Archive for 1929 Pontiac

Climber 1919-1924

William Drake, Clarence Roth, and Davis Hopson incorporated Climber Motor Corporation in Little Little Rock, AR in 1919. Factory construction began on January 9, 1919 at 1823 East 17th Street in Little Rock, AR. The Climber Motor Corporation had a vision to produce cars and trucks that would cope with the unimproved roads and terrain of the primitive road systems of the day.
Total production for the Climber Corporation was approximately 200 cars, and I have seen estimates of between 75 to 200 trucks. Regardless of the accuracy of the estimates, it was a relatively low production vehicle. Climber built two car models, the Climber Four–advertised as the Climber “Four-Forty” because of its four-cylinder, forty-horsepower engine, and the Climber Six. During early production the cars were available in three color combinations: dark maroon body with black hood and cream wheels; black body with dark green hood and red wheels; and battleship-gray body with black hood and white wheels. Later on the cars were available in solid color choices of brown, black, or Brewster green. Every Climber came with a tool bag with a set of tools consisting of a pump, a jack, a set of tire tools, a set of six wrenches, a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver. The photo above is a 1923 Climber. Below is an advertisement published in the Arkansas Gazette shortly after William Drake left the company, and it was re-organized in October of 1919. At the bottom of the ad is a photo of the factory, which I believe was placed as a historical building in 2005, so it should still be standing.

Later advertising compelled local buyers to buy the Climber to support the home state and to “Save the freight” cost. Even saving the freight, the Climber Six was priced at $2,250 as compared to a Ford Model T that was priced at $355 in 1920. In 1922 there were 96 Climber passenger cars and 8 Climber trucks licensed in Arkansas, while there were 43,772 Ford passenger cars and 5,205 Ford trucks licensed there.

Ability to obtain parts and the lack of sales brought the company to file bankruptcy early in 1924. In February 1924, the Pulaski County Court declared Climber Corporation bankrupt and put the corporation under control of a receiver. On March 17, 1924, the receiver sold the Climber holdings and the company closed. The building became a plant for an aircraft company.

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Aerocar 1906-1908

Alexander Malcomson formed the Aerocar Company in Detroit, Mich., in 1905, with production beginning with the 1906 model. Malcomson had previously been the largest investor in the incorporation of the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and had the most to lose if Ford failed as it did previously. Ford had a vision to build affordable cars for the masses but was persuaded by his main investor to build the Larger Model K shown below.

Malcomson started the Aerocar Company as a hedge to his investments in the new automobile industry. Since his large car was direct competition to the Model K, at the insistence of the other shareholders Malcomson sold his holdings to Henry Ford in 1906.

Malcomson built an 80,000 square foot building and began assembling the Aerocar Model D with air-cooled engines. French and German cars were having great success with expensive air-cooled vehicles, so Malcomson thought it would be the most profitable for his car too. By 1907 the Aerocar Model F fitted with a four-cylinder 45 hp water-cooled engine was introduced. The Automobile Journal reported there were three I907 Aerocar Models, C, D and F, using the same steering gear, the same type front and rear axles, the same change gear. They also shared the same propeller fitted with the well-known (at that time) Blood Brothers dust-proof and sell-lubricating universal joints, which were of high price but very reliable under early travel conditions. According to the Automobile Journal, the 1907 Aerocar Model “C” Touring Runabout had a Wheel base of 104 inches, weight of 1800 pounds and was ready for the road liclndlng horn, tools, and 5 lamps with a $2000 price tag. The 1907 Aerocar Model F touring car had a wheelbase of 151 inches, weighed 2500 pounds, and sold for $2750, including mats, horn, tools and 5 lamps. As a $150.00 option a cape top could be purchased. The advertisment below mentions an Aerocar Model A, which is not mentioned in the Automobile Journal or the 1907 edition of Directory of Domestic and Foreign Motor-Cars.

Malcomson returned to the coal business in 1908 after the Aerocar venture did not produce a return on his investments. Another Aerocar (not a related company) was also built from 1948 to present. It is a small four-passenger car that can be converted to a small airplane in about five minutes. Not many of these flying cars have been built. Neither company is related to the sixty-inch wheelbase “Aero Car” prototype flying car of 1921.

