left the Board for a job assignment with the Military in Florida.  We wish Gary well in his new job and we appreciate his service to the Museum over the past 8 years.  Pete Canjemi has accepted the position of Vice-President that Gary formerly held.  Pete is a retired executive from a nursing home facility and brings many years of experience to the Board.  Welcome Pete and thanks to Gary!

            The Board of Directors has been expanded from 4 to 7.  John Porter, Fred Cleaver and Sally Achatz (C. Harold Wills’ granddaughter) join Terry Ernest, Pete Canjemi, Laurie Baker, and Carl Moss on the Board.  A larger BOD allows for more input before important decisions are made.  We expect this collaboration effort will increase the knowledge base of the Museum as we move forward.

            Your wife called, she wants her garage back!  One of the ways the Museum pays it bills is by offering part of the building to winter car storage.  This space is available to anyone who wants to store a car, whether they are a member or not.  The car storage area is dry, secure, heated and protected by an alarm system and a low temperature sensor, making it an ideal way for you to get your favorite car out of the garage and out of your way for the winter. Space is available for $85.00 per month with a minimum of 5 months.  Don’t need the space yourself?  Help the Museum by recommending it to a friend.

            Member Malcolm David of Maitland, Florida wrote in to thank BOD member John Porter for taking him through the Museum.  Malcolm writes:  “Thank you very much for taking the time to show us the Museum.  It was particularly important for my son to make the connection as he will inherit the car (Wills) from me.  At that time title would have been transferred to 4 generations; my grandfather, father, myself and my son.”



            Hopefully you are already planning on following the geese home to Marysville Michigan for the National Meet August 13, 14, and 15.  Because our members are spread across the U. S., Canada, Germany and Finland, we only have a Meet every 5 years.  Sally Wills Achatz is putting together our itinerary that will include touring in the Marysville/Port Huron area with stops at auto collections, nautical museums and a car show on Sunday honoring Wills Sainte Claire autos.  We are planning on a dinner Saturday evening at the Museum so that we may “dine among the cars”.  Please make time in your schedule and plan on joining us in Marysville next year, and please bring your Wills car if you can.  Further details will be forthcoming in the next newsletter.



            On page 8 of this newsletter is the third original newsletter written by Bill Abbott of Alton, Illinois, and published by Bill Harrah of Reno. Mr. Abbott discusses where to purchase Wills parts then shows a roster of known Wills cars and their owners.  At the end are some “for sale” ads including one for a 1926 Wills roadster in “running condition” for $475. Remember, this was written in May of 1959 and car prices have gone up some since then….


I hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter, my 25th since taking over some years ago.


I also hope you can join us in August next year.  We always have a great time when the Wills Gang gets together!

                                    Terry Ernest, Director




Wills Sainte Claire Museum Board of Directors:


Terry Ernest – Director                                                                Sally Achatz – Fundraising

3546 Conger Street                                     523 N 3RD St

Port Huron, MI  48060                                 St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 987-2854                                           (810) 329-9520


Pete Canjemi – Vice President                      Fred Cleaver – Merchandising

6621 Trillium Trail                                        1001 N River Rd

Jeddo, MI  48032                                        St. Clair, MI  48079

(810) 327-2327                                           (810) 329-6522


Laurie Baker – Treasurer                                              John PorterFacilities

3036 Beach Rd                                           511 Jay St

Port Huron, MI  48060                                 St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 966-4806                                           (810) 329-3192


Carl Moss – Secretary                                

1617 Military Street

Port Huron, MI  48060                                

(810) 982-4771


       Museum                        News



Newsletter # 24 - June 2009 - Page 1                                                  Editor/Director:  Terry Ernest





2009 DUES:


          If you have not paid your dues, they are now past due!  Our very small Museum needs and deserves your support.  If you have not sent your money in, would you please consider doing so today?  And a big thank-you to those members who have paid their dues, it is greatly appreciated!



          For more than 40 years, Oakbrook Center has had the tradition of hosting some of the most anticipated yearly events in DuPage County, and last year was no exception. Tom Kleinschmidt sent in a photo of his 1926 Wills T-6, 5-passenger sedan at the Oakbrook Shopping Center in Oakbrook, IL.  Tom noted that the OHC engine draws a lot of attention along with the outside band hydraulic brakes.


          The volunteers are as busy as ever at the Museum, this year adding a new display called “Harold’s Garage” named after, who else,

C. Harold Wills.  This narrow facade of a 1920’s gas station is being headed up by the very capable Gerald Saunders. As you may recall, Gerry is the same talented volunteer who assembled our rotating automobile turntable from ½ a pile of parts, and then had to fabricate the rest of the steel together.

          Last year, Wills Owner Edward Hausgen donated a rare 1920’s Fry brand gas pump.  Don Herber is now heading up the restoration of this pump and when completed, the pump and gas station facade will become a museum attraction with a Wills car parked at the pump.  Another benefit of the garage facade is that the garage doors will be functional, allowing cars to be moved between the Museum display area and the storage area.

Conceptual rendering of gas station facade by Rita Ernest


          A few years ago the Wills Museum purchased the largest known collection of Wills Sainte Claire documents and artifacts from a local family who had been collecting Wills related literature for two generations.  This vast archive of documents, owner manuals, parts lists, and company records is considered one of the Museum’s greatest treasures.  But with the quantity of documents, and our lack of collective knowledge on the sorting of this information (remember the Museum is operated by 100% volunteer labor), it was imperative to get some professional advice.  Because of the Museum’s affiliation with the National Association of Automobile Museums (NAAM), we were able to locate an expert in library classification and preservation.  We have now contracted with Tom Adamich, Visiting Librarian Services to begin the process of cataloging and organizing the rich resources of the collection.  We are anticipating this project to span the next two years as Tom will be doing this job on a part time basis.  It is the Museum’s hope that in the future researchers and historians who write articles and books will enjoy a more organized retrieval of records from the Wills Sainte Claire era.

          On a related note, Sally Wills Achatz will be heading up a fund raiser for this very important project.  In the next newsletter Sally will tell us how you can be a part of this and receive recognition for your participation.



          By having a website for the Museum (www.willsautomuseum.ORG) the public in general has an opportunity to locate and discover the Wills Auto Museum.  Recently Ted Pietsch III, of Seattle, Washington, emailed about some vintage photos of an early Wills that his family owned.  The photos are dated 1921, making this a 1921 A-68 Roadster.  Ted notes that the photos were all taken on Wickford Road in Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland.  The first photo is of Ted’s uncle John Oliver Carroll Pietsch, age 8 at the wheel.

1921 A-68 Wills Roadster in 1921.  Photos courtesy of Ted Pietsch III


Ted W. Pietsch II and his younger brother, Robert with the Wills


Pietsch family friend Nadeje Nolting sitting on the 1921 Wills Roadster


Ted also wrote “My grandmother, Gertrude Zell, wife of the architect T.W. Pietsch I, lived in Baltimore during the teens and 1920’s, owned several Wills Sainte Claire autos.  She is said to have been the first woman licensed to drive in Maryland.  The family was quite wealthy (at least before 1929 when the stock market crash took nearly everything away) and traveled around town in big chauffeured Packards, but, she in addition, always owned something smaller and sportier for her own use.  Not only did she drive, but she was an accomplished mechanic as well.  I have several pictures of her “under the hood”.

(Ed. Note:)  Notice in the top photo the accessory spotlight attached to the windshield frame near the top, and the Motometer, of which Mr. Wills once said:  “I would state that I am very much opposed to them as we do not need them. We have no boiling of water and they are unnecessary.  We have the best cooling system there is of any motor car in this country and we do not need a register upon it.  These motometers are inaccurate and are liable to disconcert the user.” (From a November 19, 1923 WSC Office memorandum.)

          Thanks to Ted for sending these period photos in for publication!  It is great to see our Wills cars ‘back in the day’.  If any of our members have any period photos, please send them to the Museum for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.



