OF KNIGHTS AND SLEEVES

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I read Gerald P's story about Knight sleeve-valve engines in this week's issue of OCW. Gosh, I remember back to 1978 or so, when OCW founder Chet Krause had a Minerva town car with a Knight engine. It was a pretty smokey old beast so he bought a spare engine from windshield wiper guru Dave Ficken and picked it up at Hershey. We hauled it home from there in the Old Cars rig. It was a massive thing and I don't think it was any better than the first one.

A few weeks ago I went to visit Lloyd Guerke who just finished doing an absolutely gorgeous 1931 Willys-Knight coupe. Over the years, Lloyd has discovered that a 1955-1957 Chevy six will bolt into these cars almost directly. So he gave his car a darn near Pebble Beach restoration, but used a Chevy six. Then he put an S-10 five-speed behind it and added things like cruise control, GPS and 12-volt AC electrics. Now he has a great looking W-K that will go 1,200 miles at highway speeds and never miss a beat.

Lloyd saved the sleeve-valve engine, too. It seems that members of the Willys club have a project going to reproduce the sleeve valves. When they're available, he plans to switch over to the original motor.