Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
Keep the Show on the Road!

Unique Electric Car Recalled

Recommended Posts

I was enjoying the March 1912 issue of the American Motorist, and was drawn to the unique design of the 1912 Flanders Colonial Electric. At first I just noticed the unique coachwork, but you may want to look closer.

 

Despite the proclaimed early demand for the vehicle, there was a devastating recall issued very soon after the first cars were delivered. The president of the company announced there were “a few design flaws that required attention.” :lol:

 

If you want a Flanders dealership in one of the few towns still available, let me know! <_< Japan beware...the Americans are striking back! :rolleyes:

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

And some of you think the Edsel was a mistake!

 

ARFlanders.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did those design flaws include requiring the driver to look through a wall of passengers to see the road? I'm presuming that it's the gent on the left who is driving since he at least appears to be facing the same direction as the headlights. I did a bit of searching in a failed attempt to learn just how this critter was steered. One of the things that did turn up is this NY Times article reporting on the Colonial's performance in the 1912 Glidden Tour. After several days on the road, the car was "in as good condition as when she came out of the varnish room." That's something you can't say about many of today's vehicles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did those design flaws include requiring the driver to look through a wall of passengers to see the road? I'm presuming that it's the gent on the left who is driving since he at least appears to be facing the same direction as the headlights. I did a bit of searching in a failed attempt to learn just how this critter was steered. One of the things that did turn up is this NY Times article reporting on the Colonial's performance in the 1912 Glidden Tour. After several days on the road, the car was "in as good condition as when she came out of the varnish room." That's something you can't say about many of today's vehicles.

 

Denny,

 

The appearance of just putting fenders and headlamps on a stage coach was humorous. And I wondered what American Motorist readers would think looking at the obvious problem with seeing where you were going. I thought of a caption contest, like “Stagecoach builders decided to enter the automobile business, with limited success,” or ......

 

I’m glad you took the time to do a little research. I know some cars of that period had a seat for a driver who sat outside in the weather. It would be interesting to see the car in use.

 

You have to wonder as well, what style trend the Flanders was appealing to. Was there really a market for automobiles that looked like English (or colonial) stage coaches?

 

Fun thoughts. Thanks for the reply!

 

Keep the show on the Road!

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
“Stagecoach builders decided to enter the automobile business...
has more than a grain of truth in it. Apparently the bodies for this particular Flanders were built by Studebaker whose automotive endeavors were preceded by a very successful period as wagon builders. I've seen several original Studebaker wagons at local farm equipment shows. Not all were used on the farm and a lot of the pioneers who headed west in the last half of the nineteenth century did so in a Studebaker... behind a team of horses or oxen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
has more than a grain of truth in it. Apparently the bodies for this particular Flanders were built by Studebaker whose automotive endeavors were preceded by a very successful period as wagon builders. I've seen several original Studebaker wagons at local farm equipment shows. Not all were used on the farm and a lot of the pioneers who headed west in the last half of the nineteenth century did so in a Studebaker... behind a team of horses or oxen.

 

Denny,

 

No kidding!? I knew that the Studebaker Brothers were wagon and car builders...but that they designed other than their own vehicles is news. You have to wonder what thinking drove them, or anyone else, to this design in 1912. If it were 1903 and the “coach” was the only paradigm out there, it would make more sense. Of course the electrics I have noted at other times were a little “different” anyway.

 

BTW, how did you determine that this was a Studebaker body? You gotta be world's expert! I never even heard of the Flanders!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can Google with the best of 'em.

 

The Studebaker bodies are mentioned here:

http://earlyelectric.com/carcompanies.html

 

Other tidbits scattered about the web indicate some interesting relationships between Studebaker, E.M.F., (guess what the F stands for), and others. This book sounds most interesting:

http://books.google.com/books?id=D8ba9eB6DK0C

 

I also learned that Flanders was associated with the Maxwell Motor Company whose most successful product was Jack Benny. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Denny,

 

No kidding!? I knew that the Studebaker Brothers were wagon and car builders...but that they designed other than their own vehicles is news. You have to wonder what thinking drove them, or anyone else, to this design in 1912. If it were 1903 and the “coach” was the only paradigm out there, it would make more sense. Of course the electrics I have noted at other times were a little “different” anyway.

 

BTW, how did you determine that this was a Studebaker body? You gotta be world's expert! I never even heard of the Flanders!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

 

Flanders, founded in 1911, was named after Walter Flanders of E-M-F auto company. By 1911 Flanders was the sole partner remaining with E-M-F. (Everitt-Metzger-Flanders)

The Flanders Manufacturing Company was backed by $2.5 million, most of which came from Clement Studebaker, Jr.

