Tag Archives: Premier Motor Car Company

On The Road With Premier

1911 Premier Ocean to Ocean Tour
1911 Premier Ocean to Ocean Tour

During the infancy of automotive history, consumers were skeptical of the reliability of automobiles. So to prove their products’ capabilities on the road, many automakers sponsored coast-to-coast trips.

Premier Motor Manufacturing Company was one that followed this policy. In fact, 12 Premiers in 1911 became the first caravan of autos ever to cross the United States. They used a network of roads to travel from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Venice Park, California.

The journey started with an idea formed by several wealthy Premier owners, mostly from Pennsylvania and New York. They wanted to show that previous sponsors of transcontinental races had overplayed their victories by describing the roads as more treacherous than they were.

So, 40 travelers out of the group set out from the Atlantic Ocean on June 26, 1911, and headed west to report their findings.

1911 Premier Prairie Schooner
1911 Premier Prairie Schooner – Photo provided by NAHC

Premier supported the effort by supplying the caravan’s 12th vehicle, a mechanic, and factory test driver to accompany the travelers. Nicknamed the “millionaire auto party,” the caravan made headlines across the route.

Premier used the success of its 1911 Ocean-to-Ocean tour as part of its advertising campaign.

They stopped each night in the best hotels available in the location and traveled in relative luxury for the time. Each vehicle traveled about 4,617 miles with mechanical troubles amounting to only four broken springs. After 45 days, the group concluded their journey by dipping their wheels in the Pacific Ocean.

“There is a general feeling that the Pacific and Atlantic coasts have been brought closer together,” according to Motor Age, “and transcontinental touring by pleasure parties is now expected to become common since the first tour of this kind has been such an unqualified success.”

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

Let’s Share our History

One of the things I like about being an automotive historian is uncovering the story behind the business or events. A couple of times, I’ve been contacted by descendants of auto executives and workers wanting to share or learn information about their relatives.

1919 Premier sedan
1919 Premier sedan

I was contacted by the granddaughter of Dr. J. C. Flowers, a prominent physician and financier in Joliet, IL, who was the chief financial engineer of the syndicate that purchased Premier Motor Car Company in 1915. She further elaborates that her grandfather was president and general manager, as well as a member of the board of directors. She also notes the re-incorporation by her grandfather and the original syndicate of the Premier Motor Corporation on October 23, 1916. She referred me to Moody’s Analyses of Investments as an additional research resource.

This is all new information to me that was not reflected in my information resources or writing about Premier. She adds new light to the story about sharing our history.

1913 Henderson Roadster
1913 Henderson Roadster

One of the grandsons of Charles P. Henderson, president and sales manager of the Henderson Motor Car Company, contacted me wanting to know more about the company. I’ve found Henderson reference material to be scarce. I have a few copies of Henderson Bulletins and a couple photos, that’s about it.

But, while researching the Indianapolis Star digital archives at the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library website, I found information about the plant location and the company’s efforts to aid victims of Indianapolis’ March 1913 flood.

His inquiry prompted new discoveries that add to sharing his and our story.

I believe it is important to share the story of our ancestors whoever and whatever they did. In the past year I tried to piece together the story of my paternal grandfather, but the story was short because no one shared it in writing and photos.

So, what can we do for those who come after us? I suggest we write stories and collate photos of our fathers and mothers so that our descendants have some idea about their ancestors.

Everyone has a story. Let’s all contribute a small part in the story of life.

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