WILLARD VELIE grandson of JOHN DEERE graduated from Yale in 1888. He followed Horace Greeleys admonition to "Go WEST YOUNG MAN" and took the journey to Montana. There he met and married his college roommate's (William Flowerree) sister Annie Flowerree. Within fifteen years he would form
the Velie Motor company in Moline ILL.The Velie Car Co. became a leader in quality, not size. Today the Velie is remembered only by automobile buffs, but in its day it was prized for its combination of quality and low price.
In 1922 the U.S. Navy Dept. in New York tested 76 foreign and domestic cars. Its goal was to select the best features of automobiles motors for the adaptation to aircraft.Only eight passed thetest. Duesenberg, Fiat, Packard, Brewster,
Hispano-Suiza,Isotta-Fraschini and the VELIE.
Velie developed its own
four-cylinder engine in 1911.Initially, Velie carswere marketed and sold through
John Deere dealers. Some Velie vehiclesparticipated in car racing and were
moderately successful. The Velie car finished17th in the 1911 Indianapolis 500
race.Car production was a steady 3,500 units ayear. Willard Velie built a 46-room,
Jay Gatsby-type mansion in Moline, Ill., with proceeds from car sales.
A more powerful six-cylinder engine was introduced in 1914. During the first
World War, the company prospered on government contracts. The company was
reorganized as Velie Motors Corp.
A production high of 9,000 cars were produced in 1920. Velie settled in the comfortable output of 5,000 cars a year. Since 1917, Velie car engines had been six-cylinder, which were refined in 1926.The factory in Moline reverted to Deere and Co.
Today, the family mansion, Villa Velie, is a bank building.A number of happy Velie owners in Louisiana named the town Velie. Thus, Velie, La., was born.After World War I ended in 1918, a Velie car won the race against other cars up Pikes Peak. The car was also competing well in the marketplace against other car makes.
For the first six years the Velies were advertised in the John Deere
catalogue.Velies were made from 1908 to 1928.Willard Velie died onOct.24, 1928. His son closed the Velie factory in Nov.he said "that he could notrunthe Velie plant and the aircraft plant, at the same time".
The Velie Register is dedicated to finding and tracking of all surviving Velies. There are 230 Velies left in the world. USA, South Africa, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Finland, South America, NewZealand,Australia,Norway,and Canada.
Williard L. Velie wanted to do the same thing as some others. He had seen his first automobile in 1901 when a minstrel show came to town. He could afford he capital to start production, as his mother was the wife of John Deere(who had made a fortune in the production of agricultural equipment, especially the steel plow).
Willard Velie Helped run the JOHN DEERE plant with members of the Deere family.Before Willard Velie made his autos, he manufactured Buggies and wagons from 1902 to 1909.
Willard Velie had a ranch near HIGHWOOD Montana he would spend the summers at the ranch.
The Velie Motor Vehicle Co. was incorporated in 1908. The first Velie car was taken to automobile shows. It had a four-cylinder engine, and the car was sturdily built. The car was immediately successful. This Car is alive and well and is living in Red Cloud NE. One thousand cars were sold in 1909, the first year of production. Another type of four-cylinder engine as sold in 1910.