History of the American Automobile Industry
1891-1929

Chapter 25

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Motor Age

The clink of the glasses when the clock struck 12 and the figure six slid out of the calendar to make way for a numeral one unit greater, announced the end of the biggest year in motor car history and the birth of a new one possibly as big. It will be great in motor car production, but still greater in motor car perfection.

T'here is not a factory, outside of a very few who have operated on a constant, conservative policy for a number of years, that will not increase its production. It is naturally affecting part makers, foundries, drop-forge plants. The prosperity of the motor car business is unrivalled by any industry in the country, not excepting steel production so directly affected byenormous war orders.

This tremendous speeding up of production is having a marked effect on the makeup of the car. And here figures in one of those providential combinations which favor both builder and consumer. The motor car buyer wants simplicity. He wants an absence of parts where parts are not needed. He wants parts which need attention so located that he can get at them easily.

Consider the manufacturer's side. He is working towards the same end and the balances are even. The more simple the car the more quickly it may be assembled. The more accessible the parts, the less trouble the assembler has in fitting those parts to the chassis under construction. In these days, when one man works 8 hours a day turning down on nut on the same part of each chassis which comes crawling toward him on an uncanny looking endless chain, it is quite desirable from a manufacturing standpoint that that nut be so located that the laborer can get it firmly seated before his allotted 15 sec. per chassis, or whatever it may be, has terminated.

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Bad News Came Fast

The Railway Embargo had started in full force

DETROIT, Feb. 1917, Motor Age

More than $10,000,000 worth of motor cars are tied up here because of existing freight conditions produced by embargos declared by thirty railroads since the beginning of the U-boat war. These figures are based on a statement made by J. S. Marvin, general traffic manager of the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, who says unless something improves matters radically in the next few weeks the situation will become even more serious. Mr. Marvin found more than 25,000 empty freight cars tied up in
Chicago.

The Packard company has about $1,000,000 worth of cars tied up and is driving its products to Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus. The Ford Motor Co., which requires at least fifty empties daily, is getting from six to ten each day. Dodge Bros, are sending cars under the driveaway rule and are shipping an average of 150 a day. The Cadillac Motor Car Co. has 1000 cars ordered, paid for and ready for shipment which it has been forced to place in storage because of lack of shipping facilities. The Paige-Detroit company is in the same position with a similar number of cars. The Chalmers company has 300 cars in storage and is threatened with a shortage of material. More than 400 cars lay idle at the Hupp Motor Co. plant with little prospect of early shipment, and the company has been paying express charges of $250 a day to get materials from Cleveland. Maxwell, Hudson, King and other big concerns are having the same troubles and all are busy fitting their products for the drivers from the different agencies who come to drive the cars over the roads to their home towns. Many companies are driving their cars to nearby cities, where they hope to secure better shipping facilities.

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February 22, 1917, MOTOR AGE

Chicago, Feb. 20—Driving motor cars overland in trains having a pilot and a conductor on definite schedule with a train dispatcher, track maintenance crew and all the other features of a well-regulated railway system has been the outgrowth of the almost complete embargo of motor car freight on railways since the first of the month. The U-boat warfare which resulted in the embargo declared by thirty railroads has resulted in tying up more than $10,000,000 worth of motor cars in Detroit, but it also has resulted in the development of a new method of getting cars to dealers in quantities, independent of freight conditions, and one which probably will be one of the chief features of delivery to dealers even after railroad conditions become normal.

The Buick branch at Chicago during the last week has received over $1,000,000 worth of motor cars from the factory at Flint, Mich., by overland delivery. This has been made possible only by the very finest organization and most complete arrangements for getting the cars out of the factory and seeing that they are put over the road without delay and without accident.


Fageol

The Fageol Brothers, Rollin, Frank, and William,  Des Moines, IA, built their first car in 1900 with Rollin doing the designing and machine work, Frank was a clerk, and William was a jeweler. The car was never put into production. They became car dealers in Iowa. When they moved to California, they decided to pursue automobile manufacturing. Rollin left on his own to pursue his inventions. Frank and William joined forces with Louis H. Bill and Webb Jay both who had former experiences in the trade.

