Tag Archives: Marmon

Is your Indiana car club looking for a program for March 2017?

If your Indiana car club is looking for a program for March 2017, I strongly recommend a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit. Visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit before the closing date of March 26, 2017.

1896 Reeves Motocycle
1896 Reeves Motocycle

I believe the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum have done an incredible job of telling the story of Indiana-built automobiles. They have gathered 35 cars from an 1896 Reeves Motocycle to a 1963 Studebaker Avanti. Plus, nine race cars from a 1905 Premier to the 1950 Cummins Diesel Special are included.

Indiana once vied for Michigan’s title as the automotive titan of the United States. It was at a time when the names of automobiles like Duesenberg, Stutz and Cord brought worldwide acclaim to the Hoosier state. Indiana’s contributions to automotive history have been numerous. Tilt steering, cruise control and hydraulic brakes are just three examples of the innovations introduced by Indiana automotive pioneers. Yet the innovators themselves have become nearly forgotten–overlooked as we take their inventions increasingly for granted as part of the standard equipment on today’s models.

Over 40 Indiana towns and cities can claim some sort of connection to our early automotive history. More than 400 firms – large and small – operated statewide between 1894 and 1963.

The earliest car on display at the museum is a Reeves Motocycle built in Columbus, Indiana, which used a two-cycle, two-cylinder Sintz gasoline engine with a variable speed transmission produced by Reeves.

1933 Duesenberg Model J Berline
1933 Duesenberg Model J Berline

As many of you know Indianapolis was one of the largest producers of automobiles in the nation. Some of these autos are well represented from the 1899 Waverley Electric to the 1933 Duesenberg Model J Berline. Other Indianapolis autos on display are various models of American Underslung, Cole, Marmon, Pathfinder, Premier, and Stutz.

Other makes built in other Indiana towns and cities are represented with cars like Apperson, Auburn, Cord, Davis, Haynes, Lexington, McFarlan, Monroe, Richmond, and Studebaker.

I invite your Indiana car club to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and check out these Indiana-built cars today. This may be the only chance you’ll see such a wide array of Indiana-built cars at one location.

For more information on Indiana-built automobiles, follow this link.

Indiana’s place in automotive history

Indiana once vied for Michigan’s title as the automotive titan of the United States. It was at a time when the names of automobiles like Duesenberg, Stutz and Cord brought worldwide acclaim to the Hoosier state. Indiana’s contributions to automotive history have been numerous. Tilt steering, cruise control and hydraulic brakes are just three examples of the innovations created by Indiana automotive pioneers. Yet the innovators themselves have become nearly forgotten–overlooked as we take their inventions increasing for granted as part of the standard equipment on today’s models.

Indiana’s automotive innovation began with Elwood Haynes’ kitchen experiment on an internal combustion engine in the fall of 1893. Haynes’ research and development led to the demonstration of his “Pioneer” automobile along Pumpkivine Pike, outside Kokomo, on July 4, 1894. Haynes and two passengers traveled at a speed of seven miles an hour and drove about one and one-half miles further into the country. He then turned the auto around, and ran the four miles into town without making a single stop.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
Elwood Haynes in the 1894 Pioneer
Copyright Elwood Haynes Museum

“I remember as the “little machine” made its way along the streets we were met by a “bevy” of girls mounted on wheels.,” Haynes noted. “I shall never forget the expression on their faces as they wheeled aside, separating like a flock of swans and gazing wonder-eyed at the uncouth and utterly unexpected “little machine.”

In 1898 the Haynes-Apperson Company was incorporated and auto production was on its way in Indiana.

By the late 1800s Indiana’s plentiful supply of lumber had also lured several industries into its borders, including the makers of carriages and wagons. The automobile industry in the early 1900s was a natural offspring of carriage manufacturers, which could provide not just parts but the skilled labor as well. Five Indiana manufacturers entered commercial automobile production in the late 1890s.

1902 Studebaker Stanhope
1902 Studebaker Stanhope

By 1900, The Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company was one of the few firms in the country with annual production exceeding 100 units. In the 1900s, 74 different models were introduced by Indiana manufacturers. These models range from A to Z, with names like Auburn, Cole, InterState, Lambert, Marmon, Maxwell, National, Overland, Premier, Richmond, Studebaker, Waverly, and Zimmerman.

