Willys Overland Knight Registry

Whippet 96 History

Production of the first and most popular of the Whippets, the 4 cylinder Model 96, commenced Wednesday 12th May 1926, ready for public introduction in the East & Midwest on Saturday 26th June. The West had to wait a week later so Saturday July 3rd was their introduction date.  Overseas releases followed quickly afterwards - eg. September in Australia.
The publicity surrounding its launch was a such a success that in the first three weeks of its introduction in the United States, carefully compiled counts and estimates indicated some 14,580,000 people visited dealer showrooms to see the new car.

John N. Willys told his dealers that the Whippet title was intended as a generic name for the broad class of vehicles of which this is the forerunner, ie a light, fast, economical and stylish yet inexpensively priced car.  The opportunity was at hand, Willys continued, to do in the light car field what Duco did in the lacquer field or what the Eastman Kodak Company did in the camera field.  Salesmen were urged to get the motoring public to talk of the new type of light car as a WHIPPET type.  Here was a car with 4 wheel brakes, water pump cooling and pressurised lubrication - all strong technical features for the time.  Styling was said to be European, a compact yet roomy body, low centre of gravity, good looks, performance and economy.

Surprisingly enough, especially in the light of all this hype about the Whippet name, it wasnt until January 1927 that the Whippet name was really emphasised on the vehicle itself.  Until then it had Overland hub caps and an Overland radiator badge.  However, advertising and in fact all printed material such as manuals emphasised the fact that this was a Whippet or an Overland Whippet and never just as an Overland which still tended to bring up memories of the Overland Four in peoples minds.  This naming convention was reinforced when the six cylinder Overland 93 was quickly restyled and renamed as a Whippet 93A - also for January of 1927.

There were a host of changes during the production run of the Whippet 96.  Some were cosmetic but most were to reduce production costs.  (See how much the advertised prices varied below !)
These changes can help in dating a vehicle and assist in identifying which parts are the correct ones to fit but the most obvious ones were the external ones listed below;

Wheelbase was just 100 1/4 inches, only slighly bigger than a Model T Ford, but the 3 1/8 bore x 4 3/8 stroke (2.2 litre) engine produced just over 30 bhp and the resultant performance of this lively little car no doubt influenced Henry Ford to announce his Model A in late 1927.

Production of the Whippet Model 96 ended on 3rd December 1928 - it's replacement being the Whippet Model 96A.  The 96A had a 3/8 inch longer stroke but it was the basic Model 96 engine with the same 3 1/8 bore x 4 3/8 stroke (albeit in revised form and producing more horsepower) that powered the Willys 77 during the depression years and the Willys Jeep for World War 2.
 
 

US Chassis Serial Nos  & Approx Dates

1              to 110344 * May 12, 1926 - Dec  1927
110345 * to  316405 Jan 1928 - Dec  3, 1928

Note:  The serial number of 110345 is listed in the W.O.K.R. Roster as the official (factory sourced) break point between 1927 and 1928 vehicles, however factory change information indicates it should be closer to 136000.  It also suggests that 1926 vehicles would have serial numbers up to about 50000.
 
 

Canadian Chassis Serial Nos & Approx Dates

C-1         to C-19403 1926 & 1927
C-19404 to C-35499 1928 onwards

 

Body Styles and Advertised Price Ranges

Body Style 
USA
Australia
England
Coach
$735 - $535
£304 - £280
£235 - £220
Cabriolet Coupe
$745 - $545
Not Applicable 
Not Applicable
Coupe
$735 - $535
Not Applicable
£235
Landau
$755
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Roadster
$525 - $485
£199
£240
Roadster (De Luxe)
Not Applicable 
£220
£250
Sedan
$735 - $585
£305
Unknown
Tourer / Touring
$645 - $455
£225 - £195
£210 - £198
Tourer (De Luxe)
Not Applicable
£210
Not Applicable
Chassis
Unknown
£160
Unknown
All Purp. Coach/Comm. Saloon
$850
Not Applicable
£220
10 cwt Commercial Van
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
£180
Panel Delivery
$685
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Open Express
$665
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Canopy Top with screens
$710
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Canopy Top with curtains
$670
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Comm. Roadster (Sample) 
$625
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Comm. Roadster (Pickup)
$645
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Comm. Roadster (Panel)
$665
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Utility Truck
Not Applicable
£215 - £195
Not Applicable
Bakers Van
Not Applicable
£210
Not Applicable
Commercial
Not Applicable
£210
Not Applicable
Commercial (High Back)
Not Applicable
£212
Not Applicable
Milk Delivery
Not Applicable
£212
Not Applicable
Panel Van
Not Applicable
£199 - £195
Not Applicable
Special Panel Van
Not Applicable
£205 - £200
Not Applicable
Wire Sided Waggon
Not Applicable
£195
Not Applicable

 

Holden Model 96 Body Production (Australia)

Sedan
65
Coach
196
Tourer
4996
Roadster
439

For more information on Whippet 96 please refer to the © Whippet Model 96 Encyclopedia available through W.O.K.R.

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