Tag Archives: Elmer Apperson

1925 Apperson Six Sports Sedan

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

1925 Apperson Six Sports Sedan

The Apperson Brothers Automobile Company produced its first auto with a Sintz engine in 1902, building perhaps a dozen for the year. Early two-cylinder Appersons came in 1903 and four-cylinder engines followed in 1904. Production of six-cylinder engines were regularly produced in 1914. The Apperson V-8 engine came in 1916.

It is said that Elmer Apperson’s passion for speed and wide open spaces inspired the Jack Rabbit insignia first seen on their 1906 racers. The Apperson brothers Elmer and Edgar continued their interest in auto racing and their autos competed in a number to events including two Indianapolis 500 races.

Apperson Plant One was built on the site of the original Apperson Riverside Machine Works on Main Street in 1910. Plant Two was constructed in the 1700 block of North Washington Street. The corporate offices were across the street from this plant.

The company enjoyed its peak year of production in 1919, employing about 600 people and producing 3,000 units at the two plants. In the early 1920’s business began to decrease. Elmer Apperson died of a heart attack in 1920, thus weakening the Apperson brother’s strong partnership. The Apperson’s, like many others, were not competitive with the larger manufacturers. Production ceased in 1926, thus ending the saga of Haynes and Apperson’s.

The loveliest Apperson’s were the specials with long, lithe lines, bullet headlamps and oval radiators that were designed by their New York dealer C.T. Silver. Comedian Bob Hope’s first car was an Apperson.

The former homes of Elmer Apperson and Edgar Apperson still stand at 408 W. Mulberry and 518 W. Walnut, respectively.

Thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for showing this 1925 Apperson Six Sports Sedan. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

How are Thanksgiving and cars related?

I have a question for all you enthusiasts. How are Thanksgiving and cars related? No, I don’t mean hopping in the family car for the long expected drive to grandma’s house for that great turkey dinner.

I am referring to an event on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1895, six (motocycles) an early name for automobiles, started on the Chicago Times-Herald Race, America’s first automobile race to Evanston, Illinois. Beyond Chicago’s city limits only the builders and owners of cars seemed interested, but the race was perhaps the event that brought attention to the birthing of America’s auto industry.

Herman H. Kohlsaat, publisher of theChicago Times-Herald, announced plans for the Chicago race after reading about the Paris-Bordeaux race in June 1895. He designated $5,000 for prize money and $5,000 for necessary expenses. As part of the promotion for the race, the Times-Herald offered a prize of $500 for the best name suggested for the horseless vehicle. The name motocycle was awarded the prize in lieu of automobile.

Haynes Pioneer II replica
Haynes Pioneer II replica

The original race was scheduled for November 2, but of the 76 prospective entries listed only two cars appeared on that date. The publisher postponed the race to Thanksgiving Day. On that date, Chicago awakened to find the ground and rooftops covered with four inches of snow. This was an unfortunate event for Elwood Haynes and Elmer Apperson of Kokomo, Indiana. Their new Pioneer II automobile skidded in the snow and broke a wheel in an attempt to avoid a streetcar track rut while making its way to the starting line. With no spare available, their hopes to compete ended. However, the Haynes-Apperson entry did receive a $150 prize for its meritorious design feature — the reduction of vibration by balancing the engine.

Two electric and four gasoline motocycles awaited the starting gun in Jackson Park. The two electric vehicles were not serious contenders, because their owners had not been able to arrange for recharging stations along the route. Three of the gasoline vehicles were Benz cars imported from Germany. The fourth gasoline machine was the Duryea Motor Wagon built in Springfield, Massachusetts, and driven by J. Frank Duryea.

Lots were drawn to see who would be sent off first. Duryea won and was off at 8:55 a.m. The R.H. Macy & Company owned Benz passed Duryea for the lead in the early running. Duryea regained the lead by the halfway mark in Evanston and passed the second relay station at North Clark and Devon Avenue at a good rate. Less than 50 people saw the late stages of the race when Duryea finished at 7:19 p.m. The H. Mueller & Company owned Benz crossed the finish line second at 8:53 p.m.

The Duryea car won $2,000 for first place, with the Mueller-Benz receiving $1,500 for second place. They were the only cars to finish.

The Chicago Times-Herald Race revealed the possibilities of the automobile. On the day after the race thousands of people read the newspaper accounts and began to consider the prospect of being able to drive a car. Volume 1, Number 1, of The Horseless Age in November 1895, reported “Those who have taken the pains to search below the surface for the great tendencies of the age, know that a giant industry is struggling into being.”

It is interesting to think that America’s infatuation with automobiles probably started on Thanksgiving Day in 1895. That’s one reason why I’m thankful. Happy Turkey Day.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.