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The 1912 Colby Underslung, an Attractive Flash in the Pan

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  • The 1912 Colby Model L 30-hp. Touring Car

Iowa businessmen William Colby entered the automobile game late in 1910 after having run a number of successful ventures. Right from the start, the car was well promoted with three models being exhibited in the 1911 Chicago Auto Show; a team of racing cars was also assembled to keep the Colby name in front of the public in the Midwest.

In 1911 the Mason City, Iowa automaker got its start with a new five-story factory and the guidance David W. Henry, an experienced automobile man. He supervised the design of a conventionally built mid-sized 40-hp touring car that was on a 121-inch wb. The attractive Colby Underslung was soon to follow.

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  • Mechanical details can be found in the “Motor”, December, 1911, above left

Using the basic design of the popular American Underslung, Colby added the attractive Model L Underslung late in 1911 as a 1912 model; it was produced for only one year. The sleek car used a lightweight 116-inch wb. chassis with 36 x 4-inch tires, it was powered by a 30-hp. L-head four that was backed up by a three-speed transmission.

Like many other small automotive ventures at the time it soon was in financial trouble. After one failed buy-out it was acquired by a group of Iowa bankers and called the Standard Motor Company, but that effort also failed and Colby was soon out of business in 1913, after producing perhaps one thousand cars. You can look back here on many recent posts covering the underslung car.

5 responses to “The 1912 Colby Underslung, an Attractive Flash in the Pan

  1. After being sacked by the Colby Motor Car Company in mid 1912, David W Henry travelled to Omaha, Nebraska, where the established the Omaha Motor Car Company. The car thus constructed was called the Omaha, and like the Colby, had an underslung frame like the Colby. Like the Colby, it was also a commercial failure, with very few cars made before the company went into bankruptcy in September 1913.

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