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Attractive and Sporty Early Mystery Machine

This attractive circa-1912 seven-passenger touring car crossed our radar screen, and since we have not had an early mystery car recently, it appears to be a perfect candidate. After spending some time viewing images and US manufacturer’s photos of four popular brands of cars of the period with a similar appearance, all of them of them have been eliminated. None of these automakers used a radiator, front cross member, starting crank or a compression release handle of the same exact form as seen in the view below of an identical car which was registered in New York State at about the same time as the mystery car was photographed.

Since we have not been able to identify this automobile yet, it is time for our knowledgeable readers to see if they can unravel this mystery machine. If you can, please include a link or photo with your email or comment to support any identification. The images are via Cars of the 1900s to 1930s.


43 responses to “Attractive and Sporty Early Mystery Machine

  1. The fenders hugging the wheels so closely seems like an odd combo with the cowled torpedo body. I wonder if the triangle on the firewall is the Manufacturer’s logo? Simplex had a triangle logo, and was made in NY to boot.

  2. Trying to figure if the inverted triangular logo plate has any connection with ‘MAJA’ Daimler?
    (American Branch Maja Co., Ltd. New York)

    First 2 pics are from “Vintage Photo Junkie” facebook,
    One with the NY plate i found on ebay (Car description – unidentified)

      • Were any US cars built with right-hand drive at that time? Really have no idea. Would FIAT have done so for the US?

        • The majority of US-built cars in 1912 had right-hand drive, including Cadillac, Franklin, Packard, Buick and Hudson. I believe with the introduction of the 1909 Model T, which has left hand drive, pulled the industry to RHD due to the sheer volume of Ts. I think most American manufacturers had converted to RHD by 1915. I’ve read that Pierce-Arrow was the last US holdout; it continued to build cars with RHD until 1919.

  3. Compare the front fender line with the town car being towed in the previous post “National Touring car saves the day..”

  4. Check the ALAM handbook for 1912 on page 44. The Locomobile on that page has the same fender and body lines and tool box on the running board, just as in your picture.

  5. It’s easier to say what this car isn’t, rather than guessing what it is. I agree that it is 1912-ish, given the black finish on the lights and the curved rear fenders, instead of those with flat projections at the 3 o’clock position (left side picture). The lamps on the first and third pictures appear to be Gray & Davis, while those of the second picture similar to Packard (which may be E & J). The wheel hardware is likely “Continental” and the rear axle not of the full-floating style. What I find distinctive are the brass-insert hubcaps and the outside door handles, which are uncommon for a vehicle of this era (Cadillac hubcaps excepted). Also distinctive is the “front cross member,” which may not actually be a cross member, but a decorative sheet metal valence. Brands which used trunnion-supported radiators, such as Alco, had no front cross members, using the engine base as stressed members. The presence of the Klaxon horn and the other costly accessories suggests a moderately- high or high-priced brand, of limited production. I would not be surprised if this car had a custom body, possibly by Fleetwood. What may provide the best avenue of study is the wood-framed windshield, as this is a highly unusual feature. Alco used these, but I am not aware of any other maker who did. This car does not appear to be an Alco, Locomobile, Pierce-Arrow or Hudson of that period. If the Thomas company made shaft drive, four cylinder cars in this period, that might be a consideration, but I am only familiar with their chain drive offerings. Good luck!

  6. John, The rear hubcaps are significantly larger in diameter than the fronts. The increased diameter is needed to cover the (slotted) hubs in addition to the dogs of the driveshafts. I would guess that the most common make using this system would be Cadillac, around 1912. Other makes using this system would be the shaft drive Locomobiles and Alco. Neither Packard nor Pierce-Arrow had this featue.

