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The Rickenbacker – A Short-Lived Roaring Twenties Automobile

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, well-known early racer and World War I fighter pilot was the perfect figure to name a new automobile start-up after in the post-war years.The Rickenbacker Motor Company was started in 1921 when a group lead by Barney Everitt along with seasoned automakers Walter Flanders and William Metzger began the new venture. Rickenbacker having many other interests at the time was named a Vice-President of the Company and contributed to the sales effort.

A manufacturing plant in Detroit, Michigan was purchased and tooled up and in early 1922 the first of the Rickenbacker cars made their debut at the New York Auto show. The new offering was equipped with a 218 c.i. L-head six cylinder that featured a flywheel at either end of the crankshaft; Rickenbacker had first seen this setup used on an aircraft engine during the war. The press reported the feature made the new engine one of the smoothest to be found

In 1923, the Rickenbacker is reported to have been the first of the medium-priced automakers to add four-wheel brakes; in the same year the firm lost Walter Flanders after he died in an automobile accident. In 1924, a nine main bearing L-head 268 c.i. straight-eight engine also utilizing two flywheels was added. Despite the changes and being chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, sales lagged at the company and even after price cuts in 1925 were instituted the situation did not improve.

As a last gasp measure, the flashy Super Sport Boattail Coupe was introduced at the 1926 New York Auto Show. That same year Rickenbacker left the Company due to its failing in the marketplace. See a two-page article in the December 23, 1926 issue of Automotive Industries at the bottom of the post introducing the new 1927 Models. Barney Everitt struggled on to the end of the line for the automaker in February of 1927.

You can learn more about the cars of which a least two-dozen have survived at the the Rickenbacker Club of America. The photos (below) showing production of the cars are courtesy of the AACA Library.

Rickenbacker Factory Photos

Rickenbacker Factory Photos

Rickenbacker Factory Photos

Rickenbacker Factory Photos

Rickenbacker Factory Photos

Rickenbacker Factory Photos

1927 Rickenbacker

1927 Rickenbacker

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