The Ruxton automobile idea originates back to around 1913, when William Muller, the designer of the car, had his first fwd experience. He was an early racer and he was able to examine and drive the fwd Gila Monster, which was a small racing car owned by George DeWitt. He was very impressed with the idea but would not be able to act upon his own fwd car design until 1926.
Muller was a relief driver and mechanic for some of the biggest names in racing before WWI and after the war he was the chief road test engineer for the Willys Company. He then went to work for the Budd Mfg. Co. as an experimental engineer. Later on in 1926 he was given the go ahead by Edward Budd to build a prototype of his dream car. Muller designed the chassis and Joseph Ledwinka a Budd body engineer, the revolutionary body work .
The fwd chassis that Muller designed was very close to the ground thanks in part to the lack of a drive shaft and his novel front suspension. He was also assisted by C. Harold Wills and the two designed a transmission-differential assembly that housed low and reverse gear in the front of a worm gear differential, with second and third gears behind it. This and in addition to the curved front axle (seen above), allowed the 268 c.i. straight eight cylinder Continental engine, to be moved close to a foot farther forward than the engine the L-29 Cord, which resulted in better traction on hills. The design in addition to the imaginative body work, enabled the car to be close to a foot shorter than any conventional car built before it.
Drive train and other details (above and below) from the August 31, 1929, issue of Automotive Industries Magazine.
Archie Andrews who was on the board of directors of Budd took over the whole affair, and a company called New Era Motors was formed for the effort. Hupmobile was approached first off about producing the car, which after effort in the end did not work out. Next up was the Gardner company, followed by Marmon, Jordon and Stutz. The stock market collapse killed all of those possibilities and a deal was finally worked out with the Moon Motor Car Co. who at the time was producing the unprofitable Windsor. Moon at the time viewed the revolutionary Ruxton as its salvation.
At about the same time another deal was worked out with the Kissel Motor Car Co. to also assemble the car, along with with the manufacture of the transmission-differential assembly. It was not until June of 1930 when the the first car rolled off of the assembly line at Moon and not long afterward, the affects of the beginning of the depression along with the shaky conditions of Moon, Kissel and New Era Motors ended in the collapse of all, after only a reported 500 cars were built.
Some Ruxton cars were delivered when new, painted with bold horizontal bands of color as seen in the photo at the (top) of the post, in a color scheme designed by architect Joseph Urban. Many of the cars were also equipped with Woodlight headlamps as seen in the color photos courtesy of the Moon Car Club.
Perhaps a dozen of the cars have survived, along with a short Fashion News film clip seen below, found recently by reader John M. Mereness. In it you can see a Ruxton Roadster at the beginning and at the end in several scenes showing one of the sedans, it is a 1932 Technicolor production with sound, well worth taking a moment to watch here. Photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.