History of Early American Automobile Industry

Chapter 19

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Addendum 1    Addendum 2   Addendum 3

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What the Gentlemen and Gentleladies Automobilelists wore in 1905


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Appeared in the 1904 Issue of Motor Age Magazine

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1905 Reo Automobile Advertisement, the first one published
This advertisement was not exactly truthful, because there were several gasoline models being made before his 1897 Oldsmobile model was produced.

There was a dispute between Ransom E. Olds and the Smiths who had controlling interest in the Olds Motor Works in 1904. Olds beloved curved dash design was going to be phased out and more luxury models would be produced.. Olds opposed this plan so he left and began plans to build a car of his own across town from the Oldsmobile factory in Lansing, MI. After disputes with the Smiths about the name of his company, he used is initials, REO, and the Reo Motor Car Company was in business. The prototype was finised in October and tested  and it was first seen at the 1905 New York Automobile Show in January. It was a 16 hp two-clyinder, with a detachable tonneau. It was received with great enthusiam and  the second was  runabout.

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1905 Reo Runabout Automobile

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Cut from the April 19th, 1906  Automotive Industries Magazine
This was the first appearance of this photograph in any magazine
It was special made for the Barnum & Bailey as a publicity feature for their shows.
This car has been fully restored  and is on display at the Oldsmobile museum in Lansing. MI.

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1905 Advertisement

Copied from the August 17, 1905 edition of the Automotive Industries Magazine

Round Trip in Reo Car

Percy F. Megargel, well known to the readers of The Automobile through his diary of the recent transcontinental trip from New York to Portland, Oregon, has returned from the Coast, and in a lew days will leave New York City in an attempt to drive a 16-horsepower Reo touring car from New York to Portland, thence to San Francisco and back to New York by the Southern route. Several enthusiastic automobi lists have made the transcontinental run, but so far no one has attempted the round trip.

Mr. Megargel will make the trip in the interest of the American Motor League, of which association he is a member, the main purpose being to gather reliable data with regard to the condition of the roads, the grades to be encountered, streams to be forded, distances from place to place, available stopping places and gasoline supply houses. The trip west will be made by the Northern routepractically the same as that traversed in the recent race to Portland; from Portland he will drive south to San Francisco, and return to New York by way of Salt Lake City and Denver. His detailed itinerary will be announced later.

Mr. Megargel will be accompanied by David Fassett, a skilled mechanic from the Reo factory. It is estimated that 112 days will be consumed before the tourists will arrive in New York again.

The Reo Mountaineer, as the car has been christened, is a regular stock touring car, of 16 rated horsepower. It is fitted with removable front seat, which will permit its occupants to sleep aboard when they may so desire. A 3-inch windlass has been built into the front of the frame, to be turned by a 14-inch detachable crank, for the purpose of aid in ascending unusual grades, or drawing the car through the many mud holes so often encountered in the Western roads. Two sprags have been fitted to each axle, and each sprag has welded to it a few inches from its lower end a flat steel plate about 4 by 6 inches, to prevent the sprags sticking too deep into sand or soft earth. A grademeter, speedometer,, odometer, barometer and other instruments of value on such a tour have been added to its equipment, as well as a complete camping outfit for use in the wilds of the Rockies, or other ranges when inns or farm houses are not to be found.


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1905 8 Hp Reo Runabout with rear seat up

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Same car with rear seat folded

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Percy Mergarel, the driver with David Fawcett, reporter for the Automobile Magazine in the 1905 Reo during their trip around the Untited States in 1905

By 1908, the Reo automobile was the third largest in sales behind the Ford and Buick models.

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1908 Advertisement

The 1910 was a completely new design with four cylinders and a shaft drive.

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1910 Four Cylinder Touring with left hand steering

Copied from the 1912 Automobile Magazine


REO THE FIFTH is the title given by R. E. Olds to the car that the Reo Motor Car Company will build for 1912, this being the 24th model he has created, and which he believes is the best that he has produced in his 25 years' development of automobilea. So satisfied is Mr. Olds with Reo the Fifth that he regards it as a sufficient achievement that did he terminate his endeavors as a designer it would be a fitting accomplishment with which to close his life's work.

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1912 Reo the 5th Touring

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1912 Reo the 5th Four-seater Roadster

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1912 Reo the %th Two-seater Roadster

The first Reo the Fifth was given a test that would never be equalled in the service of an individual when it was driven from New York to Jacksonville, Fla., by R. M. Owens as a pilot car for the recent Glidden trophy contest. R. M. Owens was the sales agent for Reo. The car carried a freight of passengers, baggage and confetti that weighed 800 pounds and it was required to make a schedule unusually exacting.

