History of Early American Automobile Industry
Year 1904Home Forward Contents
MOTORIST HAS NO SHOW
Down around Philadelphia the countryside constable still continues to add to his income at the expense of the long-suffering Quaker antomobilist. A flagrant case in point was that recently of Dr. George Fales Baker, a prominent Philadelphia sawbones. The worthy doctor was careering over the roads of Radnor township at a 4-miles-an-hour clip, his engine being in bad shape for some unknown cause. He was endeavoring to reach a nearby blacksmith shop in the hope of making a temporary repair, when a pair of the township's coppers astride of bicycles, who were following his car, halted the doctor and informed him that he was under arrest. '' Why, pray ?'' queried the healer. "Didn't blow your horn when you passed that road back there." As the cops really needed the money, Dr. Baker was compelled to accompany them to the magistrate. After that dignitary had listened to the harrowing details of the charge he merely said: "Seven-fifty and costs." "But, my dear sir," urged the doctor, "in Chicago they fine an antomobilist for blowing horns. And you now fine me for not blowing mine." "This is Radnor township, sir." "But, sir, I think I heard that your township laws mention nothing about horn-blowing." "Ah, but you forgetthe state law covers that. You broke the law of the state of Pennsylvania." The doctor ponied up, and then went in search of a repairman, tooting his horn vigorously all the way, while the constables, who are entitled to half the fine, hurried off it search of new victims. When he got home he put in an application for membership in the Automobile Club of Philadelphia, which is about to inaugurate a campaign in the hope of bringing about uniform laws for government of automobiles throughout the state.
Copied from the January issue of the 1904 Motor Age Magazine
A YEAR'S ACHIEVEMENTA YEAR'S PROMISE
Nineteen hundred and three was an eventful year in the a u t o m o b ile
trade, industry and sport. The gradual development of the previous years seemed to have
let loose a flood of action along different lines at the same time
Nineteen hundred and three was the first year of business vehicles in more than experimental use. Builders who had never before paid attention to this one of the greatest of all branches of automobile building found it possible to adapt their systems of construction to the commercial car. No wonderful business was done in this line. Enough business was done to show that the venture was entirely practical. Nineteen hundred and three spread automobile agencies, branches, etc., into every city in the United States. Directly or indirectly buying dealers sprang up in localities into which previously automobiles had come only as the purchases of pioneers who hail traveled far to get them or who had ordered by mail. Even in cities and towns of moderate size, large, well equipped stores and gargages were established. Automobile selling became just as much a part of a community 's business as carriage selling.
Nineteen hundred and three settled the show question on a satisfactory basis. It
furnished two great national shows, each taxing the capacity of their respectives places
of holding and several highly prosperous local shows in smaller trade centers, these shows
arranged in most cases by the dealers whose lines were exhibited. Nineteen hundred and
three saw the formation of dealers' associationsin all of the large trade centers. Some of
these associations quickly
Nineteen hundred and three developed the automobile club into a useful
body. In many cities old or new clubs took active part in local work or strengthened their
organizations for future work. But in national organization the year marked greater
efforts than in local clubdom. The American Automobile Association, formed a year
prcviously as a union of clubs, found that individual membership was necessary to its
permanent success. It amended its constitution to that effect and started on again along
somewhat new lines to build up a great national organizatiou. In the business of attaining
a great body of members the American Motor League started ahead of it and during the year
worked hard and still harder to increase its membership. With membership it could become a
strong factor in automobiling; without membership it was nothing. So the work for
membership was carried on so vigorously that it stimulated the
Nineteen hundred and three had its touch of humor here and there also.
Chauffeurs' unions were organized in New York and Chicago and the "boys"
promised all sorts of reforms of benefit to themselves and to automobilists.
In automobile sport, track racing was popularized in two scores of cities
and half that number of places saw the purely racing automobile in close and exciting
competition. Fully 250,000 persons witnessed motor car track racing anel two-thirds of
this number saw the kind of class A racing which for the season was run at an average
speed rate- of 1:03 to the mile, 57 miles an hour. The mile track record was briken six
time's during the summer and finally placed at 54% seeonels. In racing 1903 also saw the
overgrowth of road racing, its develop- ment to a point where it became an abnormal and
dangerous sport, which in its unrestricted form was brought to a finality in the
interdicted Paris-Madrid race. But it also saw the development of the limited read race to
a point of international consequence in the realm of general news, the. Gordon Bennett cup
race in Ireland being the center of the world's eyes last July.
