The Norwalk Motor Car Company originated in the town bearing its name in Ohio, just south of Sandusky in 1910. The effort by Arthur E. Skadden who had earlier built the Auto Bug was short-lived, and ended apparently after only four cars were built by going bankrupt within the year. Skadden next connected with several investors in Martinsburg, West Virginia, who liked his ideas, equipped a factory to build cars, and put him in charge of running the new facility.
When Norwalk production started up again in 1912 with the Model 45, it was built in a conventional manner, and was very much the same as the original. A six followed early in production, and an underslung model was also quickly added to the line-up. In 1913, a change was made to a pair of medium and large-sized sixes, the four was dropped, and the advanced and interesting Vulcan Electric Shift four-speed transmission was added.
Full details of the Vulcan Electric Transmission, “The Automobile” July 10, 1913, and the electric brake lock, “The Automobile” December 12, 1913
Two different models were offered in 1913: the Model A with a 4-inch bore x 5-inch stroke – 40/60 hp T-head six, used in both 127-inch and 136-inch wheelbases; the flagship Model B featured a 4.25-inch bore x 5.5-inch stroke – 50/70 hp T-head six and a very long 144-inch wb. chassis. More details of both power plants and the accessories used with them can be found in the center image just below.
On the left and right above, can be seen illustrations of the Model A Roadster and the the Tourer, both of which were on the shorter wheelbase. The larger models were called the Special Roadster, a two-passenger and the Special Tourer, which seated six. Another attractive body style offered was the Four-Passenger Roadster that can be seen below.
Standing on wheels and tires that stood 40 inches tall, a luxurious Model B Underslung Six-Passenger Touring, can be seen in the photo just below taken in front of the factory. The impressive machine with modern styling shared the same basic design of the American Underslung but took the concept to new heights with the use of the Vulcan Electric Shift Transmission, and the electric brake lock. Both devices eliminated the shift and brake levers and were operated by a pushbutton-controlled switch box, located just in front of the steering wheel.
All of the up-to-date features did not guarantee the new company success. Financial difficulties affected company, and it was reported to have gone into receivership in 1914. Very few Underslungs were built from that point on, and the factory was ordered to be sold in early 1915.
According to local historians, in 1918 the Norwalk name was used for a new enterprise that manufactured assembled cars and a truck. Two Norwalk-built fire trucks were put into use by Martinsburg firefighters. The company finally closed its doors for good in 1922.
What is thought to be the only known surviving automobile produced by the company, is this 1914 Norwalk Underslung Six-Passenger Touring Car. It was owned by a rancher in Longmont, Colorado who sold the car to a group that worked to bring the car back home to Martinsburg. More photos can be seen along with other information about the car at The Friends of the Norwalk Foundation.