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Classic car owners flock to Park Rapids for the weekend

Fourteen classic cars were parked at C'mon Inn along Highway 34 in Park Rapids this week. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
The cars' owners are members of the Willys Overland Knight Registry. At right, the blue car was made in 1932 and the red vehicle is from 1916. (Anna Ericksn / Enterprise)2 / 2

An assortment of Willys Overland vehicles have been stopping traffic at C'mon Inn in Park Rapids this week.

Members of the Upper Mississippi Chapter of the Willys Overland Knight Registry are on vacation in the Park Rapids area through Sunday.

The mission is to bring together people who own, admire, and are interested in the preservation of vehicles powered by sleeve valve engines or the related family of Willys Overland vehicles.

Stan Maass, of Stewartville, said the Willys Overland cars were made between 1903 and 1942 before production was stopped.

The Upper Mississippi Chapter travels each year to a different location for an annual meeting and socializing.

According to the Willys Overland website,, in June of 1960, Chet Lamberth and John Rawlins of Dallas, Texas owned Willys-Knight automobiles and correctly thought there may be others interested in preserving sleeve-valve engine vehicles. They formed the "National Registry of Willys-Knight Automobiles and others using sleeve-valve action" and by year's end, there were 36 members. Membership has continued to grow over the years.

The Upper Mississippi Chapter, which encompasses a five-state area, brought 14 cars to the Park Rapids area and 38 people, Maass said.

"We've been to Summerhill Farm, the Bison Ranch and plan to see Ole and Lena this weekend," he said. "It's mostly a social thing."

Dan Janke, of Westfield, Wis., is also in Park Rapids for the weekend. He and his wife spent about seven years completing their vehicle but "it was worth every minute," he said.

Maass has a 1932 model, which he said is one of the "classiest" vehicles around.

The Willys Overland members plan to take in all the sites around the area while cruisin' in their classic cars.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561