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1917 Fageol Touring

Fageol Motor Company was formed in November in 1916 to build automobiles, trucks, and buses. This foursome did not thnk small. They built the highest priced production cars that had ever been built in this country. The wheel bases were from 125-135 inches and the price for the chassis began at $9,500 , $12,000 for the production touring or speedster models, and $17,000 for closed bodies. The engine was six-cylinder, 125 horsepower aviation engine, designed by Hall  and guaranteed to do 80 mph. It could go from a standstill to 25 mph in 40 feet. It is not known the exact number of cars that were built, but at the   New York City Automobile Show, 20 had been ordered when it was shown at the show there. 45 were planned for 1917, but that was a lot to hope for.


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1917 Fageol Bus

Two chassis were completed by February for exhibition on the show circuits. There was no problem selling the cars but making it was something else. It was promoted into the 1918 show season, but the idea of production any more was given up. When the war was eniment, Hall began making airplane engines for the government. A very few more with different engines were built after the war with the last one was the company's president's model in 1921. Fageol trucks survived many company changes until it was bought by Peterbuilt in 1938.


Harroun

Six years after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, Ray Harroun entered his automobile design into production. It had a four-cylinder, 16 horse power, but could evelop 43 horse power at 2400 rpm. It was a one unit power plant with a 107-inch wheelbase. The fiorst production included a three-seat roadster and a five passenger touring car.

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1916 Harroun Seven Passenger Touring Automobile

In September, 1917, the Harroun Motors Corporation was organized with a capital fund of $10,000,000. John Moniham, formerly with Premier and Marion automobile companies, was the president. It was located in Wayne, MI, and 24,000 cars a year was estimated. with 500 being done before the end of the year. LIke so many companies that were patroitic doing the war years, he started to build munitions for the government and spent a half-million dollars for machinery and like so many the government took several years before settling claims. Also, like many other companies, for lack of capital to continue production with enough cars, the 1922 model was the last year for the Harroun automobile.

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Harroun Automobile Advertisement

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1917 Harroun Automobile Advertisement

 


Hassler

Unusual features among the new cars, chiefly are exemplified in the Hassler, a product of the Hassler Motor Co., Indianapolis, a new manufacturer backed to a large extent by the same interests which have been manufacturing the Hassler shock absorber for Ford cars. The car is the development of Charles Merz, the Indianapolis racing driver who has been acting as its experimental engineer. Standard units in the car include a Buda four-cylinder L-head block standard motor of 31/2 by 51/2-in. bore and stroke. This engine is claimed to develop 40 hp. at 1950 r.p.m. It is the standard Buda product with full aluminum crankcase and helical gears camshaft drive

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1917 Hassler Roadster Automobile

Robert Hassler's first car was built in 1898, but not put into production. In 1904, he was one of thre organizers of the Marion Motor Car Company. He later went into business by making shock absorbers. By 1917, he was ready to star his own automobile company and organized it as Robert H. Hassler, Inc. His first model was a staggered two-passenger  roadster   for $1,650. It was advertised as the "Restful Riding Car" Several were shown at the Chicago Automobile Show, but evidently this was the entent of its production for the company was disolved in the fall. With the approaching of the war, he decided that it was the wrong time to build cars.

 


Pan American

A frame of original design features the Chicago six, made by the Pan-American Motors Corp., of Chicago. It is fitted with standard parts throughout. The power-plant is the 40-hp. 31/2 by 5 six-cylinder Rutenber fitted with a Bayfield carbureter. The gearbox and clutch are a unit with the crankcase making it a unit powerplant, the clutch being a multiple-disk dry-plate type transmitting the drive to a Warner selective three-speed gearbox. The rear springs are 57 in. long, semi-elliptic, 2 in. wide. The wheelbase is 120 in. and the tire size 32 by 4. Gray & Davis electrical equipment is used for starting, lighting and ignition. The storage battery is a Willard and throughout full equipment is used.

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1917 Chicago Six Touring Automobile

The Pan-American Motors Corporation was formed in January, 1917, in Chicago. as he Chicago Light Six. The name was changed to Pan-American a short time later   with a promise that the model would be named the Decauter. It never happened. There was a replacement of management  in July, 1918, by stockholders and Edward Danner became president. Two hundred cars had been built by then with three cars a day. Commercial vehicles were built in 1917, but they were dropped in 1919. There were continuous tnternal problems and in 1921, Danner announced that the auditor had found a $40,000 shortage. The treasurer, Edward Phares had left a few weeks earlier. He was found and arrested, tried and found guilty, and was sent to prison.  The board of directors voted to liquidate the company while it was still solvent by phasing out the company in 1922. In July of that year, the assests were sold at auction.

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1920 Pan-American Cars for 1920

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1917 Pan American Automobile Advertisement



Another new assembled car is the Ben Hur, made by the Ben-Hur Motor Co., Cleveland. This has a Buda engine, being the unit rated at 60 hp. with 33/4 in. bore and 51/2 stroke. It is a block L-head design, lubricated by combination splash and pressure, cooled by pump circulation with Bosch high tension magneto for ignition. The car has standard transmission parts with Timken axle. It has a wheelbase of 126 in. with 35 by 4% in. oversize tires. Starting and lighting is by the two-unit Westinghouse system. The car sells for $1,875 as a four-passenger roadster, five or seven-passenger touring. The seven-passenger touring sedan is $2,750.

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1917 Ben Hur Touring Automobile

The Ben Hur, Ben Hur Motor Car Company, Willoughby, OH,  was a continuation of the Allen automobile and L. L. Allen was hoping that a name change would help. He announced in February that he had shipped 30 automobiles and was making 5-10 per week. owing for the difficulty of obtaining bodies. His factory was capable of making 20 per week. A stock holders meeting was called for in March to raise the capital fund from 0ne to six million. The results were probably no becaus the the Ben Hur did not last until summer.

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Moore-Car

In reality, The Moore-Car was a motor-cycle, but W. C.  Moore   insisted on calling it a car. It was produced by the Moore Car Corporation of America, Indianapolis, IN with an initial capitalization of $5,000, 000. His partners were F. D. Hill as president, B. G. Hewitt as treasurer, and I. E. Wimple as treasurer.

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It had a pair of wheels that could be raised or lowered by a touch of a button. It had a three-speed Sinclair Engine  and shaft drive was a feature point. The local newspaper touted it as the car with the best engineering skill in America. Both men and women of any age could drive it without any problems of getting their clothes dirty. Moore had helped Ransom Olds build his first cars. The company was short lived.


This was the first of its kind and a forerunner of the modern day automobile auction enterprises.

March 15, 1917, MOTOR AGE

The Used Car Show

Chicago dealers are going to conduct a used car show. Several hundred cars, every one of them used, are going to be racked up attractively in the big coliseum and sold off the floor—some of them under the hammer. It is the spring clearance sale for the winter holdovers and is a move in the right direction. The dry goods man, the furniture man, the haberdasher, the milliner, all clean out their shop-worn stock when the season is about to change. The same cleanout should be practical to the motor car dealer.

This show should do two valuable things  for the dealer. It should save him money and clean off his floors to start the spring-selling drive with a clean slate. To the dealer whose available floor space is limited this business of clearing out used cars will be a valuable asset for spring sales. The sight of a motley assortment of old models intermingling with the new cars is not harmonious, and there is no question that an atmosphere of newness and concentration on new-car sales has a good psychological effect on the prospective purchaser.

When one considers the time consumed by salesmen making frequent trips with prospects to the used car room, the space taken up by these cars, the advertising expense and incidental overhead in disposing of them, no small sum of money is sunk before the used car finally loaves the floor. It is the business of the annual used-car show to wipe out a good share of this expense, does its business thoroughly. Another thing it should do. It should awaken people to the bargains found in used ears. It should teach the people of a community the places where they can go to find used cars. Cars are taken in trade for what they are worth. The dealers have a more or less standard ratio of used-car value for different makes and models. It is their purpose to dispose of these cars in a manner that will protect themselves rather than net them a profit, and the result is that there are real bargains. A reputable dealer will not sell a used car for more than it is worth, and this show will possibly convince the public of this fact. The advertising value of the show, in this regard, is certainly a noteworthy factor.

