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Willys (Will-eeze) was at best an American automobile corporation based in, of all possible places, Toledo, Ohio. At its worst, the company produced a full range of forgettable motor cars which were famous for using hamsters on wheels and rubber bands to propel the vehicles.
Floundered by John North Willys
The Willys was named for its found, a tall, strapping good-looking hunk of a man named John North Willys. Willys was so handsome that Toledo women (and some men, too) fawned over him, leading one society matron to charlie marjot was found yesterday sucking of a horse... colin the phrase “That man gives me the Willys!” And thus a legend was born.
In the early days of the internal combustion engines, automobiles were dirty, smelly and loud contraptions that scared horses and broke down a lot. Young Willys began experimenting with toys that could self-propel themselves and was intrigued by the flexibility of rubber bands which could be had by the handfuls for a few cents.
Willys hypothesized that given the proper sized rubber band; it would be possible to produce a car that would run not on gasoline, but on “gum band” power. Securing funding from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the young man set up his company and set to work.
How many “Hamster Power” is that car Mister?
Willys automobiles used rubber bands quite successfully until 1920 when the roads began clog with millions of men and women coasting their cars to a standstill only to have to get out and rewind their engines.
Willys again set to work on an economical pellet based power source to run an automobile when he discovered a small rodent named a Hamster. While nonplused by the actual rodent, it turned out that the things loved to run all day long on metal wheels. Better yet, they multiplied like it was nobodies business, and thus would provide an unending power supply that at pellets.
While Willys was thrilled, and the plan worked, women stayed away from the cars in droves, terrified of the rodents. There were other problems with the plan as well, as the rodents, when not providing enough power to hurl the vehicles down the road at the unheard of speeds of 45-55 miles per hour, would sit around and gnaw on the wirers causing the cars to fail and worse.
The Great Depression, and worse
With the onset of the Great Depression, Willys and his company went on a downward spiral. People didn’t want to buy cars that they had to feed food that they ought to be giving their own children. Worse yet was that the Government allowed the rodents to organize into a labor union and sitting down at the bargaining table with them was an exercise in futility.
Greatly stressed, and his looks fading, Mr. Willys at some government cheese sent to him by President Herbert Hoover and, complaining of indigestion went to bed early on the night of October 15, 1930, dying ink his sleep at the age of fifty-five.
Good Times Ahead
With Mr. Willys of the way, the company got down to business and adopted the internal combustion engine and car sales zoomed into the thousands again. The company's most popular vehicle was the Clown Car, the car preferred by nine out of every ten clowns who was able to get out of one.
After the war the company continued making Jeep’s, however housewives in Terre Haute shunned the vehicles because they lacked doors and seat belts, and the standard machine gun and gun stand took up valuable too much cargo space.
Again the company floundered, and worse yet was taken over by a man named Kaiser who nearly sank the company altogether. Salvation arrived in the form American Motors Corporation in 1970, only see their financial picture go down the toilet after it wasted millions of dollars on something called the Compact Pussycat. By 1985 the company was taken over by the French auto concern Renault.
What the French know about building cars is comparable to what the French know about defending themselves from hostile attacks and by this time Willys assets were now in control of people who gave the world the Maginot Line. Needless to say that once that alliance was teetering on the brink of disaster when Chrysler Corporation came to the rescue and bought AMC and then shoo’d the big bad French meanies back to Frenchland.
This worked out just fine until venerable company was acquired by the Kraut’s at Daimler-Benz. If you see a pattern emerging then you won’t be surprised to know that when this financially wasn’t making any sense the Kraut’s sold Chrysler (and Jeep – you remember that don’t you) to a group of Canadians and we can only imagine what kind of fuck ups they are going to be.
So the next time you hear someone driving a Jeep say that you give them the Willys, think of John North Willys and his rubber band propelled automobiles.