The driving shaft construction is that which has th« approval of the best engineers, the rear axle is substantially built and the brakes are unusually large and powerful. The Reo the Fifth chassis is standard. Every manchine that leaves the works is identical, aside from the body equipment. The endeavor of the entire organization of the Reo Motor Car Company, with its resources and facilities, is directed toward its production. Every refinement and perfection has be carefully developed and worked out in the big engineering laboratories, under the supervision of Mr. Olds. Quite as important as this is the attention given to the selection of metals entering into the construction, each material being tested to determine its chemical constituents and its endurance and resistance, that its fitness for the use to be made of it may be established with absolute certainty

It has a modest power rating in that it will develop more than 36 horsepower, though rated at 30. It is comparatively light in weight. The Reo the Fifth, successor of the Reo Thirty, as the 1911 model was known, is a slightly larger machine as the wheelbase has been increased from 108 to 112 inches, which increase has been divided between the space given over to the motor and body. The longer chassis makes for greater comfort and easier riding, as well as affording a means of insuring continuous engine efficiency. There has been practically little increase in weight

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1913 Reo Automobile Advertisement Advertisement

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1919 Reo the Fifth Automobile

During the war years, Reo was kept busy making vehicles for the government. They had been making commercial vehicles since 1908 and made taxis after the war..

History Road 2005 by Sherlock77 (James).

1928 REO Flying Cloud

In 1927, the Flying Cloud model was produced and five months later a cheaper vesion called the Wolverine. Two years later, Reo was loosing money due to the depression. The automobile portion of the company ceased production in 1936.

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1927 Reo Wolverine Automobile Advertisement

Fritchle Electric

Oliver Fritchle established his 0.P. Fritchle Garage Company shortly after being awarded a patent for his battery in 1903 in Denver, CO. in 1905, he decided to manufacture automobiles and by 1907, he had made,  by special orders only, twenty of his Fritchle Electric Victoria Phaetons. One of the most serious difficulties of driving an electric car was not knowing the amount of battery discharge that had been made during a drive.The most common instrument was the Specific Gravity method. This would indicate the amount of discharge but not the remaing charge. He invented the Hydrometer that did just that and gave him a great advantage over other electrics. He established his Fritchle Automobile and Battery Company in 1908. In the meantime, he was also the regional sales representative for the Hammer automobile. His automobiles were made to order and he had a number of models to choose from.

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1904 Hammer Rear Entrance Tonneau
Hammer Motor Co. Detroit, MI 

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1905 Hammer Automobile Advertisement


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1908 Fritchle Electric Victorian Phaeton

1908 Fritchle Automobile Advertisement

In order to publicize his automobile, in 1908, he challenged every electric vehicle manufacturer to a race from Denver to New York City. Receiving no takers, he decided to do it on his own.

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Midwestern Prairie Driving

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Johnstown, PA on its way to New York

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Assisting an Oldsmobile driver who had run out of fuel

Copied from the 1908 Edition of the Motor Magazine


Chicago, Nov. 11Another manufacturer of electrics is seeking to demonstrate the road utility of his product by making a long trip through the country, the maker being O. P. Fritchle, of Denver, who, accompanied by W. P. Pfaff, reached Chicago Monday night and left this afternoon for the east. Mr. Fritchle is striving to drive from Lincoln, Neb., to New York city in 21 days and apparently he is well up on his schedule, for he now has 700 miles to his credit in 10 days' running. He was obliged to ship from Denver to Lincoln because of the fact there are no charging stations between those two cities. Since then he has been making extraordinarily good progress, although he found the Iowa roads so muddy that he was slowed some. Still he kept moving, which was not the case with two gasoline cars he encountered, whose owners were waiting for the highways to dry up so they could continue their tours. The Fritchle safely navigated the desert and made light work of the hills. From Chicago it goes east by way of Pittsburg, which will take it over the Allegheny mountains. From New York city Mr. Fritchle will drive to Washington, where he intends establishing a branch. He is driving a victoria which is geared lower than usual for hill-climbing, but even with this he claims he gets I5 miles an hour out of it. The Fritchle is guaranteed to do 100 miles on a charge, but its maker says that on smooth city streets he can do 150 miles.

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Copied from the 1909 Edition of Motor Magazine

The Fritchle Automobile and Battery Co., of Denver, exhibited three of its latest electric vehicles, including a four-passenger extension front coupe, a victoria with a full top and a victoria with a threequarter top and Motz cushion tires. This company also builds two-passenger and combination two and four-passenger stanhope roadsters. The specifications on the coupe show that the wheelbase is 86 inches, 34 by 33/4-inch quick-detachable tires are fitted and brakes are of the contracting band type, acting on drums on the rear wheels and on the armature shaft of the motor. A normal 3-horsepower Fritchle motor furnishes the power and the current is stored up in Fritchle batteries of twenty-eight cells of II M. F. Full-elliptic springs are used all around. The speed of the car ranges from 5 to 19 miles an hour. The victoria seats two passengers, has a wheelbase of 76 inches, 32 by 33/4-inch tires and eight speeds ranging from 5 to 24 miles per hour. Brakes, motor, batteries, springs and the single chain-drive to the rear axle are practically the same in all models. All vehicles are built to order and the purchaser has his choice of body painting and upholstering.

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1909 Fritchle Victoria Phaeton Stanhope Advertisement

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1909 Fritchle Electric Victoria Phaeton Advertisement

The Fritchle company made most of the commercial vehicles  that were used in the Denver area. One of their big years was in 1915, but after that the electric vehicles began to lose favor and the output slowly faded  until it went out of business in 1920. However, he did make an electric-gasoline model in 1916.


