Tag Archives: Waverley Electric

Check out the Indianapolis made Waverley

An electric car in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1899 Waverley Electric. Visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit today.

1899 Waverley Electric

Waverley electric vehicles were built in Indianapolis under four different corporate names: Indiana Bicycle Company (1898 1901), International Motor Car Company (1901-1903), Pope Waverley (1903 1907), and The Waverley Company (1908-1916). The first Waverley electric car was a two-passenger Stanhope with tiller steering, 36-inch wheels with pneumatic tires, and a single headlight.

Waverley exhibited one Stanhope, four dos-a-dos, and one delivery wagon at the New York Auto Show in May 1899. This line-up showed that its factory was—at that time—manufacturing in quantities for a variety of needs. All the cars—except for one dos-a-dos—were sold and delivered after the show.

Waverley offered several other models like the piano box runabout and an open road wagon. About 2,000 vehicles were sold by 1903. Waverley then built the first coupe body ever constructed for an electric vehicle. The popularity of this type of closed car was so great that all the electric manufacturers soon devoted their attention to closed passenger cars. The demand for coupes, broughams, and limousines steadily increased, to the neglect of the smaller open cars. By 1909, the Silent Waverley Electrics used a “noiseless” shaft drive from the traction motor to the rear wheels.

The 1911 Model 81 Brougham’s interior was finished in broadcloth, broad lace and “Goat Morocco” leather. It used either solid or pneumatic tires with side-lever steering and ran on Exide, Waverley, and Edison batteries. Standard luxuries included a flower vase, two vanity cases with watch and salt bottles, a match safe and cigar holder, and an umbrella holder. In 1912, Waverley offered the first front-drive electric.

The 40-page 1914 catalog gave copious descriptions of six models including the Roadster Coupe that rode on a 104-inch wheelbase and looked like a conventional gasoline roadster with a long hood and a false radiator. The four-passenger Brougham was offered in three versions: front-drive, rear-drive, and front-and-rear-drive. To help promote sales, the company published “A day with a Silent Waverley.” This pamphlet charted the day of a fictitious woman as she rolled up the miles in the Silent Waverley traveling from the office, school, shopping, and other engagements. She could travel, according to the pamphlet, without the fussing and fuming of gasoline autos.

Most electrics, though almost noiseless, were annoyingly slow (5-25 m.p.h.) and their batteries needed recharging after a few hours of use. Suitable for densely populated areas, electrics were seldom seen in the open country because of their limited traveling range (up to 75 miles). Although later Waverley’s furnished a range between charges sufficient for about two day’s use, the popularity of electric cars began to wane. Waverley electrics were no longer produced after 1916.

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Waverley – Indianapolis’ popular electric vehicle

Waverley electric vehicles were built in Indianapolis under four different corporate names: Indiana Bicycle Company (1898 1901), International Motor Car Company (1901-1903), Pope Waverley (1903 1907), and The Waverley Company (1908-1916). The first Waverley electric car was a two-passenger Stanhope with tiller steering, 36-inch wheels with pneumatic tires, and a single headlight.

1905 Pope-Waverley ad
1905 Pope-Waverley ad

Waverley exhibited one Stanhope, four dos-a-dos, and one delivery wagon at the New York Auto Show in May 1899. This line-up showed that its factory was—at that time—manufacturing in quantities for a variety of needs. All of the cars—with the exception of one dos-a-dos—were sold and delivered after the show.

Waverley offered a number of other models like the piano box runabout and an open road wagon. About 2,000 vehicles were sold by 1903. Waverley then built the first coupe body ever constructed for an electric vehicle. The popularity of this type of closed car was so great that all the electric manufacturers soon devoted their attention to closed passenger cars. The demand for coupes, broughams, and limousines steadily increased, to the neglect of the smaller open cars. By 1909, the Silent Waverley Electrics used a “noiseless” shaft drive from the traction motor to the rear wheels.

The 1911 Model 81 Brougham’s interior was finished in broadcloth, broad lace and “Goat Morocco” leather. It used either solid or pneumatic tires with side-lever steering and ran on Exide, Waverley, and Edison batteries. Standard luxuries included a flower vase, two vanity cases with watch and salt bottles, a match safe and cigar holder, and an umbrella holder. In 1912, Waverley offered the first front-drive electric.

1912 Silent Waverley
1912 Silent Waverley ad

The 40-page 1914 catalog gave copious descriptions of six models including the Roadster Coupe that rode on a 104-inch wheelbase and looked like a conventional gasoline roadster with a long hood and a false radiator. The four-passenger Brougham was offered in three versions: front-drive, rear-drive, and front-and-rear-drive. To help promote sales, the company published “A day with a Silent Waverley.” This pamphlet charted the day of a fictitious woman as she rolled up the miles in the Silent Waverley traveling from the office, school, shopping, and other engagements. She was able to travel, according to the pamphlet, without the fussing and fuming of gasoline autos.

Most electrics, though almost noiseless, were annoyingly slow (5-25 m.p.h.) and their batteries needed recharging after a few hours of use. Suitable for densely populated areas, electrics were seldom seen in the open country because of their limited traveling range (up to 75 miles). Although later Waverleys furnished a range between charges sufficient for about two day’s use, the popularity of electric cars began to wane. Waverley electrics were no longer produced after 1916.

