William S. Locke
Elcar and Pratt Automobiles: The Complete History offers an extensive look at the auto companies’ key personalities, automobiles and the everyday laborers who built the cars. The legacy is traced from its beginnings in the buggy and carriage business in 1873, through the last Elcar assembled in 1932 and the custom taxi cab business in the mid 1930’s. Author William S. Locke invested several decades researching the book from an extensive range of sources.
In reviewing American automotive history, Pratt and Elcar would serve as an excellent example of the typical firm that made the transition from a successful buggy builder to a respected manufacturer of quality assembled automobiles. Pratt introduced its first motorized buggy in 1908, after 25 years in the direct sale buggy and harness business. The story continues with Pratt, Pratt-Elkhart, and Elcars until automobile production was curtailed for World War I.
Elcar, like most other manufacturers, enjoyed the immediate post-war boom in 1919 with record production. Bust followed the boom. By the end of 1920, the company had reported its first loss during one of its greatest sales years. The company built its best cars from 1923 to 1929.
Industry and company events in the late 1920s and early 1930s proved to limit sales at Elcar and across the industry. Elcar’s last model, the Model 140 offered the third most powerful standard American production car for 1930, after Cadillac’s V-16 and the Duesenberg Straight 8. Elcar’s offerings could match the quality-built American autos of the day, but quality-assembled automobiles were no match for cars built by mass producers. Manufacture of new autos was halted by the bankruptcy court in 1931. A few more cars and taxicabs were built from parts on-hand until late 1933.
This is the complete history of a currently little-known marque, that once ranked among the finest vehicles on American roads. Built to exacting standards, an Elcar could compete head-to-head on the basis of performance, quality, or price with the products of much larger manufacturers. The comprehensive history details every Elcar model and the Pratt vehicles that preceded them, as well as the personalities behind the cars. Chapters and appendices provide complete model specifications; a full corporate chronology; illustrations of all Elcars and Pratts known to exist today; a listing of company advertisements and brochures; photographs of company emblems, mascots and other memorabilia; biographical sketches of key personalities; and an abundance of other material. The story is about more than automobiles — it is about the buggies, custom bodies, taxicabs, and motorboats made at the Beardsley Avenue plant.
Locke does more than present the historical facts about. He tells the story with a personal touch to give the reader a feel about the people involved in the enterprise from
company directors down to the factory floor. Readers meet many people during the life of the firm and get a feel for who they were and how they contributed. The author’s depth of research and love for the subject results in an excellent account of the history as well as people involved with Elcar and Pratt automobiles.
Elcar and Pratt Automobiles: The Complete History, William S. Locke, Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc., © 2000, ISBN: 0-7864-0956-8
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