An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Jack Landon Baby Car Mystery Solved – Crown Motor Carriage Company

A year and a half ago we did a feature about Jack Landon of Los Angeles with photos of the baby cars that he built in the mid-to-late-1920s. At the time, his name was known, and a search turned up an article about him in the October, 1927 Popular Science magazine that you can link to in our earlier post. 

After viewing the lead image showing a late-1920s Cadillac sedan and a baby car in the Michael J. Semas Collection it was apparent where he built his unique cars. The Crown Motor Carriage Company logo lead us to learn more about Crown Coach that began in 1903 when Don M. Brockway started the Crown Carriage Co. in a barn behind his house. Crown continued to build school buses until closing in 1991.

The origin of the Jack Landon baby car chassis’ are not known, and it appears that he built some of the cars to order for Crown. The little vehicles were used for advertising, fun and show business. The one pictured is wearing badges from the Hudson Car Company.

The Popular Science magazine article states that “He bought a small used car, took it apart and cut it down, making new parts when necessary.” We would like to know if any of our readers can identify what engine and chassis he started with that can be seen in these photos. 

  •              Chevrolet School Bus body built by the Crown Motor Carriage Company in Los Angeles.


12 responses to “Jack Landon Baby Car Mystery Solved – Crown Motor Carriage Company

    • Robbie, Thanks for the reply. I should have been more specific and had also seen the Hudson triangles.

      What I am hoping someone could ID would be the maker of the chassis that he used to made many of these cars by cutting them down.

      The earlier post has two photos of a semi-completed car where the engine and some mechanical details are visible. Check here:

  1. Unfortunately I cannot shed light on what chassis or engine the miniature Hudson used. However, I can report that the photograph was made before the final bodywork was completed. The finished car is pictured on page 39 of my book, “Orphan Babies: America’s Forgotten Economy Cars, Volume 2: 1927 – 1943”. Landon added a short pick-up bed out back, similar to a coupe-pickup treatment. The bed sides were topped by hand rails that extended back from the lower landau iron mounting, across the top of the bed sides, and then curved down to attach to a step plate, similar to early fire trucks. The car is wearing “Golden Bear” lettering on the driver’s door, and the pickup bed carries a cartoon illustration of a bear’s smiling face. The Golden Bear Furniture Company was located at 3701 Geary Blvd. at the Arguello intersection in San Francisco. In another photo (unpublished), two children are standing in the pickup bed and hanging onto the railings.

    • Also pictured in the “Orphan Babies” book is the miniature C-cab dry cleaning delivery truck that Landon built for the American Dye Works, which the owner claimed was the “Smallest Delivery Car in the World” The tinted color advertising card on which it was pictured indicated the car was blue with red accents. The side-mounted spare tire and wheel overlapped the driver’s side door, which meant the driver must have entered and exited either through the passenger side or the rear delivery door. The top of the truck carried a roof rack for additional parcels.

      • Although we don’t know for sure what engine and chassis the miniature Hudson used, we find a potential clue on the back of the American Dye Works advertising card, which reads, “Specifications Miniature Cars; 4 Cyl. Continental Engine, 20 H.P.; Full Floating Rear Axle; 3-Speed Sliding Gear Transmission; Multiple Disc Clutch; Electric Starting and Lighting System; Tires 21 x 4 Aeroplane Cords; Length 75 Inches; Height 55 Inches; Weight 1200 Lbs.; Speed 50 M.P.Hr.; Gas Mileage 40 M. Per Gal.; Specially Built to Order for the American Dye Works; 35 Large Cars at Your Service; Work Called for and Delivered in All Parts of the City.” The text surrounds an engraving of the Main Office and Plant, proudly stating that dry cleaners and dryers of wearing apparel, household goods and carpets, featuring odorless dry cleaning, had been 35 years in business. However, the card neglects to say what city the firm was located in. A Google search indicates businesses by the same name were located across the country, and claimed to be the largest dry cleaners in the South.

        • Further research on American Dye Works indicates that it was owned by Morris S. Kornblum of Los Angeles. Following the German sinking of the Lusitania, he renamed his Berlin Dye Works the American Dye Works. He had branches across Los Angeles and in many Southern California cities.

          • Mmmmmm……why change the name from “American” to “Berlin” after the German sinking of the Lusitania?? Seems counterproductive !!!

  2. The largest dry cleaning company, accomodating the the wholsale side of smaller “mom-pop” shops in Los Angeles, (that I know of), — was FANSET Cleaners on Casitas Avenue in Los Angeles, in the Atwater District, Zone 39, who operated a very large fleet of Model “A-A”Ford Panel Delivery Wagon Trucks, (with uniformed Drivers) , outfitted with FORD FACTORY “body trim (bright plated) upgrades” , to cater to “high end” Cleaning & Dying Retailers in “well to do” neighborhoods, of LA & Glendale.

  3. Dck, I think you have got that back to front. Robert says “Following the German sinking of the Lusitania, he renamed his Berlin Dye Works the American Dye Works.”
    To me that says it was previously the Berlin… and after the American…

  4. We have a Crown of Los Angeles small car. It is a charablanc of sorts. It has a flat head Ford engine possibly a Model A engine and tiller steering.

  5. As a partial anwer to the question about the change,There are a number of villages in our area that were and still are populated by people of direct German ancestory and it was not uncommon for village street names in those villages to be changed to sound “less German” at the same time this gentleman changed the name of his company.It was not done for those who already knew the name of his company but rather to seem less offensive to those discovering his co for the first time and considering doing business with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *