Saturday, January 8, 2011

In the Shop: Wills Sainte Claire

by Nancy DeWitt

Willy is off enjoying a vacation but Charlie has been quite busy in the shop. This week he finished work on the 1907 Franklin and rolled the 1922 Wills Sainte Claire Model A-68 sedan in for a thorough exam.

Designed by C.H. Wills, formerly the chief designer and metallurgist for Ford Motor Company, the Wills Sainte Claire was one of America's best-engineered automobiles. Its V-8 was the first overhead-cam engine designed for passenger car use, and according to Charlie it's incredibly smooth-running.

The WSC introduced several other revolutionary features including full pressure lubrication, a water-jacketed intake manifold, a back-up light that switched on automatically in reverse gear, and headlights that could be switched between high and low beam. Wills also pioneered the use of molybdenum alloy steel, an exceptionally strong metal that was used in every part of the car subjected to stress.

Charlie says every part on our WSC is in working order, but the car needs a lot of attention. He first discovered a coolant leak in the engine, and when he flushed out the engine oil a lot of sludge drained into the buckets:

The radiator also needs repairing, and yesterday Charlie found that the brackets for the exhaust system had rusted:

Of the 12,000 Wills Sainte Claires made, only 80 are known to survive. Fortunately, it won't take much to get this 80-year-old car up and running. The hardest part will be waiting for spring so we can take her for a spin!

For more information about the Wills Sainte Claire marque, please visit the Wills Sainte Claire Museum.

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