Monthly Archives: November 2015

Let’s Share our History

One of the things I like about being an automotive historian is uncovering the story behind the business or events. A couple of times, I’ve been contacted by descendants of auto executives and workers wanting to share or learn information about their relatives.

1919 Premier sedan
1919 Premier sedan

I was contacted by the granddaughter of Dr. J. C. Flowers, a prominent physician and financier in Joliet, IL, who was the chief financial engineer of the syndicate that purchased Premier Motor Car Company in 1915. She further elaborates that her grandfather was president and general manager, as well as a member of the board of directors. She also notes the re-incorporation by her grandfather and the original syndicate of the Premier Motor Corporation on October 23, 1916. She referred me to Moody’s Analyses of Investments as an additional research resource.

This is all new information to me that was not reflected in my information resources or writing about Premier. She adds new light to the story about sharing our history.

1913 Henderson Roadster
1913 Henderson Roadster

One of the grandsons of Charles P. Henderson, president and sales manager of the Henderson Motor Car Company, contacted me wanting to know more about the company. I’ve found Henderson reference material to be scarce. I have a few copies of Henderson Bulletins and a couple photos, that’s about it.

But, while researching the Indianapolis Star digital archives at the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library website, I found information about the plant location and the company’s efforts to aid victims of Indianapolis’ March 1913 flood.

His inquiry prompted new discoveries that add to sharing his and our story.

I believe it is important to share the story of our ancestors whoever and whatever they did. In the past year I tried to piece together the story of my paternal grandfather, but the story was short because no one shared it in writing and photos.

So, what can we do for those who come after us? I suggest we write stories and collate photos of our fathers and mothers so that our descendants have some idea about their ancestors.

Everyone has a story. Let’s all contribute a small part in the story of life.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.

1899 Haynes-Apperson Long Distance Run

Last week at the James Madison lecture sponsored by Indiana Automotive, I was reminded of the 1899 Haynes-Apperson long distance run of about 1,000 miles from Kokomo, IN, to Brooklyn, NY. Elwood Haynes and Edgar Apperson drove a recently completed Haynes-Apperson two-passenger phaeton from the factory for delivery to a Brooklyn physician.

1899 Haynes-Apperson phaeton
1899 Haynes-Apperson phaeton

The machine was built to order for Dr. Ashley Webber of Brooklyn for use it in his practice. Before accepting it, Dr. Webber stipulated that the carriage be of a serviceable character and could be relied upon to stand heavy, continuous use. To put it to a severe practical test, Haynes and Apperson undertook to drive it from Kokomo to Brooklyn and deliver it in perfect order.

That’s an outstanding test over roads of the day which were only paved in urban areas, with travel into the country usually being attempted in fair weather. Rain quickly turned country roads into thigh-deep mud ruts. In fact, the first day’s run on July 17, from Kokomo to Portland, IN, was made in less than seven hours at the rate of 11.8 miles an hour over roads heavy with mud. The wheels of the auto carried some fifty pounds of mud at the end of the day. Because of the muddy roads, they rested in Portland for one day.

They proceeded to Cleveland and then along the shores of Lake Erie to Buffalo. Next, their route lay along the line of the New York Central railroad and through the Mohawk Valley to Albany, and down the left bank of the Hudson to New York and Brooklyn.

After arriving, Elwood Haynes commented to New York newspapers: “We have every reason to feel fully satisfied with the machine. The test was made solely to prove the durability of the carriage. Had we desired to make high speed we could have come through in half the time.

All of our running was done in the day-light. I estimate the distance at 1,050 miles. We should have had the exact figures if our cyclometer had not gotten out of order. We did not discover that it had stopped until we ran about 150 miles.

The fastest run was between Buffalo and Syracuse, where our average was 18.4 miles an hour. Our highest speed was 20 miles an hour, but this could have been greatly exceeded. Friday we ran 105 miles between Schenectady and Fishkill, where we laid over for the night.”

The Haynes-Apperson automobile arrived in Brooklyn at 4 pm, Saturday, August 8, completing the longest run yet made in America. There were no break-downs on the entire run of over 1000 miles. The carriage was in good working order, and the trip was greatly enjoyed by the passengers. The number of days actually required for the run was 10, though the time occupied by the journey was 21 days.

At the time, the Haynes-Apperson phaeton set the American long-distance record and was the most talked-about “horseless” machine on the continent.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

How are Thanksgiving and cars related?

I have a question for all you enthusiasts. How are Thanksgiving and cars related? No, I don’t mean hopping in the family car for the long expected drive to grandma’s house for that great turkey dinner.

I am referring to an event on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1895, six (motocycles) an early name for automobiles, started on the Chicago Times-Herald Race, America’s first automobile race to Evanston, Illinois. Beyond Chicago’s city limits only the builders and owners of cars seemed interested, but the race was perhaps the event that brought attention to the birthing of America’s auto industry.

Herman H. Kohlsaat, publisher of theChicago Times-Herald, announced plans for the Chicago race after reading about the Paris-Bordeaux race in June 1895. He designated $5,000 for prize money and $5,000 for necessary expenses. As part of the promotion for the race, the Times-Herald offered a prize of $500 for the best name suggested for the horseless vehicle. The name motocycle was awarded the prize in lieu of automobile.

Haynes Pioneer II replica
Haynes Pioneer II replica

The original race was scheduled for November 2, but of the 76 prospective entries listed only two cars appeared on that date. The publisher postponed the race to Thanksgiving Day. On that date, Chicago awakened to find the ground and rooftops covered with four inches of snow. This was an unfortunate event for Elwood Haynes and Elmer Apperson of Kokomo, Indiana. Their new Pioneer II automobile skidded in the snow and broke a wheel in an attempt to avoid a streetcar track rut while making its way to the starting line. With no spare available, their hopes to compete ended. However, the Haynes-Apperson entry did receive a $150 prize for its meritorious design feature — the reduction of vibration by balancing the engine.

