When President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated his namesake dam in 1911, he rode to the site in Kissell. The car in the parade immediately behind the one that carried the president was a 1909 Overland, and that very Overland is the Pick of the Day.
“This beautiful 1909 Overland has quite a history!” the seller proclaims. “It has only had 5 owners. It was the first car sold in the state of Arizona and the first car titled in the state.
“This was the car behind President Roosevelt at the dedication of Hoover Dam in 1911. It revisited the dam at the 50th celebration in 1961.
“The car was restored in 1954 with a new engine and paint — same color as original. The upholstery was done by one of Cadillac’s original upholstery men… The owner at that time won approximately 15 trophies with the car (i.e. tours, best dressed, etc.).
“The next owner was a collector, my stepfather’s uncle, who kept the car in immaculate condition. My stepfather was only able to show it off a few times before coming ill. The car has been sitting in storage for the last 5 years… Would love to find this car another home where it will be cared for and appreciated.”
Overland was founded in 1903 as the automotive arm of the Standard Wheel Co. of Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1905, the Overland Auto Co. moved to a larger Standard Wheel facility in Indianapolis. In 1909, Overland was purchased by John North Willys and was moved to Toledo, Ohio, into a factory that formerly produced the Pope-Toledo motorcars.
Documents included with the advertisement indicate that the car on offer was among those produced soon after the company relocated to Toledo. In 1909, Willys produced several thousand vehicles — from roadsters to taxi — in 4 model lines — 30, 31, 32 and 34, the first 3 with 30-horsepower 4-cylinder engines and the later with a 6-cylinder engine pumping out 35 horsepower.
It likely also would have begun production of its 1910 models, including a new Model 38 (25 horsepower 4-cylinder engine), which a handwritten letter and a copy of the Motor Vehicle Register of Arizona included in the advertisement indicate is the actual model year for the car on offer, serial number 381530.
Regardless of whether it’s a 1909 or 1910, documents indicate the car was first purchased from the Phoenix Overland agency by H.W. Ryder, a Phoenix hardware dealer in 1909. The car — the engine succumbed in 1917 — went to a doctor, Dewey Davis, in 1928 and was stored for decades in a garage in Phoenix.
As the story goes, the car was acquired by the brothers who owned Ricks Trailer Hitch, and Ray Ricks restored it (obtaining an original engine from a museum “back east,” and obtained one of the first “Horseless Carriage” (vintage vehicle) licenses issued by Arizona in 1954.
The Rickses sold the car in 1959 or 1960 to S.W. Tull, who in 1961 took it to Hoover Dam for the 50th anniversary celebration.