The growth spurt between 1910 and 1920 separated the nation’s auto makers into two groups–the “mass-produced auto giants” and the “craftsmen.” Most of Indiana’s auto makers chose to be “craftsmen” and purchased automotive parts and assembled them by hand. Thus, these companies were small, and many became known for producing high-class and high-priced cars. Nearly every one of the Indiana cars that became well-known were in this category, includ¬ing names like Duesenberg, Cord, Stutz and Cole, appealing to the upper end of the consumer market.

Twenty Grand Duesenberg
Twenty Grand Duesenberg

The teens saw the introduction of another 69 Indiana models. Included in this group are Elcar, Empire, Jack Rabbit, Lexington, McIntyre, McFarlan, Monroe, Parry, ReVere, and Stutz.

Until about 1920, there seemed to enough demand for both the “mass-produced” and “high-quality” cars. However, a series of eco¬nomic factors at this time helped contribute to the decline of Hoosier auto making. Price slashing and an expansion-crazed environment trapped Indiana manufacturers in a philosophical battle with the Michigan titans. Hoosiers were ill-prepared for this kind of competition, and most wanted to remain craftsmen choosing to concen¬trate on “higher priced” vehicles instead of diversifying. Plus, the economic recession in the early 1920s added more financial burdens on the population, which became increasingly interested in the “mass-produced auto.”

Michigan had the financial backers willing to commit financial resources to give the state’s auto manufacturing the boost it needed. The Hoosier financial community generally proved to be of little assistance to its own local automobile industry.

Indiana in the twenties saw this decline to 22 models introduced. Among these were Blackhawk, Cord, Duesenberg, Elgin, Erskine, H.C.S., Lafayette, and Roosevelt.

1963-Avanti-Front
1963 Avanti
Copyright © 1962 Studebaker Corporation

Studebaker was the lone Hoosier survivor of the depression, continuing production for another 30 years, ending in December 1963.

Commercial production of the automobile in America began a little over 120 years ago, and America’s lifestyle has never been the same. Indiana automakers have made many contributions to that history. So, the next time you drive your car, you might wonder where you’d be without Indiana’s continuing automotive innovation and contributions.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

Indiana Automotive Innovations

Throughout the past, Indiana manufacturers have made major contributions to the automobile. For example, in 1902, the Marmon motorcar had an air-cooled overhead valve V-twin engine and a revolutionary lubrication system that used a drilled crankshaft to keep its engine bearings lubricated with oil-fed under pressure by a gear pump. This was the earliest automotive application of a system that has long since become universal to internal combustion piston engine design.

Would you believe tilt-steering was introduced in 1903by Haynes? The 1903 Haynes use of a tilting steering column allowed easy access for the driver and/or passenger upon entering of leaving the vehicle. This feature didn’t become popular on most production cars until about seventy years later.

1911 Marmon
1911 Marmon

In 1911 Haynes Automobile Company was the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, head lamps and a speedometer as standard equipment.

Studebaker introduced a deferred payment plan in 1916 with an initial 25 percent cash payment and 12 equal monthly payments. In less than ten years, 50 percent of all cars sold in America were bought on time.

In 1922, The Model A Duesenberg was the first U.S. production motorcar with hydraulic brakes, the first with an overhead camshaft, and the first U.S. straight eight engine. Ninety-two of these luxury cars were sold in 1922, a number that rose to 140 in 1923.

Stutz installed safety-glass windshields as standard equipment on its 1926 high-priced motorcar models.

The first motorcar with front-wheel drive, The Cord L-29, was introduced by E. L. Cord’s Auburn Automobile Company. Front-wheel drive didn’t become popular for another 50 years. Also in 1929 Marmon warranted a listing in the Guiness Book of Records for its factory-installed radio.

E. L. Cords 1937 Cord Beverley Sedan
E. L. Cords 1937 Cord Beverley Sedan

The Cord 810 introduced in 1936 was a sleek modern motorcar with advanced features that include disappearing headlights, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, a steering column mounted electric gear pre-selection unit, and was the first automobile in this country to adopt full unit body construction.

Studebaker was the first American car to offer windshield washers in 1937.

Ralph Teetor, Perfect Circle Corporation president, invented cruise control debuting in 1958 on the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor models.

1964 Studebakers
1964 Studebakers

For the 1964 model year, its last in Indiana, Studebaker broke with the majors and became the first U.S. maker to offer seat belts as standard equipment.

That’s the story of Indiana automotive innovations. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

More interesting Indiana Auto Facts

Check out these interesting Indiana Auto Facts from the 1920’s and 1930’s.

