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