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Columbia Pilot Car for the 1910 All Connecticut Reliability Contest

This large and impressive experimental six-cylinder 1910 Columbia with its designer Charles E. Reddig behind the wheel was used as the pilot car for the three day 1910 All Connecticut Reliability Contest which began on May 19, 1910. The Columbia was manufactured in Hartford, Connecticut, between  1897 to 1913 by the Pope Manufacturing Company, that also built the Pope Hartford car.

The six-hundred mile contest organized by the Automobile Club of Hartford was a test of man and machine run on the roads in a different section of the State each day. The Columbia pilot car was sent out each morning before the contestants left Hartford and its crew marked the route by throwing confetti out of the back of it.

A 1910 four-cylinder Columbia won the event by setting a perfect score on all three days. The complete run is covered in period automotive press clippings with photos compiled by Bruce Duffie at the 1910 All Connecticut Reliability Contest. View the results of Columbia’s setting records on Chicago to New York runs in 1903 and ‘o4.

The photographs are courtesy of the Connecticut Digital Archive.

11 responses to “Columbia Pilot Car for the 1910 All Connecticut Reliability Contest

  1. Somehow the thought of that distinguished gentleman driving around the state throwing confetti out of the car comical . That surely would have been a most unusual sight to see.

  2. The back if that car reminds me of grammar school, all the desks & chairs were made by Columbia, and the script was the same. I passed on a very affordable Columbia 4 project about thirty years ago with a badly damaged crank case. Guess it is restored by now. Bob

  3. Columbia Manufacturing Co survived more or less in Westfield Mass until the 1980s making bikes and school desks and chairs. Sales got worse, their bikes were way too heavy compared to Raleigh and Schwinn (today nothing but a brand in the same company that owns Cannondale and Mongoose). The factory is still there and was called “The Pope”. My aunt welded bicycle forks for 30+ years. My uncle built frames. Now they just sell office and school desks and chairs. I know there’s some kind of presence in the building, I’m not sure they make anything anymore or only sell things made to their design.

    Same logo as the back of the car.

    • Thank you for the comments on the current Columbia brand. I just recently saw a 1950’s advertisement for Columbia bicycles, and I recall a neighbor who had a Columbia bike. I remember that it was much nicer than my J.C. Higgens, and not as garish as many Schwinns. As an antique motorcycle collector, I would love to have a Pope motorcycle, but they are quite scarce, and very expensive. I also recall reading that Colonel Pope (who I believe founded the Pope dynasty) was a Civil war Colonel and lead a regiment of African American soldiers. I should do more research and find out how much of this ties together.

  4. There is a fine example of a Pope-Hartford on display in the lobby of the AAA offices in West Hartford, CT, in case anyone is in the area. Worth a visit. Fine old motor!

  5. 200 miles a day over what I’d assume were largely unpaved roads back then would have been a substantial challenge for these cars. Wonder how many tires were changed over the course of the three days.

  6. how do I find information on the empire track in the late 1890’s? I have a relative who used to race there and other locations around the US?

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