The elecctric car, introduced in 1912, was the brainchild of LeRoy Pelletier, advertizing manager for E-M-F. It featured worm drive, cradle spring suspension and a coupe body. The intitial price was $1775.

Altho orders for 3000 cars was taken, production less than 100 before the company found itself badly overextended and in recievership.

In October 1913 Pelletier bought the Flanders business and re-named it Tiffany (imagine ridding around in a car today named Tiffany!!). Pelletier moved the business to Flint, but did no better so moved back to Chelsea (MI) and renamed it Flanders Electric Comany.

 

The Flanders Six was the next venture by Walter Flanders. It was basically an Everitt which had been produced by the Metzger Motor Company. This was the company that was eventually taken over by Studebaker, not the Flanders Electric.

 

The connection to Maxwell came from a meeting between Flanders and Benjamin Briscoe about a month after the Jan 1913 New York Auto show. Briscoe asked Flanders to help out with Briscoes company, the United States Motor Company. Flanders said in exchange Briscoe would have to buy the Flanders company. After that Flanders scrapped every weak sister in Briscoes company, including his own and found himself with the Maxwell.

 

The Maxwell was a result of Briscoe's thinking that Dunbar's Buick, which Dunbar was building with Briscoes money, would go nowhere. So Briscoe split and wound up connected to Jonathan Maxwell, an engineer with experience at Olds and Northern. The story is long and convulted - but the end of Maxwell, like so many, came with the depression of 1920.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

Edited by Alex Burr - hester_nec

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone has finally topped Denny! Oh I feel the earth shaking.....I’m dizzy...

 

Alex, that is one awesome recount!

 

Orders for 3000..and only 100 produced??! Did someone finally decide a car needs a driver?

 

BTW...this same issue has an ad for the Metzker

 

And you Indianapolis erners, there is an ad for the Marmon...your home town cruiser!

(Ads posted on request)

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff, Alex. A very different world when seemingly half the towns in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio had their own car manufacturer and one individual might play a significant role in several of them. Thanks for the cool "behind the scenes" info.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave, Denny, and Alex,

Thanks for the detailing of this history lesson. It is interesting that the joining of auto manufacturers into new companies is an on-going process. Just like AMC, Kaiser-Frasier, and even when Packard and Studebaker tried to make a go of it as a combined company. I love this stuff. I hope that Dave keeps posting these old auto ads...

Thanks guys!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave, Denny, and Alex,

Thanks for the detailing of this history lesson. It is interesting that the joining of auto manufacturers into new companies is an on-going process. Just like AMC, Kaiser-Frasier, and even when Packard and Studebaker tried to make a go of it as a combined company. I love this stuff. I hope that Dave keeps posting these old auto ads...

Thanks guys!

 

 

Dave, Denny, Alex, et al,

 

Some months ago I did a short video post here on a fellow in a Model T truck...a design I didn’t recognize. Well here is an ad for the truck..and the video I took of it back then.

 

BTW, I like to compare prices then and now using a CPI inflator. $700 equals about $15,000 today, adjusted for inflation, so the Model T truck was “in the ballpark” price-wise, or a bit of a bargain, compared to today.

 

The section from the old post follows:

 

Halfway into my “good for all day” breakfast, Sheila, Rose of the Road grabbed my arm and said eagerly, “Look out the window.” I figured maybe the chocolate store across the street had just hung out a “Big Sale” sign.....but no, a fine green machine called the Giddy Up Go has just pulled up to the curb.

 

TeninoBiscuits.jpg

 

Not being one to miss an obvious opportunity, I step outside, and strike up a conversation with Jim, her owner. Jim has been working on this 1923 Model T delivery wagon for ten years. The work is all his, and he proudly shares its details. Seems this was a milk truck and belonged to the grandfather of a local man. He tells me it’s the only C Cab Delivery Model T in Washington and that the art work on the panel was done by an artist who also does work for Budweiser Beer.

TeninoGiddyUpGo.jpg

 

It s a beautiful machine and Jim is a lucky fellow to have it. In the 18 second movie, Jim tells why he built the Giddy Up Go, and as he pulls out you get a change to hear that engine sing a few notes. Give it a few seconds to load and it should play in your Windows Media player.

 

Windows Media Video

 

 

ARFord.jpg

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×