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1905 Long Island Auto Club Run

When we last looked at the Matheson, it was from the same year (1905) that this photo was taken, showing a scene on the Long Island Auto Clubs Run. This photo which has been split in half, shows a Matheson getting some attention out in front of a carriage maker, which must have been making the transition to the automobile at the time. Photo from the Robert C. Laurens Colection courtesy of Alan Ballard.

3 responses to “1905 Long Island Auto Club Run

  1. This photo was taken on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead (Long Island), New York. The shop in the foreground at the right is The Old Reliable Carriage Repository owned and managed by William F. Morell, Sr. (1854 – 1930).

    Charles M. Blydenburgh was the original proprietor of this carriage business, but information in the carriage trade magazine “The Hub” in July 1901 states the elder Morell was the successor to Blydenburgh’s shop. In advertisements into at least 1904 Morell also makes mention that he was the successor to Blydenburgh’s business. In 1907 Morell constructed a new building for his business on the same street.

    William Morell appears to have been involved in the carriage trade since at least 1880. He had his own wheelwright business immediately prior to taking on Blydenburgh’s shop. Period advertisements and articles state he sold Capital, Fish Bros., and Studebaker carriages.

    William Morell’s son George (1886 – 1961) joined the firm, prior to 1910. They began to sell automobiles around this same time, and they were agents for E-M-F, Ford, Franklin, and Overland prior to 1914. Looking at the 1915 New York State Census, William Morrell still lists himself as a carriage maker, while George is shown as a salesman.

    By 1920 William Morell is shown as only a wheelwright in the 1920 U.S. Census while George is shown as the proprietor of a garage. By 1925 William is back in the auto business, and George is listed as an auto dealer. By 1933 George had a Dodge and Plymouth franchise which lasted at least until 1955. He also had a second location at Greenport (Long Island), New York.

    The Matheson above appears to be the same one as shown here and also both photos here. Note the mismatched cowl lamps in all of the images.

  2. The only Matheson on the Long Island Automobile Club Economy Test, June 10-11, 1905, was driven by L.M. Palmer, Jr. He is listed as having withdrawn from the race on the return trip in order to take a pleasure detour. The Matheson is shown as a 40-hp model.

    The contest was over a 180 mile course from Brooklyn to Southampton and return, and was in an effort to see if auto touring was cheaper than train travel. The fare of the Long Island Railroad from Brooklyn to Southampton, at $4.53 per person, was the figure that the club used for comparison of the costs incurred by the motorists. The entry fee was $1.00, all speed limits were required to be observed, and the owners had to drive their vehicles. There were no official observers on board the cars. A full complement of passengers was required.

    In order to provide a fair basis of comparison for all competitors, expenses were calculated as follows: Gasoline, 25 cents/gallon; Lubricating oil, 60 cents/gallon; Time for engine or general repairs, 60 cents/hour; Time for tire repairs, 50 cents/hour; Punctures and blow outs to tire inner tubes, 75 cents/hour; Time to replace inner tube or inflate, 50 cents/hour; Parts replacement, catalog price to replace; Chain repairs, 50 cents/hour and the catalog price for new links, etc.

    At the end of the run, Dr. C. B. Parker in a 10-hp Franklin, with three passengers, won the trophy with a cost per person of 80.5 cents This highest cost per person was for Mr. M. R. Green in a 15-hp White, also with three passengers, at a cost of $1.91 each. Of the sixteen starters, ten finished, one withdrew because of accidents, one withdrew with tire troubles, two withdrew to make pleasure detours on the return route, the person donating the trophy, Mr. A. R. Pardington, technically withdrew himself, and one vehicle did not have the full compliment of passengers so was technically out of the running.

    The trophy for winning the contest was not presented to Dr. Parker until the first annual dinner of the Long Island Automobile Club in December of 1905 (is is unclear if the dinner was on the 13th or 20th). At that time the club had a membership of 292 men.

    The cost comparison might not have been fair to the railroads as the railroad had to pay taxes on the land it owned, it required much more expensive equipment to operate, needed insurance, maintained grades and crossings, etc. All of these costs were figured into their ticket cost. Similarly, the Long Island Auto Club did not include all expenses into account including licensing, insurance, and possibly other costs.

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