The present year promises to be one of rejoicing both for horses and lovers of horses.The noble animal will witness his emancipation from drudgery and hard work to an extent that will be truly amazing. The motor this year will "get down to business" and take its rightful place in practical business life. The transfer of heavy freight will be by motor, the merchants have begun to deliver dry goods and groceries by motor and even the farmer to plow by motor. The time is come for the practical adaptation of the motor car to everyday vocations. The adoption of the automobile in business will probably be limited this year only by the output of the factories making such cars. This year will rank as the first of the commercial motor vehicle era.
Articles copied from the 1904 Motor Age Magazine
TOURING CAR DEVELOPMENT
Progress is rapid in the automobile world. How rapid only those who are
closely in touch with motor manufacturing know. That fact, and the high state of
development to which the tourist motor car has attained, are strongly impressed on one by
certain new features which have been introduced into the system of making in this year's
reliability trial?. If anyone had proposed 4 years, or even 2 years ago to penalize
competing cars in the trials of vibration, noisiness, dust-raisin;; and the like, he would
simply have been laughed to scorn; yet all these factors will have very important bearing
upon the results of this year's tests, while, in addition, finish and appearance and
general cleanliness of the motor and gear are also to be largely taken into account. The
reason for introducing what may, perhaps, be called minor considerations such as these is
not far to seek, nor is the fact that it is not only possible, but absolutely essential,
to allow for them
Your modern automobilist is the most exacting person in the worlrl where
his car is concerned, anel he is by no means satisfied unless to good speeil qualities,
the efficiency and general reliability of mechanism, are added all the equalities which
the owner of a smart horse carriage consielers essential style, appearance, anel comfort.
Manufacturers have already realized this, anel during the past two years competition has
been very keen among them to produce not only a thoroughly trustworthy ear so far as
running qualities are concerned, but also a handsome,
1904 De Motte Automobile Advertisement
The Demotte Motor Car Company, Valley Forge, PA, was introduced in 1904 with several model styles, including trucks and buses, with the same chassis. The normal horse power was 20 for smaller vehicles and a larger one for trucks and buses. Their slogan, "Quaker Staunchness and French Perfection", did not help it to survive the year. .
There were two companies that were building cars at the same time in Kalamazoo, MI. One was built by the Michigan Automobile Company and the other one was built by the Michigan Buggy Company.
1903 Michigan Runabout
1903 Michigan Automobile Advertisement
Brothers Frank and Charles Fuller, owners of Kalamazoo Mfg. Co, combined with Frank Blood and his brother, owners the Kalamazoo Cycle Company, to manufacture an automobile in 1902 and incoportated the Michigan Automobile Company. By 1904, 100 had been sold and they expanded to a light touring model. In 1905, the the Blood brothers split with the Fullers and decided to build their own cars that were the same as the Michigan models. Both groups quit the making of cars by 1908.
1903 Blood Brothers Runabout Automobile
The Michigan that is described below was usually called the "Mighty Michigan" to separate it from the other ones and it was built by the Michigan Buggy Company of Kalamazoo. They had built what they called a motorized buggy in 1904. that was a single-cylinder model that sold for $1450. Limited numbers of these cars were made through the years by a customer orders and was either called the Kalamazoo or Michigan .
Serious production did not get started until 1911when the name was changed to the Michigan Motor Car Company. It was called the Mighty Michigan with a 40 hp, four-cylinder engine
1911 Michigan Automobile Advertisemement
In 1911, the company was reorganized as the Michigan Motor Car Company and over a $350,000 was provided for advertisements. The price tag for was $1,500 and slogans were touting its achievements. In 1913 the company's front office was in trouble and a few officers were wanted for fraudelant dealings. THe advertised work force of 300 employess was only on paper and four officials were rigging the payroll for $100,000 each and yet, another one had lost most of the company's funds at the race track while another one was using the mails for fraudelant stock selling. Hugh Chalmers took some time off from building his Chalmers in Detroit to try to save the company. It went into bankruptcy and court cases lasted for two years before the factory was finally sold.
