Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum

7/14/13 Sunday at St Clair, MI (St Clair-TT)

There was a visiting priest from India at Church today. His accent was strong and he struggled to speak English, so it came out high pitched and loud. John managed to catch a few numbers in the sermon, while I heard India and children. It took 16 long minutes. I wish I could have told him that he would have been far more effective with a few brief sentences, with pauses between words. I wanted to give money to help, but there was no second collection. As we left, we shook his hand, then he said “would you support the..” John asked me what he said, as we walked away. I managed to decifer that much, then realized he probably said support the children. Because it would have been difficult to make our way back, plus if this was to “adopt” one child financially, I didn’t want to get into that. How fair is it for one to get lots of help when so many need even a little?

By the way, the heat and humidity are building again. Hello, Michigan summer! Due to that reality, we’re spending the afternoon sitting in our chairs by the St. Clair River (at the Palmer Park in St. Clair). John dropped me there, with book and chair, then went on to Marysville, to see the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum.

So, here is John writing about Mr. Wills and his cars. C. Harold Wills was a designer, metallurgist and Henry Ford’s first employee. One of the things he did was design the Ford emblem that is still used today. Wills wanted to make stronger, updated cars, but Ford wanted to keep making only the “every man’s” car. Wills took his $1.5 million dollar severance pay and started a car company in Marysville, MI. He manufactured 12,000 Wills Sainte Claire cars between 1921 and 1926. 80 are known to still exist in some fashion or other, with some in very poor shape. Twice his cars set the record for coast to coast travel, once in a car that started with 23,000 miles on it. Some of the cars in the museum are in excellent shape now and others are still in restoration or are about to be restored.

The Wills Sainte Claire was built as a luxury car, whose main competitors were the Packard and the Pierce Arrow. These cars sold for $3-4,000, while a Model T was priced at $475.

The museum is only open on the second Sunday of the month from 1-5, except June, July and August, when it is also open on the 4th Sunday of the month. $5/adult.

IMG_0832 The frame on the left is from the Ford Model T and the one on the right is the frame Wills used. Notice it is much heavier construction. Mr. Wills wanted to build cars to last. He was “faulted” for overbuilding his cars.




IMG_0828 This is a 1926 Cabriolet Roadster. One of the volunteers explained that the man that painted this car had a car he had done that was in the Pebble Beach Car Show and won first place.




IMG_0849 IMG_0850 A 1922 7 Passenger Sedan with an overhead cam V8 engine. I had no idea they made an overhead cam engine this early. Mr. Wills found, though, that he was able to make a straight 6 overhead cam engine much cheaper and it had the same whopping 66 hp. (Ford had 20 hp)








IMG_0840A 1924 5 Passenger Sedan that shows why we call the trunk, the trunk.





IMG_0836 IMG_0837This unrestored 1926 5 Passenger Sedan is displayed to help people appreciate the work that goes into making these vehicles, once again, the beautiful machines they were built to be.









IMG_0853 IMG_0854 IMG_0855

1926 T6 Cabriolet Roadster being restored. This shows the wood that is used for the shape and then has metal attached to form the body.

(Trish writing now). John joined me after an hour or so, at the River. Lots of other people had the same idea, including many who jumped into the River there.

Eventually we went home for supper.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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