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Issue 08:02:03 - February 19, 2008

Unique Maxwell models from the Early 1900s

During the early 1900s, everyone wanted to be a part of auto making and hundreds of car companies started up. Many of these companies were either broken up or consumed by larger companies. This happened over and over to many companies, and Maxwell was one of them.

In the 1900s, Maxwell broke many records with their new line of vehicles. One of these included beating the fastest Canadian train between Montreal and Quebec by 59 minutes. The Maxwell was also in a non-stop run for 44 days from November 23, 1917 to January 5, 1918. During this time, the motor never stopped and had an average consumption of gasoline of 26 4/5 miles to the gallon.

Models and pricing

These unique 1900 Maxwell models included the 1908 Maxwell LC Tourabout, which sold for $825 with the top. For an extra $70 the owner could have a Roll-down Storm-front.

Available in 1910 were the two-cylinder 14-horsepower (10.3 KW) Maxwell AB Runabout for $825 and the Maxwell Q Touring with a four-cylinder dual block engine with 22 horsepower (16.2KW) and a standard transmission for $1000. The 1910 Maxwell Model E, priced at $1500, had a T-head engine, four cylinders, and 30 horsepower (22.1 KW). In 1911, the four-door Maxwell I was available to the consumer. With its roominess, durability, and reliability, it was still offered at a moderate price.

The 1917 Maxwell Touring Car, priced at $630, was considered the "Car for the Whole Family." Maxwell had its best year in 1917 when P. G. Scull and C. W. Tuthill used it to set a cross-country speed record of 10 days 16 hours. That year Maxwell sold 75,000 cars and finished in 8th place for American car makers.

In 1919, the Maxwell Roadster was liked by both men and women who enjoyed companionship. Even with a small carrying capacity, the 1919 Roadster still offered a great ride with seats that were well-centered between the aisle and accommodated either two or three passengers.

On the 1919 Roadster, the driver's seat was curved at the back with easy entrance on the right side, and the floor space was clear in front of the seat. The position of the steering wheel gave the driver easy access to the controls on the dash. These controls, which were found on all Maxwell models, included a carburetor dash adjustment, speedometer, and a dash light.

Available in 1923 was the four-cylinder Maxwell Touring. This four-door car had a manual transmission, front engine, rear wheel drive, and a five person seating capacity. In 1924, the final Maxwell Motor Company car was produced. The Chrysler Corporation was organized effective June 6, 1925, replacing the Maxwell Motor Corporation and the Maxwell car was discontinued. A new four-cylinder car, the Chrysler Four, went into production in June at the Highland Park Plant. It was to be a companion car to the Chrysler Six, which was built at the Jefferson Avenue Plant.

Special features of the Maxwell

Maxwell cars also had their own unique features including a three-speed selective type of unit transmission with nickel steel, heat-treated gears that were bolted to the engine. The Maxwell's main shaft had a roller bearing in front with a Babbitt-lined bronze bushing in the rear. There were phosphor bronze bushings on the jackshaft. The cone clutch, which was developed and patented by Maxwell engines, was lined with asbestos material and running in oil.

Interesting facts about the Maxwell

In 1903, Jonathan Maxwell designed his first car, and along with Benjamin Briscoe, formed the Maxwell-Briscoe Company. In 1904, production was started in an existing facility in Tarrytown, New York with 532 Maxwell cars being built the first year. In 1908, the Maxwell was the third best selling car behind Ford and Buick. In 1910, Maxwell ranked third in U.S. sales.

In 1909, a Maxwell was driven from New York City to San Francisco by Alice Hyler Ramsey and three female companions. Since there were no highways, roads, or service facilities beyond the town limits, this type of event was unheard of for a woman. It truly gave the Maxwell a good reputation for being reliable. The Maxwell was also famous as being the car Jack Benny drove.

The Maxwell, with its comfort and convenience, not only was considered an efficient business vehicle but also a pleasure car. In the early 20th century, Maxwell was probably considered the world's most significant manufacturer with all its parts being built in Maxwell factories.

When the consumer considered buying a Maxwell vehicle, he was urged to visit the factory and see for himself the time and skill involved in the production of the Maxwell car.

Advertised as the "World's Greatest Motor Car Value" and the car that got the most miles per gallon and most miles on tires, the Maxwell was a lightweight economical car that withstood the most rigid conditions. It was built for rational speed and luxurious comfort.

Chrysler Corporation based their early Chryslers on the old Maxwell design, so Maxwell is actually still with us today. Classic car lovers can see rare Maxwell cars and learn about their contribution to American auto heritage.


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