1927 Whippet Roadster
In 1954, Dr. William Donze (my dad) started a restoration on this 1927 Whippet two-door coach. After beginning the restoration, dad became aware of a roadster body that would fit the chassis. It had been sitting in a field in California and local residents used the rumble seat as a backdrop for target practice. Consequently, the lid had over a hundred bullet holes in it. Sonny Walker was the paint man who flattened, filled and hid this chapter of the roadster bodies’ life.
This four-cylinder, three-speed standard shift car, made by Willys Overland of Toledo, Ohio, was the first American made car with four-wheel mechanical brakes. It was the first car on which my dad performed a complete restoration. The restoration took two years and resulted in his first National Junior and Senior, First Prize awards. After the show circuit, dad drove the Whippet just about everywhere, including all the way to northern Vermont, and all the way west to (and up) Pikes Peak, Colorado.
This car was also the first antique car that each of us boys (and two of the girls) was allowed to drive because of its simplicity and reliability. One time, in 1973 while I was driving on a tour with my Mom, riding shotgun, the engine seized. I recognized what was happening before it froze up completely and I turned off the engine as I coasted to the side of the road. More serious damage had been averted and we learned that something happened to drain the crankcase very rapidly. We learned years later that the source of the problem was a crack in the block that was allowing water to seep into the crankcase.
The Whippet was towed home and sat in the garage for a few months until dad sent it out to get the engine rebuilt. It continued to serve the family needs for the next twenty to twenty-two years.
In 1988, Al purchased the car from dad and performed a complete engine rebuild. He also took the opportunity to repaint the wheels as they were beginning to show the wear of thousands of touring miles. This restoration work was to make Al a convert to Whippet and the Willys Overland Knight cause. Pictures of the rebuild are shown below.
Al has since sold the roadster and now has an early 1927 Whippet Coupe.