Two electric and four gasoline motocycles awaited the starting gun in Jackson Park. The two electric vehicles were not serious contenders, because their owners had not been able to arrange for recharging stations along the route. Three of the gasoline vehicles were Benz cars imported from Germany. The fourth gasoline machine was the Duryea Motor Wagon built in Springfield, Massachusetts, and driven by J. Frank Duryea.

Lots were drawn to see who would be sent off first. Duryea won and was off at 8:55 a.m. The R.H. Macy & Company owned Benz passed Duryea for the lead in the early running. Duryea regained the lead by the halfway mark in Evanston and passed the second relay station at North Clark and Devon Avenue at a good rate. Less than 50 people saw the late stages of the race when Duryea finished at 7:19 p.m. The H. Mueller & Company owned Benz crossed the finish line second at 8:53 p.m.

The Duryea car won $2,000 for first place, with the Mueller-Benz receiving $1,500 for second place. They were the only cars to finish.

The Chicago Times-Herald Race revealed the possibilities of the automobile. On the day after the race thousands of people read the newspaper accounts and began to consider the prospect of being able to drive a car. Volume 1, Number 1, of The Horseless Age in November 1895, reported “Those who have taken the pains to search below the surface for the great tendencies of the age, know that a giant industry is struggling into being.”

It is interesting to think that America’s infatuation with automobiles probably started on Thanksgiving Day in 1895. That’s one reason why I’m thankful. Happy Turkey Day.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

Automotive Advertising Slogans

One of the things I like about collecting automobilia is finding automotive advertising slogans. Here are some examples from Indiana-built automobiles.

1912 American Underslung ad
1912 American Underslung ad

Apperson 8 “The Eight with Eighty Less Parts”
American Simplex (later) Amplex “The valveless two-cycle car” and “The car that has no valves.”
American Underslung “A Car for Discriminating Buyers.”
Black Motor Buggy “Get There!”
Clark “A Car for Many Seasons”
Cole “There’s a touch of tomorrow in all that Cole does today.”
Duesenberg “The world’s finest motor car.”
Elcar “A well built car, tuned to the times.”
Elgin “Built like a watch” and “The car of the hour.”
Empire “The Little Aristocrat”
Haynes “The Birth of New Ideas”

1912 Inter-State ad
1912 Inter-State ad

Inter-State “The Automobile for Women”
International Scout “Wouldn’t you rather play hooky today…?”
LaFayette “You Have Always Known There Would Be Such a Car”
Lambert “Lambert, the father of friction drive.”
Lexington “Built to Stay Young”
Marion “Built to run and last for years.”
Marmon “The mechanical masterpiece” and “The Easiest Riding Car in the World.”
National Electric “Easy to Handle”

International Scout ad
International Scout ad

Overland “The Rig You Have Been Looking For”
Pathfinder “King of Twelves”
Pilot “The Car Ahead”
Pope-Waverley “The Always Ready Automobile”
ReVere “America’s Incomparable Car”
Sears Motor Buggy “A child could run it.”
Star “Low cost transportation.”
Studebaker “Vehicle makers for the world.” and “First by far with a postwar car”
Tincher “Guaranteed for three years.”
Union “In Union there is strength.”
Waverley Electric “No Dirt, No Odor, No Grease, No Bother.”

I believe some of these are rather clever, but I don’t know if some of the others would ever prompt me to take a look at their car. Do contemporary automakers do any better? What do you think?

For more information on Indiana-built automobiles follow this link.

Hoosier Made World Driven

Last Sunday, I got a preview of the Hoosier Made: World Driven exhibit preparation at the Studebaker National Museum. The exhibit opens November 20, 2015, and runs through October 3, 2016. This exhibit is an officially endorsed Legacy Project by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.


“Hoosier Made: World Driven” looks at the heyday of Indiana’s automobile industry when some of the world’s finest motorcars were built in Indiana. The exhibit will be presented at Indiana’s three leading transportation museums, each with its own special exhibit focus. The Studebaker National Museum in South Bend will feature the “Brass Era” (c. 1900-1915); the Kokomo Automotive Heritage Museum in Kokomo will showcase the “Jazz Era” of the late ‘teens and early 1920s; and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn will spotlight “Classic” cars of the 1930s “Classic Era”.

The Studebaker National Museum will showcase vehicles and artifacts from the Brass Era (Pre-1915), featuring an Apperson Jackrabbit, a Haynes Speedster, a Marmon Speedster, a Sterling Touring car, a Pratt-Elkhart, and many more! I enjoyed viewing these early examples of Indiana’s automotive industry. Studebaker National Museum on Facebook

The Kokomo Automotive Museum will showcase Hoosier cars of the “Jazz Age” of the late teens and early 1920s, when Indiana’s automotive production was at its peak. Five Kokomo-built Haynes and Apperson touring cars show the elegance that motoring could be in the Roaring Twenties. Kokomo Automotive Museum on Facebook

1934 Studebaker President
1934 Studebaker President
Copyright © Studebaker National Museum

The 1930s is often referred to as the Classic Era of Automobiles. During this period Auburn, Indiana, was in its prime, creating and producing automobiles both beautiful and powerful. During this period Art Deco styling became a prevalent art form seen in automotive styling. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum will exhibit this beauty and power by showcasing the high-style of the 1930s. Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum on Facebook

I encourage you to visit all three museums for the price of two. Get your passport (available at all three museums) stamped at two museums and get into the third museum for free. Then jump in your favorite ride and “Hit the Highway to History”… your next museum stop is less than 100 miles away!

Maybe I’ll see you along the way. Happy Hoosier Motoring.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.