Having saved the dealer money and cleaned off his floors for the spring-selling drive, the used car show well may justify its holding. Dealers are realizing more the problem of properly disposing of used cars, and the show is as yet a new venture. If this exhibition proves as successful as there is reason to believe it will, the dealer will have come that much nearer the solution of one of his most important problems. The Coliseum calls for big business whenever used, and if this exhibition follows the precedents, it will fill all the ambitions its sponsors have created for it.


The 1917 Model Steam Cars

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1917 Stanley Steamer

The Stanley steamer operates as easily, in fact, very similarly to an electric car, is easier to handle in crowded traffic than any gasoline car built, has a pickup which drives your back into the upholstery and runs without an appreciable amount of noise and with no vibration. These things were proved to a representative of Motor Age when he was permitted to drive one of the 1917 models through the streets of Chicago. The drive was started in a car which had been standing in the garage for some 3 or 4 hrs. The pilot light was burning, consuming approximately 1/24 gal. an hour. It was a matter of stepping into the car turning on the main burner with a small lever on the steering column, opening the throttle and steering into the street. There was no time lost in generating steam, no operation necessary other than turning the main burner lever. Throughout the drive the cloud of steam sent up by old model steamers was not in evidence; there were no disagreeable odor or roar from the main burner under the boiler.


Commonwealth

The 1919 model is known as the "Victory. It contains the 31/2 by 41/2 six-cylinder Red Seal Continental engine and is a five-passenger touring car. It has been refined and is designed to meet the demands for a lightweight quality car. Other specifications are 118-in. wheelbase, Timken bearings, Borg & Beck clutch, full-floating rear axle and freeze-proof radiator. The body is of the straightline type with double cowl and is upholstered in genuine leather.

 

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1921 Commonwealth Touring Automobile

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1922 Commonwealth Closed Sedan Automobile

When the Partin-Palmer Motor Car Company got into trouble in 1915, the company'ss name was changed to Commonwealth Motor Car Company and  the car became the Commonwealth in 1917. It was known as "The Car with the Foundation". Generally, the motors were four-cylinders, but in 1919 six-cylinders were added to the line known as the Victory Six. A roadster with an optional of a tent was called the American Traveler. In 1922 a car designed by Leland Goodspeed and had his name was produced. In 1921 Commonwealth joined with Markin Body Corporation and the two companies proceeding in making Checker Cabs.

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1919 Dyneto Advertisement Featuring the Commonwealth Automobile

 


Getting Prepared for War

April 19, 1917, MOTOR AGE
Motor Car Work

Recent war conditions make it imperative that the motor car industry furnish a great many men of technical ability to the government. Thousands of mechanics will be needed as drivers for motor truck convoys; for mechanics to assist these, and other thousands will be necessary as aviators and mechanics to assist aviators.

The Eastern division, representing the Atlantic seaboard, expects to require forty motor truck convoys of approximately thirty-three trucks each. This calls for more than 1300 drivers, who will be needed as soon as possible. It calls for a similar number of mechanics. Drivers of these vehicles, it is understood, will have the rank of sergeant.

If we raise an army of 1,000,000 men it will require approximately 40,000 motor trucks. This means 40,000 drivers and approximately 40,000 additional mechanics. These cannot all be taken from our motor car factories. We will have to conserve our working forces in the factories; otherwise our production will be cut down. Thousands of these mechanics must come from service departments, garages and repair shops in all sections of the country.


Darling


Copied from the 1917 Motor Age Magazine

The Darling car to be made in Dayton, Ohio, in the old Wright-Martin airplane plant will have one chassis with several bodies. The illustration shows the first body model. The price is not yet fixed, but will be under $2,000. The chassis has such units as Continental engine, Borg & Beck clutch, Timken axles, Kellogg tire pump and Boyce Moto-Meter. The chassis will have a 130-in. wheelbase.

