Another of the lessor-known autos in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1922 Lexington Model U.
This manufacturer’s Indiana history began in 1910, when a group of Connersville businessmen enticed the infant Lexington Motor Car Company to relocate from Lexington, Kentucky, to Connersville.
The company was promotionally minded and entered both the Glidden Tour and the Indianapolis 500 in 1912 to attract attention.
In 1915, the four-cylinder engine was supplemented by a light six and a supreme six. With the new Ansted engines, Lexingtons became modern and powerful.
Lexingtons became popular with the release of the Thoroughbred Six and Minute Man Six models. In 1918, the newly formed Ansted Engine Company acquired the Teetor-Hartley Motor Corporation of Hagerstown. The combined Lexington and Ansted facilities measured three blocks long and two blocks wide totaling 270,000 sq. ft. of floor space.
Lexington built two short-wheelbase race cars with the powerful Ansted engine for the 1920 Pikes Peak hill climb. The cars placed first and second in their initial outing and brought home the Penrose trophy. The company cars also second place wins in 1921 through 1924. Again in 1924, Otto Loesche won in 18 minutes and 15 seconds. He brought the trophy home for keeps. The Penrose trophy is on display at the Reynolds Museum on Vine Street in Connersville. In the 1926 event, Joe Unser, an uncle of Indianapolis winners Bobby and Al Unser, placed second place.
Frank B. Ansted, president, announced the formation of the United States Automotive Corporation at the New York Auto Show on January 12, 1920. It was a $10 million merger with the Lexington Motor Car Company, the Ansted Engineering Company, and The Connersville Foundry Corporation from Connersville, plus the Teetor-Hartley Motor Corporation of Hagerstown.
The high point of Lexington production arrived in 1920 with over 6,000 cars built. On December 16, 1921, William C. Durant, founder and former president of General Motors, ordered 30,000 Ansted engines for his new Durant Six that was being built in Muncie by Durant Motors of Indiana, Inc.
Records show that in 1922, United States Automotive Corporation owned 10 different factories that were building parts for its cars. Lexington Motor Car Company and United States Automotive Corporation were affected by recessionary events in the early 20’s. Production in 1922 plummeted to roughly a third of the 1920 total.
In 1923, The Ansted Engine Company entered receivership with William C. Durant as a principle shareholder. Lexington Motor Car Company also entered receivership in 1923. In 1927, E.L. Cord’s Auburn Automobile Company purchased Ansted Engine and the Lexington Motor Car Company, respectively. The Lexington was soon phased out.
I believe the story of the Lexington Motor Car Company adds to Indiana automotive history and thank the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for sharing this car.
Be sure to visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit ending March 26, 2017, to see the gems of Indiana automotive production.
For more information on Indiana-built automobiles, follow this link.