Archive for July, 2011

Cleveland 1919-1926

F.C. Chandler in Cleveland, Ohio founded the Cleveland Automobile Co. in February of 1919. Chandler had already organized the Chandler Motor Car Company in January of 1913. The Cleveland was to be produced as a lower-priced companion automobile to the already successful Chandler. Fisher Brothers built the Cleveland body before they built bodies exclusively for GM after becoming a division of General Motors in 1926. As was common for that era, only two colors were available, coach blue and devil blue, with gold edged black stripes. Interiors were appointed in black leather. The photo above is a 1924 Cleveland.

Chandler Motor Car Company built more cars than any other car manufacturer in Cleveland in 1920 but sales declined for both the Chandler and Cleveland automobiles in1921 and the two companies consolidated as Chandler-Cleveland Motors Corp. In 1926 the Cleveland name was discontinued and the company continued to build only the Chandler. In December of 1928 the company was sold to the Hupp Motor Car Corp. of Detroit, who purchased the company strictly for the facilities to increase production of the Huppmobile.

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Chase 1907-1912 (Trucks through 1919)

Aurin M. Chase started the Chase Motor Truck Company in 1907 employing about 200 factory workers at 332 south West Street in Syracuse, New York. The plant manufactured frames, bodies, transmissions, and engines. The early Chase vehicles were fit with a three-cylinder, two-cycle air-cooled engine of their own design. I see a listing for three Chase trucks, along with specifications, in the 1907 publication of the Illustrated Directory of Specifications, but no Chase cars are shown. This announcement was published in The Municipal journal & public works publication in 1907 “The Chase Motor Car Company has been awarded contract for a runabout gasoline automobile for the Department of Public Works.”

Chase had the idea to build a basic gasoline-fueled highwheeler that could be transformed into either a truck or a passenger car. This idea is still used in contemporary production. The Chevrolet HHR (Heritage High Roof) was built on a Chevy Cobalt automobile chassis, and the PT Cruiser utilized the Neon automobile chassis.

In the July 1, 1909 publication of Automotive Industries reported the Chase Motor Truck Company, Syracuse, N. Y., is now bringing out a surrey or business wagon. Chase was introducing a vehicle for a combination of business and pleasure. The surrey type body was fit with a removable rear seat that converted converted the vehicle into a runabout for two. The removed rear seat also provided a large space in the rear for luggage or cargo. It reminds me of the El Camino, or even the Suburban/Tahoe with removable and folding seats. A canopy style top could also be purchased at an additional cost to the regular price of $900, according to the car show roster published in The Horseless age, another automobile trade magazine.

By 1909 the company was producing a two-cylinder air-cooled engine with 129 cubic inches and 12 horsepower. Chase focused advertising on the simplicity of the vehicles and the air-cooled engines, “which means that there is no pump, no water to be renewed frequently, no piping to leak, nor any other sources of trouble.” The September 1, 1909 edition of The Power Wagon, a commercial vehicle trade magazine of the day, complimented them on the simplicity of their ideas by stating “Their engineering is expressed in exceedingly simple form.” A full description was included in the article.

In 1912 the company had doubled their business in a little over a year, so production of the one-ton truck, with chain drive, wooden carriage wheels and solid tires was supplemented with a variety of Continental engines. Chase would eventually use the four-cylinder engine from Continental as the standard truck power plant.

In the August 16, 1913 “Telephony magazine” The American Telephone Journal,
It was about the Chase fire truck.

“With a truck of this kind the fire fighting company, upon receipt of an alarm by telephone or through the regular channels, could make a record breaking run to the scene of the fire. It will be noticed that the truck carries all the essentials with which to quench an incipient fire. It arrives on the scene long before the mandrawn or horse-drawn vehicles can get a fair start in the direction of the fire. Used in towns having telephone fire alarm service, the fire losses should be small.”

The text in quotes above was taken from that telephone periodical. Below is a photo of the fire hose truck built for the Ontario Hose Co., of Canandaigua, N. Y., by the Chase Motor Truck Company.

Chase Motor Truck Company ended production of passenger cars in 1912 to focus on building the profitable trucks. During World War I production of trucks were focused on the military, but many contracts were cancelled by the government which put a significant number of truck builders out of business. Financial problems arose at Chase as a result of contract losses and providing replacement parts to customers. . Chase also built tractors from 1911 until 1919 but shortly after the war the demand for tractors leveled off also and Chase was sold to a Canadian parts supplier in 1919.

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Bendix 1907-1910

Vincent Bendix, son of a Methodist minister, was a self made man who built an automotive parts company still doing business today with his name on it.

In 1904 Bendix was the general sales manager for Holsman, a car that was a four-passenger buggy riding on carriage-style wooden wheels with solid tires and powered by a small two-cylinder engine with a chain drive built in Chicago. In 1907  Bendix left Holsman along with O.M. Delauney to buy the floundering Triumph Motor Car Company. Bendix began production of a self-named car, and a second new car named the Duplex, while Delauney worked to revive the Triumph. The July 1, 1908 edition of Horseless Age reported a hitch occurred in the negotiations between the Bendix Automobile Company, of Chicago, and the Business Men’s Committee of Logansport to move operations, but history records that in 1908, the Bendix Company did relocate from Chicago to Logansport, Indiana. The photo above is the 1909 Bendix and the photo below clearly has the Bendix name on the radiator, but I don’t know what year it is. You can see they are both have right hand steering with chain drive.

By 1910 Bendix was building his brakes and parts company and decided to quit building automobiles. The self-starter had already appeared as factory-installed equipment on the 1912 Cadillacs when Bendix filed his application for a patent on a mechanically operated starter drive on March 31, 1919. He was awarded the patent and became very wealthy building the automotive parts giant that bears his name today. Bendix sold the majority of his stock in his company to General Motors in the 1920’s.

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Chalmers 1908-1924

In 1907 Hugh Chalmers and E.R. Thomas became partners in the Thomas-Detroit Automobile Company that was building automobiles since 1905. The new factory was located on East Jefferson Avenue west of Connor Creek at what was then the Grosse Pointe border in Detroit MI. When Chalmers bought Thomas’s stock in 1908 the company was renamed Chalmers-Detroit Motor Company.

In December of 1909 “The Automobile” and “The Horsless Age”, two period automobile journals, announced that Chalmers-Detroit and Hudson companies would separate. The Automobile reported that Hugh Chalmers would be trading his shares of the Hudson Motor Car Company for shares of stock in the Chalmers-Detroit Motor Company and the two badges will become two separate companies no later than July 1, 1910. With Chalmers now having full control after the deal, the name of the again re-organized company became simply the Chalmers Motor Car Company. By 1910 Chalmers had a complex of sixteen manufacturing buildings on thirty acres with a total floor space of one million feet and over 4,000 workers. Below are production and factory photos of the Chalmers factory taken around 1910.

Chalmers produced very popular cars, with production rates hitting some 20,000 units in 1915 but sales were declining by 1917. The photo below is a 1915 Chalmers taken in front of the W.S. Seaman Auto Bodies plant. From 1909 through 1919 Seaman produced passenger car bodies for Chalmers, as well as: Case, Chicago Electric, Columbia Taxicab, Dorris, F.A.L. (Falcar), Franklin, F.W.D., Hudson, Jonas, King, Kissel, Lafayette, Locomobile, Lozier, Marmon, Mitchell, Moline, Moline-Knight, Oakland, Packard, Pierce-Racine, Rambler, Regal, Stevens-Duryea, Velie and Westcott as well as winter tops for Ford and Cadillac. I believe they also built some early telephone booths and switchboards for Chicago’s Western Electric Company.

In 1921, Walter P. Chrysler acquired Chalmers and Maxwell adding a network of dealerships to his deploy for the new Chrysler he would introduce in 1924. Maxwell then re-named “The Good Maxwell”, would increase sales to 48,850 units in 1922 and become very profitable, while the Chalmers subsidiary lost $1,000,000 that same year and the decision was made to discontinue its production by the end of 1923. Some sources that I have read claim that Chalmers was discontinued in 1921 or 1922, but below is a 1923 ad, and the photo at the top is also a 1923 Chalmers Sedan.

I have also seen magazine ads for the 1924 Chalmers, but there could not have been many built since late in 1923 the new 1924 Chrysler would be built in the factory. I believe the last vehicles built in the old 1907 plant before it was torn down was Chrysler’s K-cars.


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Berkshire 1905-1912

The Berkshire was built in Pittsfield, Mass, by The Berkshire Automobile Company, which moved operations to Cambridge, MA in 1912. You can see from the above photo of the 1911 Berkshire that it was a right hand drive car.

In March of 1905 The Horseless Age reported Berkshire Automobile Company had completed their first touring car propelled by a 30 horse power, four cylinder motor. The Dec 28, 1905 issue of The Automobile stated The Douglas Andrews Company of New York, had secured the selling agency for the entire output of the Berkshire Automobile Company and would probability open stores in the large cities. I don’t know how that actually unfolded. The 1906 ad below advertises a 24 horse power motor that sold for $2500 and a 35 horse power motor that sold for $3000.

The Jan 11, 1912 issue of The Automobile reported The Berkshire Automobile Company decided to move to Cambridge, Mass to a temporary factory while a new building was erected. Vintage ads show fours and sixes were available for 1912.

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Car Deluxe 1906-1908

The Car De Luxe was a high quality, expensive, seven passenger Touring Car first produced in Toledo, Ohio in 1906 by the Deluxe Motor Car Company. In 1907 investors purchased The Company and operations were re-located to Detroit, MI. The Car Deluxe had a Selling price of $4,750 and had a new patented rear axle featured below in this 1907 magazine ad. The photo at the top is a 1908 model.

The luxury auto maker was struggling with less than a reported 100 units built and the Deluxe Motor Car Company was purchased by Walter Flanders, one of the founders of E-M-F (Everett-Metzger-Flanders) Motor Company. Flanders was one of the earliest mass production experts in the automobile industry and was the production manager for Ford Motor Company until he purchased Deluxe Motor Car Company and co-founded E-M-F. It was Flanders who increased Ford production with the assembly line improvements, E-M-F hoped to convince the public that this new automobile company could produce a $2500 car by its mass production methods and sell the result at $1250, essentially twice the car for half the price.

Industry journal, “The Automobile” reported a rumored purchase price of $800,000, backed with money from the Studebaker brothers, which the journal reported, was not confirmed or denied. Some kind of deal was arrived at with Studebaker since over half of the cars built by EMF in the facility in 1909 were badged Studebaker-EMF, a lower priced model Studebaker used to compete with Buick. I have seen recent photos of the building and you could still see EMF and Studebaker painted on the backside.

Flanders could not keep sales through his dealer network to pace with production in his new efficient factory. In 1912 Studebaker purchased EMF and the Studebaker Six was produced in the factory that was once home of the Deluxe Motor Car Company. Above is a 1912 E-M-F Studebaker, one of the last produced before Studebaker bought out the company.

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