Monthly Archives: January 2017

1925 McFarlan

Another of the lessor-known autos in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1925 McFarlan.

1925 McFarlan

The automotive saga in Connersville starts in 1856 when John McFarlan moved to the small town and combined several small buggy companies to form the McFarlan Carriage Company. After building his industrial park, various industries moved in to form what eventually became the nucleus of Connersville’s automotive industry.

The idea for a McFarlan motor car was conceived by John’s grandson, Alfred Harry McFarlan. Harry designed the McFarlan Six in 1909 and enlisted his grandfather’s approval and financial support.

McFarlan’s policy was to concentrate only on a six-cylinder car selling in the $2,000 price range. Further policy dictated that its product would be one of quality using McFarlan’s own fine coachwork, a carefully selected six-cylinder engine, and the best in standard components—all at a fair price.

The preliminary catalog of 1910 offered two body styles—the Model 26 five-passenger touring car and the Model 28 four-passenger pony tonneau. Both were priced at $2,000. Pricing changed in 1911, however, when these two models were listed at $2,100, including lamps and top. Three larger models were offered at prices up to $2,600.

All 1912 McFarlan models had compressed-air self-starters as standard equipment. The starter was of McFarlan’s own make. Some of the optional items of equipment included a windshield, speedometer, spare rim, and electric lighting systems.

McFarlan began using 572.5 c.i.d. engines from the Teetor-Hartley Engine Company of Hagerstown in 1914. Also in 1914, McFarlan ceased its carriage-building operations. McFarlan models’ wheelbase increased to 132 inches and offered a Westinghouse electric starter in 1915. Pricing for the 1915 models ranged from $2,590 to $4,310.

An interesting option was reported in the June 15, 1916 of Horseless Age: “In order to facilitate entrance or exit to or from the front compartment on the left side, the steering wheel is so arranged that it may be tilted out of the way. An ingenious idea has been carried out providing the steering wheel with segments which may be heated from the electrical system for winter driving.” Touring cars and companion models listed at $3,500 and closed models from $4,600 to $5,300.

The McFarlan Twin Valve Six series was introduced on September 9, 1920. Eleven different models ranged from $5,350 to $9,000. The most spectacular McFarlan was the Model 154 Knickerbocker Cabriolet. One of these models with gold-plated trim was featured at the 1923 Chicago Auto Show and listed at $25,000.

McFarlan introduced its lightweight Single Valve Six in 1924. Single Valve Sixes were available in six body styles from $2,500 to $3,150. Four-wheel hydraulic brakes became standard equipment on the Twin Valve and Single Valve series for 1925.

In October 1925, an eight-cylinder engine joined the McFarlan offerings. The price on the five-passenger touring car was $2,650, the same as its equivalent SV Six. For 1926, the SV and the Eight five-passenger sedans priced at $3,180 were priced close to Hoosier competitor Marmon. The Twin Valve sedan was in the $6,000-$6,999 bracket, which mirrored pricing for another Hoosier manufacturer—Duesenberg.

By 1927, McFarlan production was decreasing, down 61 percent for the year. Like many other small independent manufacturers, McFarlan became a casualty of economic times. On August 8, 1928, R.S. Springer was named trustee, and the plant machinery was sold.

Total estimated production for the life span of McFarlan is 2,087 automobiles.

Thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for showing this McFarlan. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

Dennis E. Horvath is speaking at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Dennis E. Horvath will kick off the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” in the facility’s new multi-purpose meeting room on February 16th @ 4:15 – 6:15 pm.

Dennis E. Horvath with 1928 Auburn 8-88 Speedster
Dennis E. Horvath with 1928 Auburn 8-88 Speedster

As many of you know, I have written several books and made numerous presentations about Indiana’s automotive history and culture. I am honored to kick-off the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” with my popular presentation “Mileposts in Indiana Automotive History” and a discussion at the museum for members and guests.

Mileposts in Indiana Automotive History shares some of the legends, facts and figures that reflect Indiana’s role in America’s automotive heritage, when marques such as Duesenberg, Stutz and Studebaker propelled the state into a position where the number of Indiana auto manufacturers rivaled Detroit.

This presentation is a perfect companion to the museum’s current special exhibition, Indiana Automobiles: Precision Over Production, which currently has more than 35 historic, Indiana-built passenger cars, and several iconic race cars on display. Check out my Monday blog posts at documenting some the cars in the exhibit.

See you at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” on February 16th.

For more information and reserve your spot follow this link.

The Duesenberg Factory

The Duesenberg Motors Company building complex was located of the southwest corner of West Washington Street and South Harding Street.