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

What Everybody Ought to Know About Early Auto Advertising.

1905 Pope-Waverley ad
1905 Pope-Waverley ad

When looking at the advertising of automobiles in the first part of the twentieth century, one realizes that the medium quickly evolved to featuring gift buying. One early example from my collection is the wedding gift theme of a 1905 Pope-Waverley ad in Life Magazine. It suggested, “It’s quite the thing nowadays to present the bride with a Pope-Waverley Electric. No gift imaginable can make as lasting an impression or give the recipient more genuine pleasure and convenience. These superb carriages are ‘always ready,’ clean, noiseless, and simple to operate.” How about an electric car for a wedding present?

1929 Studebaker ad
1929 Studebaker ad

Studebaker’s December 7, 1929, Literary Digest ad is probably one of the highmarks for the decade. Three color illustrations told the story, “Give her the keys to happiness.” The main illustration is of a father and daughter looking fondly at their gift of keys to a Studebaker Eight to the mother. “Each year this gracious Christmas custom grows in favor…the presentation of the Keys to Happiness to one well beloved. An attractive gift case holds the shining keys for one of Studebaker’s smart new motor cars — an Eight by the Builder of Champions! One should remember that this ad was conceived before the October 1929 stock market crash which had cataclysmic effects for advertising. You can’t put a car under the Christmas tree, what about gift wrapping the keys?

1932 Studebaker ad
1932 Studebaker ad

In the mid 1930’s, Studebaker produced The Wheel magazines for the auto show seasons. On the cover of the 1932 edition, we see a chic woman wearing furs showing a President convertible roadster to an older woman seated in a Studebaker electric. Inside the magazine there are eight pages of color illustrations interspersed with 12 pages of copy and black and white photographs of the “Triumphant New Studebakers.” Auto shows are about future auto dreams, aren’t they?

These types of materials are part of the sales process in creating attention, interest, and desire in the prospective customer’s mind. Auto advertising over the years was a good barometer of the health of the economy and marketplace.

I love sharing these vignettes about early auto advertising from my collection. They demonstrate that the only thing new in advertising is the delivery medium. The message from earlier times holds true today.

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Weather challenges for the Indianapolis Auto Shows

Do think we have weather challenges today? Let me tell you about the 1913 Indianapolis Auto Show and weather challenges 102 years ago.

Meet me at the auto show
Meet me at the auto show

Indianapolis auto shows were open air affairs beginning in 1907, because of the lack of any building of sufficient size to accommodate a large show. Soon, over 60 dealers and garages throughout the district hosted thousands of visitors at these shows.

The successes of these early shows led the Indianapolis Auto Trade Association (IATA) to plan the March 24, 1912, tent show on three streets around University Park. However, a blizzard blitzed this show. The Indianapolis News reported: “A gang of workmen was busy nearly all day removing the snow from the top of the tent and succeeded in preventing it from breaking through anywhere.”

The next year’s event was inside, at the Coliseum and Coliseum Annex at the State Fair Grounds, March 24-29. No snow, but a torrential downpour started on Easter Sunday, March 23. By mid-week many parts of Indianapolis were stranded by the swollen White River and its tributaries. With the crippling of street car and other transportation systems, Indianapolis auto manufacturers came to the rescue.

Every factory and garage and many private owners placed their cars at the disposal of the police and other departments. New cars, test cars, factory trucks, and anything that would run was pressed into service in the flooded districts where it was sometimes too swift for boats. These vehicles carried the imperiled families to places of refuge.

R. P. Henderson’s touring car
R. P. Henderson’s touring car

For instance, the personal touring car of Henderson Motor Car Co. Vice President R. P. Henderson was placed at the disposal of authorities on the north side making trips carrying flood victims to high ground. One of the first trucks placed in service was “Old Bolivar,” the first Henderson touring car built, that was serving as the factory pickup truck. The truck transported a boat and officers to the flood area across the Fall Creek Bridge.

By Tuesday, March 25, the continuing rains caused the White River and other streams to rise cutting off access to the fair grounds, making it necessary to discontinue the show until Friday, March 28. On Friday the show was further discontinued until Sunday at 1 pm. The directors of the IATA decided that the Sunday receipts of the show would be donated to the flood sufferers relief fund. Freewill offerings to the fund were also accepted at the doors, and the IATA also scheduled two benefit theatrical performances at the reopening. The total amount taken in for the fund during the Sunday show approached $1000.

1913 Henderson auto show Ad
1913 Henderson auto show Ad

On Sunday, IATA estimated that at least 4,000 people inspected the cars on display. Indiana manufacturers, including Auburn, Cole, Empire, Haynes, Cole, Henderson, Marion, Marmon, McFarlan, Motor Car Manufacturing Co., National, Studebaker, Premier, and Waverley Electric, were part of the 36 firms exhibiting a total of 200 cars.

The show continued through the end of the week. The Coliseum ground floor featured pleasure car exhibits, and the promenade around the structure had more cars and motorcycles. The Coliseum Annex housed accessories and trucks. Warmer weather, bigger crowds, and better transportation facilities combined to make the later days of the show successful. A joyful carnival crowd greeted closing night on Saturday, April 5.

Hopefully, we won’t have any more weather challenges for this year’s iteration of the Indianapolis Auto Show.

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