The Mora Motor Car  Company was established in 1906 at Rochester, NY by Samuel Mora  as the president and Wiliam Birdsall as the engineer. Its memorable slogan was "World's Record Sealed Bonnet Hero", which was derived from the fact that they had driven the car over 8,000 miles without openong the hood.

They were made with either a four or six cylinder motor and could reach 60 mph. They never made more than a hundred cars a year and in 1910 the creditors were unhappy that a profit was not being made and called for a complete audit, the company told them that if they were pressed for this, they would declare bankruptcy. Evidently, they were pressed for they did declare bankruptcy.

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1906 Mora Runabout

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1906 Mora Automobile Advertisement

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1908 Mora Touring Automobile

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1909 Mora Automobile Advertisement

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1910 Mora Touring Automobile

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1910 Mora Automobile Advertisement

They were made with either a four or six cylinder motor and could reach 60 mph. They never made more than a hundred cars a year and in 1910 the creditors were unhappy that a profit was not being made and called for a complete audit, the company told them that if they were pressed for this, they would declare bankruptcy. Evidently, they were pressed for the company went into bankruptcy and was sold for $120,000. This included all property and 50 unfinished vehicles.

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1912 Mora Delivery Wagon

Samuel Mora relocated to Cleveland, OH where he started making commercial vehicles



Copied from the 1908 Issue of the Motor Magazine


The Omar Motor Co.. Newark, N. Y., is manufacturing in the old Mora factory the Browniekar, which is best described as a little car for boys. It is a four-stroke single-cylinder machine, with belt-drive, wire wheels and 66 inch wheelbase, and can travel from 10 to 12 miles an hour, while an ordinary adult can lift the front end from the ground with ease. The price tag was $150. .

Joseph "Buster", Driver,  and Harry "Jingles" Keaton in their 1909 Browniekar

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Two Adults in a Browniekar

William Birdsall, Mora's chief engineer,  was the designer and was made in the old Mora Motor Car Company's factory. Approximatel 130 were made.

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1909 Browniekar Advertisement


In 1906, Roy Coffin and  R.D. Chapin former employees of the Olds Motor Works persuaded E.R. Thomas, owner of the Thomas automobile to finance a car in Detroit. Thomas agreed and Thomas-Detroit Co. was formed. Even though it was made in Michigan, the product and marketing was done in New York by the E.R. Thomas Motor Company. It wasn't too long before Coffin and Chapin got tired of this and persuaded. Hugh Chalmers, owner of the National  Cash Register Co, to buy out Thomas-Detroit and form a new company called Chalmers-Detroit. Detroit was dropped shortly thereafter. In 1909, Coffin and Chapin wanted to start a company of their own and began to look for backers. Joining them were two other former Olds employees, George Dunham and Roscoe Jackson. Thomas offered to finance them, but they wanted all strings severed. James Hudson owner of the Detroit Hudson Department store agreed and the Hudson Motor Car Company was formed in February, 1909. By spring, they had bought the Selden patent held by the now defunct Northerrn Car and the former Aerocar factory.

On July 3, 1909 the first Hudson was shipped  and  46,000 orders had been received.

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1909  Model 20

According to K. Doubleday's History of Automobile Body building in Amesbury, Biddle and Smart made the bodies from the begining of the Thomas automobiles, and because the owners of Hudson knew of the quality of Biddle and Smart, they too, had Biddle and Smart make the Hudson bodies. It was the custom that body makers names were not on the tags. It was not until 1923 when the Hudson dealers demanded to know who made the bodies for it would greatly increase their sales that the name was revealed.. In 1923, The Hudson-Essex Triangle newspaper had a full size advertising giving Biddle and Smart credit for their bodies.

Appearing in the 1910 Horseless Age Magazine with the announcemet in the form of an advertisement.


The Hudson Motor Car Co. has been an entirely separate organization since January 1, 1910, complete in itself and allied with no other concern. From the beginning, the controlling interests has been held by the present officers. Our production plans comprise the closing of this season in the Fall. We are now supplying our dealers at the rate of 800 cars per month; many of our agency contracts are now expiring, and we are ready to talk business on certain territory in various sections of the country, possibly yours, which we have open, including two or three of the larger cities where we desire exclusive representation. Contracts have already been closed, with deposits, for over 46,000 cars. Application to our sales department can be made by letter, wire or "phone," and will be filed and handled in order received. If your territory is closed, we will give you immediate notice; we suggest that you use night lettergram giving full information. The new half million dollar Hudson factory is well under way and will be one of the finest automobileplants in the country when finished in October. The personnel of the Hudson Motor Car Company insures every season well-built, well-finished cars and prompt shipment. Mr. H. E. Coffin, one of the most famous of America's designers, and President of the Society of Automobile Engineers, is Vice-president of the Hudson Motor Car Company, and at the head of our engineering department. He is devoting his time exclusively to the Hudson line.


