The stylish Leach car was the brain child of Martin Andrew Leach, who had earlier run the Leach Motor Car Company, a sales outlet in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He next went into the auto restyling and customizing business for the elite Hollywood crowd for a year or so. This must have paid off as a bit later on, cowboy star Tom Mix (above) is seen posing with a Leach. Late in 1919 Leach and others formed the Leach Biltwell Motor Co. Details can be found in an article from the Sept. 25, 1919, Automobile Trade Journal (below).
The initial announcement mentioned that the firm was planning to assemble a car manufactured in the eastern part of the country and build a new factory in Los Angeles. In December of 1919, it was reported that Leach Biltwell had bought the former Republic Truck Co. plant to use for its new operations.
Photos (above) from The Automotive Trade Journal in early 1920, show the Leach seven-passenger sport model, it was also offered as a four-passenger speed model. The engine is listed as being a Continental Red Seal Model 9N with a 3.5″ x 5.25″ bore and stroke. The captions describe both the distinctive coach work and features. The cars that the new company produced were quite exclusive and expensive, with prices starting out at $5000. The car which was stylish for the times, caught on quickly and became very popular with the movie stars of the silent screen in Hollywood.
In mid 1921 Leach Biltwell was reorganized after it was announced that the firm had acquired The Miller Engine and Foundry Works, in the August of 1921, Automotive Trade Journal (left above). It states that the Miller equipment was being moved and would be utilized in the production of the Leach car.
Leach was instrumental in popularizing the “California Top” (scroll down) and we have found an interesting ad (above right) from the DuPont Co. This ad also from mid-1921, calls it “The Craftsman Top” and it is shown installed on a Leach.
With the acquisition of the Miller Company, it also appears that Leach also had Harry Miller’s (scroll down) services, at least for a time, as he designed a shaft-driven s.o.h.c. six-cylinder engine. This new engine (above) seen with its multiple-disc clutch and three-speed transmission is fully described (below).
The Leach with its new power-plant was now called the “Power-Plus Six” and the engine was referred to as the Leach 999 motor. The complete description of the car and engine can be found (above) in an advertisement, which was in The Motor Magazine, December 1921 issue.
Above we see actress Gloria Swanson posing with a very distinctive Leach close coupled coupe, probably in the 1921-23 time period. It is seen carrying one of the trademark Leach plated luggage racks.
It has been reported that Miller also designed a smaller four cylinder engine for a new model the company brought out for 1923, called the California. Unfortunately the company like many, was in financial trouble in the hard economic times of the early 1920s, also the cost of the Leach had risen to $6500 for the least expensive model. In the July 27, 1922, issue of Automotive Industries (below), we found that Leach like many others slashed prices to try to improve sales. They also down sized and moved to a smaller facility in Los Angeles shortly after and stopped the production of the Power-Plus Six. Coachbuilt.com were you can find more information on the company, reports that only three 4-cylinder chassis are thought to have been built.