1908 Maxwell Model LC / All Details, Model History

The automobile featured in this article is an original 1908 Maxwell Model LC. This model is an excellent example of the brass era of automobiles. This was a period during the very late 1800's to the early 1900's. The brass era refers to the time when brass fittings such as radiators, horns and headlamps among other car parts were used prominently. This was also the first era of auto manufacturing.

maxwell lc automobile

1908 Maxwell Model LC

The Maxwell Automobile

The Maxwell was a brand of automobiles manufactured in the United States of America from about 1904 to 1925. Of historic significance is that the Maxwell company is the predecessor of today's Fiat Chrysler automobiles.

Maxwell began in 1904 as the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company, using the former Mobile Steamer factory in Tarrytown, New York. The founders of the company were Jonathan Dixon Maxwell, and Benjamin Briscoe. Maxwell had performed work with Oldsmobile and Briscoe had spent some time with Buick. The start up company's financing largely came from J.P. Morgan.

In 1909, Maxwell-Briscoe was the third largest American automaker, with 9,400 sales per year, and $3 million profit since the company’s founding. To help promote how sturdy and relaible their cars were, Maxwell sponsored a historic national cross-country drive, the first such drive by a woman with a female mechanic.

maxwell carsWe have pointed out in other articles that competitive auto events went a long way in promoting the quality and durability of one's automobile product. Maxwell-Briscoe had good success in this arena. The Glidden Tour was a great way of comparing the many cars entered. The 1908 Glidden Tour, as an example, received massive newspaper coverage. The public wanted to be able to compare cars as mentioned above and a tour featuring so many of these brands in one event was quite a big opportunity. The tour concept also had advantages for potential car buyer as opposed to races alone where stripped down vehicles competed in speed. The racing concept, with specially made cars really didn't show potential buyers what they could purchase.

To give you an idea of how the Glidden Tour operated....the 1908 Tour had rules where each automobile was to carry an observer. The observer would note every repair and adjustment and basically everything that involves their assigned car. Points are taken away for each repair and/or adjustment needed and failure to run on schedule. The Glidden Trophy was awarded to the car club that lost the fewest points.

The United States Motor Company

General Motors under William Durant was unsuccessful in bringing the Maxwell Briscoe Motor Company into the GM fold. Maxwell-Briscoe however did believe they needed to merge with a competitor to stay competitive. The end result was the start of the United States Motor Company.

The Maxwell-Chrysler Connection

The first Maxwell car was made in 1904 by Jonathan Maxwell and Benjamin Briscoe, who in 1909 joined the short-lived United States Motor Company.This was a combination of several automakers including Maxwell, Brush Motor Car Company, Alden Sampson Trucks, Stoddard-Dayton, Columbia Automobile Company, Briscoe Manufacturing and others. The idea of this merger was to help these automakers financially. Obtaining bank financing was not easy and the feeling was that there was strength in numbers. One problem with this particular arrangement was that only Maxwell was operating profitably.

The United States Motor Company folded in 1913 but Maxwell, being profitable, continued on alone until the post World War One recession. In 1920, owing a great deal of money to creditors, Maxwell connected with Walter P. Chrysler, who had resigned from the Buick division of General Motors. The purpose was to try to save the company. In 1922 the Maxwell company took over Chalmers Motor Car Co. In 1923 Walter Chrysler bought control of Maxwell.

Under Walter Chrysler’s leadership, the company began to produce more competitive automobiles. The company introduced a revolutionary six-cylinder vehicle that was showcased at the 1924 New York Automobile Show. In 1925 the Maxwell Motor Company  was renamed as the Chrysler Corporation, with Walter P. Chrysler as it's president. The Maxwell automobile would be the car that eventually became the Plymouth brand under Chrysler.

The 1908 Maxwell Specifications

The 1908 Maxwell was a very popular automobile. Popular enough that it came in third in sales behind Ford and Buick. The reputation was as a sturdy automobile with simple but excellent engineering.

brass era automobiles

Example of some of brass fixtures on the Maxwell LC

The 1908 Maxwell Model LC was built with a horizontally opposed 2 cylinder 14 HP engine. The engine used a chain drive.

