top of page

Historical Sketch of the Overland Companies

Overland Auto Co.

Claude Cox, who had made a three wheel vehicle for his senior year thesis at the Ross Polytechnic Institute and Charles Minshall, owner of Standard Wheel Co. of Terre Haute, IN, met one day in 1902, to discuss Minshall's desire to build an automobile. He knew nothing about building one, but he trusted what knowledge that Cox had. Cox was hired to design the car and to head Standard Wheels' new automobile department.


Cox proceeded and built an advanced car for its time and it was named the Overland. It was a two-cylinder water-cooled engine and mounted up front under a hood. It was fitted with a two-way switch plug for change over to two dry batteries. The switch plug was removable so it could not be driven without it.

1903 Overland Runabout.jpg

1903 Overland Runabout


The prototype was finished in February of 1903 and twelve were built that year. 1904 sales were doubled and Cox was already designing his 1905 models with a four-cylinder engine and a steering wheel. In January of 1905, the space was too cramped and he decided to move the Overland to Standard Wheels' plant in Indianapolis that was no longer in use.


He had scarcely begun to work when Minshill informed him that he wanted out because it was not proving to be profitable and he figured that it was not going to be so. Cox was lucky that a carriage maker by the name of David Parry was a customer of the Standard Wheel Co and had made an electric car in 1892 that wasn't driveable, saw the models and was willing to provide capital for 51 percent of the company.



The above copied from the web site:

Used with permission of Royal Feltner







"Indianapolis, Ind., August 25. — The long-expected reorganization of the Overland Automobile Company is being effected. A company is now being formed, headed by D. M. Parry, a well-known carriage manufacturer, to take the plant. 


Something more than one year ago the Standard Wheel Company disposed of its automobile business to Claude E. Cox, and he has kept the factory open, employing a few men to make experiments with 1907 models. It is understood that the present site of the factory will be retained, but that it will be greatly improved and enlarged."


In 1906, the company's name became Overland Auto Company. New additions were made to the Parry Mfg. Co, and production began in 1907 just as the bank panic began and Parry lost everything including his house.


Meanwhile, John Willys was in his Overland Automobiles dealership in Elmira, NY, desperately trying to find the reason why his Overland automobiles had not been shipped. He had contracted the Overland's entire 1906 production and for another 465 for 1908. He had paid $10,000 in advance and his customers wanted their cars. With no answers to his telephone calls or telegraph messages, he decided to travel to Indianapolis to see what was happening. When he got there, he was stunned to find out that the company had gone bankrupt and the owner had lost everything and no cars made.  He immediately took over the factory and did an inventory which showed that there were enough parts to build three cars.



Copied from the August Issue of the 1906 Automotive Industries Magazine

As presented in the web site:

Used with permission of Royal Feltner

martin-parry-header2 (1).gif
bottom of page