Category Archives: Auto photos 1885 – 1920

Look Ma, No Gears – The Gearless Greyhound

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  • The Gearless Greyhound advertised in “The Automobile”, August 22, 1907

Much like today’s abandonment of the manual transmission by most modern motorists, in the first decade of the last century there was a need for a semi-automatic transmission that did not require the shifting of gears. Only the mechanically-inclined and patient driver could master the art of double-clutching, which would allow gears to be shifted with the primitive clutches and transmissions of the day.

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  • Three versions of the four Gearless units seen in patent drawings

Henry Ford capitalized on this by offering his version of the planetary transmission in his early models and on through to the end of the production of the Model “T” Ford. The Gearless Transmission Co. of Rochester, New York, subscribed to the semi-automatic transmission idea, but took it a step further and offered its designs in a series of upscale and powerful machines.

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  • The version chosen for the 1908 Gearless 60 h.p. four and the 75 h.p. six

The Gearless was only in production between the years of 1907 and the fall of 1909. During the first two years of production, the company focused on large high-horsepower four and six-cylinder models that ranged between fifty and seventy-five h.p., and the use of its unique transmission.

Four patented transmission designs were developed for the car and the version shown above was the one to be chosen for production in 1908. In low gear or reverse, six cone-shaped rolling fiber rollers (no. 40 in the drawing above) were pressed against one or the other of the two large cones (no. 33 and no. 18). Full details of its construction and operation can be found just below in The Automobile magazine.

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  • Full details of the Gearless in the February 6, 1908 “The Automobile” and coverage of the Gearless Pilot Car for the New York to Paris Race 

Despite the high-quality construction and the exposure resulting in the Gearless being chosen by the Chicago Auto Club as a Pilot Car for the New York to Paris Race, the company found it was unable to turn a profit. After a reorganization in the spring of 1908, and the addition of a lower-priced four-cylinder car with a conventional transmission, the company carried on through to 1909. The changes made to help save the automaker did not work, and it went bankrupt that fall. More information can be found here covering the 1908 Gearless Cars.

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Racer Joe Jagersberger and an Exceptional Early Mystery Car


Joe Jagersberger, a well-known early racer and riding mechanic, is posed above in an uncommon circa 1904-1907 automobile that appears to be wearing custom coachwork. We are going to use it to test our knowledgeable readers who we are confident will be able to identify it. Send us a comment telling us what make, model and year you believe it is, and we will reveal the results on Friday morning. In the meantime, you can learn more about Jagersberger and the RAJO Ford racing parts he later manufactured here on The Old Motor. The photo is courtesy of racing historian Kem Robertson.

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A 1902 Toledo Steam Car Headed to Pebble Beach

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  • The 1902 Toledo before being shipped on the long journey to Pebble Beach

A special steam car class will be a feature of the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this year and one of the entries, this 1902 Toledo Steam Car, is coming all the way from England to attend. Nick Howell tells us more about this unique car and his plans to attend the Concours. Following it, will be a re-run of a January 1902 publicity trip that was made from Flagstaff, Arizona to the Grand Canyon with a Toledo.

By Nick Howell:

In 2004, I purchased a Toledo with a six-inch longer than standard wheelbase at a farm auction in Tawas City, Michigan. With the car came a short article about a similar car slated to drive through the Rocky Mountains. Over the last few years, I have managed to track down thirteen Toledo Steamer Cars around the world, and I have been in correspondence with most of the owners, and so far none of the other cars have the longer wheelbase chassis as this one does. Neither is this configuration listed in any of the contemporary catalogues.

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  • As found in Michigan – Original dash and wood – During restoration

After eight years of on and off research and restoration, Toledo No. 259 (it is the only car known that has serial numbers) has been finished, and it completed the 2013 London to Brighton Run last fall. The car was very original and complete and only three pieces of wood in the body needed to be replaced, two because they were split and one, which holds the engine, because it was scorched. Mechanically it has also been completely rebuilt. The leather upholstery is original and has been conserved rather than restored.

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  •  A 1902 Dos a Dos Toledo delivered to a doctor in Massachusetts

The Automobile late in 1901, told of a Toledo built for Mr. Oliver Lippincott, a Los Angeles photographer, who was to undertake a trip through the Rocky Mountains. This car differed from the regular stock model by having bigger water tank, which necessitated a six-inch longer wheelbase with a different chassis and the addition of extra chassis tubes. A trailer was also added to carry more fuel and water. My Toledo appears not to have been altered in any way after it was constructed and seems to match and could possibly be the Lippincott car.

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  • L to R: Story of the originally proposed journey – Photos of the trip as run from Flagstaff, Arizona to the Grand Canyon from the “Los Angeles Herald” 

After an invite to bring the car to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this year, my brother and I will both attend with the Toledo. We have also decided that this would also be a good opportunity to re-run the January 1902 trip of Lippincott. After the Concours, we have made plans to make the run on the 26th and 27th August. Thanks to the help of people who have kindly offered assistance, we hope to cover as much of the original route as possible.

In 1902, Lippincott forged a trail to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff instead of the earlier proposed Rocky Mountain trip. Full details of that journey have been found in the Los Angeles Herald. The center photo above shows Lippincott and Al Doyle, the Flagstaff guide who accompanied him along with Winfield Hoggaboon and T.M. Chapman, both reporters from the Newspaper. The right hand photo shows Al Doyle gazing out at the canyon.

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