Handley-Knight MotoMeter

My husband and I went to an auction at an old car dealership in rural Nebraska a few years ago. My daughter had a broken leg at the time (one of many broken limbs acquired during our little tomboy’s childhood) and I was pulling her around on a wagon to keep her from being bored. Luckily, my husband was paying attention to the auction and bid on (and won) this rare beauty:

I had never before seen a MotoMeter with a Handley-Knight logo. What a find! The Boyce MotoMeter Co. of Long Island, New York, manufactured radiator cap-mounted temperature gauges such as these to allow drivers to monitor the engine cooling system. This particular MotoMeter is marked with a 1913 patent date, and the company dominated the market for the following two decades until dash-mounted temperature gauges began to appear. Business was booming during this time as there were so many automobile manufacturers and many wanted a MotoMeter that was tailor-made for their brand. Here is a Ford example:

So, what of Handley-Knight? Handley was a car manufacturer based in Kalamazoo, Michigan that built cars from 1920-1923. The Handley-Knight was built from 1920-1922 and featured a Knight engine as did all cars using the term “Knight” in the title such as the Stearns-Knight and the more recognizable Willys-Knight. The Knight engine was a four-cylinder motor built by Willys-Overland and was a sleeve-valve engine, meaning that it had sliding sleeves between pistons and cylinder walls that served as valves. These engines are sometimes referred to as “silent sleeves” as they operated quietly, and they were also said to improve with use because the carbon build-up aided efficiency by making a better seal. Genius.

The Handley Company was purchased by Checker Motors in 1923. The website Conceptcarz states that there are only three known Handley-Knights in existence. If that is true, I certainly feel fortunate to have my own little piece of Handley-Knight history.

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