          Steve Rossi sent in an article from the publication Automobile Trade Journal, January 1933, with the above title.  QUESTION:  “I would be grateful for your professional opinion on points in connection with increasing the performance of an old Wills Ste. Claire overhead camshaft six.  It is a rugged motor with its seven main bearing crankshaft.  Have you any objections to changing the stock cast-iron pistons to aluminum?  If a change is made, what is the best type to use?  Have you any other suggestions, excluding a change in carburetor?  The fact is, I am in the process of constructing a sort of semi-road-racing-sports car, which will have to be practical in a certain sense, yet have a better than average performance.—Phillip L. Taylor, 135 Main St, Williamstown, MA.”

          ANSWER:  “There is a lot that can be done to improve the performance of a six-cylinder Wills Ste. Claire.  And, in this connection, the installation of aluminum pistons would be a big factor in increasing the speed of the engine and also tend to reduce any vibration that may be present.  While you state that you do not wish to change the carburetor, we have known of a number of these cars which have been fitted with two Ford Model A carburetors which gave a marked improvement in performance.  In regard to the types of pistons, we believe that any of the standard makes would prove to equally satisfactory.  Another change which would serve to increase the performance would be higher compression ratio. This can be obtained by either milling about 1/8 in. off the top of the block, or by the installation of pistons which have a greater distance from the center of the pin to the top of the piston head.  Naturally, the latter change would be the easiest to make, provided you can obtain the pistons of the correct dimensions.  But in either event, care must be exercised that the dimensions are not altered to such an extent that the pistons will strike the valves when the piston reaches top center.  It would also be possible to increase the valve lift, but this would be rather an expensive proposition.”

Ed. Note:  Remember, the preceding article was written in 1933.  The Wills Museum is not suggesting you try any of the above alterations.



          Andy Adler of Ohio had a wonderful collection of antique cars, including the earliest known (by serial number) Wills Sainte Claire.  Upon his death, the collection was sold to a buyer in Europe.  Unfortunately for Wills auto affionados, the car became “lost”, as we could not track down the new owner.  But as luck would have it, the new owner discovered our website (www.willsautomuseum.org) and emailed the Museum.  The A-68 roadster has become part of an impressive museum owned by Hannes Steim in Schramberg, Germany.  Hannes reports that he plans a roadtrip with the Wills at least once per year.  Welcome to the group, Hannes!



          Please welcome Eric Butler of Sloansville, NY, as the newest Wills auto owner. Eric’s 1925 W-6 5-Passenger sedan was previously owned by his mother, Jonnie Jo Rolfe and her late husband, Ron Rolfe.  Eric says he is looking forward to enjoying this beautiful car.



          The new Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks, Alaska will open on June 1, 2009.  The Museum’s collection features over 60 historically significant American automobiles and showcases the interesting heritage of the automobile during Alaska’s post-Gold Rush era. The collection includes rare gems like the 1901 Rochester and 1917 Owen-Magnetic, plus a Wills Sainte Claire Model A-68 sedan.  Several of the autos are the only examples of their marquee known to remain, including an 1898 Hay Hotchkiss, 1906 Compound and 1920 Argonne.  Seventeen of the cars previously resided in the William Harrah and Parker Wickham collections.  The antique automobile collection is located on the grounds of the Wedgewood Resort, just minutes from downtown Fairbanks.  On most summer evenings, docents will drive one or two cars around the Resort.  “To be able to see these rare cars is great,” says Willy Vinton, interim museum manager, “but to hear them run and see them is priceless.”  For more information, call (907) 450-2100.

Wills A-68 Sedan, at Wedgewood Resort, Fairbanks, Alaska


(Article and photos by Wills Museum Secretary, Carl Moss)

               In early May, four intrepid Wills Museum members – John Porter, Gary Minnie, Carl Moss, and Paul Pawlosky – left from Marysville and journeyed to Temple Hill, Maryland to pick up a 1925 Wills Roadster which had been generously donated to the Museum by the family of Jack Thompson, a long time member of our organization.  Having no photos of the vehicle, the four adventurers did not know what to expect when they arrived at the garage where (most of) the car was kept.  When the garage door was opened, the Wills could not easily be seen – only the top of the windshield could be discerned. Mrs. Thompson commented that her husband collected and kept all kinds of things. As seen in the photo below, a multitude of items were packed under, in and on top of the vehicle.

Wills saved in garage.  Note cowl on left and rear of car on right.

The four guys rolled up their sleeves and worked six hours straight without a break to remove the materials engulfing the car, drag the vehicle into an enclosed trailer, and return the hundreds of items back into the garage.  The Wills was found to be very rusty and incomplete. The splash aprons were found in the basement of the house and the front axle, cylinder head, wheels, fenders, and other pieces were found in a second garage on the property.  The exhausted foursome arrived back at Marysville after the three day trip and it was decided to unload the car until the following day.  The car was soon safely secured in the Museum – another Wills returns home!  While not in the best of condition, the 1925 Wills is still one of only 70 or 80 of our favorite vehicles in existence, and the third Wills donated to the Museum.  The Museum Board of Directors and all of the members of our facility would like to express our thanks to the Thompson family for their generous gift of the Wills Roadster.

John Porter (l), Carl Moss (kneeling), Gary Minnie, and Paul Pawlosky delivering the 1925 former Thompson Wills to the Museum.

Special thanks to our four Museum members for their adventure in picking up the Wills roadster, and the Thompson family for their special gift!



          C.H. Wills’ granddaughter, Elaine Hawes visited the Museum this past March.  Joining her was her son George Hawes and his wife Ann.  Elaine writes “It was a pleasure and delight to see all the Wills cars.  I am looking forward to the reunion (National Meet 2010) and shall bring all my family members that want to come. We were all so impressed with all the work and effort everyone puts into the Museum.”

George & Ann Hawes, and Elaine Hawes, C.H. Wills’ granddaughter



          The American-made Wills Sainte Claire was the first vehicle to employ an electric fuel pump.  From Auto Almanac,  WINDSOR STAR.


          Tom Kleinschmidt writes in:  “Do you know of anyone in the club or ensnare that can provide valuation of my ’26 Wills?  I want to be sure insurance is adequate.”

          Good question Tom.  The Museum is asked occasionally to provide car valuations, but because of our 501c3 status, we are unable to provide estimates of value.  So how about it members, does anyone have any experience in having their Wills valued and could recommend a good auto appraiser?  Drop me a line or email willsmuseum@sbcglobal.net with your answer.


          In a previous newsletter, Gray Smith asked about speedometer repair.  Steve Rossi writes in:  “I have had great success with Bills Speedometer Shop, 109 Twinbrook Pl. Sidney, Ohio 45365  (937) 492-7800.  Most recently he did a Model T Ford speedo for me which I delivered to him at Hershey.”


          In Newsletter #22, an article appeared about the Wills Roadster at The Henry Ford Museum, of which the placard reads “Gift of Henry Ford”.  Bill Mason wrote “This is probably the Wills car that Henry Ford bought for a niece. It is believed to have only 16,000 miles on it.”

          Thanks for the update, Bill.         



          For many members, this newsletter was sent by email.  As postage and printing costs have continued to soar, it seems reasonable to try to reduce costs at the Museum wherever possible (and this from a non-profit entity that doesn’t even have any paid employees) to save money.  One of the choices we can make is to increase dues, which have not been increased since the Museum opened 8 years ago, but in the current economy I don’t think this is a very good idea.  One of the ways to save money is to email the newsletter to our members, which we will continue to do.  If you are getting this newsletter by mail and would like to help the Museum save money, send me a note about having the newsletter sent to you by email.  The other advantage of getting the newsletter by email is full color throughout.  Even though the newsletter photos are typically color, when it is printed only the first two pages are color the rest is printed in black and white.  So an advantage of the emailed newsletter is full color.


            If you have not had an opportunity to visit our Museum website, check it out.  You can find it at:  www.willsautomuseum.org  Please note that this website address ends in .org not the more commonly used .com.  There is a lot for you to do at the web site including a gift shop, guest sign in and a forum where we can discuss the wonderful world of C. Harold Wills and the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile.  We also archive the previous newsletters, although without the photos, on the website.  Take a look and make a comment on the forum at the website.


