History of Early American Automobile Industry

Chapter 21

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Addendum 1    Addendum 2   Addendum 3

1913 saw many inventions for the automobile that greatly induced purchases from many factories and enticed many new companies into the market place. The electric starter by Delco was probably the greatest invention for the car owner and came on the market place in early 1912. However, since it was patented by General Motors, it was only available on their cars. The Gray and Davis, who had conceived the idea earlier, was made available two months later and could be purchased by any one. A great number of companies began using them and it was an important feature in their advertisements.

The first  pay gasoline pump with globe was made in 1913. It was a pay pump with three slots for coins, a quarter, half dollar, and a dollar. The customer would put the end of the nozzel in his tank and enter the coins for the wanted amount. Pumps usually sat at the curbside or inside the garage. Before this, gasoline was sold in tin containers.

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1913 Willard Battery Advertisement]

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1917 First Gasoline Pump With Globe

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The electric push-button gear shift changer was invented by the Vulcan Motor Devices Company a year earlier and was first used on the S. G. V. automobile. Before the years' end, several prominent makers were using them for their 1914 models,  including Haynes, Norwalk, National , and Pullman.

Copied from the 1913 Motor Age Magazine

Electrification of the gasoline car has proceeded another step forward in the adoption of the Vulcan electric gear-shift by the maker of the S. G. V. car.
When the scope of electricity on cars was confined to the ignition, electric lighting was hailed as a luxury; but with the coming of electric cranking, the next logical step seemed to be some means of operating the gear changes electrically.

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1913 S. G. V. Automobile Advertisement

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1913 National Automobile Advertisement


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1914 Haynes Atomobile Advertisement

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Still being advertised as America's first car that was first done in 1893

In 1894, Elwood Haynes fom Kokomo, IN, visited John Lambert in Anderson, IN, to inform him that he was going to advertise his car as being the first one in America even though he knew that Lambert and Duryea already had their cars on the road. No publication or manufacturer ever contested his claim as being the first. 

Another topic that was  discussed with many pros and cons was the wire wheels that had just ome on the market. Although, they had been in use in Europe for some time and were very popular, they were met with disdain here at home. They eventually gained in popularity for they were proven to be gasoline and tire savers.

Copied from the September 25, 1913, edition of Motor Age Magazine


The Owen H. Fay Livery Co., which operates numerous taxicabs in Chicago, announces that it has ordered fifty Coleman gas producers fo  its cabs and that after January 1, these cabs will use coal as a source of fuel instead of gasoline. Speaking of this radical change, Owen H. Fay said that the high cost and low grade of gasoline being furnished might seriously interfere with profits and that his company viewed with alarm the approach of winter when inevitable delays occurred in getting engines started after   they have been standing in the cold. "We have tried kerosene," continued Mr. Fay, "but have found it unsatisfactory as its use has caused heavy carbon deposits on the cylinder heads and gummed up the plugs. The further difficulty of priming with gasoline also caused delay, a thing above all others which we have to avoid in the taxicab business. On a recent trip to New York, I saw a bench test of the Coleman gas producer and became so enthusiastic over it that I have given an order for fifty of my cabs to be equipped with this device which uses coal as a source of fuel and produces a clean gas which should start any machine on the third cranking, providing that the valves are tight and the ignition is in good condition.

As in the model years in the past, some companies thrived where others struggled for a short time and went under. In the advertisements shown below, only the Allen was successful and lasted until 1921.


In late 1913, the Lyons Bothers, Wiliam and George, bought the Atlas Engine Works in Indianapolis, IN, and organized the Lyons-Atlas Company. They had been associated with the company that was active in develping the Knight engine. Previous to this,  the company was unsuccessful with their 1909 high wheeler.They immediately announced their intentions to start manufacturing their car as well as the Knight engine.and Harry Knox whose Atlas-Knight Company in Springfield, MA had gone into bankruptcy, was joining their company. Knox's new design was almost identical to his Atlas-Knight. The exception was that the new car was a six cylinder.

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1914 Lyons-Knight Automobile

In 1915, Knox resigned from the company and the Lyons-Knight was discontinued. The company built engines for the English government during the war.

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1914 Lyons-Atlas Automobile Advertisement



MOTOR AGE November 26, 1914

For some time there have been rumors of several low-priced six-cylinder cars of low weight to be placed on the market. That there is one at least is made certain by the appearance of the new Grant six from the factory of the Grant Motor Car Co., Findlay, Ohio. This concern concentrated last year on a four-cylinder car and comes to the front for the 1915 season with a six-cylinder, the smallest of any six so far produced in America. This is a 30-horsepower six weighing less than many fours, carrying five passengers, provided with electric lighting, starting and such other features of equipment as one-man top at $795, the lowest price of any six-cylinder ear so far produced. Tread is standard, of course, with a 60-inch offered for southern trade. The wheelbase is 106 inches and tires 30 by 31/2 imch on wood wheels. The new Grant six-cylinder, five-passenger car selling at $795 with electric cranking and lighting equipment and at $750 without it. The motor is 27/8 by 4 cast in block anil drives through a cone clutch and three-speed gearbox.

