A 1912 Kline Kar Meteor, with James Kline behind the wheel, photo courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.
Albert P. Broomell and Samuel E. Baily of York, PA., first started work during 1905 to develop an automobile, which they then named the Pullman. In 1905 James A. Kline joined them to oversee the mechanical and design side of the effort and the York Motor Company was then formed, which produced the Pullman. After regrouping after the 1907 bank panic, Bailey, Kline and Joseph C. Carrell formed a new firm call B. C. K. also in York, PA.
The advertisement (below) which at the bottom carried the logo of the new B.C.K. Motor Car Co. was posted in The Automobile, Dec. 30, 1909, issue. It lists all of the features of the new 6-40 Model, which was on a 122″ w.b. and carried an engine and transmission manufactured by the Kirkham Manufacturing Co., which B. C. K. ended up buying out in June of 1909. With the purchase of Kirkham, Kline now had an engine and transmission manufacturing plant.
Stephen H. Smith reported in an article on the Kline, at YorkPast a York, PA, history site:
“To expand production in 1910, B. C. K. set-up two car body plants to assist the primary assembly plant in York at the corner of Franklin and Hay Streets; these were former carriage plants of Samuel Baily, one was in York and one was in Lancaster. Less than one year from organizing, the B. C. K. Motor Car Company had four production plants contributing to meeting the demand for Kline-Kars.”
Kline did not rest on his success, but then soon turned to another form of early promotion for automakers. During the period of 1911-12, James Kline went on to design and build two Kline racing cars, the “Jimmy” a six-cylinder machine and the “Jimmy Jr.” a four-cylinder machine. The “Jimmy Jr.” went on to many feature wins at tracks on the east coast during its racing career (it has survived).
Both of these racing cars can be seen (below, left and right) and in the (center) at the Benning, Maryland track at a race meet. The Number 15 seen behind behind the “Jimmy Jr.”, is Bob Burman in his Cutting.
The “Jimmy Jr.” was later modified in 1914 when Kline convinced the Duesenberg brothers to sell him one of their walking beam four cylinder 16-valve engines, according to Phil Reilly & Co. More photos of the car, along with more information on the Duesenberg engine, can be found here on The Old Motor.
The attention that the Kline Kar had garnered, both by being an excellent car and also because of its racing success, next led to a move to Virginia. The Virginia Historical Society in an article on the Kline car reports that:
“In 1911, a group of Virginia business leaders persuaded Kline to move the operation to Richmond. Two years later, “Kline Kars” were being produced at a new factory on the Boulevard.”
In researching the move, we found in The Automobile, April, 4, 1911, issue (below left), that the State Corporation of Virginia, authorized the State to put up half a million dollars to help Kline to move there. In the article are all of the details of the move along with the new factory, that was stated at the time to cost $150,000. This new factory was sited across the street from the Virginia State Fair Grounds.
By the time the company moved to Virginia, the production had expanded to four models; 4-30 and 4-40 h.p. four-cylinder cars and sixes, which were 6-50 and 6-60 h.p. models. This was continued until 1915 when the company went into a receivership and cut back to only one four and one six. During and after the WWI years, the firm stayed with various six-cylinder models, until the post war recession set in.
Kline like many others then built an assembled car with a Continental six-cylinder engine, but in the trying economic times, the effort only lasted until early 1924. A late teens or early twenties roadster is show (above right) in a photo courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.
Ironically both the Jimmy and the Jimmy Jr. appeared to have survived longer than the company, as this photo of the pair (below) was used to promote the 1924 Labor Day Celebration at the fairgrounds across the street from the then closed factory.
For more details you can read an excellent post by researcher Stephen H. Smith at YorksPast covering the Kline Kar and its principals. For additional information and photos of the Kline Kar as manufactured in Virginia, along with other interesting automotive activities in the state, visit with the Virginia Historical Society that provided two of the photos in this post.
Editors note: Samuel E. Baily’s automotive legacy has lived onto this day. His son also named Samuel E. Baily, was in the truck body building business in the Philadelphia, PA. area and also was an early collector who restored his first old car, a Pierce-Arrow in the pre WWII years. He also participated in the Anglo American Rallies held in the early 1950s. His son-in-law Jim Grundy is a second generation car collector and is in the antique automobile insurance business.