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The McFarlan – The Pride of Connersville, Indiana

  • MC7
  • 1915 or 1916 McFarlan Series T Seven-Passenger Touring Car

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.

  • Mc1
  • 1922 McFarlan Twin-Valve Six Touring Car

MC3     MV5     MC4

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.

  • MC2
  • McFarlan Twin-Valve Six Roadster

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.

23 responses to “The McFarlan – The Pride of Connersville, Indiana

  1. The silent film star Wallace Reid known as “the screens most perfect lover” likely owned at least 3 McFarlans, one of which was delivered after his death and was sold by Fatty Arbuckle. One of Reid’s cars is in the Fountainhead Museum in Alaska while the Arbuckle car is in the Nethercutt Collection. Jack Dempsey owned one which is in the Imperial palace collection in Vegas. The National Auto Museum has a McFarlan Town Car in its collection

  2. What became of A. Tomek’s 1925 Coupe in St. Louis, Missouri. Wisconsin 6-cylinder OHV engine and aluminium body, in good shape. Was for sale in the September issue of Motor Trend 1954.

  3. Maybe a small detail, but the McFarlan is definitely a 1915 model. The 1916 model has a more rounded hood. The 1916 roadster pictured in the standard catalog must be therefore a 1915 model too in my opinion. McFarlan offered two Sixes in 1915, a model 76T (4″x6″) and a model 76X (4.5″x6″), but there was only one chassis size. So I imagine you can’t see the difference between a T and X from the outside (unless you know of course!).

  4. It is interesting to note that despite producing only a couple of hundred cars each year, the McFarlan range was spread over a wide range of models. For 1928 there were 21 separate models offered. I presume this was done to keep the “exclusiveness” of the marque, but one wonders if some rationalisation might have allowed the company to survive longer.

    • McFarlan’s marketing was that you did not need any more than six cylinders. As eight cylinder engines became available the demand for the McFarlan six’s diminished.

  5. There is a book titled, CUSTOM BUILT BY MCFARLAN, by Richard Stanley of Connersville, Indiana. With what is left to be known this book is a very comprehensive work of one of my top favorite makes. Also,at the historical society in Connersville there is a 1924 McFarlan Town Car. This model was their top of the line catalog offering. Everything about the chassis is so overbuilt. This one also has the Westinghouse air springs. Richard records of 19 known McFarlans left in existence. Unfortunately, none are the early ones with the pneumatically operated transaxle. In the Fall of 2012 I went to Texas to recover the remains of a 1922 McFarlan TV6 engine. There are features on those engines that I have never seen on any engine before. They are truly a great automobile.

    • Nathan,
      I was once told about one, east of Amarillo. Is this it?

      Regardless, I own 4+ Mcfarlans (TV 6), With a total of 8 engines. I talked to Richard Stanley before he wrote the book, and have since visited him at the Connersville Museum.

      Please call me.

  6. In Richard Stanley’s CUSTOM BUILT BY MCFARLAN, the surviving vehicle section it shows a 1924 Single Valve Coupe. “This is the only Single Valve McFarlan with Wisconsin engine known to exist.” Well, now we know of a second one. It is a Model 45, 6-Passenger Touring Car. Very near complete and currently in eastern North Carolina.

  7. Only numbers I can see are on the cylinder head

    Some sort of “L” symbol near the spark plug.

    1 SA 60 A ??

    “0” stamped on the edge of cylinder head.

  8. ABOUT THE MCFARLAN WASNT’ THEIR MAIN COMPETITION IN THE EXTREME LUXGURY MARKET THE CUNNINGHAM 8 CYLINDER AUTOMOBILE. BOTH ARE SO FINE.

  9. I BELIEVE THAT NOW THERE ARE 28 KNOWN MCFARLAN AUTOMOBILES KNOWN. THERE IS PART OF A 1911 SOMEWHERE, MISSING THE ENGINE.. WHAT A GREAT VEHICLE.

    • Hello randy, I found a McFarlan name plate while metal detecting here in Maryland. I was wondering if you could tell me if it was from a car or carriage.

      • I WOULD LIKE TO HELP. I KNOW MCFARLAN AND CUNNINGHAM AUTOMOBILES. THEY WERE THEIR MAIN COMPETITION TO EACH OTHER IN THE EXTREME LUXURY AUTO INDUSTRY. VERY SIMILIAR VEHICLES, VERY LUXURY, EXPENSIVE AND MANUFACTURED AROUND THE SAME TIME PERIODS.

  10. My grandfather bought a 1927 Macfarlan. It currently resides at my parents home in Tucson, AZ. My grandfather took it apart decades ago and was doing a total rebuild – all original and he passed away.

  11. The Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville, IN; will be relocating to a larger remodeled facility in downtown Connersville this summer. Please stop by for a visit. We will be at the corner of 5th St. and Grand Ave.

  12. I was recently visiting. family and friends and bumped into a man that had a Cord automobile in the parking lot in front of the museum. He was on his way to a show but told me to come back later and it would be open. I had returned later but no one was there, so I peeked in the window and saw some of the beautifully cars inside. I live in Texas now and look forward to visit the museum on my next trip to my home town. Do I have to call ahead to schedule a time to go inside?

    • We are having the Grand Opening at our new location of the Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville at the corner of 5th St. & Grand Ave. , on 10/13 and 10/14/18. We are presently open 10-4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. If you would like a tour during the week, give me a call: Chris Friend (765)265-4910. I will do my best to set up a tour.

  13. Please feel free to contact, Historic Connersville on Facebook if you are going to be in the area and wish to see our awesome museum. We have been at our new museum location for about a year now. We are located at 200 W. 5th St, Connersville Indiana. Current Connersville made automobiles on display at the museum: 1937 Cord, 1935 Auburn, 1913 Empire, 1922 Lexington & 1924 McFarlan Town Car.

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