            It is hard to believe but the Wills Club/Museum is now celebrating our 50th anniversary!  As printed in the last newsletter, Ken Caldwell began communicating with other Wills car owners in 1959 to:  “…accumulate, organize and distribute all available Wills Sainte Claire News, which will assist the owners and restorers to complete, repair, or put into operation their Wills and help those already enjoying their Wills.”

            In the beginning of the Club, each newsletter was written by a different member.  Ken Caldwell wrote the first one, Meryl Ewalt wrote the second one, Bill Harrah (of Harrah Casino fame) wrote the third one, etc. I am all for going back to that format, but even 50 years ago members taking turns writing the newsletter only lasted a few years, before Ken Caldwell continued to write the newsletter himself.

            In the spirit of celebrating our 50th anniversary, I am enclosing (at the end of this newsletter) Wills Club Newsletter #2 written by Meryl Ewalt in 1959.  Worth noting is the interview with Wills factory head mechanic “Frenchie”.

Hope you enjoy this glimpse into the past.


            While you are thinking about it, mark down on your calendar the next National Wills Sainte Claire Meet to be held the third week of August 2010. The specific dates are August 13, 14, 15 of 2010.  Sally Wills Achatz is heading up this get together and I am sure it will be a lot of fun. A rough idea of the weekend will be tours on Friday and Saturday and car show on Sunday.  The car show will be honoring the Wills Marque and those of you that bring a car will be parked in a special place of honor.  Stay tuned, more details will be forthcoming….

            And in closing, allow me to say Thank-you very much to all our volunteers!

            Terry Ernest, Director/Editor


Long time member Bill Abbott sent in this article about Wills Cars from 1995.  He notes two mistakes. Can you spot the errors?  When you find them, let me know and we’ll publish your comments in the next newsletter.  willsmuseum@sbcglobal.net

Wills Sainte Claire Museum Board of Directors:


Terry Ernest – President / Director          Sally Achatz – Fundraising

3546 Conger Street                                523 N 3RD St

Port Huron, MI  48060                            St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 987-2854                                       (810) 329-9520


Gary Wurmlinger – Vice President          Harold Krul - Marketing

1313 Georgia                                        2028 N River Rd

Marysville, MI  48040                             St. Clair, MI  48079

(810) 364-3612                                       (810) 329-7901


Laurie Baker – Treasurer                                        John Porter– Facilities

3036 Beach Rd                                      137 Brown St

Port Huron, MI  48060                            St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 966-4806                                       (810) 329-3192


Carl Moss – Secretary                           Fred Cleaver – Gift Shop       

1617 Military Street                                1001 N River Rd

Port Huron, MI  48060                            St. Clair, MI  48079                

(810) 982-4771                                       (810) 329-6522


                   Editor/Director:  Terry Ernest

2009 DUES:
       Your dues are due!  Enclosed with this newsletter is your 2009 dues statement.  Please fill out the form and return it as soon as possible. This would also be a great time to sign up a friend or family member to get the “Gray Goose News” and associate them with our little Wills Sainte Claire family!



          C. Harold Wills was a man of amazing vision and foresight.  Since his early days of working with Henry Ford, he envisioned an automobile of high quality built by a contented workforce who lived in modern homes in a true community.  The Spirit of C.H. Wills award is given by the Museums’ Board of Directors in tribute to this spirit. 

          This year’s National member is Tom Lieb.  Tom has helped the Museum in many ways including actively showing his award winning Cabriolet Roadster in national events (thereby creating more interest in the Wills Sainte Claire marque) and in his donation of two Wills cars to the Museum, the first Wills autos owned by the Museum.  Tom also willingly shares his vast knowledge of the Wills cars mechanical minutia and details.

          This year’s Local member is Stan Mitchell.  Stan has been invaluable as a local member.  Stan’s ability to procure the majority of advertisers for the annual car show program booklet is extremely important to the success of the show.  He has, and continues to be, an active participant in nearly all of the Museums’ functions and activities.

          Tom and Stan have “the right stuff”.  The Museum and members greatly appreciate what they have done to help!



(top photo) Tom Lieb’s award.

(bottom photo) Stan Mitchell (L) receives his “Spirit of C.H. Wills”

award from Museum Director Terry Ernest


          Once again the local chapter of the AACA-Blue Water Region has put on a successful car show benefitting the Museum.  President Paul Pawlosky and his team attracted a fabulous group of cars this past August to the Marysville City Park.  The net earnings from the car show in the amount of $8,400 was donated to the Museum.  THANKS TO ALL THE GREAT MEMBERS OF THE AACA-BWR!


Museum Treasurer Laurie Baker accepts donation

from AACA-BWR Treasurer John Porter at the Museum



          This year at the annual Hershey swap meet, the Museum set up a display on the chocolate field thanks to space provided by Fred Cleaver.  Our volunteers passed out hundreds of Brochures about the Museum and Wills Sainte Claires.  Special thanks to Fred Cleaver, John Porter, Carl Moss and Gary Minnie for transporting the tables, tents and displays and manning the booth.  And a very special thanks to Rosemary Cleaver and Dorothy Burgess for working the booth.  These ladies presence made the whole display look better!

Rosemary Cleaver (L) & Dorothy Burgess working the booth at Hershey


          Gary and Debbie Wurmlinger displayed their 1926 T-6 7-passenger sedan at the Golden Memories car show this past September.  As you can see in the photo below, the Wills was given a premium location!


Wurmlinger’s Wills and Museum display at Flint Cultural Center



          Terry & Rita Ernest displayed their 1926 T-6 Roadster at the Orphan Car Show earlier in the year.  Our goal of showing the Wills’ cars is to help bring exposure to the Museum and build interest in all things Wills Sainte Claire.

Ernest’s Wills & Museum display at Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show



          Keith Kruse has sold his 1922 A-68 roadster (below) to Robert Pass, former owner of Passport Transport. It has been reported that the car will go on display at the ACD Museum in Auburn IN, where Mr. Pass is a Board member.

If you have shown your Wills Sainte Claire car or taken it on tour this past year, drop the editor a line and we will publish your story!



         The Museum would like to thank Wills car owner Edward Hausgen of Elsberry, MO for his donation of a period Fry brand gas pump.  We would also like to thank Gary Minnie and John Porter for traveling to Missouri to pick it up. The Museum intends to restore the pump and use it as part of an upcoming display that will include a Wills auto and a 1920’s gas station facade.  If you have any related items that would help us complete this display, please contact Terry Ernest.


1920’s FRY gas pump pre-restoration



          C. Harold Wills and John Lee (who worked together at Ford Motor) were thought to be the principles of the new auto factory in Marysville in 1920.  Bill Mason of Michigan sent in a couple of articles from the publication THE AUTOMOBILE.  The first dated July 1, 1920:  MARYSVILLE LAND GRAB HALTED BY COMMISSION.

(Detroit, June 25) “Two Detroit realty firms have had their licenses suspended and two others have been reprimanded by the State Board as the result of the efforts of real estate men to sell land at Marysville, in the vicinity of the new Wills-Lee automobile plant.  Misrepresentation is charged.  Complaints against several firms were filed by the executives of the Wills-Lee company, alleging these firms were representing the property for sale as being within the corporate limits of Marysville, when, as a matter of fact, the land sold was outside the limits and far removed from the factory site.

          After Wills-Lee platted the town of Marysville, land in the town was being sold through a syndicate under the auspices of the Wills-Lee organization chiefly to prospective employees.  The town site began to boom immediately after announcement of the location of the Wills-Lee plant, and real estate dealers platted sub-divisions.  Lots were being sold rapidly when complaint was filed and efforts of the realty men were stopped by the securities commission.”

          The second article from the September 9, 1920 issue of THE AUTOMOBILE: Detroit, Sept 2. “General offices of the Wills-Lee Co. in the Book Building here closed today and practically all of the officials will in the future be housed in a portion of the new plant in Marysville.  A few officials will remain in Detroit and will have headquarters at the plant of the DePalma Mfg. Co. on Woodbridge Street, pending the closing of some local business.

          The purchasing department has been moved to the DePalma offices.  A shipment of the machinery and equipment of the DePalma plant was sent to Marysville a week ago and has been installed in the Wills-Lee factory.  The machinery and plant of the DePalma Co. had been used by C. Harold Wills for the conduct of experimental tests.

