Cole Motor Car Company incorporated

Cole Model 30 introduced on June 22, 1909

The Cole Carriage Company incorporated the Cole Motor Car Company on June 22, 1909, to produce the Model 30, 4-cylinder, pneumatic tire automobile, which replaced the high-wheeler style Cole Solid Tire Automobile. The company sold 112 units of the Model 30 by the end of 1909.

1918 Cole Aero-Eight with Willoughby body

1918 Cole Aero Eight with Willoughby body
Copyright © Leroy D. Cole

Cole is one example of an automobile manufacturer that evolved from Indiana’s carriage industry. By the end of the company’s drive through history, Cole contributed several innovations to the automotive industry.

Cole “Firsts”
1909 Tests each and every automobile on the road and tunes-up under actual driving conditions.
1910 Offers Firestone tires with demountable rims as standard equipment.
1911 Includes four doors as standard equipment.
1912 Adopts the Prest-O-Lite self-starter.
1913 Become known as “The Standardized Car.”
1915 Introduces the first V-8 engine with detachable cylinder heads.
1923 Uses balloon tires as standard equipment on the Volante model.
1924 Has the first balloon tire equipped car to pace the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Joseph J. Cole believed that a supplier who specialized in making only one or a few parts could do a better job than a major manufacturer trying to be a jack-of-all-trades in making all components. He reflected his belief by adopting the phrase “The Standardized Car” for his product, thus indicating that Cole used components that were “the standard for quality in the industry.”

The year 1917 saw the introduction of the unique Cole Toursedan, designed to give the motorist a closed car in the winter and an open touring car in the summer. The Toursedan had a permanent top and could be transformed to a touring car by storing all of the windows and the upper sections of the door frames in provided compartments. It was a seven-passenger automobile with two comfortable auxiliary folding seats.

For a brief period, Cole was second only to Cadillac in volume of sales in its price range. After enjoying many years of prosperity, Cole began losing money in the wake of the post World War I recession. The recession brought a decline in all business activity as well as a serious curtailment of automobile sales. The success of the low-cost, mass-produced cars cut the volume of Cole class cars severely. In 1925 Cole liquidated.

Cole made a total of 40,717 automobiles. Each model was a quality product with the best material, craftsmanship, and design available for the time.

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