1905 Logan Tonneau
The Logan was made in 1904 by Benjamin A. Gramm, owner of the Logan Construction Company, Chillocthe, OH. Most of them had a 20 horsepower, either air or water-cooled, two-cylinder engines. THe Blue Streak Semi-Racer Roadster had a 20-25 horse power engine that "could out run any thing on the road" that was priced at $1,750. It was a stretch of the truth, but it was a well built car. By 1907, all of his cars were air-cooled. In 1907, the company started building trucks. They went bankrupt in 1908.
1905 Logan Automobile Advertisement
He relocated in Bowling Green, OH, and started the Gramm-Logan Motor Car Company that built trucks until the Second World War.
1912 Marion Bobcat Roadster
The slogan " The car that has set men to thinking" was adopted by the Marian Motor Car Company, Indianapolis, IN, in 1904. I had a four-cylinder air-cooled engine that developed 16 horsepower. It was under capitalized at $100,000 and struggled to stay in business. In 1909, John Willys, Willys Overland company, bought controlling interest in the company. In 1912, under capitalization was solved by reorganization with a capital fund of $1,125,000 with J. I. Handly becoming president. He also owned the American Underslung.
A judgement was brought against the Marion in an attempt to block the sale. It was thrown out. He organized the Mutual Motors Corporation in 1914 and he bought the Imperial Motors Car Company, Jackson, MI. and moved both cars there The Imperial was out of business by the end of 1915.
July 20, 1916, MOTOR AGE
Two sizes will make up the line of the Mutual Motors Co., Jackson, Mich.. These cars are sold under the name of the Marion-Handley, taking the name from J. I. Handley, president of the company. The sixes are known as the 6-40 and the 6-60, and the two cars possess great similarity of design. In picking out the features of the Marion-Handley line, probably the outstanding point is the lightness in ratio to power. The smaller car has about 1 horsepower for 60 pounds' weight, and the larger car about 58 pounds per horsepower. Throughout, both cars will be seen to follow very closely the up-to-date practice of high speed motor with light semi-flexible frame construction, giving the characteristics demanded in the way of quick acceleration and economical performance. The 6-40, the smaller of the two cars, has a high-speed unit powerplant, with the 31/2 by 5-inch cylinders cast in a single block. The motor is L-head, and is rated at 45 horsepower.
1916 Marion-Handley Automobilehe Marion was renamed the Marion-Handley.
The company struggled until 1918 when it went out of business.
1904 Marble-Swift Runabout Automobile
The Marble-Swift Automobile Company, Chicago, IL, was established by George W. Marble and George P. Swift in 1903 to manufacture an automobile that featured their friction transmison. The transmission constisted of two large metal disks attached to short cross shafts attached to the frame, each of which carries a driving sprocket. Marble had previously made wood rims that and had sold his company to The American Bicycle Company. Their initial plan was to market the transmission but decided to make complete cars. They were two cylinders, 16 horsepower runabouts on a 83-inch wheelbase. that sold for $1,050. The 1905 model was 22 horsepower on an 83-inch wheelbase that was priced at $1,500. The Windsor automobile succeeded the Marble-Swift that year.
1904 Marble-Swift Automobile Advertisement
J. H. Dawson Machinery Co.-The Dawson is of the light tonneau order, driven by a 15-horsepower, two-cylinder vertical motor. This has mechanically operated inlet valves placed upon the same side of the cylinders as the exhaust valves and operated by the same cam shaft. The motor is of the double-cylinder upright pattern, rated at 15 horsepower.and instead of being placed with the shaft longitudinally of the car as in ordinary construction, is placed crosswise and drives the transmission gear with a chain, the gear also being crosswise of the car. The speed changes are made through individual clutches while the reverse is through a small sliding pinion through the secondary shaft. The final drive is by chain to a live rear axle. The transmission gear, which furnishes two speeds ahead and a reverse drive, is simple and The speed changes are operated by means of a hand lever on the steering wheel pillar, while the sliding gear to give the reverse drive is brought into that driving position through a heel pedal. There is a brake on the transmission gear and one on each rear wheel. Both sets of brakes are operated by pedals.