          With the opening of offices in Marysville the company expects immediately to begin production on the new car, a description of which is promised shortly.”


          It appears to your editor, from reading the two previous articles, that C. Harold Wills did not let much information leak out about his new car project (which would eventually be called the C. H. Wills Co. not the Wills-Lee Co.) which is why the press guessed wrong for the name of the new auto manufacturer.  John Lee was Head of the Sociological Department for Ford Motor Co. who left Ford to go with Wills to Marysville to help plan the new community.

          The second article mentions the DePalma Mfg. Co. which during this period of time Wills owned, perhaps to do testing and work out design criteria for his new car while still working at Ford.

          Thanks to Bill Mason for sending the articles to my attention.



          When Henry Ford’s cars became popular, Henry’s monetary fortune and those of his closest constituents began to rise dramatically.  Both Ford and Wills had homes in the upscale Boston-Edison district of Detroit where many of the auto barons lived.  In 1908, the same year he launched the Model “T”, Henry Ford, wife Clara and teenage son Edsel moved into their brick and limestone 7,500 square-foot "Italian Renaissance Revival Eclectic” home on the corner of Edison and Second.  Edsel had a workshop over the garage, where Mrs. Ford kept her Detroit Electric car.  The Ford’s spent $483,253 to build the home and the family lived there until 1915, when they moved to their newly constructed mansion known as Fair Lane in Dearborn. His B-E home still exists today, and it’s current owner is the Director of the Piquette “T-Plex” museum, birthplace of the Model “T”.

               C. Harold Wills was planning an elaborate home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but in 1909, Wright sold his business.  Wills unfinished drawings were completed by Marion Mahony, a protégé of Wright.  The plans were finished in late 1909, but perhaps because of the estimated cost to construct the house, Wills never built it.  However, Wills did find a way into the Boston-Edison neighborhood of his boss Henry Ford.


Henry Ford’s house in Boston-Edison district of Detroit (current photo)


          Wills purchased his home in Boston-Edison from John W. Drake, who was one of the founders of Hupp Motor Co.  Drake built his new home in 1911 at 650 W. Boston.  With the money that was now flowing to Wills’ bank account from his profits at Ford Motor, he could afford to live in a very nice house, and with 9500 sq. ft., he had plenty of room!  As I was doing research for this article, I noticed that the house is currently for sale.  It is listed for $675,000 and is on a professionally landscaped 1 acre lot with its own 7000 gallon koi pond. 8 bedrooms, 5.5 baths and 3 car garage, which would be a great place to park your Wills Sainte Claire auto and maybe a Model “T” or two.


C. Harold Wills’ home at 650 W. Boston in Detroit (recent photo)



          Member Richard Coulombe has sent along a copy of the “Body Reference Record” for the A-68, B-68, C-68, D-68, W-6 and T-6 Wills autos.  Mr. Wills did not manufacture bodies for his cars, instead preferring to concentrate on the mechanicals of the car, much of which he produced in his own factory.  Bodies were purchased under contract from many different body builders who were prevalent at the time. The body reference shows some of the many body builders who made contract car bodies for Wills, which included: Budd, Fisher, Babcock, Baker, Witham, Willoughby, Erdman-Guider, Gotfredson, and American. 

          Richard also sent along a sheet on accessory manufacturers, what parts they made and who produced it for our Wills’ cars.

          I have reproduced the “body” sheet on page 7, and the “accessory” sheet on page 8 of this newsletter.  (Thanks to Richard for sending this in!)



          Because the Museum has a website (www.willsautomuseum.ORG), we get interested parties contacting us about various Wills related items.  Recently, Mark Wetherbee contacted me about two employee badges and a lapel pin that he has in his collection. Although I have seen employee badges before, I had never seen one with a star next to the number.  I also noted that the number was small (20) as compared to the larger numbered ones I had seen before.  Mark speculated, and I would tend to agree, that the employee who was issued *20 must have been an executive or officer of the company.  Perhaps Mr. Wills had badge *1!

Mark found the *20 employee badge at a small flea market in Pennsylvania about 20 years ago.

Mark also sent a lapel pin which he said is typical of service pins provided to service or sales employees by dealerships for performance quotas that have been met or exceeded.  Note that the service pin is quite small at about 9/16” and uses a screw-back pin to hold it onto a lapel.

Wills Factory executive or officers badge


Service Lapel pin with screw back and dime to show size reference



          Wills auto owner, Gray Smith of Maine, wrote in to bring up a topic regarding his problems in having his speedometer repaired.  Gray sent his Waltham speedometer to a company in Florida who has taken more than 5 years to work on his speedo.  This is a frustrating ordeal for anyone to have to go through, yet many of us do in the process of restoring our beloved Wills.  Let’s create a discussion about the successes you have had in getting your delicate Wills parts restored correctly and in a reasonable amount of time.  Write your editor with your recommendations and I will publish the stories as they come in.  We all can benefit from your experience!

          If you have further questions about the particular vender mentioned above, contact Gray directly at:  207-596-6676.


          When the Museum purchased a large literature collection from a local family 8 years ago, we discovered some very interesting items. One such item is the personal notebook of C. Harold Wills.  The notebook contains about 100 or so pages of formulas, data, recipes and information that was important to Mr. Wills.  Most of the data is typed, but there are some drawings and copies of articles.  Each entry is alphabetized and indexed for easy reference.  Some have dates.  The most recent of which was 1932.

          For instance, page A-2 “Heat treatment of Aluminum Pistons” (Lincoln Motor Car Company):       Aluminum     88.63

                    Copper         8.86

                    Silicon              .66

                    Iron              1.66

                    Zinc                 .19

          Raise temperature to 975 degrees F, taking one-half hour to do so, then hold for one-half hour at 975 degrees F.  Quench in boiling water one hour.  Transfer to furnace at 400 degrees F and hold four hours.  Cool in air.  A seasoning at room temperature tends to increase the hardness.  It is possible by the above heat treatment to obtain a Brinell hardness of 165.

Another example from page A-4: 

“For Acid Stomach:  8 or 9 drops of a ten percent solution of Muriatic Acid (HCL) in one half glass of water – To be taken three times a day.”

          Page B-4 is a recipe for making the liqueur Benedictine.  (The main ingredient consists of 90% grain alcohol and goes on in detail.)

          Page H-1 is the Method of figuring the price of a second hand car by Mr. Halsey:

“For a car less than one year old an allowance of 58% of the present sales price.

For a car less than two years old an allowance of 40% of the present sales price….”

          Page H-2 is Mrs. Wills recipe: “How to Cook a Missouri Ham”

          “Soak ham for 48 hours in cold water.  Be sure it is covered well with water.  Remove from water and scrape well (as the ham is very mouldy).  Boil in cider 4 hours.  Take ham out of cider, remove skin, sprinkle with fine bread crumbs and bake in very slow oven for one hour.”

          The notebook goes on to describe zinc and iron plating baths, special insulating paint compounds and even a recipe for mouthwash.  We can only speculate that this notebook contained what Mr. Wills must have considered very valuable (and easily referenced) information.  Please note:  I would not necessarily recommend the recipe for Acid Stomach!   But if you want to heat treat aluminum pistons, that should be OK.



          Here in the Midwest in January, the weather is cold and snowy.  Allow me to thank Scott Shepley for donating the plowing of the Museums parking lot and shoveling the sidewalk.  I also want to thank Paul Pawlosky for taking care of the Museum’s lawn every year. And while I am at it, allow me to thank the Board of Directors and all the local members who work so hard to keep our Museum project going day in and day out!

          In January of 1959, Ken Caldwell wrote the first “Gray Goose News” effectively beginning the Wills Club (which eventually morphed into the Wills Sainte Claire Auto Museum).  So raise a toast as we celebrate our 50th anniversary!  I’ve included a copy of Ken’s first newsletter for you to reminisce over.  As a side note, this particular newsletter was sent to Sheldon Lowenthal, who is still a member today!

          And finally, if you would like to advertise in our humble publication (with superb demographics), contact me.  A printed flyer inserted into the “Gray Goose” would only be $100.  This would help offset our postage and printing costs.   Perhaps an ad for a tire distributer or….