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Ace 1920-1922

The Apex Motor Corporation was formed in October of 1919 and produced the Ace Automobile in Ypsilanti Michigan from 1920 to 1922. O.W. Heinz was President and Fred M. Guy was chief engineer and Vice President. The new car company was started to meet the need of a car shortage in the western U.S. according to the Michigan manufacturer & financial record of 1920. The Ace featured an innovative motor with overhead valves driven by a gear instead of a camshaft. The following is a quote from August 1920 Automobile Journal.

“The new Ace car, manufactured by the Apex Motor Corporation, Ypsilanti, Mich., equipped with the new Guy disc valve engine, is creating much interest among motorists as the engine in this cars is equipped with a rotary type valve for which the manufacturer makes many claims. It is stated that this engine is the result of 10 years experimental work on the part of Fred M. Guy, vice president and chief engineer of the company. Eighteen months ago the first engine, a four, had been brought to a state of perfection which proved quite conclusively that this type of engine might mark a revolutionary advancement in valve construction. Since that time the entire engineering force has been concentrating on the development of a new six which at the present lime is stated to be ready for production on a large scale. The Ace engine valves are a series of discs, one in the combustion chamber of each cylinder. These discs are geared together in chain from a master gear driven from the crankshaft by worm. Each disc operates at one-eighth engine crankshaft speed and contains four slots cut in the form of a V from the periphery to the hub of the disc. These V shaped slots, in the process of the rotation of the disc, pass over ports which enter into the intake and exhaust manifolds of the engine. On the intake stroke of the engine four slots in the discs register with four ports in the cylinder, allowing the gas to enter the intake manifold. Several advantages are claimed for this method, chief among which is that scavenging of the cylinder is accomplished perfectly at any speed. Also, due to the perfect manner of handling the gases coming into and leaving the cylinders, a very high torque is obtained at low speeds which gives the engine unusual pulling power.”

The 1921 ad shown below touted the Ace’s advanced style and mechanical refinements. Four models were available, touring, roadster, brougham and sedan. At the top is the 1921 Ace coupe sedan and in the photos above you can see the Ace touring model along with the roadster. Early illustrations of a modern 12,000 to 15,000 square foot factory were used in advertising brochures, although the only real factory was the single building located on South River Street in Ypsilanti. Engineers Fred M. Guy and O. W. Heinz left the company to start the Heinz Motor Company project in April of 1921. The new President at Apex Motor Corporation, HT Hanover, could not make a go of the already financially troubled company. Creditors were asked for an additional year for repayment after re-organization and overhead cuts, but the company was sold to the American Motor Truck Company, maker of Ace passenger buses. The following quote was published in the 1922 edition of Bus Transportation.

“American Motor Truck Company. Newark. Ohio, reports that these vehicles are selling so rapidly that the company’s production facilities for the next ninety days have been doubled. The company is planning to exhibit at the botlv show to be held in New York in Janurarv and believes that afterward it will be necessary again to increase its production schedule.”

I have found no official report as to what they did with the factory; perhaps the new 25-passenger bus was built there? Feel free to post any reliable official references to this subject. Opinions or theories are welcome also, but state them for what they are.

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Anthony 1897

The Anthony was never marketed or mass-produced. It was an electric car built by 17-year-old Earle Anthony in Los Angeles, California. The Anthony Electric runabout was powered by an electric half-hp motor built from scratch. It utilized chain drive and could reach speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. The photo above is Earle Anthony with his 1897 electric car, in front of his garage where he most likely built it. The vehicle did not handle well, and it couldn’t go far without needing to be re-charged, a common problem for early electric cars.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles displays either a replica, or restoration of the car, built in the 1920’s using the surviving parts other than the original engine and wood. The car was in an accident in 1903, and the engine was cleaned up and mounted on a stand where it was displayed on the desk of Earle Anthony for years to come. Anthony owned radio stations and then went on to become the leading Packard distributor in Southern California when he opened a Packard dealership in San Francisco. The photo below is the Earle C. Anthony Packard Showroom located at 901 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. It was built in 1927 and is on the historic building registry. Opening night was attended by Hollywood starlets and was broadcast on one of Anthony’s radio stations.

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Howard Coffin began tinkering with automobiles while he was a college student. His first car was a steam-powered vehicle built in the late 1890’s, which he drove to deliver mail. Howard also built his first gasoline engines around 1898. Coffin had a desire to build automobiles of his own design, but because of his youth, thought he would not be able to secure finances to accomplish his dreams. To the best of my knowledge, there was no official Coffin Motor Car Company, as a manufacturer. There was a Coffin Motor Car Company that was a Harroun automobile dealer in Indiana according to the March 1917 Motor Age. The photo above is a 1901 Coffin steam car.