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1912 Grant Six Touring

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1912 Grant Six Automobile Advertisement

1916 Grant Touring Automobile

If one small car was to succeed with conditions that were at this time, it would be the Grant. Brothers Charles and Gorge Grant,who owned a machine shop and automobile dealership, in Detroit hired some of the best automobile designers and engineers to make it. The Grant Motors Company was formed  in Chicago in 1913 and a few cars were made that year. However, to its detriment, it came on the market the same time as the cyclecars were making their entraance and no amount of persuasion could prevent the public to thinking that it was not one of them. The defunct Findlay automobile factory became available in Cleveland and the Grant operation moved there later that year. 2,000 were built in 1914. To avoid the cyclecar stigma, six cylinders were built in 1916. The four-cylinder models were dropped. However, its quality was not sacrificed and the prices remained low. A larger factory was built and the company was reorganized as the Grant Motor Car Coporation and 4,000 were built. The production for the following year reached 10,000. It built munitions during the war, but when afterwards, production was once again in high gear with a new model and 21,000 orders. Like every other manufacturer, Grant's production dropped by 75 % in 1920. The company tried to regroup, but a huge inventory of parts built up with very few sales. Nothing helped and it went into receivership in 1922. 

Century Electric

John Gillespie organized his Century Electric Motor Car Compny in Chicago, IL, in 1912 with a capitalization of $100,000. The most notable feature was it underslung frame which was a novel idea for electric cars.

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1914 Century Electric Automobile

By the this time, the electric cars had reached their pinnacle and most buyers were changing to gasoline models. Most of the electrics were sold to rich women as a second car. In 1914, the company was sold to a lawyer named Edwin Denby who was an associate of  R. C. Hupp  with stocks in his company. The company was reorganized as the Century Manufacturing Company. It went out of business in 1915.

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1914 Century Electric Automobile Advertisement


The Sterling Automobile Manufacturing Company, New York City, maker of the Sterling-NewYork, was formed by Charles Chambers, William and Edward Adelson, and Henry Hyman in 1913. The the factory was located in Paterson, NJ, and the owners said that they had enough orders to fill for several months. They also claimed to to be negotaiting with several European nations in their war effort. The sterling emblem was used in their advertisements.

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1916 Sterling-New York Roadster 

It was a car of a lot of hype, but little substance. I was made from parts that other automobile companies were using Its literature stated that several thousand orders had been received fro overseas and the sterling mark was used as its symbol. Evidently these orders went elsewere or non exicteent, for after a limited number were made, it went out of production before the year's end

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1916 Sterling Automobile Advertisement


Cycle Cars

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A 105-year old gentleman is driving to a baseball game in ST. Petersburg, Fl. in his Cycle Car

For two short years, they were the rage of the industry and everyone wanted to get into the act. However the difinition of a cyclecar fitted several companies that had made cars from the very beginning including Henry Ford's 1896 Quadracycle, Hertle's 1899, and Waltham's 1903 Orient Buckboard.

Copied from July, 1913 edition of the Motor Age Magazine

To a few would-be purchasers of cyclecars there is today a slight cessation of the movement in America so far as general publicity is concerned, a condition due more to the conservative attitude of concerns getting ready to market these little vehicles rather than to any antipathy of the movement. These concerns are moving slowly. They are progressing at a slow but yet rapid pace in that they are working out a perfected machine, one that can be produced in quantities, one that is light and one that can sell at a low price. Nothing could be more commendable than such a course. Precipitate   action is what the cyclecar movement must be protected from. Launching half-baked cyclecars on the market would permanently injure the movement, the same as it helped to do with the motor buggy movement some years ago. What the cyclecar movement needs today is good cyclecars and not some impossible blacksmith jobs that will only bring discredit upon the movement. Purchasers of cyclecars should give mature consideration to the concern building the car, the engineering points of the vehicle and the materials used in it. Poor cyclecars should be discouraged from the start. It will be impossible to effectually discourage certain promotions that will get on the market, but the buyer can do much by sanely examining the machine and not blindly purchasing solely because cyclecars in the recent grand prix race in France averaged 42 miles per hour, and he imagines that anything selling under the cyclecar label will measure up to the
possible same efficiency.

Copied from the 1913 Horseless Age Magazine

Some Conditions Which the Cyclecar Must Meet.

To all appearances the cyclecar, which, for some time past, has been common in Great Britain and upon the Continent, is about to make its appearance in the American market upon a commercial scale.

Its introduction may be considered as one more step in the process of popularizing self-propelled transportation, which has been going on for years past. The time has now come when, practically speaking, every person in the land desires to own a motor vehicle, and is only deterred from purchasing it by his inability or unwillingness to pay the first cost of a car of the regularly accepted type, and subsequently to meet the expense incident to its maintenance.

In so far as the cyclecars which may be offered American buyers can be sold at prices lower than those applying to the lowest priced cars of the present accepted type, and in so far as their upkeep and running expenses prove lower than those of standard small cars, they should meet the needs of that large class of the public which has hitherto been deterred, on account of financial considerations, from buying cars of types previously marketed. This statement assumes, of course, that these cyclecars prove practically adapted to American conditions and do not offend the public taste.

Within recent years the motorcycle has furnished the means of mechanical transportation to a multitude of persons to whom the ownership of a car was out of the question, and this extensive use of the motorcycle has paved the way for the cyclecar, for it has familiarized and fascinated a large number of persons with mechanical propulsion. Possibly it has also accentuated some of the shortcomings of the twowheelerfor instance, its instability and its unsociabilityand awakened a desire for a vehicle possessing the economy of the motorcycle with something of the stability and sociability of the motor car.

