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An Auburn and A Ford Tri-Motor Help to Promote India Tires in Los Angeles

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  • An Auburn Sedan and a Ford Tri-Motor at the Burbank, California Airport

In promotional photos, the surroundings or things that a product is associated with have a large impact on the public’s perception of that object. In this case a set of photos was taken in 1928 for the India Tire & Rubber Co. of Akron, Ohio to promote its tires and a Auburn Sedan and a Ford Tri-Motor airplane were used for effect. India had a long history of building quality tires that were sold across the country.

The Auburn is dated 1927 or earlier and is one of several six and eight-cylinder models that the company was building at the time; if you can identify its exact year and model, please send us a comment. You can learn quite a bit here on The Old Motor about the automakers offerings in this period, and also see an informative video of a 1927 film by the Auburn Automobile Co. here.

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According to the Maddox Family website: “In the spring of 1927, John Luther Maddux took delivery of his first Ford “Tri-Motor” airplane. Maddux Airlines was formed September 2, 1927 and its first flight was on November 1, 1928 from Burbank Airport to San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.”

“By mid-1929, Maddox had 16 Tri-Motors and two smaller planes which he used for private charter. Business was booming, but the risks were great and he was unable to obtain an airmail contract. To get the government’s support, Jack merged the airline with Transcontinental Air Transport on November 16, 1929.” You can learn the rest of the interesting Maddux Airlines story here.


The excellent video below is from the Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation in Port Clinton, Ohio. The production gives a very interesting account of the Tri-Motor history, and also the organization that is in the process of building an authentic replica so it can have a flying version of the craft; the airplane was an important part of travel in that area in the period. You can also strap in and go for a ride in a restored Tri-Motor at a recent fly-in at Trimotor Heritage Foundation. All photos are courtesy of the USC Libraries.

4 responses to “An Auburn and A Ford Tri-Motor Help to Promote India Tires in Los Angeles

  1. A minor point, but PORT Clinton is the location of the Tri-Motor Foundation. I spent childhood summers on nearby Catawba Peninsula, and Island Airlines tin geese routinely passed overhead as they (slowly!) shuttled passengers between Put-In-Bay and the mainland.

  2. Most remaining Trimotors were flown to death hauling freight during WWII. The few remaining after the war stated to experience significant corrosion problems from electrolysis due to the aluminum alloy wings and body being attached to a steel tube frame. The engines were old and cranky, and it got harder and harder to maintain CAA/FAA certification. What really did them in was the hundreds of cheap surplus C-47/DC-3’s available after the war. You could buy one cheaper than repairing a Tri. Pilots and operators had no love lost for the Tri since it was noisy, drafty, and slow. It was an excellent airplane in the 20’s but just a pain in the 40’s. Now we have nostalgia flights, where everyone wants to fly in a Tri. The small number of serviceable airframes has led to new build replicas. If you wait about 100 years, everything old becomes new again.

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