President, R. D. Chapin, former Treasurer and General Manager of the Chalmers-Detroit Motor Co.; Vice-president, H. E. Coffin, formerly Vice-president of the Chalmers-Detroit Motor Co.; Secretary, F. O. Bezner, formerly Secretary of the ChalmersDetroit Motor Co.; Treasurer and General Manager, R. B. Jackson, formerly General Manager of the E. R. Thomas Motor Co.; Sales Manager, E. C. Morse, formerly Sales Manager of the E. R. Thomas Motor Co.; Chief Engineer, C. H. Taylor, formerly Engineer for DeDietrich & Gobron-Brillie, of France, and E. R. Thomas Motor Co. of Buffalo; Purchasing Agent, W. J. McAneeny, formerly Purchasing Agent of the Chalnaers-Detroit Motor Co.; Technical Manager, F. H. Tregow, formerly Secretary of the Chicago Motor Club; and one of America's best known technical authorities, Superintendent J. F. Richman, recently of the manufacturing department of the Maxwell-Briscoe Co.

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1911 Hudson Touring Automobile

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1912 Hudson Mile-a-Minute Model


By 1912, they had moved into their new factory and the first Hudson six cylinders prototype was built for the 1913 models. Only luxury cars had six cylinders prior to this. The Super Six was made for the 1916 season.

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1916 Hudson Super Six Automobile

In 1918, Hudson introduced its low price model called the Essex. The Essex modes were built until 1932 then it was renamed the Terratplane. The company was initially called Essex Motor Company, but was disolved in 1923 and was made by the Hudson company

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Ira Vail in the 1917 Hudson Super Six Racer finished eight at the Indianopolis Spedeway in 1919

In the 1920's Hudson concentratred on closed body models and one of the best closed body builders was Biddle and Smart, Amesbury, MA.

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1923 Advertisement copied from the 1923 Edition of the Hudson-Essex Triangle magazine


Walter Murphy, Pasedena, Ca., was one of the leaders in the automobile industry. He was one of the richest men in America who owned controlling intrerest in some of the leading companies at that time. In 1920,  he was given dealership's rights for the Lincoln automobile for California and shortly had them through out the state. In order to get the bodies that he wanted for his clientele, he set up a body building shop in Pasadena. His bodies were designed by his company and speciallly built for the rich and famous. His designs were considered to be some of the best ever.

For reasons that remain unclear, Harold L. Arnold, Hudsons California distributor, swapped distributorships with Murphy in 1926 - the former, now handled Lincoln, and the latter, Hudson. Now that Murphy had a direct relationship with Hudson, the Detroit automaker became interested in gaining the services of Murphys roster of talented designers. Biddle and Smart did all of Hudson's top of the line automobiles.

Murphy built a couple of prototype convertible sedans for Hudson in 1927.  Six cars were eventually commissioned by Hudson and ultimately delivered to Detroit: a landau sedan, a Victoria, a seven-passenger sedan, a convertible coupe, a convertible sedan, and a fixed-head coupe. Hudson management liked them, but Murphy lacked the capacity to build in quantities that Hudson needed, so the prototypes were sent off to Amesbury for assimilation by Biddle and Smart into 1928 production and eventually wound up in the hands of Hudson Co. executives. Murphy also designed a low, handsome 1928 Hudson convertible sedan that was later produced in quantity by Biddle & Smart, albeit with a roof that was three inches taller. Each of these Biddle & Smart bodies carried a cowl tag that announced "Designed by Walter M. Murphy, Coachbuilders, Pasadena

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1928 Hudson Model O designed by Walter Murphy

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1929 Hudson Model L Club Sedan
Considered a Classic
Designed by Walter Murphy
Built by Biddle and Smart

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1929 Hudson Sports Phaeton
The prize of the Hudson Automobile
Designed by Walter Murphy
Built by Biddle and Smart

1929 Hudson by sjb4photos-catching up.

It is considered a classic

The Hudson company continued making fine automobiles until 1962 when they merged with Nash to form the American Motors Corp. My first new car was a 1963 American Motors car.


Copied from the May 15, 1918 Horseless Age Magazine

For a considerable time it has been a matter of trade knowledge that a lighter, lower-priced car than the Super-Six would be furnished Hudson dealers in order to assure them the volume of business their respective organizations were developed to handle, and accordingly now comes the Essex, a five-passenger touring car built in the Hudson factory and selling for $1,395.

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1918 Essex, With Five Passenger Touring Body.

The Cellular Radiator Is Provided With Dash-Controlled Shutter and The Windshield Is Mounted Integrally. More than usual interest was evidenced a few months ago by the organization of the Essex Motors, for the reason that its directors were also officers of the Hudson Motor Car Company. However, no details of the Essex car were made public beyond the fact that its engine would have four cylinders.

The Essex is designed to embody the advantages hitherto associated with cars of higher price and to combine with these the features of low first cost, light weight, economy as to fuel, tires, upkeep and depreciation. Many clever ideas in design have been incorporated to gain these ends. Shipping weight is under 2,400 pounds. (End of Article)

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1919 Essex Automobile was first shown at the 1919 Detroit Automobile Show.