Apparently, the cyclecar as it exists abroad cannot readily be differentiated, as a type, in any hard and fast manner from small two-passenger cars in general, but is merely an extreme typeextreme in lightness, simplicity and low initial and upkeep expensein which cycle practice is embodied to a noticeable extent. It is interesting to recall that nearly a decade ago a motor buckboard, which would today be described as a cyclecar, was quite extensively manufactured and introducedin this country. It will be remembered that the failure of the motor buckboard was attributable, more than to any other single cause, to the fact that its gauge was narrower than standard, and that thus it was impractical upon rutted roads. Although giant strides have been taken since its day in road improvement, the rutted road is still the rule in this country, and account should be taken of this fact by cyclecar builders. Probably one reason for the success of the cyclecar in Europe is that smooth rather than rutted roads are the rule, and certainly one of the explanations of the motorcycle's success in America is that it makes but a single track and can pick its way wherever there is a few inches width of passable road surface. It is hardly credible that a cyclecar of any but standard road gauge shouldtured and introduced in thir country. Even at that time there was an appreciation of the economic significance of light weight, low power and simplicity.

One thing is certain, namely, that the cyclecar manufacturers must needs produce a practical road vehicle of this class so as to sell it at a price lower than that at which cars of the accepted type are sold in order to gain a place in the market. Even though this result should be attained, there would still remain the unpredictable element of public taste to be taken into account. When it is considered that there are a few models of small American cars which are produced in such stupendous numbers, and otherwise so economically as to be sold at figures lower than could have been believed possible a short while ago, it is evident that cyclecars, even though their peculiarities of design may result in considerable economies in construction, must be produced upon a very large scale in order to compete successfully with cars of regular type when manufactured under the exceptional circumstances above referred


By the beginning of 1914, there were thirty cyclecar companies and a company was being organized at a rate of one per week. In 1915, Ford and Chevrolet companies began a price war on their vehices. Chevrolet lowered its prices to $490 and Ford countered wit his at $450.00 and dared Cheverolet to match. Ford boasted that he could sell his cars at $250.00 and still make a profit.

The $450.00 price range was slightly higher than a cycle car and much better. The cyclecar companies were already being made on a slim profit margin and could not follow suit with a lower price. Cyclecar customers began to buy Ford cars and one by one they folded.

The best definition of a cyclecar was copied from Wikipedia

Cyclecars were propelled by single cylinder, V-twin or more rarely four cylinder engines, often air cooled. Sometimes these had been originally used in motorcycles and other components from this source such as gearboxes were also employed. Cyclecars were half way between motorcycles and cars and were fitted with lightweight bodies, sometimes in a tandem two-seater configuration and could be primitive with minimal comfort and weather protection. They used various layouts and means of transmitting the engine power to the wheels, such as belt drive or chain drive and often to one rear wheel only to avoid having to provide a diferential.



Cycle cars had been around since at least 1895 when Hertle of Chicago was at the Time-Tribune race.

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1898 Oakman  or Hertle Runabout

Richard Oakman was the president of a cutlery and silverware company in Greenfield, MA, but he wanted to expand into the new field of automobile manufacture and sales. Oakman saw Max Hertel, a  former classmate of Carl Benz (of Mercedes-Benz in Germany) piloting a gas powered car on a Chicago Street in 1895. Impressed and intrigued, he hired Hertel to oversee production of the Oakman Automobile. This Oakman Motor Vehicle Company ad, shown below, emphasized the car's easy operation (the woman drives with one hand on the tiller) and its carriage-like elegance.

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1899 Oakman or Hertle

1898 Horseless Age Article

Those who were present at the Times-Herald race, at Chicago, in November, 1895, will recall the Hertel motocycle, a light vehicle, the main frame of which was made by joining two bicycles together at a sufficient distance apart to afford seating capacity. This little vehicle was not entered in the race, as it was manifestly unfitted for such work, particularly under the trying conditions of road and weather which prevailed there at that time. But it was favorably commented upon by the experts gathered together upon the occasion, and has served the inventor as a model for further study and experiment until from it has grown the light road carriage herewith shown, weighing only about 500 pounds, capable of the highest speed, and propelled by a jacketless gasolene motor. The general construction still retains the outlines of the bicycle, the front wheels being suspended from bicycle forks to relieve the steering lever of shock and jar. The rear or drive wheels are considerably larger than the front ones. The motor is horizontal and has two cylinders and developes about 3 HP. It is not encased, in order to permit a free circulation of air around it to carry away the surplus heat. The speed of the motor is variable through the intake, like the majority of vehicle motors now in the market. It is started from the seat by pressing a button. Transmission is direct to an inner rim of the drive wheels, no belts, gears or chains being employed. The control of the vehicle is in one lever, with the exception of the brake, which is operated by the foot. The manufacturers of the Hertel Carriages are the Oakman Motor Vehicle Co., Greenfield, Mass., who are preparing to turn them out in quantities.

Article from the July issue of the 1899 Horseless Age Magazine.

The Oakman Motor Vehicle Co., Greenfield, Mass., is undergoing reorganization at Philadelphia. On Thursday last, the Oakman Motor Vehicle Co., of America, was incorporated at Dover, Delaware, with a capital of $5,000,000, divided into 100,000 shares of $50 each. The new company will acquire all the patents, good will and property of the Oakman Motor Vehicle Co., of Greenfield, and will equip a large plant in the vicinity of Philadelphia. The directory is composed of the following gentlemen: R. N. Oakman, Greenfield, Mass.; Charles H. Cook, Trenton, N. J.; Richard G. Oellers, Philadelphia; Col. James H. Lambert, Philadelphia; Theodore P. Gittcns, Philadelphia; William Weinert, Philadelphia; Job. H. Jackson, Jackson & Sharp Co., Wilmington, Del.; Creed M. Fulton, Washington, D. C., and ex-Senator Jno. H. Patterson, Lancaster. Pa. Max E. Hertel. of Greenfield, and Thomas Shaw, of Philadelphia, will be the consulting engineers. Of the capital stock of the company $500,000 will be 7 per cent, preferred stock, subscribers to which receive an equal amount of common stock, full paid and non-assessable.