1904 Dawson Tonneau Automobile
1904 Dawson Automobile Advertisement
The D. H. Dawson Machinery Company, Chicago, IL had barely begun production before a fire destroyed the factory
1904 Wolverine Automobile Rear Entrance Tonneau Automobile
The Reid Manfacturing Company, Detroit, MI, was in the business making many store furnishings along with its Wolverine Automobile called the "Cleverest Automobile Built". Walter Marr who had left David Buick, designed the automobile. Aftrer he designed the car, he was given a check and said that he was not needed anymore. He returned to work with his former employer. Gilbert H. Albaugh, who had bounced from several automobile companies, was brought in as the engineer. He redesigned the car from Marr's prototype. The press .praised the car. Everything was not going well within the company and Reid company was succeeded by Wolverine Automobile Company in 1905. The company moved to Dundee, MI in 1906 and was a new name, The Wolverine Auto and Commercial Vehicle Company. The company folded immediately and the Maumee prototypr was built but was produced in Toledo, OH.
1904 Wolverine Automobile Advertisement
1905 Wolverine Automobile Advertisement
The Buckmobile was made from 1903-1905 by the Buckmobile Company, Utica, NY with a price tag of $1200. The wheelbase was 82 inches and had a 56-inch tread. A wheel size of eithe 28-inch or 30-inch whells could be had. It was chain driven with a Brown-Lipe differential with a douuble acting brake. The motor was a 15 horsepower, two cylinders, and water cooled. Foward speed was controlled by a lever and the reverse used a foot pedal. The price was $1,200.
1904 Buckmobile Automobile
The Buckmobile, known "Easy of Riding Without a Peer" car, was idea of Albert J, Seaton and was the president with A. Veeder Brower providing the finances. The designer was William H. Birdsall, who later was to design many well known marques. Two cars a week were its original production , but with a very favorable reception at the New York Automobile Show, the company decided that mrore cars were needed. A car a day was produced, but the company over extended themselves and never recovered. In october of, 1904, the company merged with the Black Diamond Automobile Company which hd bought the former Remington company but production stopped after 40 cars were made. The company was sold at auction in 1905.
1904 Buckmobile Advertisement
1905 Buckmoble Automobile Advertisement
1904 Premier Runabout Automobile
George B. Weidely built and sold a buggy powered by a
water-cooled engine in 1902. The following year, with the help of Harold O. Smith, the
Premier Motor Manufacturing Company was formed. The water-cooled engine had been an
experimentation, and it was Weidely's belief that an air-cooled engine would be a better
alternative. The Premier cars would be powered using this type of design. With capital
stock of $50,000, the company began producing automobiles The engine featured overhead
valves and powered the rear wheels via a sliding gear transmission and shaft drive.
1904 Premier Automobile Advertisement
1910 Premier Four Door Touring
In 1911, the company produced a 1,000 vehicles in two model ranges, a four-cylinder powered Model 4-40, and a six-cylinder Model 6-60. Both came available in four body styles which including a Roadster, Clubman, Tourer, and a Limousine. The Model 4-40 had a wheelbase size of 126-inches while the Model 6-60 with its 60 horsepower engine and its wheelbase was 140-inches.
1916 Premier Roadster Automobile\
The Premier company entered three racers in the Indianapolis Speedway 500 in 1914 with one finishing seventh, one broke down with a ruptured oil line, and the other one crashed. Shirtly thereafter the company went into receivership and George Wiedely and H. O. Smith had left the company to form another company.
(Trixie Friganza was born as Delia OCallaghan in February 29, 1870, began her career as an operetta soubrette at 16, working her way from the chorus to starring in musical comedies to having her own feature act on the vaudeville circuit. She became a movie actress in 1920 playing a quirky comdienne. She retired from the movies in 930 due to ill health and died in 1955.)The company saw numerous changes in ownership and model names through th war and the turmoil of the early 1920's but still was viable automobile. It beacame a six-cylinder, 79 horsepower car in 1924, but by the end of 1924 it was making only taxicabs. In 1926, it was sold to the National Taxicab Company and that company was soon out of business.
