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 "Auto Progress Memory Lane" sketches by Douglas Rolfe, in a 1954
issue of Air Trails magazine, 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
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 powerplant.
The Owen-Magnetic (1916-1920) was one of the first cars in the
world able to advertise pushbutton (electric) gearshift - in this case standard
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
Posted July 21, 2023
(updated from original post
Douglas Rolfe Drawings
Post-Pusher Parade, May 1961 American Modeler
Air 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
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