August Issue of the 1899 Horseless Age Magazine

The Oakman motor Vehicle Co. expects to retain and enlarge its present plant at Greenfield to develop it to supply the New England trade.

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1899 Advertisemet


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1899 Hertel Runabout

Article about Clark Automobile Auction Company, Long Island, NY, 1963

One successful bidder took the gavel at $2,500 for the 1899 Oakman-Hertel runabout. This two-cylinder, 2 1/2-hp vehicle operated on pulley drive. Said Clark, The basic plan of this little car was derived from two bicycle frames with the rest of the car in between. This fine example of one of Americas earliest machines was found in a garage in Lynn, Mass., years ago by John Leathers who purchased it for D. Cameron Peck. Cameron had the leather, solid rubber, and coachwork restored. Mechanically, it has never been touched.

The car brought spirited bidding. It was listed first among the cars, more due to age than anything else. In 1963, there was an extremely keen interest in brass-era horseless carriages. A Hertel, most likely a sole survivor of the brand, was something to be cherished by those who enjoyed the rare and unique. Early bidding probably hastened its rise in price. Since auctions of this magnitude were rare, bidders seemed more aggressive. No one knew if and when the next auction might take place anywhere in the land.

 As the seller indicated, there was no set pattern on how to construct a car in 1899. It was purely a matter of the builders preference and what would succeed through trial and error. Also known as the Hertel, the vehicle had sold new for $750 and was a step above some of the crude vehicles made at that time. The genesis of the Hertel stretched back to 1895. By 1900, the Oakman Motor Vehicle Co. of Greenfield, Mass., was in trouble and manufacturing soon ceased.

Orient Buckboard


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1903 Orient Buckboard

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1906 Orient Buckboard

The Orient buckboard was first built by the Waltham Mfg. Co. in Waltham, MA in 1903 and was advertised a the cheapest car in the world at $300 with a 4 hp engine that could travel at 35 mph. The frame and body was made from hickory and had no springs. The frame was flexible so it could ride over rough roads with no troubles. It was a two seater. Later, another seat was added. The Buckboard was sold  all over the world, from Java to Moscow, Russia. It was a casualty of the 1907 Bank Panic and 1908 was its last year. Starting in 1898, all of the Waltham automobile bodies were made by Currier, Camero, & Co., Carriage Co. in Amesbury, MA.


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1913 Imp Cycle Car

The Imp was made in Auburn, IN by the Imp Cyclecar Co., a subsidery of the W.H. McIntyre Co, makers of the High Wheel automobile. It had a 100-inch wheel base, 600 lb weight with a $375 price tag. It had no axles. The wheels were on the ends of a transverse springs that could ride with ease over rough roads. It could travel at 50 mph and 50 mpg. It was started by a crank that the driver inserted into the steering column which was connected with a ratchet through beveled gears.


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Imp tthe Second is the name of the 1915 cyclecar announced by the W. H. Mclntyre Co., Auburn, Ind. The new model of the Imp is quite a different car from the original Imp of 1914. The new model has a four-cylinder water-cooled motor instead of the two-cylinder V-type engine used in the earlier model. The friction drive is retained, but instead of final drive by V-belts, a single roller chainis used, driving a live rear axle. The new Imp instead of being a tandem seator, is now side-by-side, and in general appear- ance is like a standard roadster. The McIntyre company went bankrupt in 1914 and the Imp died with it.

Cyclecar Survives Rough Middle West Roads

Disproving the general contention that the cyclecar, as known in this country today, is not capable of traveling over the average American rough road, William B. Stout, of the Chicago Motor Club and designer of the Imp, a tandem seater cyclecar, drove one of these cars over the worst of Illinois and Wisconsin roads recently without encountering any great difficulties. Stout drove the Imp from Chicago to Milwaukee by way of Waukegan, over what he claimed was the worst route to be found in that section, at an average speed of 20 miles an hour. The return to Chicago was made over a better road and at a speed averaging 25 miles an hour until within 14 miles of Chicago when rain affected the magneto and caused the loss of two hours. Stout declared that the 36inch tread proved perfectly adaptable to the worst roads encountered and that the belt drive also worked without a hitch, even after several hours of running in water and mud.


The Princess was designed by C. J. Thornwill, previously designing cars in England, and had an English looking body. It was powered by a two-cylinder, twelve horsepower engine with a gearless transmission. The wheelbase was 92 inches with a 44 inch tread. The Princess Cyclecar Company organized by L. N. White in December with a capital stock of $200,000..

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1915 Princess  Cyclecar

Deliveries began in February, 1914 and was known as the Little Princess, but by September, the company was dissolved and sold to a group of Memphis, TN businessmen who reorganized  it as the Princess Motor Car Company with the car now known as Princess. Production began again with the capital fund being increased to $1,000,000. .Sixty-five were shipped to Ireland, but a goodly number was sole in this country.

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1917 Princess Touring

In Semptember of 1915, the company moved into larger quarters and the car was made into a four-cylinder, 25 horsepower light car and stayed that way until it went out of business in late 1918.

De Cross

It is doubtful if the De Cross Cy-Car manufactured by the De Cross Cy-Car Manufacturing Co, Cincinnati, OH, was ever put into production or whether the company was incorporated. It was put on the road and traveled from Cincinnati to Hamiliton and got 45 miles per gallon. The owners of the company were G. Dossler and Powell Crosley, Jr. Crosley later founded the Crosley company that made refrigerators and his radio was the first one to be installed as regular equipment in 1929.

