For quite some time, this Comet racing car has been attributed by others, either as a Buick or a Comet that was built by Premier and raced by Carl Fisher. After years of on-and-off-again research, a firm case has been developed proving that this is a Comet racing or test car built in San Francisco by Elbert John Hall. He later went on to form the Hall-Scott Motor Car Company in 1910 with Bert C. Scott and build the Hall-Scott A-2 V-8 aviation engine.
The Comet car was produced in San Francisco by the Comet Automobile Co. (1907-1909), and Hall joined the newly-formed Company, which soon floundered and died. According to the Standard Catalog of American Cars Hall, ended up with the rights to the name and soon formed the Hall Automobile Co. with Autocar dealer Walter C. Morris.
- Workers at the Hall Automobile Co. pose with the V-8 powered car. Can anyone ID Hall in this image?
Hall continued to use the Comet name and over the next few years a total of about six automobiles were reported to have been built. The cars were powered by straight fours, one six cylinder and V-8 engines of Hall’s design. The small four cylinder 25- h.p. o.h.v. road car was guaranteed to do 75 m.p.h. which was very fast for the time.
The Hall also built a small and lightweight o.h.v. four cylinder racing car that tore up the race tracks in San Francisco and the Bay Area winning many events in the 1909 to ’10 period. Automobile Topics magazine reported on August 5, 1908 that the Comet won seven races at a meet sponsored by the Sonoma County Auto Club in Santa Rosa, CA.
A casual look at the photo (above) would lead one to believe that this was the four-cylinder racing car. Further investigation of the photo of this racing or test car shows that it is powered by one of Hall’s V-8 engines. This car may have served as a test bed for developing the A-2 V-8 aviation engine, and there is a possibility that it was the race car repowered with the new V-8.
- An enlargement of the group photo shows the details of the V-8 engine.
The enlargement (above) shows that this car was powered by a V-8 engine that is very similar to the Hall-Scott Type A-2 aviation engine that was introduced in 1910. If one takes the time to study the engine, it will noticed that the two cylinder blocks on the right-hand side of the car are inclined on an angle.
The V in the photo (above) points to a radiator hose with a second water manifold behind it on top of the other bank of cylinders. V2 points to the tip of one of the exposed rocker arms on the other side of the engine. The bundle of ignition wires also begin at a magneto in the vee of the engine and are in the same location as the A-2 engines.
- This photo shows the water manifold on the left side of the V-8 marked by a V.
Photos (above and below) from the Automobile Trade Journal November 1910 issue, show an early Hall-Scott A-2 V-8 aviation engine. Note the sophisticated oil pan Hall designed that used a lower collection section that in effect was the tank for a dry sump oil system. The four-cylinder aviation engine used a separate tank mounted off to the side of the oil pan. The first Mercer racing car designed at the same time would use a similar design as seen above, and it was used in all of the later 1911-’14 production and racing cars.
- A rear view of the early A-2 engine showing the camshaft gear and magneto and water pump location.
- An advertisement from the “Aero Magazine” Volume 2 April 8, 1911, showing the second design A-2.