The car had a three speed gearbox and an all steel body.

This model was a part of the Brass Era with it's brass headlamps, horn, radiator and tail light.

You may enjoy the additional Auto Museum Online articles found on the links below...

The 1914 Ford Depot Hack

The 1919 Locomobile

The 1903 Ford Model A

brass era maxwell automobileThe 1908 Maxwell Model LC was a lightweight vehicle for two and was one of the first automobiles to use a steering wheel as opposed to a tiller. The Model LC was the entry level Maxwell. There was a 1908 Maxwell Model D that was a five passenger vehicle with a carriage top. The Model D had a straight four cylinder engine and a 104.0 inch wheelbase.

The 1908 Maxwell LC came in one body style. The designation LC was only used for the 1908 model year.

Maxwell Collector Cars

maxwell automobile specificationsAny Maxwell automobile still in existence is a rare model. When you come across one the Brass Era models with it's eye-catching brass fittings, it will get your attention.

As of this writing early Maxwell collector automobiles, while being quite rare, are priced reasonably. At auction, the 1908 Maxwell Model LC averaged about $18,500. Depending on condition and restoration, the range can be from about $15,000 to the mid $20,000 area.

References for this article include...The Indianapolis News...Maxwell Motor and the Making of the Chrysler Corporation by author Anthony J. Yanik...Complete History of Chrysler Corporation, 1924-1985.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

 

1906 Buick Model G

 

This 1906 Buick, an automobile brand known everywhere for quality, is one beautiful early automobile.

Buick was founded by a Scottish bathtub manufacturer by the name of David Buick. Joining Buick in 1899 in his enterprise were a Michigan bicycle merchant named Walter Lorenzo Marr and a French machinist named Eugene Richard. These three men were noted for devising an engine with valves in the cylinder head. The valves were opposite the cylinder head rather than the then common placement beside them.

1906 Buick Model G

1906 Buick Model G

The first Buick automobile sold reportedly was the 1904 Model B although a few prototype autos were built prior to that. The car shown in this article, the 1906 Buick Model G. During 1906 Buick also built a Model F which was a five-seater. These were the two Buick models available in 1906.

William Durant and Buick

It didn't take long at all for William Durant, a very successful and wealthy carriage maker to see the innovation with Buick's engineering. Buick, Durant believed, was the perfect starting point. Durant had wanted to enter the auto building business and decided to begin investing in Buick, a small start up company in 1903. By 1904 Durant took control of Buick. Durant wanted a car company and Buick was cash strapped at the time. This signaled the beginning of what would eventually become General Motors.

1906 Buick Two-Seater

1906 Buick Two-Seater

Durant hired a sales force to sell Buicks all over the U.S. As far as promoting his vehicles, Billy Durant was not fond of spending money on conventional advertising. Instead he often chose to parade his vehicles around town trying to attract attention. Buick also was doing well in the racing category claiming three performance records in 1905.This included the world's record in a five mile race.

This in itself to Durant was the best advertising. During this very early automobile era quite a few people paid attention to auto race results. This stirred the buzz and this is what helped sell cars.

He furthermore had very good success attracting investment money from Wall Street, Flint Michigan banks and from carriage makers who wanted to take part in what they saw could be the replacement of the horse carriage.

1906 Buick Roadster

1906 Buick Roadster

Durant, the natural salesman, took Buick cars to the New York Auto Show and came back with over one-thousand orders. These were orders for a car company which had built a bit over thirty vehicles to date.

An excellent book about William Durant and the making of General Motors is The Deal Maker: How William C. Durant Made General Motors by author Axel Madsen.

Links to more AutoMuseumOnline articles you'll find interesting include:

1903 Ford Model A

1913 Ford Model T Touring Car

 

1906 Buick Model G Specifications

The 1906 Buick Model G had a two cylinder engine with a total of four valves, two per cylinder. The engine could deliver 22 horsepower at 1,200 RPM. Displacement was 159 cubic inches. The engine placement was in the middle of the vehicle.