          See you down the road.

                    Terry Ernest  Editor/Director




Wills St. Claire Museum Newsletter


Newsletter # 20- November 2007 - Page #1                      




            The lead page of this newsletter is an ad for an advertising agency from Fortune Magazine in 1936.  They were able to make nearly anyone who read the prose want to own, or at least drive, a Wills Sainte Claire automobile. Of course the advertising is for the ad agency itself, as Wills had been out of business for some 10 years.  This ad had been previously published in the Newsletter about 30 years ago, but I thought it deserved to be re-run.

“It was lithe and low and fast as light.  You could turn it on a dime.  To drive that car was sheer adventure….”




Wills owner Karl Krouch Sr. graciously hosted the Hershey Wills Meet at his vending spaces on Friday morning.  20 members from as far away as Canada and California were in attendance.  Allow me to have Karl tell the story:       The Hershey Wills Meeting took place at 9AM Friday. This year, unlike the last 3, we were blessed with NO RAIN.  Owners from all over the US and Canada made the trip again to join in the fun. After introductions, Fred Cleaver gave the treasurer’s report for the Museum. He also informed the group gathered that he was once again a Wills owner.  Karl Krouch next shared two of the Wills accessory items from the tool kit: a sample bottle of Noble’s polish and a Locktite patch can. (Note the polish bottles cardboard tube should say Wills, not Dodge) These items are shown in the 1925 and up tool lists. (Photo on page 1). Richard Coulomb discussed the ease of adding an oil filter to a Wills using readily available pieces. Tom Leib continued by giving an update on the Wills he is donating to the museum. He shared photos of the progress being made with the chassis and body. Terry Ernest, shared some additional information about the matching donation campaign which should reach its’ goal of ten thousand dollars. Swap time found no one having space locations for parts still unsold. A look at the Saturday show program had no Wills cars on display. When are we going to make a row of Wills on the show field? See you all next year! (Ed. note:  Thanks to Karl for hosting us at his swap meet space. He didn’t mention in his article that he found a complete Wills’ dashboard with gauges at a swap meet booth! Not pictured is one of my favorite writers, Wills member, Bobbiedine Rodda of CA, who was also present at the meeting.)



(Article by Fred Cleaver, WSC Museum Treasurer)

            My first involvement with Wills started back in the early 1970’s.  I had been trying to find a Havers car, built in Port Huron, Michigan.  There was one for sale on the east coast by the Tunick Brothers who specialized in antique cars.  After much back and forth “wheeling and dealing”, a price was agreed upon for a 1911 Havers, which they had.  A friend and co-worker, Carl, said he would take some time off and we would go and pick up the car.  Upon arrival, we asked to see the Havers.  Mr. Tunick said lets get the paper work over with first and then look at the car. It was in an unlit warehouse and we couldn’t see it.  We asked them to turn on the lights and they replied there weren’t any lights.  “Pay for the car and then they would get it out.”  No way!  Out near the big door was another car that I recognized.  It was a 1925 Wills Sainte Claire sedan.  Well, thoughts changed and the Wills was loaded and off for Michigan we headed.

            Our trip home was going very nicely, when a tire blew on the trailer and it started to sway back and forth.  On the third swing the trailer was sideways of the road.  I said to myself “it’s gone”, but then I hit the trailer brakes only and it straightened out and I got stopped.  My friend looked over at me and said he did everything but wet his pants!  The tires were replaced, the speed reduced and we made it safely home.  Later, after a couple of years, I sold the Wills so I could buy and restore a 1932 Pierce-Arrow Club Brougham, which I still own.

            A couple of years went by and I just had to have another Wills.  Ken Caldwell, founder of the Wills Club, kept in touch with me and he said he had convinced another Wills collector to part with a 1921 Roadster that was in parts.  I purchased it from Bill Abbott who was from the St. Louis area, who told me the only reason he had for selling the car to me was to get Ken Caldwell off his back!

            Another article will follow with pictures of the above mentioned purchase.  Have fun and show your Wills cars.



            I found this photo (below) while doing research at the Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library, automotive section.  Any thoughts about what it is from some of our long time members?  Did Wills go racing?  Is this a test sled that the factory used to see how new innovations would stack up? That straight pipe sure looks interesting, and the driver and copilot sure look to be quite happy.

The only note on the picture says:  “Wills Ste Claire 1922”.

If you have any ideas, please let your editor know.



            Another photo that I came upon recently is from a display at the Piquette Museum in Detroit.  This is the birthplace of the Model “T” Ford, and we all know that C. Harold Wills had a lot to do with that car.  The photo shows (L to R) Harvey Firestone, C. Harold Wills and Henry Ford having a “fireside” discussion.



The sign describing the photo says:  “A brilliant designer and metallurgist, C. Harold Wills was Chief Engineer and had much to do with the successful, lightweight design of the Model T.  Wills was indispensable to Henry Ford, as he could decipher Ford’s crude pencil sketches and turn them into polished mechanical drawings.  In the summer of 1907, Henry Ford and Wills heard about a new European development called vanadium steel.  It was stronger, lighter and more flexible than ordinary steel and thus ideal for use in automotive parts.  Wills set up a laboratory at Piquette Avenue to specifically develop vanadium steel and study its potential use in the Model T. Vanadium steel was used extensively on Model T parts and was one of the innovations that contributed to the car’s reliability.”




            I am aware of two Wills that are for sale.  The first is a 1922 A-68 roadster V-8 owned by Keith Kruse of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Contact Keith at:  260-450-1858.

The second is 1925 W-6 roadster owned by Phil Roelof of South Haven, Michigan.  Contact Phil at:  269-639-7748




            Merton “Mick” Bascom has sold his 1922 A-68 4-passenger coupe to Fred Cleaver.  This is the only 4-passenger coupe known to exist, making it a very rare car indeed. Mick has been an avid supporter of the Museum for many years, making the pilgrimage to Marysville every two years to bring his car to our local car show.  Mick has often left his beautifully restored car at the Museum for the public to admire.  We are thrilled that Fred now has a Wills again after so many years.  Fred will also have it on display at the Museum for enthusiasts to drool over.  Congratulations to both of you!




            Bruce Frumveller of Sunnyvale California is looking for early Wills V-8 parts, “anything and everything”, and for the 6 cylinder he is looking for W-6/T-6 connecting rods.  If you can help Bruce out, contact him at:  408-732-3244.




            Former Wills owner Fred Meiners made his first visit to the Museum this past week.  Fred told me how impressed with the Museum that he is.  Fred as you may recall, stepped up to become the Director in 1980 after the passing of the Wills Club founder, Ken Caldwell.  Fred made a donation of some literature, a sign and this photo.


The photo depicts a wonderful Gray Goose Traveller in front of the Catellier Wills Dealership.  Though difficult to see in the photo, they advertise “high grade used cars, all makes” and “sales and service”.  This photo begs the question; where was this dealership located?  Who are the men in the photo (all wearing very stylish hats)?  When you figure it out, please let your editor know.





            I would like to thank Debbie Wurmlinger for organizing an advertiser’s party at the Museum.  One of the museum’s largest fundraisers is a local car show that the AACA-Blue Water Region puts on with proceeds benefiting the Museum.  The largest part of the car show income is generated from the show program/advertising book.  With the support of over 100 area businesses, the booklet earns over $7,000 of revenue for the show.  Debbie suggested, and organized, a day of appreciation for our advertisers.  Thank-you Debbie!

             Another project that was completed over the summer was the purchase of 4 more showcases that match the six that we already have in the Museum.  We hope that in the future we will be expanding our display area and we will need more showcases.  We were given our original 6 by the Henry Ford museum.  These showcases were made in the 1930’s from Mahogany and are beautiful in their own right.  The Piquette Museum received the rest and we were able to purchase 4 more that match the 6 we already have.  Thanks to Greg Cleaver, Stan Mitchell, Carl Moss, and Bob Carlisle for their assistance and special thanks to Fred Cleaver and Gary Wurmlinger for driving and allowing us to use their car trailers.  Thank-you gentlemen!