1904 Bates Rear Entrance Tonneau Automobile
M. F. Bates, Lansing, MI, owned the the Bates and Edmonds Motor Company and had been producing high quality gasoline engines since 1889. In July, 1903, he dediced to build a complete car he incorporated his Bates Automobile company with a capital stock of $60,000. and a two-cylinder, 16 hp Bates wa production by the end of the year. He upgraded it to a three-cylinder, 18 hp in 1905. Financial trouble soon set in for the company. His "Buy your Bates and Keep Your Dates" went out of business soon thereafter.
1904 Bates Automobile Advertisement
1905 Bates Automobile Advertisement
1904 Dolson Rear Entrance Tonneau Automobile
The Dolson automobile was first produced in 1904 by John L. Dolson and Sons, Charlotte, MI. as a two-cylinder, opposed, water-cooled, 15 horsepower touring model with a speed of 36 mph. Later, it was followed by a more powereful four-cylinder. The wheelbase was 82 inches with a 56-inch tread and 30-inch wooden wheels. The lever on the side was for high speed and brakes. The low speed and reverse was controlled by a foot pedal. It weighed 1600 lbs and it was priced at $1,450 with all accessories.
1904 Dolson Automobile Advertisement
In 1906, it was reorganized with a capital fund of $300,000 and the company was renamed the Dolson Automobile Company. The Dolson was one of the best built cars on the road. It was known as the "Durable Dolson" and it was. Financial troubles set in and the company went into involuntary bankruptcy in 1907. The Dolson business was sold in 1908 with 25 cars still in production. They were completed in early 1909. The total production for the company was 700 cars.
Royal Electric Stanhope
1904 Royal Electric Stanhope Automobile
The Royal Electric was manufactured by the Royal Automobile Company, Chicago IL. It was incorporated in 1904 by Louis Dailey, Warren Akers, and K. K. McLaren. A gasoline model was also offered. It had a 60 inch wheel base , elliptic springs and wooden wheels. The charge would last for 75 miles. A small seat for a child was behind the dash. The price was $1800.. The gasoline car was the Royal Princess with a 16 horsepower engine and the whellbase was 82 inches. Both cars went out of production in 1905
Rodgers & Co.The Imperial is another addition to the ranks of
the air-coolers. It is of the stout runabout pattern, with the chassis rigged either as a
runabout, doctor's wagon or delivery wagon. The motor is a double-cylinder horizontal
placed across the front under a peculiar hood. The air cooling property of the regular
copper ribs is enhanced by a fan, while a ventilator on the crank case provides for the
alternate drawing in and expulsion of air to cool that part of the motor. The transmission
is by sliding gears and propellor shaft, with bevel gear final drive. The springs are
long, the makers, as old carriage builders, having been consistent to their trade in
building for comfort as well as efficiency. The car is equipped with 30-inch Midgley
1904 Imperial Automobile
1904 Imperial Atomobile Advertisement
It was manufactured by the carriage making firm of Rodgers and Company, Columbus, OH. T. W. Pickard, supertendent, designed the car and named it the Imperial. Of the four announced models that were initially offered, only three were made. They were the runabout, coupe, and a delivery wagon. Production was discontinued in 1905.
1904 Santos Dumont Automobile
The Santos Dumont, named after the fanous French racer, was the idea of Charles W. Groff and Frank Runken. They had been experimenting with automobiles as early as 1899. Originally, they were going to use their company's name, but decided to use Columbus Motor Vehicle Company, located at Columbus, OH. The prototype was finished by late 1901 and was produced one year later. It was a four-passenger tonneaau with a 12-horsepower water-cooled engine that was mounted under the seat. It was priced at $1,500. A single-cylinder, 9-horsepower runabout was also made in 1903 that cost $1,250. Financial trouble set in and the company was reorganized with a capital stock of $100,000 and William Frisbe was named president. The car was redesigned for 1904. Its four-cylinder, 20-horsepower, air-cooled engine was now under a hood and the tonneau held five pasengers. The price was now $2,000.and the name was changed to Dumont. In 1904, Frisbe was deep in debt and the company went into bankruptcy. Reorganization was attempted, but did not succeed.