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1913 De Cross Cy-Car
Copied from the December, 1913 Motor Age Magazine

The two riders in the experimental car are seated tandem, the driver being at the rear. A Spacke motor, set cross-wise at the front, furnishes the power, a shaft running back to a friction gear set under the front seat of the car. This friction is of very sturdy construction and has disks of 12-inch diameter. From the
jackshaft flat belts run to the rear wheels, these belts being of the special canvas construction and having idlers for tightening as on a motorcycle. The flat belts
have been used in mud and rain and have proved up well. The car is hung on quarter-elliptic springs bolted under the wood frame at either end. This leaves the
body somewhat high, but ample spring clearance is allowed at either end.

Los Angeles

In 1913, L. E. French designed his cyclecar known as the California and founded the California Cyclecar Company to build it. It bomb! later that year some new backers became interested and a new company, Los Angeles Cyclecar Company, was formed. All rights were given to this new company. The Los Angeles cyclecar was put into production that was priced at $375. A four-cylinder was  being made at the same time andmthe same chassis that was $475. For the next year, two models were made, but there is no figure of haow many before he closed down at the end of the year.

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1913 Los Angeles Cyclecar

The Los Angeles Cycle Car Co. has recently been incorporated under the laws of Arizona, has secured a factory site of sixteen acres a short distance outside of Los Angeles, and is making preparations for an output of about 250 cars per month during next season. L. E. French, who has formerly been a contributor to The Horseless Age, is designer and general manager.

Two cylinder and four cylinder models are to be produced, the former having a 10 horse power motor, with a bore and stroke of 3 x3 inches, giving a piston displacement of 70 cubic inches. It is air cooled by means of a 12-inch fan, and lubricated by a force feed oiler, distributing oil to all parts of the engine. The countershaft is connected to the engine through a friction drive, giving four speeds forward and reverse, and drive to the rear wheels is by means of two V-belts, which are tightened by a side level which shifts the rear axle. The countershaft is mounted on Hess-Bright ball bearings, and difference in speed of the two rear wheels is taken care of by slipping the belts.

Engagement of friction drive is controlled by a pedal, and another pedal controls the service brake, while the emergency brake is worked by the same lever as the belt tightener. Another side lever is provided for changing the speeds. The 28-inch wheels have heavy double swedged spokes.


The falcon Cyclecar Company was formed in Cleveland, OH, but withinn a short time, it was moved to Staunton, VA. The sales and advertisement departments also moved there in 1914. Francis. C. Hoyt was its designer. It was fitted with an electrical starting system and the gearing was done by a wheel within the steering wheel an invention of his own.  Its one huge fault was its wagon like suspension with the front wheels turning from the center on a king pin and was cable controlled. It survived its first long distance test, but pretty well shaken apart.  1914 was its last year.

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1913 Falcon Cyclecar

Copied from the 1913 Horseless Age Magazine

The Falcon Cyclecar Co. of Cleveland, O., recently formed to manufacture a cyclecar designed by Francis R. Hoyt, has given out the technical details of the new machine. The Dig.-! unique features of the design are the method of speed changing or gear shifting, which is accomplished by a second or auxiliary wheel, which may be seen in the cut within the outer or steering wheel; the automatic electric ignition system, which permits the car to be started or cranked from the seat, and the front spring suspension, which is claimed to give remarkably easy riding qualities over rough roads, the front springs beings arranged pivotally so that road shocks are not communicated from the wheels to the body. The special arrangement of the gear shifting device is said to obviate the necessity of the driver leaning forward and fussing with the gear shift lever, which is particularly aggravating under heavy traffic conditions.

The Falcon cyclecar is equipped with a two cylinder air cooled engine of a rated of 10 hp, the piston displacement being 70 cubic inches. A friction transmission is employed, and the final drive is through a 1% inch white strip V-belt. Left hand drive and centre control are features of this little car, which weighs only 325 pounds and is equipped with a seat starter. The frame is of semi underslung construction. The car has a wheelbase of 96 inches, a tread of 36 inches and 28x3 inch tires. The gasoline tank has a capacity of 9 gallons and the oil tank a capacity of one gallon. A tool box and a tool kit are provided.

The Falcon cyclecar will be manufactured in Cleveland, and a plant for the purpose will probably be erected on East 105th street, between Quincy and Quebec. Temporary headquarters have been established at 2344 East 105th street, Cleveland. The car is to sell at $385. The present company is only a development concern, and it is stated incorporation papers will shortly be filed for a new company with a capitalization of $250,000 to manufacture the cyclecar.

Woods Mobelette

Francis A. Woods built his Mobilette No. 1 in 1910 and after tinkering with it for two years, built Mobilette No.2 in 1912. It was touted as America's first cycle car. In late 1913, financial help was given by W. M. Sheridan, an investment banker, and he established his Woods Mobilette Company in Chicago. Its factory was located in Harvey tahat was a surburb of Chicago. Its distributer was the International Cyclecar and Acessory Company. In 1915,  he bought the distributing company. Mobilette No. 3 was shaft driven and a slidinfg gear transmission. His mobilette was constantly improvinng in horsepower and with a longer wheelbase. However, his price of $380 held constant.

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1913 Woods Mobelette Cyclecar
The first to be put into production.