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1917 Darling Automobile

The Darling, Darling Motors Company, Dayton. OH,  was organized in late 1916 and was put into production in the spring of 1917. The men behind this venture were employees of the National Cash Register Company. They were George Dillman, M. M. Dugan, and J.D. Frock It was designed by James Guthrie. It had a 130-inch wheelbase and was priced at $1,600 and was a touring model. Very few were made before these gentlemen lost interest and ithe company ended that year.

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1917 Darling Automobile Advertisement


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1917 Horseless Age Cartoon Depicting Poor Service

In 1917, there were five manufacturers that had credit plans for their dealers. Several more were considering plans and a lot more had no plans at all. By 1920, almost all of them had credit plans. Ford was the lone holdout until 1923. It was a cash deal only and it was hurting the trade. The dealers were doing their best to drum up more business. Some of them began to accept used cars as trade-ins as one way to sell their cars. However, in order to sell the used cars that the companies were no longer in business, they had to have parts. Companies began to incorporate to make parts for these cars. This gave way to for distributors of these parts to open their wholesale parts store. The dealers could now buy all the parts that they needed and have them stocked in their shops. Selling used cars became a big part of their business, especially during the war years when new cars were unavailable. 


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Copied from May 29 Issue of Motor Age Magazine


Copied from the December issue of Motor Age Magazine


Detroit, Dec. 14—There are still two clouds on the horizon of the motor car manufacturers that have become more distinct in the last two weeks. Both are directly due to the freight car situation, one being the difficulty in obtaining cars for the shipment of motor cars to the dealers, combined with the difficulty of making driveaways as in the past due to the weather. The other is the coal shortagesituation.

During the last week Reo has held a meeting of several of its distributors to organize a definite driveaway system to overcome the freight car shortage which it is felt will become more pronounced. In fact, fairly authentic rumors have stated that advices have been received from Washington that fewer freight cars will be available after Jan. 1. Other manufacturers are conducting driveaways, Cadillac sending three shifts of three cars each weekly to the Chicago distributor.

The coal situation at present has not become critical. Briscoe reports that it has supplies on hand sufficient to carry it through the winter, and Dodge Brothers, Cadillac, Reo and others have sufficient for immediate needs. It is to be understood, however, in most instances coal is used only for heating purposes, the manufacturers using electric power supplied from a central station. Ford is perhaps the most hard-pressed of the manufacturers. The daily consumtion of the Ford plant is about 900 tons, and less than 1100 tons are on hand at present. About 125 cars of coal consigned to the company are tied up in the Columbus, Ohio, yards, and sixteen others have been hauled from the Toledo yards by the company's crew sent there for that purpose.


Olympian

The car that will be shown by the Olympian Motors Co. is a new model throughout and it is distinguished among other things by an unusually efiicient spring suspension. The rear springs are set crosswise and are well back of the rear axle, while the front springs are set inside the frame. The engine is of the head valve type with four cylinders, 3 1/4 by 41/4 with 45 horsepower. The wheelbase is 112 inches and four models on one chassis; five-passenger touring, four-passenger roadster, two-passenger roadster, a sedan, and a coupe.

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1917 Olympian Cabroliet and Sedan

R.A. Palmer was general manager of the Carter Car Company, Pontiac MI. When Carter Motor Car Company was sold, he produced chassises with everything but the body that were made by his Pontiac Chassis Company. When General Motors decided to sell the factory, he bought it immediately to build his own automobiles. that was  first class and  priced at $1,000. He incorporated his company as the Olmypian Motor Car Company. His Olympian model was a four-cylinder with a rainbow of colors that could be had. It was "made for the masses".   His company produced 10 cars a day in 1918 when war work interfered with production, but it returned to 15 cars a day in 1919. Amid charges of mismanagement in 1920, the company was sold to Otis Friend who immediately began to build his Friend models.

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1918 Olypian Automobile Advrtisement


Detroit, Dec. 22—The coal and freight car situation still continues to be the largest problem the motor car industry has to face, and conditions are about the same as last week. Several factories throughout the state are closed for lack of fuel, and the state fuel administrator is in Washington taking the negative method of relieving the situation—namely, proposing that all factories not producing war materials or necessities close for a week or two over the holiday season.