1904 Dumont Automobile Advertisemnt
1904 Niagra Automobile
The Niagra was made by the Wilson Automobile Manufacturing Company in Wilson, NY from 1903 to 1905. A special feature of this car was the the transmision, differential, and brake were in one piece mounted in the center of the rear axle.The wheel base was 72 inches with a tread of 56 inches with 30-inch wooden wheels and 3-inch tires. The 7-horsepower, 30 mph, single-cylinder engine was water cooled. The two-speed control lever was on the steering column and the reverse was controlled by a foot lever. The engine was started from the front seat. The weight was 1100 lbs and the price without top $850. The top was $50 extra. The company was sold in 1905 to the LaSalle-Niagra Automobile Company made the LaSalle- Niagra.
1904 Niagra Automobile Advertisement
1904 Taunton Automobile
The 1904 Taunton automobile was manufactured in the Taunton Motor Carriage Company, Taunton, MA. It had a single-cylinder, 7 horsepower, upright water-cooled, De Dion engine. The transmision was a three- speed planetary with a bevel gear drive. A folding front seat that held two passengers. The speed change gears were controlled by foot levers as well as the emergency brake. 28-inch tubular or wire wheels with 3-inch tires could be ordered. In 1905 the company decided to concentrater on motors for bicycles and boats.
The Mercury was built by the Mercury Machine Co, Philadelphia it fiirst saw production in 1903. It had seven horsepower, vertical, water-cooled engine with a three-speed sliding gear transmission with a cone clutch.and shaft drive. The wheel base was 78 inches with a 48 inch tread. The wheels were 28 inches and 3- inch diamond clincher tires Thhe weight was 1250 lbs and with a tonneau, the price was $1,025 and without, it was $925.
For the quality and price, it was a good little car, but under capitalization caused it to cease production in 1904.
1904 Geneva Steam Automobile
The Geneva Automobile Manufacturing Company, Genevea, OH, made the steamer from 1901 to 1904. The engine was a two-cylinder that was connected directly to the differential by a spur gear. The twenty-inch boiler held enough water for a hundred miles. 30 of its cars were sold in the first six months. Addition fininancing was sought and promised, but never came through. The company was sold in 1904 with no more than 30 cars made each year.
1901 Geneva Automobile Advertisement
1904 Ottokar Automobile
Otto Konigslow, Cleveland, OH, advertised himself as a builder of automobiles in 1902. Claiming his eperttise as a builder of over 10,000 bicycles, and had been experimenting with automobiles for several years. No one had any knowledge that he had done so. His new model was called the Ottokar and was manufactured by his Otto Konigslow Machine Cmpany. Its wheelbase was 78 inches with a standard tread, 28-inch artillery wheels and had a single chain drive. Its engine was a single-cylinder water-cooled locatedin the center of the car. The transmission was of the three-speed plantery type with the usual lever and foot pedal controls. His first year produced 15 cars and 50 more were made in 1903. The weight was 1150 lbs and the price was $850, including the accessories.. His sales were lackluster in 1904 with only ten sales. He sold his company in 1904.
1904 Haase Automobile
The Northwestern Furniture Company, Milawaukee, WI, built two experimental cars and entered them into Labor Day parade to measure their reception. The reception went well and a decision was made to begin production in their Northwestern Automobile Company. . They were named after the company president. They had a 72-inch wheelbase with a standard track, 30-inch tires with a spur differential, hand brake, and lever steering. The engine was 6 horsepower, two cylinders, and was water cooled. THe speed was 25-30 mph and the weight was 1250 lbs with a price tag of $600.
1904 Seabury Five-Pasenger Tonneau Automobile
Following the purchase of the Howard Motor Car Company by Charles Seabury, the Seabury was the former Howard and the largest model that was continued in November, 1904-1905. Its engine remained at 24 horse power with a 105-inch wheelbase. It was designed by Budd Gray a mechanical engineer who had done work previously for the LaFrance Fire Engine Company. At the same, time, Seabury had him design a new model called the Speedway. The Seabury model was halted in early 1905 and a little later, so was the Speedway.