The McFarlan Motor Corporation, located in Connersville, Indiana, like many other early automobile manufacturers first started out in the carriage business in 1856. 1910 brought the introduction of the first car, a large high-quality six-cylinder automobile that set the stage for all future vehicles the firm built.
The perfect proving ground for the new automaker was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at which the new McFarlan cars were entered into competition from 1910 to 1912. On through the teens’, the automaker continued to build around two hundred cars a year that were popular in the Midwest with a well-to-do clientele.
In 1921, the exceptional Twin-Valve Six was announced, retailing at a cost of between $6300 to $9000. It was based on a long 140-inch WB, featured a 572 CI, 120 HP four-valve T-head engine with a bore and stoke of 4.5 x 6-inches that featured three spark plugs per cylinder. A two-spark Berling magneto fired plugs on either side of the combustion chamber, and a battery ignition system handled a single plug over each intake valve for starting. Full details of the construction can be found in an article in the Automobile Journal, October 1921 issue, in the center above.
All of these special features along with its distinctive appearance did not go unnoticed. A special car built for the 1923 Chicago Auto Show, featured 24 carat gold plating and a $25,000 price tag – it sold to a woman from Oklahoma whose family was in the oil business. A number of celebrities of the day including, Fatty Arbuckle and bandleader Paul Whiteman each owned one. The Arbuckle car has survived and is in the Nethercutt Collection. Boxer Jack Dempsey, who can be seen in his roadster in the right-hand photo above, also owned a touring car that has survived, and Al Capone also owned a pair of the cars.
A smaller Single-Valve Six was produced for a few years in the mid-twenties, and the Twin-Valve Six continued to be produced along with a straight eight that was added in 1927. During 1928 the company ceased operations and the factory at that point was taken over by Errett Lobban Cord for his well-known automotive endeavors. More can be learned about the McFarland at coachbuilt.com. Top and bottom photos courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.