In a time before massive overregulation by
the government, even starting your own car manufacturing business was a lot simpler. In the early part
of the 20th century there were dozens of independent car companies that vied for the hard-earned money
of a public growing increasingly demanding of modern conveniences both in the home and outdoors. Unlike
recent history where an overreaching government decides who the winners (e.g.,
Chevrolet - aka Obama Motors) and losers (e.g., Pontiac) are, market
forces (i.e., the public) decided which companies deserved to thrive and
which deserved to push up corporate tulips. This series of sketches by Douglas Rolfe gives you an idea
of some of the early contenders.
See Auto Progress Memory Lane
Auto Progress Memory Lane Collection No. 2
By Douglas Rolfe
Rambling down Memory Lane once more we run into a number of cars famous in American automobile history
and regarded with great affection by their owners. Some of these makes we will encounter yet again on
further rambles. It will be impossible, for example, to pass up the last model 24 of the Pierce-Arrow
which anticipated modern body styling by almost a decade and to an extraordinary degree. It will be
noted that the cars illustrated on these pages range in styling all the way from the curious old rear-entrance
tonneau types to such slinky jobs as the custom Pierce of 1920, and that such refinements as oleo shock
absorbers. doughnut tires and automatic: gearshifts have already put in their appearance that is to
say by 1920. As a matter of record the electric gearshift goes as far back as 1913, and all the cars
shown with the exception of the vintage models such as the Pope-Toledo and the early Peerless had full
electrical equipment, including self-starter and horn. Steel disc: wheels had become common and were
gradually replacing the old and cumbersome detachable rim. Emphasis has been given to open models, since
even In 1920 they predominated.
For more than 30 years one of proudest names in U.S. auto history, Peerless dropped out in 1932.
This is 1904 Peerless Model 14.
The 1912-13 Model 32 Roadster by Hupmobile. The "Hup," which gave up ghost in '41 after more than
30 years of life, earned rep as a top car in medium-priced field.
Zero weather held no terrors for proud owners of this 1923 Franklin Sedan. From 1902 till '32 Franklin
specialized in cars having air-cooled engines, while their resilient all-wood chassis and elliptical
springs made them most comfortable riding autos of the day.
Pope Manufacturing Company produced this 1904 chain-drive Pope-Toledo. This early firm (1897-1912)
also put out a Pope-Hartford.
Another great name was Locomobile (1899-1929). General Pershing's WW I staff car shown here had steel
disc wheels, V-type windshield and what looked like jeep-style fenders.
This sleek Gray Goose of Wills St. Claire Co. (1921-1926) had V-eight engine styled after Hispano-Suiza
The Owen-Magnetic (1916-1920) was one of the first cars in the world able to advertise pushbutton
(electric) gearshift - in this case standard equipment.
The "chummy roadster" enjoyed a brief vogue. The above 1919 model Chandler (1912-1929) was priced
at $1795, boosted 14-16 miles to the gallon and promised at least 6,000-8,000 miles on one set of tires!
Product of a true pioneer car company, this 1920 custom-built Pierce-Arrow Phaeton was the last word
in luxury car design of its time. Pierce-Arrows rolled the roads from 1901 until 1938. This one was
for a Hollywood actor.
Familiar sight in pioneer days - rear-entrance tonneau body with no weather protection at all.
The "Eight with eighty less parts" was how Apperson blurbed this 1920 touring model. Apperson (1905-1926)
labeled its eights with the catchy term "Jackrabbit."
Posted October 25, 2014
Douglas Rolfe Drawings
May 1961 American Modeler
Progress: The Jet Engine, July 1951 Air Trails
Air Progress: The Bristol Story, November 1948 Air Trails
Progress: Down Memory Lane III, December 1954 Air Trails
- Auto Progress:
Memory Lane Collection No. 2, August 1954 Air Trails
Air Progress Famous Firsts, August 1954 Air Trails
Air Progress: Japanese Air Force World War II Fighters, December 1954 Air Trails
Air Progress: Lindbergh Era (1927-1929), July 1954 Air Trails
Air Progress: The Search for Speed, November 1950 Air Trails
Air Progress: Soviet Air Force Latter Day Types, March 1955 Air Trails