1906 Buick Model G rear view

1906 Buick Model G rear view

The car's transmission was a manual two speed with rear wheel drive.

The 1906 Buick Model G had a wheelbase of 87.0 inches and was a two-seater. The fuel tank held 16 gallons. Vehicle weight was 1,850 lbs.

The 1906 Buick's could be bought in colors of either ivory or purple lake blue. A variety of colors could be chosen for the leather seats.

A total of 193 of these roadsters were built. The 1906 Buick Model G sold new for around $1,100.

(Photos from author's collection)

1903 Ford Model A

 

The 1903 Ford Model A is quite historic in the fact that this model was the first Henry Ford produced. The 1903 Ford Model A aside from being the first Ford car produced was also profitable for the company. It was available as either a two or four seater and was produced in only the color red. Ford Motor Company of course reintroduced the Model A in 1928 as a replacement for the highly successful Model T.

1903 Ford Model A

1903 Ford Model A

As you can imagine, the Ford Model A of 1903 had some problems. Engineering problems were fairly commonplace with any automobile built in this very early era. The most common problems were either engine overheating and/or transmission slippage.

The Importance of the 1903 Ford Model A

Making of success of the 1903 Ford Model A was critical to the aspirations of Henry Ford. These were the first automobiles he built for sale. Ford had tried his hand with cars prior to 1903 but met with average success. Not enough success to go into full production.

Ford Model A

Ford Model A

By the time the Model was unveiled Henry Ford's cash was dwindling fast. On July 15 of 1903 as luck would have it Henry Ford received cash for the full price of one vehicle and down payments for two others. That in itself was enough to keep the Ford Motor Company in business. Therefore, when you look at the 1903 Model A it's significance cannot overstated. According to Ford Motor,  a red 1903 Model A Rear Entry Tonneau is believed to be car number 3, chassis number. 30, and the lone survivor of the group of Model A cars sold that particular July day in 1903. That particular historic car was purchased by Ford Chairman Bill Ford.

In a way you could say that the 1903 Ford Model A helped launch the company. It's often been said that Henry Ford and James Couzens had bet the entire company on having product ready and fortunately customers signed up at exactly the moment the cash ran out.

1903 Ford Model A front suspension

1903 Ford Model A front suspension

Between the years 1903 and 1905 the Ford Motor Company built about 1,750 Model A's in a converted carriage factory in Detroit Michigan and was on firm footing for continued success. The Model A as popular as it was lasted only two years when Henry Ford replaced it with the Model C.

Ford Model A Specs

Although the Model A had somewhat of a horse buggy look to it, these horseless carriages could reach a speed of 30 MPH. Many early automakers came from the carriage building business thus the similarity.

The 1903 Model A had a two cylinder engine which displaced 100 cubic inches. The engine delivered eight horsepower. The car weighed in the area of 1,250 lbs and had a wheelbase of 72 inches. The car's light weight helped the two cylinder engine deliver ample power.

Links to additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy include:

1927 Ford Model T Coupe

Ford Model TT Truck

Ford Model A 1903

Ford Model A 1903

Something very typical of very these early automobiles is that the driver and passenger sit very high because the engine is mounted under the seat. The drive to the rear wheels is with a chain. A distinctive item which Ford used with his first cars was an actual steering wheel. Other cars at the same time used a tiller like you would with a boat.

From 1903 on, automobile technology was changing fast and by 1905 and 1906 the first Ford Model A's were mechanically out of date.

The two seat 1903 Ford Model A cost $750 with the four seater selling for $850. The four seat model could also be purchased with an optional roof.

The 1903 Ford Model A Collectors Car

A 1903 Model A received  an excellent bid in auction. The car's historical significance as detailed above has a lot to do with it's value for a collector. It represents the first product of the Ford Motor Company. As of this writing a restored 1903 Ford Model A went for around $265,000.

(Photos from author's collection)