Category Archives: Auto photos 1885 – 1920

The Klaxon Horn – The X-Ray of Sound

  • kl1           What appears to be the first Klaxon Horn introduced during 1908

After recently viewing advertisements showing a number of the different models of Klaxon horns that were available in the early to mid-1930s, it appeared that tracing the origin of the horn back to its roots could prove to be interesting. The oldest reference to the device to be found was from early in 1908, it was also learned that Klaxon called it The X-Ray of Sound. The photo above shows one of the cable-driven horns installed on a Stoddard-Dayton. Note the pull-chain hanging from the steering column used to actuate it. 

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  • Details of the Klaxon Horn found in automobile periodicals during 1908.

The left-hand illustration above shows the wheel that was driven by the engine flywheel after it was actuated by the pull-chain; it in turn drove a flexible cable that connected to the bottom of the horn unit. The center image above is an article found in The Automobile, February 6, 1908, issue describing its construction and use. The right-hand illustration above shows the cam wheel, which while spinning and repeatedly striking the anvil mounted in the center of the heat-treated vanadium steel diaphragm, caused it to produce the distinctive sound.

An article in the May 1908 Automobile Trade Journal where the two illustrations above originate from credits Miller Reese Hutchison as being the inventor. Hutchison had earlier worked with the telephone and other electrical devices that also used a diaphragm to create sound, you can see patents for many of his inventions here. The manufacturing was handled by the Lovell-McConnell Mfg. Co. of Newark, New Jersey.

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  •                         From an advertisement in The Motor, June 1909.

The May 1908 Motor magazine shows a small illustration of the electrical version of the horn having the same general appearance as the unit seen here with the exception of it having a smaller electrical motor. By 1909, the motor-driven Klaxon seen above had taken on its familiar shape that it retained for a number of years. Depending on the model, it sold for between $30 to $40.

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  •                An advertisement in “The Automobile”, December 30, 1909.

By December of 1909, Lovell-McConnell had introduced a lower-cost version seen above called the Klaxonet. In viewing the Klaxon patents it appears the company also moved quickly to file and patent more of Hutchison’s designs along with those of other inventors in a move to capture the market. In May of 1912, the company also filed a patent for a design by Hutchison for an electric vibrating type of horn. This type of unit would soon become the modern electric horn that was produced for decades.

At some point, the Lovell-McConnell Company was bought out by the Delco Company in Anderson, Indiana, and the design and production may have been moved there. The advertisement below found in the April 1932 Automobile Trade Journal, shows one of the last of the externally mounted horns that soon went out of fashion. By the mid-1930s, most automotive horns ended up enclosed within the bodywork or under the hood.


Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Technical Features | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Chauffeur Peter Christian Wick and a pair of Delaunay-Belleville Limousines

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  • Peter Christian Wick posing with a Delaunay-Belleville collapsible town car

This is the forth post in a series covering the automobiles that Peter Christian Wick operated during his career as a professional chauffeur; he drove in the New York City and Ridgefield, Connecticut areas in the early 1900s. This set of photos show two different Delaunay-Belleville cars, and he drove at least one of them for Mr. Albert H. Wiggin, who was the chairman of the Chase Bank.

The Delaunay-Belleville in the photo above and the three images below was an impressive and large French car that was most likely powered by a six-cylinder engine and may have been chain-driven. The coachwork the chassis is wearing is what we would refer to as a collapsible town car. It offered the comfort of being enclosed, but with the top down and the side and division windows removed it offered the benefits of an open car during pleasant weather.

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The left-hand photo above shows Wick’s wife posing in the car with what appears to be the Sleeping Giant, which is located in central Connecticut, behind her. The center photo shows the car along with the Wiggin’s Fiat in front of the carriage house, which may have also served as living quarters for Wick and the other domestic help. The right-hand image shows a group of chauffeur’s posing with the car. Note the car being washed in the background and the man sitting just behind the front fender with what appears to be a broken arm.

The car Wick is posing in below may not have been owned by Mr. Wiggin as it has been identified as wearing a manufacturer’s license plate from New York. This car is likely to be the smaller four-cylinder model; note the low windshield, the continental-style mounting of the headlamps and the patent leather fenders.

The Wick family has discovered that in 1908 Peter was in Cupid’s Pranks, a 1908 Thomas Edison silent film, in it he can be seen between the 6:40-minute mark and 8:15 operating a limousine. If you can identify the maker of the car in the film, please let us know. You can look back here and see the White Steam cars, a Fiat and a Rainier he also drove in earlier posts here on The Old Motor.


Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920 | Tagged , , , , , |

The Sunday Edition No. X – Dawn Patrol at Pebble Beach – The Connecticut State Police – A Toledo Steam Car – The Cord L-29 Grand Prix Winner

At the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a large group of spectators line-up and watch as the cars are driven onto the field early in the morning. It has been given the name The Dawn Patrol, and this year the Concours had it covered by a video production team with several cameras. It gives one an excellent chance to both see and hear the cars in motion, as several strategically-placed remote microphones also capture the exhaust note of a vehicle as it passes. The video is courtesy of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.


Reader John Burns sent in this photo of a group of Troopers along with a Connecticut State Police Ford Station Wagon modeling one of the roof-mounted speedometers that were popular at the time. The picture was taken on one of the three the Interstates in the state circa 1959. Can anyone tell us which of the highways this is (I-95, I-91 or I-84), or tell us about the unique roof-mounted speedometer as seen on the Ford?


Reader Nick Howell from England sent us this photo after his 1902 Toledo won the Chairman’s Trophy presented by Chairwomen Sandra Button at Pebble Beach. After the Concours he and his brother spent a couple of days with Jay Leno before setting off on the next adventure to take the car to Arizona to reenact a Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon run from back in the period. You can learn all about the car in a recent post here on The Old Motor. The photo is courtesy of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.


Reader Jerry McDermont sent us this photo showing a three-quarter view of the Oak Park Auburn and Cord building. We noticed a banner displayed in the front window stating: Cord Grand Prix Winner Model – On Display Here and decided to try to learn more about it. There are also at least three cities in the country named Oak Park, and we are wondering which one this Auburn and Cord Agency was located in?

In a period New York City area newspaper article, we found that a L-29 Cord received the highest honor ever given to a standard American car in a competition at Monte Carlo. The article goes on to state that a second L-29 with an American custom body designed by Count Alex de Sakhnoffsky also won a Grand Prix. Can any of our readers tell us any of the details about this pair of cars?


Jerry McDermont also found the photo above of this L-29 Convertible Sedan that was in an advertisement in the June 8, 1929 edition of L’Illustration, a French magazine. F.A. Jomini, a dealer with a showroom located on the stylish Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, France placed the ad telling of his upcoming exhibit at the Paris Auto Salon.

The Sunday Edition is for reader contributions, please join in and help us share interesting discoveries with other vintage car enthusiasts. If you have a great photo, know of an excellent video, a mystery or story, contact us here (we will send you an email address for photos) and include your full name so we can credit your submission.

Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Auto photos 1946 - 1965, video | Tagged , , , , , , , |