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Automobiles for Women, the Overland Coupe

At the beginning of the 1910s, women drivers in the United States were still only a small minority--perhaps no more than five percent of the total number of drivers. But throughout the decade, the number of women drivers increased dramatically. At the start of the 1920s, while still a minority, they represented twenty percent or more of all drivers in many localities. Despite male attempts to limit or prohibit female drivers, women in increasing numbers found that driving an automobile was useful, necessary, and adventuresome.

Attempts to market cars with features especially designed to appeal to women soon developed. The Albion Weekly News on July 10, 1924, advertised a new car intended "for feminine use": "Unusual interest among feminine motorists has greeted Willys Overland's announcement of its new two-passenger Overland Coupe. Not only is it a light car embodying the manifold advantages of the entire Overland line, but it combines with these a driving comfort and convenience almost incredible in a car of these dimensions.

"Nowadays, with the male members of the family requiring the use of the car during the day, there is a definite need for a second car in a good many homes, a car that can be used for shopping and visiting by the women folks of the home. The new Coupe has proved itself to be ideally adapted for this purpose. Ventilating windshield, Dura window regulators, [and] rear window curtains are little touches that appeal to feminine taste.

"Coupled with these features is the ease of parking, and the unusual riding comfort due to the 126-inch spring base. Its ease of handling in congested traffic areas because of the exceptionally large steering spindles and bearings are decided factors in this new car intended for feminine use.

"The new Coupe is equipped with doors that are over 31 inches wide, thus providing easy entrance. The body of exceptionally heavy metal, is sturdily reinforced. Unusual pains are taken with the painting operations, fourteen coats being applied to give the car its lasting durable finish.

"The interior of the body is finished in durable, long grain Spanish leather upholstery. The seat cushion is over 45 inches wide, being ample to accommodate three medium-sized people. There are 15 inches between steering wheel and cushion, rendering it convenient for the car to be entered easily from either side.

"A roomy rear deck provides ample space for packages, which is an additional convenience for milady's shopping. Its hinged cover is provided with a lock and is protected against dust and leaks."

(November 2006)



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