Tag Archives: Fisher Automobile Company

Carl G. Fisher’s thoughts on marketing electric automobiles in June 1909

Carl Fisher
Carl G. Fisher
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The following is a letter from Carl G. Fisher, president of the Fisher Automobile Company in Indianapolis, regarding his thoughts on marketing electric automobiles in June 18, 1909.

Heretofore, I have refrained from handling the Electric Automobile for the reason that I considered the manufacturers of this type of car had not made sufficient advance in construction.

1909 Baker Eelctric
1909 Baker Eelctric

After investigating the general situation carefully, I find the Baker Motor Vehicle Co. has adopted as their unit of action the purchase of the obtainable material regardless of cost and the employment of skilled workmen who with intelligent precision follow the lines of design laid down by their mechanical and electric engineers. Their ten years of experience in the manufacture of these electric carriages, together with constant development has produced a more perfect harmony of construction than can be found elsewhere.

Supplementing this the Baker motor is equipped with Imported Annular Ball Bearings, that eliminate mechanical friction to the minimum point. In every revolving part of every Baker Electric will be found anti-friction bearings, of the most approved type, expensive, as it relates to the cost to produce, but giving results that develop the wide difference in quality between this and other makes.

This nicety of construction and adjustment saves power to propel the car and the consumption of current from the batteries is less, consequently, the mileage is more, the speed is greater, and the life of the battery plates longer – hence the cost of maintenance is less and the result in service and satisfaction beyond anything before attained in an Electric Carriage.

I have proven beyond a question of doubt the superiority of the Baker Electric and do not hesitate to recommend it.

To a purchaser of the Baker Electric the Fisher Automobile Co. will garage the car for $25 per month; this includes a thorough inspection, charging, washing, cleaning, polishing, calling for and delivering once each per day. To those who prefer keeping their car at home, we will for one year give you two thorough inspections per month free.

A demonstration at your home does not obligate you in any way.

Very truly yours,
Carl G. Fisher

I find Carl Fisher’s comments interesting in evaluating cars for resale. This demonstrates his comprehensive thought process in whatever he was involved in. I value this letter from one of Indiana’s auto pioneers. I think you’ll enjoy it also.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers, follow this link.

Fisher Automobile Company

With the recent construction on the block bounded by Vermont Street, Capitol Avenue, Michigan Street, and Senate Avenue, I thought it would be a great time to take a look at how this block was the genesis of Indianapolis Auto Row 108 years ago.

In 1908, when Carl G. Fisher wanted to expand operations around his 330 North Illinois Street location, the area was already developed with commercial structures. Consequently, land and construction costs would have been higher for new development elsewhere on Illinois Street than in undeveloped locations. He decided on one block west in the then Capitol Avenue residential neighborhood. The absence of zoning regulations here also allowed development of commercial uses within a residential area.

One incentive for Fisher considering relocation of his automotive dealership may be noted in the January 24, 1903, edition of Automotive Industries, which stated: “Capitol Avenue is to be resurfaced and otherwise improved next spring, and then the heavy traffic will be excluded. The Hoosier capitol has long felt the need of a speedway and pleasure drive, such as Mayor Bookwalter proposes to make of this. The proposed “speedway” extended from North Street to just north of Fall Creek Boulevard.”

Fisher Auto Postcard
Fisher Auto Postcard

Thus, the beginnings of Indianapolis Auto Row began with Fisher relocating his Fisher Automobile Co. showroom to 400-424 North Capitol Avenue in 1908. Other auto related businesses were soon to follow.

The three buildings Fisher built at this location are the second known to have been built specifically as automobile showrooms in Indianapolis. The 400 N. Capitol building was three stories in height and contained an elevator large enough to accommodate automobiles. The structural skeleton and floor slabs were of reinforced concrete with eight-inch thick brick curtain walls. There were large display windows along the street frontages on all three levels. The parapet was sparsely decorated with geometric forms fashioned from brick.

Some of the meetings held in the Fisher Automobile Co. building included close friends, James A. Allison, Cecil Gibson, and Arthur C. Newby, who were connected to business enterprises regarding Prest-O-Lite operations, the development of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other ventures.

Fisher Letterhead 1909
Fisher Letterhead 1909

Gibson merged his automotive accessory business with that of Carl Fisher to form the Fisher-Gibson Co. in 1911, and located at 422-426. Later in 1917, the Fisher Automobile Co. expanded operations to 434-442, north of his original three buildings. Over the years, Fisher sold National, Overland, Packard, REO, Stoddard-Dayton, and Baker Electric vehicles from these locations.

Between 1910 and 1930, approximately 25 buildings were constructed for automobile dealerships, tire companies, automotive parts, and manufacturing concerns, along Capitol Avenue, thus establishing Indianapolis Auto Row.

I would like to enlist Indiana Automotive and central Indiana auto enthusiasts to band together to obtain historic recognition for the 400 North Capitol Avenue site as the genesis of Indianapolis Auto Row. This site was the beginning of our automotive heritage.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

Carl G. Fisher’s thoughts on electric automobiles

Recently, while perusing my automobilia collection, I found a letter reflecting Carl G. Fisher’s thoughts on electric automobiles. This letter, dated June 18, 1909, on Fisher Automobile Company letterhead, presents his thoroughness in recommending new cars.

Fisher Letterhead
Fisher Automobile Company Letterhead
Copyright ©1909 Carl G. Fisher

In the first paragraph Fisher states: “Heretofore, I have refrained from handling the Electric Automobile for the reason that I considered the manufacture of this type of car had not made sufficient advance in construction.” He goes on to state the reasons that he finds that the Baker Motor Vehicle Co. has adopted the best obtainable material regardless of cost. He further states: “Their ten years of experience in the manufacture of these electric carriages, together with constant development has produced a more perfect harmony of construction than can be found elsewhere.”

Fisher’s highlights in recommending the Baker electric included:

  • The Baker motor used bearings that eliminate friction giving results over other makes.
  • Baker construction and adjustment saved power thus yielding more mileage between recharge and a greater speed.
  • The battery plates lasted longer, therefore lowering maintenance costs.

In concluding his evaluation he states: “I have proven beyond a question of doubt the superiority of the Baker Electric and do not hesitate to recommend it.”

Fisher’s enticement to electric car prospects reads: “To a purchaser of the Baker Electric the Fisher Automobile Co. will garage the car for $25 per month; this includes a thorough inspection, charging, washing, cleaning, polishing, calling for and delivering once per day. To those who prefer keeping their car at home, we will for one year give you two thorough inspections per month free.”

I originally purchased this letter to have Carl G. Fisher’s autograph. Today, I enjoy it for the interesting look into Indiana automotive history. This letter provides an example of retailing by one of America’s early auto dealers. Fisher prided himself in representing leading American automobiles. Over the years, in addition to Baker Electric, Fisher represented National, Overland, Packard, REO, and Stoddard-Dayton.

In addition to sales, his 400 North Capital Avenue location on the edge of Indianapolis’ business district provided service and storage of customer’s autos. The location became the keystone of Indianapolis Automobile Row in following decades. Today, automotive retail has moved to the suburbs.

So, there you have some early thoughts on electric automobiles.

For more information on Indiana’s auto pioneers follow this link.