The engine of this car, which is entirely new, has four cylinders. 31/2 by 5, with the intake valves in the head and exhaust valves in the side. The total length overall is about 29 in. and the N. A. C. C. rating of horsepower is 18.2, while the actual power developed is more than 50 hp. The crankshaft is of special design, scientifically counter-balanced, giving static and running balance at all speeds. It has three heavy-bearings. The carbureter is of patented Essex design, automatically controlled by the engine.

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The Essex Automobile Co. was originally an independant company and even though there were many Hudson executives who sat on its board, it was allowed to run on its own merits. However, in 1922, it was incorporated into the Hudson company an became a Hudson model.

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1919 Advertisement

It was built for comfort with taller seats and more springs in the seat cushions. The body style was exceptional for its price range and the ordinary buyer was given a car that he could give his family the pride of owning one. 29,000 were sold within a year when most of the other manufacturers were loosing sales. Each year, the repeat buyers would not settle for anything but an Essex.

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From the November, 1919 Issue of the Hudson Triangle Magazine

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1923 Essex  Coach Automobile

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1927 Essex Super 6 Sedan Deluxe Automobile

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Essex Race Cars

Essex Racers were one of the best on the circuit during their racing years. The stock cars won many endurance races.

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1927 Essex Boattail Speedabout's front view

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1927 Essex Boattail Speedabout's rear view

Body by Bidle and Smart, Amesbury, MA


As soon as William Durant lost his position at General Motors in 1910, his first thought was about regaining control of GMC and how to go about doing it. He was plotting his course while still an officer of the company. He decided to start another automobile company and work from there. The price range would have to be low enough to compete with Ford. A Ford automobile was priced at $490. and its quality indicated this. While he was at Buick Motors, the man in charge of his racing team and one of the best in the racing portion of the business was Louis Chevrolet. Cheverolet also knew automobiles and how to build them. Durant and Chevrolet teamed up together to start making the Chevrolet car in 1911. The GMC managers knew of his activity but didn't give him much thought as long he was not around to bother them.

Copied from the October Issue of the 1911 Motor World Magazine


Chevrolet Car but One Link in Chain Plants Acquired for Motors and Low-Priced Model.

Although he remains a director of the General Motors Co., which he organized to dominate the automobile industry of the world and which he himself dominated until the banking interests stepped in a year ago. W. C. Durant is actively prosecuting plans for rebuilding an automobile business of his own.

Acting through W. H. Little, one of his old lieutenants, he, as already is- well known, has organized the Chevrolet Motor Car Co. in Detroit, and this was supposed to represent the sum total of his activity. But it transpires that the high speed, high priced car which the Chevrolet company will produce is but one link in the chain which Durant is forging. For he also has the production of a popular priced car in view, and by those who are in a position to be informed is credited with having already placed himself in position to produce it. For that purpose he is reported to have acquired not only a car-building plant, but an engine-making factory as well, the former being the Flint Wagon Works, which has been producing the Wbiting car, while the engines will be made by the Mason Motor Co., which recently was organized in Flint, Mich., and which Durant, through others, is said to control. Durant himself is saying nothing, but that his boundless activity and industriousness will not much longer permit him to remain in the background seems at least fairly certain. From time to time reports have been current that his connection with the General Motors Co. had terminated, but, though it is Well known that he long since ceased to be a power in its affairs, it can be authoritatively stated that he still remains a director of the big corporation which caused him to over-reach himself. The board of directors held a meeting only last week and although his fellows on the board are well aware of his activities in other companies.

To put this car on the market was going to take at least a year and cost a lot of money. He took a page out of Ford's book about his not using banks and pay as you go. In October of 1911, the Little Motor Car Company was formed being named after his former general manager at Buick, Whilliam H. Little. The car was described as little and being as cute as a button. It was manufactured at Flint Wagon Works, Flint, MI where the Whiting automobile was being made.


Little was assigned to help Louis Chevrolet to design the motor for the other car that Durant was planning to build. Chevrolet was taking his own sweet time and  the prototype was finally finished in the summer of 1912, Durant realized that he could not sell it for less than $2,150, but at least he had a car to sell. In the meantime, Durant was aware of the cost of the operation and decided to make a Little Six that could be sold much cheaper at $1250, the price that he was going to sell his Chevrolet car. This would help him in raising some needed cash.

Unfortunately, both cars arrived at the same time and since each one was a Durant car, they could be compared by the press at the same time. Neither car benefited for the difference in quality was readily observed, a slow built sturdy car against a hastily one thrown together. Durant knew that the Little car could not survive 25,000 miles, but the public did not know this and the Little car outsold the Chevrolet by far.

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1912 Little Roadster Automobile

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1912 Little Advertisement

The name Little didn't help the sales very much for people were constantly reminded of their "Little" car. It was discontinued in the summer of 1913 after 3,500 were built. Now the Chevrolet car would receive all of the attention that was needed. In order to do this, he moved all of his companies that he owned under the Chevrolet name to Flint. This did not sit well with Louis Chevrolet so he left to work on the Frontenac car.