Copied from the 1913 Horseless Age Magazine

The Woods Mobilette

The Woods Mobilette Co., 189 West Madison street, Chicago, III., are out with the announcement of a cyclecar designed by Francis A. Woods. This car seats two passengers tandem fashion. It has a wheelbase of 89 inches and is equipped with a 10 horse power air cooled motor of 3^ inch bore and 3 inch stroke. A friction drive of special design is used, and the drive to the rear axle is by shaft. The over-all height of the car is 48 inches, and its weight is about 450 pounds. Wire wheels are fitted 28 inches in diameter and with 2l/i inch pneumatic tires. The car is steered by means of a hand wheel at the top of a strongly inclined post. The frame is looped in at the sides so as to allow a large lock to the steering wheels, enabling the driver to turn at one sweep of the wheel in an ordinary city street. The flywheel of the engine forms a friction cone with which engages another cone of the same diameter with its axis perpendicular to the crankshaft axis. One of the faces of the latter cone is developed in the form of a friction disc with which engages a friction wheel on the forward end of the propeller shaft, which latter has no universal joints. This friction wheel can be slid along its shaft and brought into contact with the disc at a greater or smaller distance from the centre by means of a lever at the driver's right hand. Throttle and spark control levers are mounted on top of the steering wheel. The main frame is of pressed steel and is supported on the axles.


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1913 Woods Mobilette Advertisement

In putting out a sociable seated run- about at $380, with refinements over the previous models to the number of eighteen, the Woods Mobilette Co., Chicago, maintains that in the Woods Mobilette it has a ear that embodies all the features of ordinary motor car construction with the retention of but one of the cyelecar featuresthe 36-inch tread. In announcing the 1916 model, known as No. 5, the management emphasizes that it is not a eyelecar and does not look like cyelecar, retaining only one feature of that class, the narrow tread. Strenuous tests to determine the actual advantages of the 36-inch tread as represented in the Woods Mobilette construction, with its 10-inch clearance, the maker has decided upon this feature as a fixture for its ca

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1916 Woods Mobilette Automobile

By August, 1914, he was building 1000 per month. This was his peak year and sales began to shrink steadily until 1917, when production was stopped.


The Mercury Motor Car Company, Detroit, MI,   was organized in the fall of 1913 by W. G. Marshall and R. C. Albertus. Its prototype was ready one week later and its first car was sold a short time later. It had the bragging rights as the first cyclecar sold in Detroit. What few cars that were sold were to the Michigan State Automobile School.  Bankruptcy proceedings were brought against the company in mid-summer and the school bought company. They lowered the price to $200, but changed its mind and  Mercury Motor Car Company went under in 1914.

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1914 Mercury Cyclecar

Copied from the 1914 Horseless Age Magazine

We illustrate herewith the product of the Mercury Cyclecar Company of  Detroit, which recently leased the factory of the Tribune Motor Car Company, located at 807-15 Scotten avenue, Detroit. We are informed that the experimental work on the company's model has been completed, and orders have been given for material for a first lot of cyclecars for the early 1914 season.

The Mercury follows European design in having a narrow tread and seating the two passengers tandem fashion. A de luxe twin cylinder V-type air-cooled motor is fitted, and a friction disc drive is used which is located under the driver's seat. From the countershaft the power is transmited to the rear wheels by a pair of Vshaped belts. Both the front and rear fenders are crowned, and are supported concentric with the wheel hubs instead of on the bodies. The underslung construction is used both in front and rear, for the sake of safety as well as of appearance, but no sacrifice has been made in the matter of road clearance.

Dudly Bug


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1914 Dudly Bug Speedabout Cycle Car

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1914 Dudly Bug Cyclecar Automobile
The lights and fenders turn with the wheels

The Dudly Bug was made in Menominee, MI by H.F. Tideman, president of the Dudly Tool Co. of that city witth his brother's assistance. The prototype was made in 1913 and production started immediately. It featued a plantary transmission, double belt drive, and side by side staggered seating with front fenders that turned with the wheels. It had a laticework grill and two huge headlights that were bulged out to give it an appearance of a big bug. Like most of the others it lasted two years. Tideman tried another car called the Menominee, an electric.


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1914 Dudly Bug with Top
The lights and fenders move with the axle.

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The Staggered Seat Arrangement

Copied from the 1914 Horseless Age Magazine

One of the companies already well established in other lines who have turned their attention to cyclecars is the Dudly Tool Co., Menominee, Mich., which is a part of the Menominee Electric Mfg. Co., and is provided with a foundry and forge plant as well as
machine and finishing departments. Their new vehicle is within the cyclecar definition, having a piston displacement of between 69 and 70 cubic inches, and weighing only 550 pounds. The motor is V type, with two cylinders fore and aft and a starting crank at the right hand side, back of the frontwheel is carried on annular ball bearings.


Evidently, there were two companies making the Victor Cyclecars between 1914 and 1917. The one here is the one made by C. V. Stahl in Philadelphia with his Victor Motor Car Company.  He had been trying for several years to get get it into production. He tried again in 1913 with his car that he said could be either a cyclecar or a standard runabout. It was more of a runabout.

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1913 Victor

The Victor Motor Car Co., 271 Diamond street, Philadelphia, Pa., make a car which is on the border line between a cyclecar and a standard runabout. It has a four-cylinder water cooled engine with 3x4 cylinders, a cone clutch, three speed sliding gear, selective transmission and a bevel-driven rear axle. The wire wheels are fitted with 30x3 inch tires, and the wheelbase and tread are 90 inches and 52 inches, although wider tread can be furnished. The price is $475 without top and windshield, which are $25 extra.

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1913 Victor Cyclecar Factory Photo

In 1914, he lenghtened the wheelbase, but it did it still looke fat and squatty. With very few sales, he decided to move to South Carolina, where he got some financial help from A. G. Dale, and O. K. Mauldin. The company was reorganized as the Victor Motor Company with a capitol fund of $2,000,000. Production of a touring car was added to the line. but very few were sold. Several more moves were made without any positive results and by 1917, Stahl had given up hope and the company closed down.