            Another project that is being completed at this time is a new janitor’s closet in the Museum.  Pete Canjemi and John Porter are building this new enclosure to hide our mop sink and bucket area from the public. 

A hardy thanks to you as well!

            Edward Hausgen read in a past newsletter that we were looking for a 1920’s era gas pump.  Lo and behold, Ed found one in his garage!  At our next opportunity, volunteers will be picking up the pump in Missouri and bringing back to the Museum.  Once we complete the restoration, we will be putting it on display.  Thanks Ed!

            And last, but certainly not least, Tom Lieb of California will be donating an 80% completed Phillips bodied Cabriolet and a non-complete T-6 roadster.  We at the museum are thrilled to say the least!  We hope to work with the local trade school in the restoration of these cars. These will be the first cars that the Museum will own outright as the other 9 cars on display are courtesy of their owners.  We will have more details in the next newsletter. From the entire Board of Directors, Thank-you Tom!




            As we get toward the end of the year, we begin wrapping up the Preservation Campaign.  Our Treasurer, Fred Cleaver says that we have exceeded $9,000 and are nearing our goal of $10,000. If we can meet or exceed this, we will be given a $10,000 match.  Won’t you please help in making this generous matching donation a reality for the Museum? 


Thanks to Sally Wills Achatz for heading up this project and to the following members who have made a contribution to the Preservation Campaign:

Robert Anderson           Mick Bascom

Ray Burgess                 Pete Canjemi

Bill Carlisle                    Bob Carlisle

Gilles Caudal                 Fred Cleaver

Jock Finley                   Georg Von Pfaler

Ervin Graber                  Ray Gularte

James Holzhaur Virginia & Bernard Janicki

Joe & Sylvia Jung         Tom Kleinschmidt

Keith Kruse                   Peter Landsbergen

Stan Lucas                    William Mason

Randy Mason                William Mason

Gloria McKeand                        Fred Meiners

Robert Nester                Paul Pawlosky

John Porter                   Nancy Porter

Bobbiedine Rodda        Philip Roelof

Steve Rossi                  Don Schiemann

Peter Seward                Gary Sharrow

Robert Tansky               Jack Teetor

Rudy Vernon                 James Wheeler

Nancy Wills

And a very special thank-you to John McMullen!




            Wills owner, Steve Rossi sent this article in about the famous Ford Script that C. Harold Wills created for Henry Ford.  This info is from the Ford Model “T” book “Tin Lizzie” published in 1955.

(Thanks for sending this in Steve!)




            As we wind down 2007 and look forward to 2008, I would like to let all of our members know how things are progressing at the Museum.  The Board of Directors and I agreed to set a goal of raising money for the Preservation Fund for 2007.  C. Harold Wills’ granddaughter, Sally Wills Achatz ably ran this campaign, and we are grateful for her help and assistance.  I will report in the next newsletter on our level of success based on our members’ contributions through the end of this year.  The Board has already developed our goals for 2008.  They will be to increase membership in the Museum and to professionally organize the Museum’s collection of literature, factory correspondence and all related artifacts.

For the first goal, I need your help.  Would you consider sponsoring a membership?  Perhaps you could purchase one for each of your children or a friend or neighbor who enjoys antiques cars.  What better way to get them enthused about the very hobby that you enjoy so much?  For the second part, we will hire a person with experience in the categorizing and proper archival methods of preserving the Museum’s documents and artifacts.  Our goal is a computer searchable database that researchers can use to find information on Wills related data.

            January of 2009 will also be a milestone in the history of the Wills Sainte Claire Museum/Club, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary!  It was in January of 1959 that Ken Caldwell of Kissimmee Florida founded the club by publishing the first newsletter.  Ken wrote in the first newsletter that “the purpose of the Gray Goose News is to accumulate, organize and distribute all available Wills Sainte Claire News, which will assist the owners and restorers to complete, repair, or put into operation their Wills and help those already enjoying their Wills.”  In the early days, each member took their turn at writing the newsletter.  Ken did the first one, Meryl Ewalt of Detroit wrote the second, William Harrah of Reno wrote the third, Dan Bihler of W. VA wrote the fourth and William Abbott of IL wrote the fifth, and so on.  In the first newsletter, only 27 Wills cars were known to exist.  We are now aware of around 80.  How many more will we uncover or find out about in the next 50 years?

            Summer of 2010 is now only about 2 ½ years away.  Is it too early for you to start planning for the next National Wills Sainte Claire Meet in Marysville?  We are already starting to plan for it, and we hope that you will mark it on your calendar too.  As soon as we get the dates established we will let you know.  Start planning now to “follow the geese home” and bring your Wills to Marysville.

            Email is an ever more important way of communicating as time goes on.  On your membership renewal card, I have included a line for you to include your email. Because of constraints from my “full time paying job”, I was not able to print up and mail information about the Hershey Wills Meet this year.  By having your email, I can let you know, in a timely fashion, information that is important to you as a Wills member.




            Enclosed with this newsletter are you dues notice. Because our membership is very small, your prompt payment of your dues is very important. This year, please consider a membership (or two or three) for another antique car buff, or family member.  We hope to grow the Museums’ membership and we absolutely need your help in doing this.  Your dues include unlimited admission to the Museum, access to our archives of Wills material and this award winning newsletter. In addition to giving you the satisfaction that you are helping to preserve the Wills Sainte Claire legacy for future generations, your gift could improve your financial and tax situation as well.  Tax incentives make it easier to support the Museum.  Most people can reduce their income taxes by making gifts to eligible charitable organizations.  Of course, we don’t encourage charitable gifts just to save on taxes.  The Wills Museum was founded for the specific purpose of preserving the history of C. Harold Wills and the Wills Sainte Claire automobile – making it available for the public now and into the future.  Cars, books, sales literature, promotional items, advertisements and memorabilia are important to us.  They can greatly enhance the Wills Museum.  Please consider giving some of your automotive treasures to the Wills Museum whenever the time is right, either during your lifetime or in your will.  The Wills Museum has become the major repository for all memorabilia related to the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Company.  Literature donated will either be displayed or placed in the library for research.




            A special 2007 (only) tax incentive can help some IRA account holders support the Wills Sainte Claire Museum.  Do you have an IRA account?  Are you at least 70 ½ years old?  Do you have to make mandatory minimum withdrawals from your IRA?  If so, you should be aware of this special way to help the Wills Museum and other charitable organizations this year.  Congress created a limited time provision (2006 and 2007) for a significant tax incentive that permits such owners of IRA accounts to make charitable gifts directly from their IRA accounts without causing the distribution to be included in taxable income.  This opportunity applies only to IRA owners who are least 70½ years old when the gift is made. It permits transfers of up to $100,000 in the 2007 tax year. But importantly, such gifts will go toward satisfying the required minimum distribution requirements that typically apply to IRA account holders over the age of 70 ½.  Instead of being forced to withdraw funds from your IRA and include the amount in your taxable income, you can make a direct donation to the Museum (or any eligible charity) up to the $100,000 limit and avoid tax on the amount of the gift while meeting your mandatory minimum withdraw requirement.  Enclosed with this newsletter is a form to make such a transfer.




            Attached to this newsletter is a reprint from the original Gray Goose, the newsletter of the C.H. Wills & Company.  The company newsletter was used to inform dealers, distributors and employees of what was going on at the factory plus disseminate information that the factory thought was important for them to know. Such as a “go-getter” salesman, Wills auto owners testimonials and Service bulletins.  On page 2, third column, you will see under the header, Notes From The Editor, the story about what Mr. Wills regarded as some of the most important advice he was ever given:  “…aim high and you’ll never shoot low.”  This was the quote that Sally Wills Achatz used in our Preservation Campaign.




            The Museum has a small quantity of the “wings down” goose hood ornament available.  These are available for $75 + $8 shipping.  This resin replica is made from one the rarest Wills accessory hood ornaments which were only available for a short time from the factory.





            C. Harold Wills knew his way around fast boats along with fabulous cars.  Jack Teetor has sent info on a special racing engine that Mr. Wills developed for Chris-Craft boats.  More in the next issue.




I hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of the Gray Goose News. As always, I appreciate hearing from you and am quite happy to publish information that you would like to share with the rest of the club. If you have a technical solution or are restoring a car and would like to share special situations that you have encountered, in the spirit of helping other owners, please drop me a note.


Terry Ernest Editor/Director

Email:  willsmuseum@sbcglobal.net







Terry Ernest – Director                                                                Sally Achatz – Fundraising

3546 Conger Street                                     523 N 3RD St

Port Huron, MI  48060                                 St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 987-2854                                           (810) 329-9520


Gary Wurmlinger – Vice President                 Harold Krul - Marketing

1313 Georgia                                              2028 N River Rd

Marysville, MI  48040                                  St. Clair, MI  48079

(810) 364-3612                                           329-7901


J. Fred Cleaver – Treasurer                                          John PorterFacilities

1001 N River Road                                     511 Jay St

St. Clair, MI  48079                                     St Clair, MI  48079

(810) 329-6522                                           (810) 329-3192


Carl Moss – Secretary                                

1617 Military Street

Port Huron, MI  48060                                

(810) 982-4771







t is now time to send in your 2007 dues. Enclosed with this newsletter is a form to fill out and send in your dues.  Your dues include this newsletter, unlimited admission to the Museum and support for the Museum to continue its mission of “Preserving the History of C. Harold Wills and the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile.”  Your prompt payment is greatly appreciated!


If your dues are current, with this newsletter, you will be receiving an updated list of Wills’ cars and owners.  PLEASE REVIEW THIS INFORMATION CAREFULLY!  If there are any changes please make a note on the back of the dues invoice.  Check all the info that is listed for you.  Ownership of cars, zip codes and area codes occasionally change, not to mention keyboard slipups when the data is entered.  You may also call me at: (810) 987-2854 or e-mail:  willsmuseum@sbcglobal.net





n the last newsletter we reported that we had finished the sign on the corner of Wills and Busha.  The City of Marysville has graciously landscaped the sign area and the results are fabulous.  Now the Museum’s location is not “cleverly hidden” in the Industrial Park.  Special thanks to City Manager Jack Schumacher and his crew!




hree Wills cars from the Museum were displayed at the Marysville Daimler-Chrysler plant’s 70th anniversary on Sept. 17, 2006.  Walter Chrysler purchased the former Wills Sainte Claire factory in the early 1930’s from C. Harold Wills.  Museum member Gary Minnie, a 40+year Chrysler employee, convinced management that a display of Wills cars (which were made on the same grounds as the current D-C facility) should be on display. D-C donated $300 to the Museum for our efforts.  Thanks to Gary & Cindy Minnie, Gary and Debbie Wurmlinger, Fred & Rosemary Cleaver and Terry & Rita Ernest for displaying cars.




he Wills Meeting Hershey 2006, by KRK Sr. on Friday mornings at 9am proved to be the "perfect(?)" timing for the Wills Meeting at Hershey. After 3 days of sunshine, the weather turned to a constant drizzle by dawn Friday, bringing back memories of the 4 inches of rain that greeted the meeting last year.  Our meeting was well attended with owners from all over the US and Canada. After introductions, Fred Cleaver gave the treasurer’s report for the Museum.  John Porter had an update of the projects completed and ongoing at the museum, including the turntable, new sign at the highway, and additional display cases donated by the Ford Museum.  Restoration updates and photos were shown of Carl Moss’s only remaining 1924 Towncar.  Richard Coulombe discussed the cause of a noise in his engine and the final fix which required the re-shimming of the front cam drive gears.

Tom Leib continued to discuss the W-6/T-6 engine, touching on the common problems with gear lash and oil leaks at the head to cam tower gaskets. He gave the proper specs for the gasket material and thickness of .092 inches. Tom then told the members that a Wills “cutaway car” (a 1926 T-6 Cabriolet) needs to be assembled and will be soon donated to the Museum. 


wap time; only a set of extra manifold gaskets had been found by Tom Lieb during the previous three days of hunting. Contact him if you need them. All members and guests that attended were presented with a Wills logo coffee cup. The museum was also given one for the collection. After a group photo, many of the members lingered for the next hour discussing the Molybdenum car. The rain stopped, and the group continued on for another year.

 Note: Only one Wills was displayed in the Saturday Hershey car show, we can do better!!!





ete Seward has written in looking for some assistance on the restoration of his 1922 Roadster.  Pete writes:  “I’m looking for information on correct upholstery and patterns for our 1922 roadster.  Also it would be helpful to have paint info especially related to wheel colors and combinations.  I’m progressing fairly well with the restoration.  Still lots of small time consuming stuff to do, but I am aiming for completion in late 2007.  The seats and front seat bolsters have been re-covered with what appears to be a leather “kit”.  The original leather is still there on all items, but new leather, with under padding, has been sewn on top with string.  This does not appear to be a factory change, but the re-covering pattern in the leather matches exactly the door trim pads, which appear to factory original.  This seems odd, thus my above question.”



y parents purchased the Wills in 1933, and although they repainted it, I don’t believe they did anything with the upholstery.  Through this restoration project, I’ve determined that the car was repainted 5 times in the 10 years prior to their ownership.  So it would not be surprising to find that, in those 10 years, a previous owner had recovered perfectly usable upholstery.”


Ed. Note:  So can anyone give Pete a hand with his questions?  The Museum is still sorting the collection of literature materials that it has and finding the answers could take some time.  If you can help Pete, contact him at (250) 592-7710 or email:  peteseward@shaw.ca





ou can never imagine where the next Wills artifact will come from.  A visitor at the Museum, Jerry Falardeau, was kind enough to send us a photo from his collection that we had never seen before.  The back of the photo was marked:  “C H Wills”, and appears to show Mr. Wills in a Michigan winter scene in one of his early cars.  He appears to be wearing the same animal coat (Fox, Sable, Mink?) that we have seen him wear in other winter photos.





hile doing research at the Benson Ford research library at The Henry Ford museum, I was able to review Mr. Wills’ personnel file from his early days at the Ford Motor Company.  I was excited as I opened the folder hoping to find a treasure trove of information.  Unfortunately, there was very little information contained in the folder.  In fact, only two items.  The first was an excerpt from a WSC advertisement from the New York Times dated January 29, 1922, titled:  “Why I designed the Wills Sainte Claire” by C. Harold Wills.



or years I wanted to design an ideal and practical motor car, one that would be light, easy to drive (especially for women) durable, low hung, with extraordinary road clearances, simple and attractive in design.  With this in view and backed by my knowledge of metallurgy, efficiency in production, manufacture and inspection, I designed the Wills Sainte Claire.  In its construction we have used Mo-lyb-den-um steel and all other materials of the highest quality.  We started with the conviction that weight and wheel base have nothing whatever to do with the performance of a motor car.  We know that perfection of balance and weight distribution determines that.  We developed a new type of motor tremendously powerful, eight cylinders, V-type, set at 60 degree angle, with overhead camshafts and valves, eliminating belts and chains by the use of perfected silent gears.”



he second document I found in the file was relating to the lawsuit by the Ford Motor Company shareholders against Henry Ford.  The Dodge Brothers (John and Horace) were large shareholders in the Ford Motor Company, when Henry wanted to get rid of all the shareholders.  During the trial, John F. Dodge stated in testimony (excerpt):  “As a shareholder, I have no objection to the salary paid Wills.  Mr. Wills is a very valuable man.  I have always considered him the brains of the company.” High praise indeed.




harp eyed Wills owner, Steve Rossi, send a copy of the “Sales and Service Data Manual for the Model T Ford, a Powerful Sales Data Book”.  This manual was originally published in 1926 to assist Ford dealers and salesman to sell Model T Cars.  Page 17 discusses the Model T thermo-syphon cooling mentioning that “Thermo-Syphoning Cooling….Used on such quality cars as the American Wills-Ste. Claire, the French Aris, and the English Crosby.”





ack Teetor of Algonac sent in some follow-up information and a photo about the guided missile that C. Harold Wills had worked on in secret during WWI (Newsletter #16, June 2006).  Jack writes:  “I have recently found a photo showing the guided missile developed during WWI.  I believe in the information I sent to you, I included a report written by Macy Teetor. 