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1913 Frontenac Touring

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1909 Frontenac

Durant used what parts he had to finished the the Classic Six models and introduced the light Six models in 1914. 1915 saw the production models for under $1,000. The Royal Mail was $750, the Baby Grand was $875, and the very spiffy Amesbury Special was $975.

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1915 Chevrolet Baby Grand Touring

1915 Chevrolet Series H Baby Grand touring

1915 Chevrolet Royal Mail

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1915 Chevrolet Amesbury Special Coupe Automobile

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Cut taken from K Doubleday's book, Automobile Bodies Built in Amesbury"

William Durant and John Clark, Owner of the Clark Cariage Company, Amesbury, MA, were old friends from Durant's carriage making days. Every year, Durant would order one of each of Clark's carriages to use as a model for his Dort Carriages. When Durant started making the Buick car, he tried to get Clark to make the Buick bodies, but Clark had no use for cars. When he retired from the company, William Clark, his son, took charge and was willing to make the bodies for the Buick cars. Clark Carriage Company also made bodies for Oldsmobile and Chevrolet. In 1915, Durant made a special trip to Amesbury to tell the citizens that he had named a special car in appreciation for what they had done for him. The photo was sent to me by a friend who owns this Amesbury Special.

Durant had been working behind the scenes buying and trading General Motor Stocks until late in 1915, he had enough backing and stocks to regain control of the company. Chevrolet became a part of General Motors in 1918

Copied from the 1914 Issue of The Horseless Age Magazine

Dover, Del., Dec. 28 The Chevrolet Motor Co. of New York City has increased its capital from $20,000,000 to $80,000,000.

New York City, Dec. 24 The stockholders of the Chevrolet Motor Co., yesterday ratified the proposal of the directors of the company to increase the capitalization from $20,000,000 to $80,000,000, this step being taken in connection with a plan of that company to take over the controlling shares of the General Motors Co., by means of an exchange of stock. By this plan the General Motors stock, which has been obtained by a syndicate, is to be offered at a ratio of five shares of Chevrolet stock for one share of General Motors common. Under this proposal, between 110,000 and 120,000 shares of General Motors common will be offered.

The total number of shares represented at the meeting by proxy was 169,398 and in person 16,242, a total of 185,640. Somewhat over 100,000 shares of General Motors common will be affected by the proposed plan. The stock represents the holdings of W. C. Durant; Lament Berlin, director of Aetna Explosives Co.; Pierre Du Pont; S. F. Prior of the Union Metallic Cartridge and Remington Arms Co. and J. A. Haskell, A. H. Wiggen, G. S. Sabin, and a few others, many representing Durant interests.

A Step Toward Merger?

It is rumored that the increase of stock is a step toward the merger of the two companies. It is stated that Mr. Durant and his associates representing the Du Pont powder and Remington arms interests has secured enough General Motors stock to give them complete control of the company. It is estimated that including the holdings of his associates, Durant controls as much as 60 per cent or 70 per cent of General Motors stock.

Mr. Durant stated yesterday that the Chevrolet company on its present earning basis will show approximately 20 per cent on its present capitalization. Thus far the production had been at the rate of 186 cars daily, and it is estimated that by January this will be increased to 220 cars a day. By March it is planned to increase the output to 360 cars a day.

General Motors is unaffected by the plan and has nothing to do with it. Certain holders of General Motors stock entertain a proposal to exchange their shares for shares in another company. The remaining General Motors stock remains as at present, the only effect being that the floating supply is much reduced.

Sales of cars in General Motors are running in excess of 10,000 cars a month and its gross receipts in excess of $10,000,000 a month. It is estimated that the results for the current year will show a total of more than 120,000 cars made and sold, gross receipts in sales of $120,000,000 and net profits in excess of $24,000,000, or approximately 150 per cent on the outstanding $16,500,000 in common stock. (End of Article)

The car suffered from lack of Durant's attention and became bigger with a larger price tag.  Once in control, he once again started buying companies that turned out to be mistakes. One of his most successful purchases was buying sixty percent of Fisher Body in 1919. By the middle of 1920's Durant was out of General Motors.

The Chevrolet was redesigned to compete with the Ford cars. It would not be quite as cheap, but much more comfortable than the "Tin Lizzy".The first production models had several faults and a complete recall was made to fix them, the first massive call in General Motors history.

Chevrolet went through the next decade making improvements and by 1927 Chevrolet finally outsold Ford, making it the best selling car in America.


When Durant took over General Motors in 1915, Charles Nash Knew that he was not going to be asked to stay on as its president because he and and Durant had a diference of opinion sometime earlier. One of the hardest things that Durant had to do was to let him go. Durant had hired him as a young man to work as an upholster in his carriage business and watch him progress in the business to  GMC president's post.

When William Jeffery contacted him about buying the Jeffery Automobile Co. in 1916, Nash was all to willing to buy it.

Charls Nash and James Storrow, another GMC executive who was let go, traveled to Kenosha, WI and bought the Thomas B. Jeffery Co. for 9 million dollars. On July 29, 1916, The Nash Motors Company was in business. The Jeffery cars that were in production had their name plates removed and Nash plates installed. The Jeffery style remained until the middle of 1917.

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1918 Nash Series 681

Nash cars appeared on the market in April of 1918 as a six cylinder that was described as slick and handsome. Nash was adament that his cars were to be conserative neatness. In the next nine months, 10,000 cars were sold and doubled that the next year. The reason for only this amount was that his Quad Four trucks were being built for the war effort, so the car suffered in production. Nash sold his patent for the Quad truck to he government for one dollar so other companies could make the truck and several companies started making them.

Copied and edited from  the July edition of the Automotive Industry Magazine

WASHINGTON, July 17Hugh Chalmers, representing the passenger car makers, held a conference to-day with the War Industries Board on the question of steel for the manufacture of passenger cars, and the result of the conference is that the War Industries Board has asked for a complete inventory from the passenger car makers showing the number of partly completed cars, number of parts, as well as the quantities of steel on hand for passenger car production at the present time.........

It has been known for some time that considerable inconvenience has been caused by the unbalanced inventories and several factories have received good co-operation in securing quantities of steel in which they were lacking and by means of which they have been able to carry on production that would otherwise have been impossible. During the last week the steel manufacturers have met with representatives of the War Industries Board for a general survey of steel requirements. It seems utterly impossible to get a complete budget of the requirements of the Government. New shipbuilding yards are being erected and it is impossible to estimate their requirements. The amount of ship tonnage which it is possible to build this year is being cut down and now the steel makers feel that a sane estimate of the Government's requirements will soon be available. (End of article)

In August, the Automobile Mfg. Association agreed to reduce its production to 50 percent which was previously 60 percent. One article was very encouraging when it was announced that farmers would start planting castor beans to produce castor oil for oiling airplane parts an the result was two million gallons.


1920 saw a new model from Nash Motors called LaFayette. It was produced for four years. It was in the high range automobiles with a $5,000 price tag. It was initially built in Indianapolis, IN, but was moved to Kenosha later on. It was commercial disaster for the company and shut down in 1924.


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1920 Lafayette Automobile


1922 LaFayette model 134, Rear Windshield

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1921 LaFayette Automobile Automobile Advertisement


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1922 Nash Coupe Automobile

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1923.Nash Series 69 Touring Automobile

He moved the Lafayette company to Racine, WI in 1924 into the former Mitchell plant. and  the Ajax automobile was on the market in 1925 priced at $995.00.

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1925 Ajax Six Automobile

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1925 Ajax Automobile Advertisement

Sales for the Ajax was very disappointing and the Ajax Six became the Nash Light Six. He had all the name tags changed to Nash that were in production. Kits were sent to his dealers to make the changes and to all customers so that they would not suffer trade-in losses.

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1929 Nash Series 430 Sedan

In 1962 Nash Motors bought the Hudson Automobile Co, creating the American Motors Co.



After Harry Knox left the company that had been building Knox cars in Springfield, he established the Knox Motor Truck Company in 1905 to produce Atlas commercial vehicles. His former partners at his previous firm took him to court over the name. After he was forbidden from using the Knox name, he formed the Atlas Motor Car Company in late 1907 across town from the Knox company. Harry Knox had proposed to the people who were  producing the Sunset automobile in San Francisco, CA to build the car under license. At first they refused, but changed their minds after the 1907 San Francisco earthquake.

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1909 Atlas Delivery Van

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1908 Atlas Runabout Automobile
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1910 Atlas Model H Automobile

The Atlas of Springfield was thus based on the Sunset, even using the same two-stroke engine. This same 2-cylinder 22 horse power engine was used in the Atlas delivery vans and taxicab, starting in 1908. Harry Knox refined the engine and developed a 3-cylinder 34 hp version of it. Later, a 60 hp 4-cylinder version was offered. The firm entered an Atlas in the 1909 Vanderbilt Cup being the first two-stroke car to enter a major long-distance road race.

This fact was promoted in subsquent promotional materials. Not long after, the two-stroke engine fell out of favor in the marketplace, and Knox added a Knight sleeve valve engine in 1912. These cars were called Atlas-Knights, and were bigger, five- or seven-passenger touring cars that cost approximately $3500. The company was bankrupt by early 1913, supposedly due to problems acquiring engines. Harry Knox then moved to Indianapolis to assist the Lyons brothers in producing the Lyons Knight.

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1913 Atlas-Knight Touring Automobile

The Lyons-Atlas Co., of Indianapolis, purchasers of the Atlas Engine Works, manufacturers of the Atlas-Knight motors, announce that they will market a complete series of Lyons-Knight pleasure and commercial vehicles during the coming year. They have already commenced deliveries on their Model K chassis, which will be equipped with four bodies, a five-passenger touring, seven-passenger touring, Sedan and Berlin.

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1907 Atlas Automobile Advertisement

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1913 Atlas-Knight automobileAdvertisement


In 1892, Andrew Pierce organized The Racaine Gas Engine Company in Racine, WI whose speciality was marine engines. He also had a desire to build automobiles and in 1894, he and Edward Pennington built Wisconsin's first gasoline automobile. Pierce entered his car in the Chicago Herald Tribune Race that was held on Thanksgiving Day, but it didn't participate.