In October 1926, the new Auburn line was equipped with the Lycoming Eight-in-Line, a very advanced engine. It was a 260 c.i.d., L-head straight-eight generating over 60 h.p. at 2600 r.p.m. The car was fully equipped with items that were still aftermarket options on less expensive cars, including bumpers, a rearview mirror, shock absorbers, a windshield wiper, and a stop light.

1928 Auburn Speedster
1928 Auburn Speedster
Copyright © 2015 Dennis E. Horvath

In August 1928, H.H. Brooks, general sales director of the Marmon Motor Car Company, pointed out that the automobile could hardly be considered a luxury when it only cost $1 per day to own one! He was using statistics released by the American Motorist’s Association, which cited the average cost of a passenger car as $953, the average annual upkeep as $229, and the average life of the vehicle as seven years.

In 1929, both Cord and Ruxton introduced front-wheel drive. Previously, Harry Miller teamed up with Preston Tucker to produce the first front-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension Indianapolis racer.

In 1931, Studebaker introduced helical-cut transmission gears that almost completely eliminating gear whine. They also introduced the hill-holder clutch, a device that kept the brakes applied if the clutch pedal was held down.

1933 Duesenberg La Grande
1933 Duesenberg La Grande
Copyright © 2008 Dennis E. Horvath

In 1935, during the depths of the Great Depression, luxury car-makers were competing to sell cars with the biggest, most powerful, smoothest running engines. Auburn all had V-12’s, Duesenberg and Stutz chose sophistication over cylinder count, making straight-eights with dual overhead cams, 32 valves and careful design of intake and exhaust manifolds. The Duesenberg could be ordered with a supercharger, good for 320 h.p! Probably the most powerful natually-asperated engine was the all-aluminum Marmon V-16, with 490 c.i.d., making 200 h.p. These cars were huge with a wheelbase somewhere between 130 and 145 inches. Mass-market cars made do with straight 6- and 8-cylinder engines.

E. L. Cords 1937 Cord Beverley Sedan
E. L. Cords 1937 Cord Beverley Sedan

Eighty years ago, the first Cord 810 rolled off the assembly line in Connersville on February 15, 1936. Innovations on the Cord 810 included disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column mounted-electric gear pre-selection unit), and factory installed radio. The model was the first automobile in the United States to adopt unit body construction in its full sense. In their day, these Cords stirred the imagination of the motoring public. Their clean simplicity of line, exciting innovations, and luxurious appointments won much admiration and many awards.

Isn’t interesting how some Indiana auto manufacturers were so innovative in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and how they faded from the automotive scene?

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.

Congratulations to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indiana Automobiles show

I must say congratulations to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production show. This show is open now thru March 26, 2017. If you are a historic car-buff, you must see this show.

The museum does a great job presenting this show in honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial celebrating Hoosier automotive production. In partnership with private owners and other automotive museums around the state, more than 35 historic Indiana-built cars like Auburn, Cord, Cole, Duesenberg, Haynes, Marmon, Premier, Studebaker, Stutz, and Waverley are in the exhibit. The galleries are staged as Indianapolis-built cars, Indiana-built cars, and Indiana race cars.

1928 Auburn 8-88 Speedster
1928 Auburn 8-88 Speedster

Over 40 Indiana cities and towns can claim some sort of connection to early automotive history. Approximately 400 firms – large and small – operated statewide between 1894 and 1963.

Many started as carriage builders in the 1800s, several experimenting, by the turn of the 20th century, with internal combustion engines. Many self-trained engineers created one-off “horseless carriage” prototypes in their own shops. The more successful eventually built factories and produced, in quantity, automobiles for sale to the public.

1899 Waverley Electric
1899 Waverley Electric

Providing a proving ground and testing facility for the early automotive industry was the impetus of building of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Not only would the track be available to companies for private testing, but the staging of occasional automobile races would give the firms an opportunity to demonstrate the worth of their products in competition, while the public observed from the grandstands. Companies like Cord, Duesenberg, Marmon, and Stutz continued to use the track to privately test and develop the vehicles they were selling to the public.

The Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit tells this story well. The display presents some cars that you might be aware of. One that I especially recall is the 1920 Monroe Model S Touring car produced in Indianapolis by the William Small Company. Gaston Chevrolet won the 1920 Indianapolis 500-mile race in a Monroe designed by his brother Louis and sponsored by William Small.

1932 Cord L-29
1932 Cord L-29

I encourage you to visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit to experience Indiana’s automotive legacy.

For more information on our automotive heritage, follow this link.