Davenport, la., has been added to the list of towns which have produced the "first practical American cyclecar," this feat of engineering having been accomplished by the Zip Cyclecar Co. of that place. The Zip is provided with an air cooled two-cylinder motor of V-type located under the hood. The crank shaft is parallel to the length of the chassis and a high speed siblade fan furnishes cooling air. Ignition is by an Atwater Kent device. A simple universal slip joint and tubular propeller; shaft transmit the power to a friction disc which is mounted under the seat on a double annular ball bearing. When the disc is in action it is pressed against the fibre friction wheel by the powerful lever action of a pressed steel arm. The friction wheel is mounted on a heavy jackshaft supported on annular bearings, and is easily moved across the face of the friction disc, for obtaining different speed ratios by a lever.

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1913 Zip Cyclecar

The Zip Cyclecar Company, Davenport, IA, wwas formed in October ,1913 by R. W. Phelps, S. Decker, and Frtank Skinner. The first one was tested in November with a statemment that there was enough comfort for two men besides the driver and ample leg room for tall men. The Price was $395. Production was started immediately and in the summer, a commercial model would be added. The next announcement was in November stating that the company was bankrupt. 123 cars had been made.

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1914 Zip Cyclecar Advertisement

Evidently, they had plans for a light car before going bankrupt.


Copied from the 1913 Horseless Age Magazine

Comet Cyclecar Co. in Indianapolis

Within a few days articles of incorporation are to be filed in Indianapolis for the newly organized Comet Cyclecar Co., of that city. While the amount of capital stock has not yet been determined, it is announced the concern will have ample financial backing. Experiments on a cyclecar have been under way for some time. It is intended to manufacture twenty-five cars and try them out thoroughly before beginning manufacturing operations on a large scale. Those interested in the company are E. R. Parry and St. Clair Parry, of the Parry Mfg. Co., and who a few years ago were interested in the manufacture of the Parry automobile, and Marshall T. Levey, of the Thornton-Levey Co

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1914 Comet Cyclecar

, The Comet was priced at $500, which wasn't cheap for a cycle car. It had a 100-inch wheelbase with a 36-inch tread. The engine was an air-cooled, two-cylinder, 10-horsepower made by Spacke. Production began at the Comet Cyclecar Company, Indianaapolis, IN, in early 1914 and the promised  twenty-five were built and that was about all.


The American Manufacturing Company, Chicago, IL, put into production in 1914 their Pioneer automobile that was "a real car for real men", but "real men" did not drive cyclecars and especially one that was not much diferent from all of the others being made. It did not last until the end of the year.

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1914 Pioneer Cycle Car

Copied from the 1914 Horseless Age Magazine

Those who are anxious to belittle the new cyclecar developments have said that automobile makers will have nothing to do with the new type of vehicles. However, announcements have recently been made of several cyclecars which are backed by automobile builders of experience. Although not definitely so announced, it is understood that real automobile men are interested in the American Mfg. Co., 29 South La Salle street, Chicago, producers of the Pioneer cyclecar. This machine has an engine of the usual air cooled V-type, the cylinders being set at an angle of 45 degrees from each other. The horse power is said to be 12-15 under normal conditions. A Briggs dual magneto furnishes ignition current, and a mechanical starter is provided.

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Cycle Cars that completed a run from Chicago to Indianapolis for the Indianapolis Race in 1914.

Copied from the June Issue of the 1914 Horseless Age Magazine


Touring Cyclecars Parade at Indianapolis

One of the interesting sights witnessed by the army of automobilists in Indianapolis the day before the 500-mile race was the parade of cyclecars arranged by the Indianapolis Cyclecar Club for the reception of the touring cyclecarists from Chicago and Detroit. Nineteen cars participated in the parade with a band in a motor truck setting the pace. They created no little excitement as they passed through the business section of the city. The tours from Chicago and Detroit were successes though only a few cars participated in the run over the roads. The Chicago delegation was represented by five cars, including the Dudly Bug, Vixen and "Woods Mobilette and two Imps. The Detroit section consisted of four Scripps-Booths, one Cricket and a Mercury monocar.


Everitt Cameron had been building cars since 1899 with three different models, Eclipse Steamer, Taunton Steamer, and his Cameron gasoline car thhe was still making at his Cameron Manufacturing Company in West Haven CT when he decided to use a portion of his factory and produce a cyclecar in 1914. He had recently moved from Beverly, MA and built a new factory in West Haven. The car that he designed could be called a cyclecar or a light car. The man behind this venture was Edward Scheu, president of the Invader Oil Company.It was named the Euclid.  Its intial response was very favorable and extensive advertising was planed until they received notification that the Euclid name was their patent for one of their models. Scheu did not want a lawsuit so it was renamed the Grand Baby. The Grand Baby name did not help and Cameron got out and devoted his attention on his Cameron cars. The Grand Baby was no more by the end of the year.

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1914 Euclid

Copied from the 1914 Edition of the Horseless Age Magazine

Cameron in Euclid Motor Car Company.

E. S. Cameron, organizer of the Cameron Mfg. Co. and designer of its cars,,who entered the automobile industry, some 14 years ago, has recently entered the cyclecar industry. He is connected with the Euclid Motor Co., who have opened temporary offices at 80 Broad Street, New York. The company will operate a factory at West Haven, Conn., in a modern one-story structure containing 95,000 square feet of floor space.

Copied from the 1914 Horseless Age Magazine

Chicago Plans First American Cycle Car Contest

For the first time in the history of American motoring events, cycle cars will be seen in competition in the Around-Lake Michigan reliability contest of the Chicago Motor Club next September. The cycle cars will be required to compete with their larger brothers, the automobiles, but a special consideration will be given them in regard to the schedule. They will have to make only 75 per cent, of the speed of the automobiles.

