An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

New Car Under Wraps at the Seattle Automobile Company?

Today if a vehicle has to be moved, an automobile dealer will just call 1-800-Flatbed and have the matter taken care of promptly. That was not the case about 100 years ago at the Seattle Automobile Company located in the Washington City situated on Puget Sound which handled the Chandler and Maxwell cars which is featured today.

Without any background info about the image it is hard to tell exactly what was being promoted here – was it the car under wraps or did the sales agency take on a line of trucks? What is known is that the Seattle Automobile Company was located at 11th and Pike Street in the City and moved into this impressive facility in May of 1916. The text from an article about the Company in the May 1916, Horseless Age magazine can be read below.

Tell us what you find of interest in this image, and take a look back at a very unique 1910 Studebaker Electric Car Hauler with a flatbed equipped with an electric winch in earlier coverage. The image is courtesy of contributor Benjamin Ames.





18 responses to “New Car Under Wraps at the Seattle Automobile Company?

  1. Might just be an open car they didn’t want to get wet while they moved it to the new store. The tarp shows the outline of the front fender, then drapes over the top of the windshield and drops down. There was no roof on the car under the top.

    • Hi John, I thought as much, there is a top on the car though it is just down, but why would they take a photo of that as it rains a lot in Seattle?

      It appears that something else was going on at the time to justify to cost of a professionally done image.

  2. The center of gravity for this loaded truck was located way to the rear with this load. It must have gave the truck real easy steering? Dangerous handling?

    • Looks like the front end of the car is at the front of the bed. Between the engine and the transmission, most of the weight would be behind the cab, ahead of the drive axle.

  3. I notice the man posing with the truck is very well dressed with three piece suit,shined shoes and top coat. A couple hours behind the wheel of that solid wheel truck in the rain would surely have been a wet miserable experience for anyone. I wonder if he just might be the business owner posing with a newly delivered touring from a local rail head.

    • Indeed, I suspect this promo shot may be to demonstrate “the Utmost Care with which the Management will attend the Particular Needs of the Discerning Customer” and the truck itself may be the company’s own vehicle. While the ramps are a bit ad hoc, the chocks for the rear wheel seem made for that exact purpose. Just don’t ask me how they got the cars on or off!

      At curbside just behind the truck, is that an early gas pump – or dispenser in this case? I believe the lettering might read (soc)ONY (su)PER (gaso)LENE. Not clear how it would have been measured.

  4. The photo dates to some time after America’s entry into WWI as evidenced by th “Victory Girls” poster in the window above the Chandler sign at far left. Depicting a young woman in nautical garb rowing a boat, it reads: “Every girl pulling for victory”and “Victory Girls – United War Work Campaign.” This was a government program to encourage young women to volunteer their services in hospitals, etc., both at home and overseas. Later, during WWII, the phrase was co-opted to refer to young women acting as what would charitably be termed “camp followers,” which must have grated on those from the earlier conflict.

  5. There are a few roads in Seattle and Tacoma still paved with those cobblestones / bricks. In the rain — that is, most of the time — anything without all-wheel drive is doomed if it gets stopped on a hill with that surface. On the way to work one day last winter I and dozens of other folks had to thread our way around a semi that couldn’t get traction when the light at the top turned green; eventually, when everyone behind him had cleared out, he rolled down the hill backward, got a good start, and ran the red light.

  6. Always looking for the obscure item…..this time the war propaganda poster by Penfield of ” The victory girls , pulling for victory ” near the front door. I believe this came out in 1918 . It does seem strange that they picked this day for a posed picture. Maybe it was during one of those streaks of no let up in Seattle.

  7. driving that truck in Seattle, loaded or unloaded, would have been a real thrill. As noted above, rain and cobblestones don’t mix very well and both climbing the variety of hills in the city and then coming down again would be a severe test of driving skills. Braking would have been especially fun, either locking them up and skidding to a halt before hitting something or just running out of brakes and hoping for the best. San Francisco would have been bad as well, but the rain makes Seattle the Queen of Thrill Hills!

  8. The Maxwell Truck , pictured , with “Car Load” is: in my estimation: Something that doesn’t have anything to do with the word: “Speed”!!! Many of the early ” 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or 1 Ton” Trucks were very marginal about: Going or worse: Stopping — (with “1 Ton aboard”)! Now, combine that with: Seattle’s Hills(!!!) , Yikes!!! Rainy season or: (“1foot plus”) Snowy season , then this photograph leads me to believe that: This is solely: a “publicity photo” to promote the : “New (covered by tarp) Model Intro. “, which also happens to coincide with Seattle’s N/W Rainy season! Note also: the (slick!) brick pavement and the lack of Dual Rear Wheels, a sure sign that the car was easily “scooted” onto the 3/4 Tonner –via: a nearby Loading Dock! At least they had enough sense to put the Heavy part of the Touring Car forward — to prevent: “Immediate steering issues!” — for the Small Four Wheels only Truck! Not too may flat places in Seattle! Not any common (Trucker’s) sense at the Load, either! The Maxwell’s 2-wheel(!) Brakes , the Load , — & Seattle — do Not mix!!! Edwin Winet , (1930 1-1/2 Ton Model A-A Ford 157″ W.B. Stakebed Truck (Dual rear wheels, 4- speed , Oversized [& aux.] Brakes), — (Operational, on West Virginia’s (mountain) “Country Roads”!

  9. I can tell a little about this photo as I own the original and posted to Facebook group “This is Americar” on November 7, 2017. My Gr-Grandfather, Henry P. Grant, owned “The Seattle Automobile Company” and was the first successful auto dealer in Seattle. This is the last building that he had constructed for his business. At this point he was a distributor and dealer for Maxwell and Chandler cars. I have several WWI era photos with the Maxwell trucks in them. The dealers had to go to the Seattle rail yards to pick up their cars. I imagine that this is one of the Sales persons in front of a just arrived new car. The building in the picture is stilling and contains Retrofit Home store and a restaurant on the ground floor with some offices on the upper floors.

  10. In later years Seattle Automobile Company was owned by the late Stan Sayers owner of the famed Slo Mo Shuns world speed record setting hydroplanes in the early ’50’s. Stan Sayers drove and broke the would speed record on Lake Washington in 1951 at nearly 179 miles per hour, Ted Jones the hydroplane designer was co-pilot. .When Stan Sayers owned the company it was a Chrysler dealership. Shortly after Stan’s death around 1956 the dealership closed.


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