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1894 Pierce Surrey

His company built the 1902 Mitchell automobiles for the Wisconsin Wheel Works that was associated with Mitchell-Lewis Wagon Works. For a short time it was also known as Mitchell-Pierce Motor Company, but it was incorporated in 1903 as the Pierce-Racine which was a merger of Wisconsin Wheel  Works and Pierce Engine Company. Production began on the Pierce-Racine automobiles in 1904 with a total of twenty-five cars for the year. Mitchell had left the company the previous year and started building the Mitchell automobiles in 1903.

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1904 Pierce-Racine Tonneau

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1904 Pierce-Racine Advertisement

The production for 1904 was only twenty-five cars. A major expansion was financed by the J.I, Case Threshing Machine Company, Racine, WI, makers of farm machinery and Wisconsin's largest company. Two of the board members of Pierce Engine Co. arranged the loan.

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1905 Pierce-Racine Advertisement

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1906 Pierce-Racine Touring

The factory of 1908 was very large and 300 cars were sold that year in the $2500 price range. However, by 1909,  the Pierce Engine Co. was deep in debt and the company was reorganized to Pierce Motor Co, but it did not help. It went into banktuptcy in 1910.

There is some disagreement as to when the Pierce-Racine automobile became the Case automobile, but by the end of 1910 they were referred to as a Case.


J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company was also interested in entering the Chicago Herald-Tribune Race but the engine was not ready in time. They did not pursue any further with the idea. When Pierce-Racine went bankrupt owing the J.I. Case a huge amount of money, the threshing machine company could now easily get into the manufacturing of cars by using Pierce-Racines factory and changing the name. The 1911 Case was basically a 1910 Pierce-Racine. Their desire of many years had now become a reality.

The Case car was built as a medium price car through the First World War.

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1911 Case Touring, a late 1910 Pierce-Racine model

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1911 Case Racer

From 1910-1915, they were heavily envolved in the racing circuits and winning many of them. Their results on the regular circuit was not the same at the Indianapolis Speedway where it was very dismal to say the least. Finally, when the company got envolved in doing work for the U.S. government in preparation for the war, racing came to an end.

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1912 Case Thirty Laundelet Automobile

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1912 Case Thirty Touring Automobile

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1914 Case Limousine Automoile

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1918 Case Automobile Advertisement

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1921 Case Limousine Model V Automobile

The automobile portion of the company's business was separated in 1918 and became the Case Motor Car Co. and a division of the T.M. Company. In 1926, its dealers were notified that the Case cars would be for export only and in 1928,  the production ceased altogether.



William Mitchell, owner of the Wisconsin Wheel Works, Rascine, WI., had been making non-descript Mitchell motorcyles for two years, decided to start making automobiles in 1902. The Pierce-Racine Engine Co. Makers of the Pierce-Racine cars, made the prototypes in 1902, for the Mitchell car. In 1903, the Wisconsin Wheel Works produced its first Mitchell automobile. The company's name was changed to Mitchell Motor Car Co. in 1904.

Restored Mitchell

1903 Mitchell Runabout Automobile

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1903 Mitchell Runabout Automobile

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1906 Mitchell Automobile Advertisement

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1909 Mitchell Runabout Automobile

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1909 Mitchell Touring Automobile

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1910 Mitchell Model S touring Automobl1e


1914 Mitchell Speedster 1

1914 Mitchell Speedster Automobile

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1910 Mitchell Automobile Advertisement

Upon the retirement of William T. Lewis in 1910, the Mitchell Car Co. and the Mitchell and Lewis Co. were merged into the Mitchell-Lewis Motor Company. According to an article in the New York Times in January, the company was wholly owned by the Michell family and the officers were family members. In 1913 William Mitchell Lewis, president, retired from the business and with Rene Petard started another company across town called the Lewis. The two previous years the company had been finaniced by a bank, and Joseph Winterbottom, representing the bank, took over as the president and reorganizing it as Mitchell Motors Co.

L. P. C.
( Lewis, Petard, and Cram)

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1914 L. P. C. Light Six Automobile

The Light Six was a really big light six and it was put into production by the newly organized in 1913 as the 1914 Lewis Six at a price of $1,600. Its wheelbase was 135 inches. A big car at such a small price and with its background was sure to cause some consternation within the industry, but would be welcomed by the public.


1915 Lewis Six Automobile Advertisement

1915 L. P. C. Motor Co. Lewis Six Advertisement

1915 Lewis Six Automobile Advertisement

The L-P-C Motor Co. was organized by William Mitchell Lewis, Rene Petard and James Cram in 1913. The firm only produced cars for a couple of years. The L-P-C was the first auto to have an electric gear shift.

The Mitchell Motor Car Co. struggled throughout the war years into 1920 with a few successes, but mostly failure. In 1923 the company closed down and all assests were sold within a year and in 1924, Nash bought the factory for its new model the Nash-Ajax.


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