Duesenberg Final Assembly

Duesenbergs were produced in this ten-building complex from 1921 to 1937. The only building remaining from the complex today is the Final Assembly Building #3, just south of the intersection of Washington and Harding. This building has the restored sign Duesenberg Motors Company sign on the north façade facing Washington Street. The other nine buildings were demolished to build the Indy Metro bus maintenance facility in the early 1980’s.

The Final Assembly Building was constructed in 1922 and housed the road testing department, the machine shop, and the final finishing department for work on the chassis and engines. Measuring 15 bays long along Harding Street and three bays wide facing Washington Street, the building has steel-frame brick curtain walls, windows and doors. Included are “daylight shops” with a monitor skylight running the full length of the building, providing natural light to illuminate the factory floor.

In 1926, Errett Lobban Cord from Auburn bought the complex to produce the luxurious Model J Duesenberg, which had a custom body and a high-horsepower, straight-engine. The car sold for $14,000 to $20,000 in the 1920s and 1930s. The company counted movie stars, industrialists and millionaires as customers. Duesenberg 480 Model J cars between 1929 and 1937. Thirty-six had supercharged engines producing 320-horsepower.

One fact is particularly remarkable: over 75 percent of the original Model J Duesenbergs are still roadworthy some 90 years later. No other American marquee has been so fortunate.

The Duesenberg Motors Company building is one of over 30 Indianapolis automaker buildings and homes that still exist today. I invite you to take an Indianapolis Auto Tour to sample our automotive heritage. Click here to Plan Your Visit.

1896 Reeves Motocycle

Another of the lessor-known autos in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1896 Reeves Motocycle.

1896 Reeves Motocycle

A number of automobiles sprang from the fertile mind of Milton O. Reeves of the Reeves Pulley Company in Columbus between 1896 and 1912. Reeves called his first car the Motocycle, which he tested on September 26, 1896. The Motocycle, like many other early autos, used a two-cycle, two-cylinder Sintz gasoline engine. One notable feature of his Motocycle was its use of a variable speed transmission. Reeves’ variable speed transmission may have been one of the earliest automotive applications.

The third Motocycle, a light-weight four-seater, was built for Claude Sintz in 1897. In all, five motocycles were built in a two-year period. Reeves was extremely satisfied with the operation of his variable speed transmissions, but said that gasoline engines were unreliable and not satisfactory for this application.

In mid-1904, M. O. Reeves and Girney L. Reeves obtained the company’s permission to investigate the possibilities of building complete automobiles. The company produced autos until 1912.

Thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for showing this Reeves Motocycle. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

Schedule an Indianapolis Auto Tour

If you are an auto enthusiast looking to do something that is truly unique in Indianapolis, then scheduling an Indianapolis Auto Tour fits the bill.

Stutz Motor Car Company
The Stutz Motor Car Company

Did you know that at one time Indianapolis had more automobile manufacturers than Detroit?

Fortunately, Indianapolis still has over 30 manufacturing buildings and homes from this era to document this heritage. Did you know Indianapolis’ auto heritage is much more than auto racing.

Dennis E. Horvath is a “genuine car nut,” who enthusiastically shares his obsession for autos and touring. With a 20-year background sharing auto history, many have said that “Dennis brings the story of Indianapolis’ automotive heritage to life.”

Have Dennis travel along with you and learn about the Indianapolis auto leaders who had a significant impact on the American transportation experience. For example, find out about how Louis Chevrolet became the first builder to win two Indianapolis 500’s with cars built in Indianapolis. Hear about the Duesenberg brothers building their prestigious luxury cars and race cars on Washington Street. Learn about Carl G. Fisher, one of America’s forgotten promoters, starting as a bicyclist in the 1890’s and going on to promote auto racing and develop transcontinental highways and leisure destinations. Discover tidbits about Harry C. Stutz who accomplished an amazing feat with his first Stutz automobile that finished 11th in the 1911 Indianapolis 500-mile race.

These and many more unique stories allow you connect to our transportation heritage. It extends from our everyday car, to luxury cars, and modern highway systems. Indianapolis Auto Tours transport you back to the era when autos were more about the journey than the destination.

For anyone with even a passing interest in the auto industry, Indianapolis Auto Tours, conducted by Dennis Horvath, provides a fascinating look at how pervasive the industry once was in the city of Indianapolis. There are a surprising number of buildings still standing that help tell the story of the auto industry’s early days in Indy. Buildings that once housed legendary marques, such as Marmon, Stutz, Duesenberg, and numerous others still have a physical presence in the city, but many people unknowingly drive right past them every day. Dennis relates fascinating stories about not only the companies, but also the leading industry personalities who once occupied those buildings whose success in the formative years of the auto industry ensured their rightful place in history.
Ted Woerner,
Co-Owner, Miles Ahead

Click here to Plan Your Visit.