This doubtless would throw a half million men out of work at a time when they need work most, and would make easy the same procedure the next time coal became short. Several factories are obtaining their power from their own products, that is, using gasoline or kerosene engines to run their plants. The Hupp Motor Car Co., in its axle plant at Jackson, is using engines to replace 25 hp. motors. In Cadillac, Mich., the Acme Motor Truck Co. is using its truck engines for the same purpose, and the Erd Motor Co., Saginaw, Mich., is preparing to do the same thing.

Skilled labor is scarce, though the contrary is true with unskilled labor. A good latheman, working on piece work, often earns from $10 to $12 a day, and is not easy to obtain at any price. It is not to be understood that any man, working at a lathe or grinder can do this, but for a man that is actually good, such pay is the rule. The reason for the amount of unskilled
labor is that the summer resorts, lake boats, etc., have ceased business for the winter, combined with the fact that building trades are quiet. Also there are many that want inside work during the winter and others attracted here by thoughts of easy money. When quantity work on war material production actually starts, it is this unskilled labor that must be whipped into
shape to carry on the work.

In Cleveland all plants were shut down Friday and Saturday of last week, and about 75,000 workmen thrown out of work, due to coal shortage. Among these were the Grant-Lees Co., Baker Motor VehiclCo., Lucas Machine Tool Co., Westinghouse Electric Co., Hydraulic Pressed Steel Co., Chandler Motor Co., Willard Storage Battery Co., Cleveland Bronze & Brass Co., Cleveland Welding Co., Aluminum Castings Co., Perfection Spring Co., Standard Welding Co., Cleveland Steel Castings Co., Peerless Motor Car Co., Vlcheck Tool Co., and many others. However, on Sunday, coal bearing lake steamers were seized and today the plants are operating. But they are operating on the same day-to-day basis as the Detroit plants.

Reo is about 3500 cars behind orders due to freight car shortage. It has 344 stars in service flag out of 4000 employees. The coal situation is fairly good and it is tooling up for manufacture of creeper tractors on Government order. Reo gave each employee a $5 war stamp for Christmas. The Flint plant of Chevrolet closed this week for inventory. It is expected the coal situation will be relieved when it reopens Jan. 2 and all completed cars now on hand will have been shipped. It closed one day last week because of coal shortage.


Templar

The Templar series, an entirely new line just announced by the Templar Motors Corp., Cleveland, Ohio, is featured by its overhead-valve four-cylinder engine,largely the design of A. M. Dean, who was formerly with the Ferro Machine & Foundry Co., and a Templar product. Four models are offered, a five-passenger and four-passenger touring ear at $1,985 each, a four-passenger Victoria-Elite at $2,155 and a two-passenger baggage-carrying touring roadster at $2,255. Dynamometer tests of the engine show a horsepower curve that is a straight line from 400 to 1800 r.p.m. with a maximum of 43 hp. at 2100 r.p.m. The S. A. E. rating is 18.23 hp. The piston displacement ia 196.8 cu. in. and the bore and stroke 31/2 by 51/2 The wheelbase is I 1 8 in., and turning radius, 40 ft.

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1917 Templar Touring Automobile

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1917 Templar Victoria EliteTouring

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1917 Templar Baggage Carrying touring Roadster

The super-fine small car named Templar was put into productiobn in July, 1917 by the Templar Motors Corporation, Cleveland, OH. Stocks in the company had been offered   previouslyi in February. The man behind this venture and its president was M. F. Bramley who owned the Cleveland Trinidad Paving Company of that city. The engineer was A. M. Dean, who had worked for Pope Hartford. The Templar's name came from Bramley's facisination with the Templar Knights and its emblem was the Maltese Cross. Only a few were made until the Armistice. Munitions were made at the factory during the war. However, there were 1,800 built before July, 1919. Shortage of materials and a frivilous lawsuit that was made by a dissatisfied stockholder kept production down to 128 the next year. In Decemberr, 1920, most of Templar's factory burned down. However, production was able to continued in the portion that was not damaged. In late 1923, the company went into receivership for failure to pay a supplier. It was able to survive receivership and six cylinders were added to the line. In 1924, a Cleveland bank put it into bankruptcy.

