Tag Archives: Pope Hartford
This is one of the best posed photos of a rider and a early racing motorcycle that we have seen in some time. One interesting feature of this single-cylinder Pope racing machine is the very short wheelbase compared to other machines of the era. Note the direct drive without a clutch or transmission as was the practice at the time.
It is not known if this was a flat track racer or if it was built to race on the banked wooden board tracks of the era. If any of our readers can tell us more about the unique machine please do. You can view many photos of Pope-Hartford automobiles here on The Old Motor, all of which were built by the Pope Manufacturing Company. Photo courtesy of Retronaut.
*Updated* Reader Ariejan Bos has identified the second car above as a Berliet, which was probably built under license by Alco.
In the earliest days of motoring, car builders were forever doing things to prove to a skeptical public that their new fangled machines were reliable and worth buying. Here we have a 1907 Pope-Hartford participating in one such event, a reliability run staged by the fledgling New York Motor Club. Covering the 208 miles from New York City to Albany, New York, twenty nine intrepid automobile pioneers from all the major manufacturers took on the challenge on a June morning.
While we don’t think twice about making such a journey today, in the days before superhighways, arriving at your destination over such a distance could not be taken for granted. On the run, Clarence McKenzie of the Standard Brake Co. died after the Corbin Runabout he was riding in was hit by a trolley car in Clinton Heights. In fact, not one of the original starters reached Albany without a time penalty of some sort. While old Number 12 is clearly a Pope-Hartford, we are less sure of the identity of the following car and invite you, our readers, to take a shot at naming it.
The license plate on the second car appears to be a manufacturer’s tag, made of leather with aluminum letters and numbers attached as was the custom of the day. The left thumbnail (above) from the 1911 Beckley-Walton catalog shows a typical kit that supplied the numbers and letters for this type of early plate, which used in many states before they issued plates.
Just below is a photo from 1907 of a Pope that’s very similar to the one in our top photo. It’s parked out in front of one of two agencies owned by A. Elliot Ranney (he had one in Newark, New Jersey and another in New York City) that sold both Pope and Elmore automobiles. The right thumbnail (above) from the Nov. 11, 1909 issue of the Hudson Triangle mentions Ranney’s later huge success selling that brand.
Top photo is from of the collection of Mark Johnson (scroll down), of the Klingberg Family Center, which hosts the annual Klingberg Motorcar Festival as a benefit event on Father’s Day weekend. Please support them if at all possible and be sure to try to attend. Bottom photo courtesy of Jerry Lettieri. License plate kit image courtesy of Steve Hammatt at leatherplates.com