Manufacturers of cycle cars who will be solicited for entries are the Economy Car Co., of Indianapolis; the California Cycle Car Co.. of Los Angeles; the Autoette Co., of Chrisman, 111.; the De Cross Cy-Cle Car Co., of Cincinnati; the W. H. McTntyre Co., of Auburn Ind.; Cyclecar Co., of Champaign; the Downing Detroit Co. and the American Voiturette Co., of Detroit. Several motorcycle manufacturers who arc experimenting with the cycle cars probably will be induced to show their hands and enter cars.

The rules for cycle cars will limit the piston displacement to 1,100 cubic centimeters, the weight to a minimum of 685 pounds. Each car must carry two persons at least. An entry fee of $15 per car will be charged, the total entry fees going to the purchase of a permanent cup for the winners




1914  O-We-Go Cyclecar

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O-WE-GO Automobile Advertisement

The O-We-Go Car Company was capitalized with a capital stock of $150,000 in February, 1914. It was better than most of its kind. The firm was intending to make its own two-clyinder, air-cooled engine, but they gave up that idea.  It was a tandem two-seater with friction transmission belt drive. The designer of the car was Charles Hatfield who had been the general manager of the Hatfield Truck Company in Elmyra and had built the Hatfield High Wheeler in Miamisburg, OH. The prototype was ready in 1914 and he had driven it to Yonkers, NY and back and the high speed was 58 mph. The production continued for a short time before it went into receivership and into bankruptcy.

The Smith Flyer

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Copied from the September, 1916 Issue of  Motor Age Magazine

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1919 Smith-Flyer Cyclecar

The A.O. Smith Co. of Milwaukee, WI built the Smith Flyer starting in 1915. Its frame was made of long boards attached to the axles with a two person seat mounted to the frame. No springs were needed in this type of construction because the wood was pliable and could react to the bumps on the roads. A fifth wheel driven by a gasoline engine would push the car. Before starting, the wheel would be raised and when it was ready, the driver would lower it with a lever. The Flyer was sold to Briggs & Stratton in 1920 and was made until 1923.

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Briggs and Stratton Flyer
Briggs and Stratton Co. Milawaukee, Wi.


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1914  Trumbull Runabout

The Trumbull Cyclecar was one of the best of this type made. It was powered by a four cylinder, 14 hp water-cooled engine and could travel at 50 mph. The roadster was priced at $450.00 and the coupe was $600.00. Its concept was the work of Harry Stoops and the engine was built by Herming Engineering Co. It was backed by the Seven Trumbull Brothers who owned the Connecticut Electric Co. The car was built under the direction of Stoops at the Amerucan Cycle Car Company and was supposed to be introduced under his name. In January, 1914. the Trumbulls bought the Stoops's design as well as the American Cycle Car Co. and organized the Trumbull Motor Car Company under their company's name.

Production of the Trumbull began in Bridgeport, CT shortly thereafter, but by this time the fad began to wane and cyclecars were in trouble. Of the 2,000 made, 1500 went overseas. When Harry Trumbull left for Europe on the Lusitania he took 20 with him.

Copied from the Automotive Manufacturers Magazine 1915 Edition


At a meeting of the stockholders of the Trumbull Motor Car Co. Bridgeport. Conn., held November 23. it was voted to petition the Superior Court to appoint a receiver to wind up the affairs of the company. It was incorporated for $300,000 and was supposed to be doing a satisfactory business, but the loss of an expected large foreign business due to the war and the death of the company's president, Isaac B. Trumbull, who was lost on the Lusitania, probably had much to do with the decision of the stockholders. All the officials of the company are connected with the Connecticut Electric Co., the two companies jointly occupying the same plant, and it is supposed that the purpose is to eliminate one of the organizations. Judge Edward K. Nicholson was appointed receiver by the Superior Court.


1920 Spacke Roadster Auomobile

Fred W. Spacke was one of the founders of the company that made the Reeves automobile and in 1905 established the F.W. Spacke Machine Co, Indianapois, IN, to manufacture automobile engines and components. A large number of the cyclecars had Spacke components.  Spacke died in January of 1915. Two years later, the business was sold to a group and the firm was renamed the Spacke Machine and Tool Company. It was announced in 1919 that a light car would be manufactured, but it was actually a cyclecar. It was discontinued in 1920.


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1914 Witchita Automobile

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The Wichita Performing a Hill Climb Made for a Normal Car

THe 1914 Wichita Cylce Car was designed and built by Eino Salimen of the Wichita Motor Car Company, Wichita Falls, Texas. It had a Spacke V-twin engine that wa visible through an opening in the hood. with a planetary transmission behind it. The wheel base was 102 inches and its tread was 36 inches. Its speed was reputed to be 55 mph. A long chain drive was from the motor to the rear wheels. very few were made.


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1914 Car-Nation

It was advertised as "The Car for the American Public" and was more than just a cycle car. It was put into production in 1913 by the American Voiturette Company in Detroit. The Car-Nation touring car was large for a cyclecar. It could carry four passengers. However, the roadster with driver and passenger in tandem was a typical cyclecar. It had a three speed transmission.  The company bought the full size Keeton Motor Car Co. and made the Keeton automobiles along side the Car-Nation. But in 1914, the company went into receivership control. A new firm renamed it the Car-Nation Motor Car Co. and had slated to make 600 Car-Nations and 100 Keetons for the following year, but it did not happen.

In 1910, Keeton left the Croxton-Keeton Car Company to start his own company which he did. In 1914 the owner of the Car-Nation company bought controlling interest in the Keeton company and absorbed it into the Carn-nation Company.

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1913 Advertisement showing the Keeton Automobile



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