  7. Wow! “Mystery, I agree! The first photo identifies a 7-passenger vehicle with “jump-seats” (Huge!) , Tire diameter huge. 12 spokes with “Kelsey’s nuts” & dismountable rims. The rear axle drive appears to be the flange of inside/outside brakes driving a carriage bolt on each spoke, judging by the bulges. R.H.D. Square black(kerosene) side lamps. Note the convex shape on the headlamp doors, — imaging a small scenery image on each. Note the black headlamps —fed by red rubber tubes from a Size “A” Prestolite Acetylene Tank behind the R.H.S. spare tire & rim mount, (Meaning no early acetylene generator on the R.H.S.running board. (This could be a retro-fit!) Note the black windshield and flat surround – instead of round tube and one piece instead of two. The body’s front, — and The Firewall piece both appear to be steel. The valences on the front fenders appear to be “similar” to Packard, indicating a possible (American or Canadian common supplier(?). Notice what appears to be a triangular emblem on the R.H. side of the vertical part of the body, near the R.H. side Lamp bracket. The only (USA) manufacturer that I know of that uses a radiused triangular emblem is: Hudson , so: Was this symbol patented or otherwise protected? (but many Makers were present in those days). Were the lensatic headlamp door glasses an aftermarket or stock part? Note the elegant windshield swivel posts. Note the accessory bumper in picture #2. the Right angle drive Klaxon horn is a 1909 patent still sold in 1922, a top quality device. Was Prestolite in Europe? A 6 Volt Battery Box indicates a Self-Starter, Hard to see if there is an Attached Crank, or “just a cover”. Is that a Chain Sprocket Cover ? or a shackle cover? MY guess : 1915 to 1920 NO “dusters” on the Ladies nor the Gentleman. Edwin W. I guess: Southern California, in old Hollywood or old Pasadena, looks like early Spring Citrus trees. The bracket on the radiator may indicate a Funeral Service Car (Blackened) on a family weekend.

  8. Mr. Winet; The headlamps are stock Gray & Davis for 1912-13, and I believe that the side lamps are also by that manufacturer. Everyone is making a big deal about the triangle on the firewall, but it may be as simple as a body I.D. tag. Note that there does not appear to be a corresponding one on the left side. As far as I am aware, all Hudsons of that era had a white triangle enameled tag at the top front of the radiator, and I will assure everyone that this is not a Hudson. If a better image of the hubcaps can be located, then the identification of this car (images 1 and 3) can likely be discovered. Another interesting feature is the square-tubed radiator which is not horizontally segmented. Please recall that we may be dealing with a custom-bodied car, so that any of the fenders or bodywork may be unlike any other pictures that we have ever seen before! Thus, the chassis details are likely to be critical in its identification. I don’t believe that it was built later than 1913, as a car of this quality would have had electric lighting.

  9. The more I think about it — the more I believe that this is : Either: A Livery Car or a Funeral Car — on a Week-end Holiday , with its normally radiator top -tank shell mounted sign bracket — missing its Identification Sign , — and that: What “appears” to be a Hudson emblem, — “Status Badges being important! — was moved off of the radiator top tank area to the firewall’s R.H.S. . Certain areas of the USA require small flags or signs that state :”Funeral” on all vehicles in a Funeral Procession. Conversely, if this vehicle is “off duty “— it might be a “name sign” of an “Association” for taking prospective Customers By elegant 7 Passenger Touring Cars — to building site lots for “View Properties”. Such methods were used by: “Dream-Knolls”; One of a group of Realtors — who erected the “HOLLYWOODLAND” sign — to promote land sales above the “Hollywood” area of Los Angeles. a 1923 “Santa Ana” windstorm blew down the last four letters of the “temporary” flimsy “tin roof” sign — and that is why the (world famous) sign that remains — says: “HOLLYWOOD”, and also includes the Community of Hollywood & Hollywood Blvd, (formerly Prospect Avenue), —most of this area —formerly being a lemon ranch. Edwin W.

  10. The detail shot has different lights, a bumper and plate, is it certainly the same car? You certainly find some tough ones David.

  11. 1910 – 1911 Orson (automobile) aka the Banker’s Car/ Millionaire’s Car

    Manufacturer: Brightwood Motor Manufacturing Co.,
    Springfield, Massachusetts.
    1910: Millionaire Auto Co., New York.

    1913: Brightwood Motor Manufacturing Co. acquired by the Smith brothers, reorganized as the Springfield Body Company.

    Springfield Car-Body Construction: Arthur P. Smith – Hinsdale Smith
    1907: Med-Bow Automobile Co. – G.F. Hillman of Northampton
    1907 – 1908: Springfield Metal Body Co.
    1908 – 1911: Springfield Motor Car Co.

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