Oldsmobile hired Howard Coffin in 1902 as an engineer and by 1905 he was Oldsmobile’s chief engineer. Coffin had come up with a design for a new medium sized car for Olds to market between the large and smaller offerings. Shortly before production began the new car was canceled. Coffin decided to take his design and launch an automobile company of his own. Roy D. Chapin and Howard Coffin resigned from Olds effective March 1, 1906 and Chapin convinced E.R. Thomas (Owner of the famous Thomas Flyer Company.) to form a joint venture named the Thomas-Detroit Company. Thomas-Detroit was essentially an assembler for the Thomas Flyer Company. In February of 1909 the men wanted to realize the dream of starting their own independent automobile company. They struck a deal with wealthy department store owner Joseph L Hudson, who was the uncle of Roscoe Jackson’s wife. (Roscoe Jackson was another ex-Oldsmobile employee.) The new enterprise was named the Hudson Motor Car Company, after the financial backer, and held its first meeting of the board of directors on March 6, 1909. Production was set up in a building on Mack Ave. in Detroit, shown below.

Advertising for the new car dubbed as the Hudson twenty, convinced some 4,000 new customers to send in a $25 deposit for the car priced at $900. 1,108 Hudson automobiles were turned out in 1909. In May of 1910, work began on a large new Hudson factory on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. Hudson built 4,508 cars in 1910. Coffin would serve as Vice-President for the next 25 years. The photo below is Howard Coffin at the wheel of a 1905 Olds.

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Coates–Goshen 1908 – 1910

The Coates-Goshen was produced by Joseph Saunders Coates in Goshen, New York. Automotive industries reported $150,000 was raised for a new factory at 183 Greenwich Avenue Goshen, NY with a capacity of 150 units for the year.

The cars had four-cylinder engines of 25-hp and 32-hp and in 1910, larger 45 and 60-hp models were built. Some sources say the factory burned down and they closed after they built only 30 cars. This story makes no sense with the advertisements and records for years of production. Others sources say the building still stands as of 2010  retaining its original look as Healey Brothers Chevrolet-Buick.

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Breeze 1909-1910

The Jewel Carriage Company of Cincinnati, Ohio built the Breeze.
This high wheeler car was upholstered in green leather and equipped with lamps, (As a safety precaution, some period owners manuals warned drivers to blow out the lamps when re-fueling to avoid an explosion.) horn, top with rollup storm front, and solid rubber tires. There were 8 Breeze models in all to choose from according to the advertisements in the May, 1909 Farm Journal, selling from $425 to $850. The Farm Implement News, New Car Buyers Guide, had the Breeze listed available as a 1910 model, but I find no reference of production later than that.

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Buckmobile 1902-1905

W.H. Birdsall built the first prototype Buckmobile in 1901. The introduction of the car was announced in the June, 1902 Horseless Age and the Buckmobile was one of 114 exhibitors at the November, 1902 New York Auto Show.

The first Buckmobile factory was located in the old Utica Automobile Company plant (which Buckmobile succeeded) at the intersection of John and Catherine streets in Utica, NY. When production exceeded plant capacity Buckmobile relocated to 708 Genesee Street at the intersection of Shepherd Place in Utica. The Utica Automobile Company building remained in operation as a retail automobile dealership offering Wintons, Oldsmobiles, Locomobiles, Electrics and Buckboards.

Childs Company in Utica (just a few blocks away) built the wood coachwork for the Buckmobile roadsters and runabouts from 1903 to 1905. The car was built with leather seat and aluminum fenders. The gasoline capacity was 6 gallons that allowed the 2 cylinder vertical engine to run the car 100 miles with a top speed of 25 miles per hour. The engine was under the seat until 1905, the hood was only for style. The Buckmobile was a single chain drive vehicle with two speeds forward and one reverse controlled by one lever. The wheels could be ordered as either wire or artillery wood construction and either lever or wheel Steering could be ordered. The car listed for $1,850.00 in 1904.

