The 1910's saw great advances in the development of automobiles. Hundreds of different mom and pop shops opened up around the country, caught up in the national obsession with the technology; however, the field would start shrinking almost as soon as it opened up. Represented at the American Treasure Tour are some of the more elite vehicles put on the road (the Franklins from the last decade, for example), and cars intended for customers of more practical means (notably, the Mobilette). Enjoy the cars displayed here in their preserved condition, and just imagine how different life was when these were the new big thing on the roads that were being constructed around the country. Highways were a long way away, though!
1914 Woods Mobilette:
- Francis Woods of Harvey, Illinois produced the Mobilette between 1914 and 1916. It was the first American “cycle car,” intended to fill the ‘transportation gap’ between the motorcycle and the automobile. They were lightweight, low-powered, and simple vehicles to operate.
- Absent any modern luxuries, the Mobilette was generally affordable, averaging $400. It had superior gas mileage and could travel at an impressive 40 m.p.h. The narrowness of the car required the staggering of the seats to fit two passengers. This led to difficult driving on the country’s rutted dirt streets.
- Woods was unable to compete with Ford’s Model T.
- The Maxwell Motor Company produced cars between 1904 and 1925. For a time, they were one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the nation.
- Military overproduction during World War I led to a surplus and financial distress, which compelled Maxwell to hire the brilliant Walter Chrysler to rescue the company. In 1925, Chrysler bought out Maxwell and quickly quadrupled production.
- Jack Benny hilariously rode an old Maxwell in his radio and television shows. Mel Blanc voiced the rundown car, the manbehind Bugs Bunny and every other Warner Brothers cartoon character until close to his death in 1989.
1916 International Harvester Company Auto-Buggy:
- In 1902, businessman J.P. Morgan merged the McCormickHarvesting Machine Co., Deering Harvester Co. and others to create International Harvester (IHC). Other major American companies formed by Morgan include AT & T, U.S. Steel, and General Electric.
- Production of farm equipment dominates IHC’s business; however, they have also created vehicles for private use since they were established, including SUVs and large vans.
- Between 1907 and 1916, IHC produced the Auto-Buggy for general use. It has a 2-cylinder air-cooled engine that produces twenty horsepower.
- International Harvester has been incorporated into the Navistar International Corporation (as of 1986). Navistar is a holding company that owns and maintains the companies behind production of trucks, school and commercial buses, and substantial elements of other vehicles - notably the chassis for motor homes, Diesel engines for pick-up trucks, vans and SUV's. Their headquarters are in Lisle, Illinois.
1917 International Motor Company Pick-Up Truck:
- Jack, the oldest Mack brother, produced carriages starting in 1890, before transitioning to wagons and cars (steam, electric, then gas). He sold his first tourist bus in 1900.
- Jack, Gus, William, Joseph and Charles Mack were, at one time or another, also involved in the family business.
- In 1911, Mack merged into the International Motor Company (IMC). During World War I, Mack dominated IMC with their rugged vehicles described by soldiers as having “the tenacity of a bulldog.” By 1922, IMC became Mack Trucks, Inc., with the bulldog as their official emblem.
- Mack has achieved a certain fame for having their factories in Pennsylvania. In 2000, it became a subsidiary of the Sweden-based Volvo Company, but they have retained a presence in both Allentown and Macungie, Pennsylvania since 1905. Interested travelers can visit the site of their specialty garage in Allentown, which includes a worthwhile museum as well.
1917 Ford Model T Huxter Truck:
- Henry Ford introduced his Model T in 1908, after trying nineteen other designs (Models A through S). Over fifteen million T’s would be sold between 1908 and 1927 - a record Ford held until 1972, when the Volkswagen Beetle outsold it.
- Ford did not invent the static assembly line; however, they did perfect the moving assembly line for the mass production of their Model T. The use of stronger steel, multi-fuel engines (that operated with gasoline, kerosene, and ethanol), as well as a separate cylinder head and block, all contributed to the superiority of the T over other cars of the era.
- Hucksters peddled food and goods from the backs of trucks prior to the development of the modern supermarket.
- Henry Ford's legacy in the automotive industry truly spans the entirety of the twentieth century. He was often brushed off as a flash in the pan by his early competitors, but he showed that he was not only resilient, but positively visionary in his approach to automotive manufacturing.