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1918 Templar Automobile Advertisement


Deering-Magnetic

Copied from the 1917 Motor Age Magazine

The Deering Magnetic car will be produced by the Magnetic Motors Corp., Chicago. The chief features of this new car include the Entz electric transmission mounted in a chassis using the Dorris engine. The Dorris engine is of the six-cylinder, valve-in-the-head type, cylinders cast in blocks of three with a 4-in. bore and a 5-in. stroke. The wheelbase of the Deering-Magnetie is 132 in., using Eudge-Whitworth wire wheels fitted with 33 by 5 cord tires.

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1917 Deering-Magnetic Automobile

The Deering Magnetic was first shown at the January, 1918 Chicago Automobile Show. The company's name was Magnetic Motors Corporation of Chicago. However, it was built in its entirety by the Dorris plant in St. Louis, MO. The transmission rights were purchased from the Owens Magnetic Company. The designer of the car was Karl H. Martin who designed the Roemer, Kenworthy, and his own Martin Wasp. It never caught on and because of parts were hard to come by, the factory ceased operations in 1919.


Editorial Perspective
1917 Highlights

The attempt to state 3 months in advance just what will be the chief features of an industry as progressive as the motor car industry is to assume superhuman powers of second sight. It is almost as hazardous to attempt to predict just what the features of the new motor car selling season will be by scrutinizing the announcements of say three-quarters of the manufacturers as it is to attempt to foretell the results of an election by means of a straw vote. On the other hand, it may be taken for granted that the designs fixed upon by a major proportion of the car manufacturers are to a great extent indicative of what the market as a whole probably will be and that the same manufacturing and sales policies which influence75 per cent of the industry will obtain throughout the whole of it.

One of the striking features which impresses the student of 1917 cars as they have been announced from time to time is the greater refinement in body arrangement and fittings which make for creature comforts of the driver and his passengers. Only in a few cases are such changes sufficiently extensive to be called radical alterations of design, but these changes have been so general among manufacturers that they show a real and very commendable movement in the industry. There are, of course, a number of makers who do not announce yearly models but make such slight alterations from time to time as the market demands or production schedule makes feasible. Even these manufacturers have come forward with new or slightly altered body types in which this comfort factor is prominent.

Quite closely associated with the above is another factor which may prove to be the stellar development of the year. This development may be characterized as individual taste. For years it has been one of the talking points of some of the higher priced cars that the purchaser could suit his own individual taste in the matter of body design, trimmings and fittings and color combinations. Quito naturally the purchaser paid for this opportunity of exercising his own judgment as to what he wanted in the way of superstructures and it was considered that the high-priced car was the only type which permitted of individuality.

Previous to this season, when a purchaser bought a medium or low-priced car he had to take what the factory would give him with ordinarily very little choice in body models and finishes. If he desired to have his car look a little different from any other one of the same model, it could ordinarily bo done only after he had assumed possession of the car from the manufacturer.

This state of affairs has led many of the dealers to install a special body department where bodies could be built, fitted and painted to order and applied to the stock chassis. Quite naturally the next Btep, and the one which has comeabout this year, is that of extending the custom body department to the factories of the medium-priced cars, and there are several within the quantity production classification which are offering color options and upholstery options. It is not too prophetic to say that in another year there will be seen a great stride in this direction.The awakening of the public to the pleasure and utility of driving a car in the winter has aroused the manufacturers to another big advancement. Winter bodies in a great variety of types are being offered in cars of every price for the 1917 season. The combination car which is convertible for warm weather or cold is getting the most attention and we now have pullmans and observation cars combined in such a way that it is a matter of seconds to convert the body into either. It is a season of individuality and comfort.

Even with all of the industry's troubles, the expection of automobile production far 1917 was well beyond what was predicted.

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