In June of 1904 Motor Age announced the Black Diamond Automobile Company of Geneva, New York would consolidate with Buckmobile and had also purchased the Remington automobile plant to produce practically the same machines being made by the Buckmobile. In November  of 1906 “The Automobile”  reported the Seaton Automobile Company, of Utica, was organized and had purchased the plant of the Black Diamond Automobile Company on Sunset avenue. Legal documents show it was purchased at the Sheriff’s sale on October 17 by the former president of the Buckmobile Company, A. J. Seaton.

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Buggycar 1908-1909

Some sources say the Buggycar Company started in 1907, but they are not listed in the 1907 edition of vehicles sold in the United States. Motor Age reported in 1908 that “Cincinnati capital has purchased the plant of the Postal Auto and Engine Co., of Bedford, Ind., and moved it to Cincinnati. Those interested have incorporated under the name of the Buggycar Co.”

The Buggycar was built with a two cylinder air-cooled engine under the seat rated at 14 horsepower according to the advertisements. Final drive to the rear axle was by cable and the vehicle was equipped with solid rubber tires. Motor Age also reported for 1909 The company will make improvements with an 18 horsepower friction-drive car with only three working parts and equipped with 36 and 38-inch artillery “wheels with solid rubber or cushion tires.

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Cleveland Motor Car Company

Cleveland Motor Car Company  was started in the early 1900’s by E. J. Pennington in Cleveland, Ohio. Certainly not to be confused with the Cleveland Automobile Company started by F.C. Chandler in 1919–the two companies are not related. It is not clear to me when he actually built his cars, maybe 1903-1908 (?). Above is the 1907 Cleveland and below is the 1905 Cleveland ad. I have seen many conflicting reports each stated with confidence, so I have used dates that have been published in periodicals of the time and advertisements. Very few cars were advertised that were not built such as the Davis, advertised from 1930-1932 in hopes of re-opening the factory that had been foreclosed.

Before the Cleveland Motor Car Company, E.J. Pennington built The Tractobile from 1900-1902 in Carlisle, PA. The steam-powered device could be attached to any horse drawn carriage to make it into an automobile. The steam motor was connected to a removable frame built between two bicycle wheels with a tiller connected to the right wheel. The Tractobile advertisements used an acrostic for Steam Engine.
Simple, Trusty, Economical, Ample power, Mechanical, Efficient, Noiseless, Gearless, Interchangeable, No complications, Exhaust invisible.
The Tractobile sold for $450.00 by itself, or a complete car could be ordered for $625.00 ($650.00 with rubber tires). There is a photo below.

When estimating production numbers for automobiles in the New Year, the January 7,1904 issue of Motor Age stated, “A new and unknown quantity in the local field is the Cleveland Motor Co., a concern headed by E. J. Pennington.”  In the same issue it was reported that “Only one Cleveland retailer failed last season”. This is why I used 1903 for a start date. That seems to fit with the discontinued idea of the steam engine device as well. The ad at the top is a 1905 Cleveland model.

The July 6, 1905 issue of The Automobile reported Pennington was working on a huge 208-horsepower road juggernaut with a locomotive “cow-catcher” in front. Below is a photo of the Pennington built car from 1895 with a cow catcher attached, most likely his original idea, not the model reported he was working on in 1905. (208 horse on this ride would be frightening.)

Motorized baby carriages were also mentioned as one of the ideas Pennington had in other publications. E. J. Pennington certainly had a history of coming up with ideas to make money that didn’t work out, and cost his investors a great deal of money. The New York Times reported June 28th 1904 that E.J. Pennington was arrested for fraud at the St. Louis World’s Fair. After his death on March 10, 1911 the New York Times article Claimed his life was out of the adventures of the get-rich-quick variety. It also stated he was married again hours after his wife was buried.

Horseless Age January 1908 said “the Cleveland Motor Car Company began making important changes in its organization. It disposed of its factory in Cleveland, and made arrangements to build a new factory at Milwaukee. Early last summer At the same time the main office and sales department were removed from Cleveland to 1659 Broadway, New York, where all the business of the company is now transacted. The company decided to build 300 cars during the coming year, and to dispose of its product entirely through branch offices.” Below is a scan of the specifications for the Cleveland out of a book with all the vehicle specifications for all cars and trucks sold in the United States in 1907.

I have found no other mentions of a Cleveland factory in WI, so I have used the 1908 for an end of production. By 1913 there was a tire store located in the NY office address listed earlier.

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