Macy was a member of the group working on this project at the Charles Kettering laboratories in Dayton, OH.  In his report Macy tells us – “We used a launching gear which was built by Teetor-Hartley Motor Company in Hagerstown.” The Teetor brothers’ first business was the building of a very light weight inspection car for the railroads in 1895.  In a few years they added motorized versions and they designed and built their own engines for these models.  By about 1905 they were selling engines to several of the automobile builders in Indiana.  The company name was changed to the Teetor-Hartley Motor Co. about 1910.  The motor business was their main activity; however they did continue to build rail cars into the 1930’s. 

Jack Teetor goes on to say:  “I thought this (next) photo is interesting because it shows how well the rail car design converted to a very practical, and cheap, answer to their launching problem.”


Bill Mason sent in an article written by Karl S. Zahm about auto designer Amos E. Northrup.  “Appearance and comfort are the two main factors that determine the sale of a motorcar.  Appearance induces a motorist to inspect the car in the showroom; Comfort fuels his desire to own it.  Each is of equal importance.  The body designer must effect a perfect combination of these two major characteristics.”  The author of these words was Amos Northrup, chief designer for the Murray Corporation of America, a major manufacturer of automobile bodies.  Northrup’s opinion is that cars of the 1920’s were not particularly attractive.  With few exceptions, most automobiles lacked much in the way of beauty, symmetry or charm.  The article states:  “…Whatever redeeming features were possessed by the Saxon, Ford, Essex or Durant was rendered moot by their all-to-dreary and unattractive sameness.  There were a few notable exceptions, including the Daniels, Richelieu, Ogren and Kissel.”  The Wills Sainte Claire, arguably one of that decades better looking automobiles, was redesigned by Amos Northrup in 1924 to become one of the most attractive.





 would like to take this opportunity to thank a few of the many volunteers that make the Museum operate smoothly.  Thanks to Debbie Pawlosky of Flint for making velvet ropes that attach to stanchions around the new turntable display.  Deb owns Schultz & Son Upholstery where quite a few of our members are now utilizing to have their antique car interiors and tops done.  I would also like to thank Don Herber of Herber’s Collision. 

Don never shies away from any Museum project, no matter how tough, and always seems to know how to get the job done.  Stan Mitchell is our salesman extraordinaire.  Stan sells more ads than anyone for our car show booklet which is a major fundraiser for the Museum.  Gary Wurmlinger, who is the Museum’s VP, acts as our DJ at the annual car show, and keeps the whole show moving along at the correct pace.  Cindy Minnie is our local AACA chapter secretary, and the best seamstress that I know.  When the curtain dividers at the museum became torn, Cindy miraculously stitched them back together. 

Gloria McKeand and Marlene Porter make wonderful docents and these ladies know how to clean!  On a recent work bee, I had the chance to see Gloria, Marlene and Cindy in action.  The Museum would never look so good if not for the hard work of these “dust busters.”

When the Museum needed absorbent material to put under the cars on display (old cars leak!), Mick Bascom of New Hampshire offered to pay for them and even kicked in a little bit more!  Thanks Mick!


The Board of Directors would like to welcome Sally (Wills) Achatz to the Museum Board.  Sally’s father was C. Harold Wills Jr. and her grandfather was C. Harold Wills Sr.  Sally replaces Terry Curley who has served honorably as our grant writer.  Good luck to Terry and welcome Sally!

I would also like to thank Sally for generously loaning the Museum many Wills family photos and articles that we have now digitally reproduced and will have available in the Wm. McKeand Research room at the Museum.




here is always a laundry list of items that the Museum needs to continue pursuing its intended purpose.  On the short list is a fiberglass 8’ foot step ladder.  We estimate the cost to be approximately $100.  If you have one to donate or are able to contribute the money for one, it would be appreciated!

We desperately need a photograph of the New York Auto Salon of 1925, particularly the display by custom bodybuilder Willoughby.  The Auto Salon was the display for custom auto bodybuilders. Our best chance to find this photograph is if anyone has a copy of the publication “MoToR”.  “MoToR” was a sold to dealers within the automotive selling trade, and nearly all auto manufacturers and suppliers had an advertisement in it. 

“MoToR” also reported on trades shows back in the day.  Willoughby displayed at their display a Wills Sainte Claire Town Car (currently owned by Carl Moss).  The Museum intends to re-create the Willoughby display of 1925 Auto Salon in the Museum. Please review the 1924-1926 issues and let us know if you find it.  THANKS!




ur facilities coordinator, John Porter, writes this update of Museum projects:

Museum Notes:   Plenty of activity and lots of projects at our museum this past summer and fall. Completed projects are:  Re-building the sign at Wills and Busha, re-furbish the south eaves trough, have a new  6" eaves trough installed on the north end of the building. A major project underway is installing a new track lighting system to better show off our fine cars and other displays.

The biggest single improvement this summer was our turntable project. We were going to purchase one at an approximate cost of four to five thousand dollars, but one member found a mechanism at a local junkyard. The cost $200.00 and we were on our way. Another member designed the needed supporting structure. A third person got the necessary steel donated that we needed. And last but not least, we had a member with the skills to fabricate this piece of machinery. A team then installed it, and it works like a dream! The directors’ roadster is now going around in circles. Savings-$4000.00. Turntable - Priceless.


(Written by Museum Secretary Carl Moss.)



his issue of the Gray Goose News will focus on a “local” automobile in our ongoing effort to highlight existing Wills cars.  The vehicle is a 1922 A-68 4-door; 7-passenger sedan owned by this writer (Carl Moss) and is currently on display at our museum in Marysville.


    Car Number:  3186

            Engine number:  4351

            Wheelbase:  121 inches

            Weight:  3600 pounds

            Original Cost:  $3475

            Color:  Liberty Green

            Stroke:  4 inches; Bore:  3 ¼ inches

            Horsepower:  67

            Body:  Fisher (aluminum)



he early history of the car is unclear, although it apparently was on the west coast for many years.  By 1980, the vehicle was owned by Jim Brucker of Buena Park, California.  A letter from him dated October 1984 indicated he bought the Wills from Jack Passy Jr. of San Jose, who had got it from a Mr. H.B. Probert.  Mr. Brucker was the proprietor of Movieworld “Cars of the Stars”, a business which furnished cars to television and movie productions.  In August of 1985, the collection (which included this car) was sold at auction.  The purchaser of this car was Bill McKeand of Port Huron, Michigan. 

The car was un-restored with a partially dismantled engine, but with less than 14,000 miles showing on the odometer.  Following Bill McKeand’s untimely death in February of 1996, the car was stored by his wife Gloria, until 2000 when it was purchased by the present owner.  It was sent to Tom Lieb in California who performed the mechanical restoration during 2001 and 2002.  The running boards have been recovered and the wheels have been repainted but otherwise the car is cosmetically all original.  The fenders have most of their original paint but the body has only a very faint remnant of its original color.

This is believed to be the lowest mileage Wills in existence.  Plans are to leave it in its present un-restored condition, as the owner feels it is important to maintain such cars as original as possible as a source of future reference.  (In fact, he has been threatened with dire consequences by another enthusiast if he ever tries to restore it!)

      Again, please remember car owners, to forward whatever information you have regarding your Wills to the Museum.  This information will provide grist for a future article such as this, but more importantly preserve valuable data for research and give future owners background on the history of their Wills Sainte Claire automobile.

(Ed. Note):  Since the last Newsletter in June, Carl reported that not a single member sent in any info!  So please take a few minutes and send whatever info you have about your car to:


            Carl Moss c/o Wills Museum

            2408 Wills St

            Marysville, MI  48040





s noted on the dues form, there are many different Wills memorabilia that is now available for purchase from the Museum.  There are hats, a DVD, T-shirts, and sweatshirts.  You may also consider purchasing a membership for someone else and share you interest in Wills Sainte Claire.  By the way, all of these items would make for great Christmas gifts!


I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter.  The volunteers continue to work diligently on the museum project on your behalf. Remember to contact me with any changes on the roster.  Be sure to check all the info; phone numbers, zip codes, etc.


Terry Ernest, Director