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Trail Blazing in a 1912 Flanders Electric

In 1912, the fledgling Flanders company branched out from building gasoline powered cars, trucks and motorcycles exclusively with the introduction of an all electric model, the “Colonial”, seen here. Founded in 1911 and capitalized primarily by former backers of E-M-F including Clement Studebaker, Flanders was only in business until 1914. The “Colonial” was produced for only three of those years, from 1912 to 1914. Orders for 3000 examples at the then substantial price of $1775 were taken, but fewer than 100 were delivered before the company entered receivership.


Before it all went south for the Flanders Company, however, they managed to get one of their cars appointed as the trail blazer for the 1912 American Automobile Association Club tour from Detroit to New Orleans. Although the short article from the July 25, 1912 edition of  “The Automobile” seen in the right hand thumbnail just above refers to “special arrangements being made for recharging along the entire route”, just exactly what those arrangements were and if they ever reached their destination more than 1,000 miles away remains shrouded in the mists of time.

We at the The Old Motor invite readers who might know the ultimate outcome of this ambitious endeavor to let us know if they succeeded. Further information about this lengthy tour is also most welcome. Top photo courtesy of Walt Gosden.

5 responses to “Trail Blazing in a 1912 Flanders Electric

  1. As I was curious of course, I did some research. It took four weeks for the Flanders to reach New Orleans starting from Detroit, having travelled a distance of over 1,700 miles. A weekly report of its progress was published in the Horseless Age during August 1912 (read it through the link About the recharging procedures not a word!
    However, in the same period an article in the Horseless Age issue of August 21, p.271 reports that the presence of regularly distributed recharging stations made it possible to travel by electric car from New York to Buffalo as well as Philadelphia. Amazing! Apparently recharging stations were already relatively common by that time.

  2. When I was Curator of Industrial History at the Detroit Historical Museum in the 1960s, I retrieved the body of a Flanders electric from the loft of a Detroit carriage house. It still had the cut glass flower vases in place. It may still be in the collections of the museum. At the time, I thought it was the winter body but no longer know if the Flanders was a seasonal converter like some cars and carriages were. Anyway, I have no idea where the rest of that vehicle went.

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