“And this is good old Boston, the home of the bean and the cod, where the Lowells talk only to Cabots, and the Cabots talk only to God. – John Collins Bossidy
Many of my readers will know I live in the United States, but less will know that I am from Massachusetts. My state is a smaller, but important one on the East Coast, affectionately called “The Hub of the Universe” and the “Cradle of Liberty.” Besides being one of the first settlements of America, it can claim some amazing records, including being the birthplace of 4 presidents, the American Revolution, 121 of the best universities in the world including Harvard and MIT, some of the best hospitals on the globe, and the invention of basketball and volleyball. It is also home to the chocolate chip cookie, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas card, the first store Santa, and the first computer and incandescent bulb.
1929 Rolls Royce Springfield Phantom
In the automotive world, Massachusetts is the birthplace of vulcanized rubber, the first push button radio, the first fire truck, the largest federal highway project in the world called the Big Dig, and the only place in the world “where a boat can sail under a train, driving under a car, driving under an airplane.” More importantly, it can claim a place in the birth of the automobile itself, being the home to Charles and Frank Duryea, the first Americans to build a successful commercial automobile and the first to incorporate an American business for the expressed purpose of building automobiles for sale to the public.
Stevens Duryea Type C
Massachusetts has an impressive presence in the history of the automobile, one that I was not fully aware of until I stumbled across an amazing website called Early American Automobiles. Created by a man named Royal Feltner, the website is a detailed collection of facts and photographs of vehicles made in Massachusetts. In all there were about 180 manufacturers in Massachusetts from 1861 to 1930. His website is the most concise collection of facts and pictures I have found on the subject. I recommend checking it out…he even wrote a book on the subject. Here are some of the highlights:
I live in a city called Taunton, and had no idea it had any connection to the automobile. In fact, the Taunton Motor Carriage Company built steam cars here from 1901 to 1904. About 2 miles from my home is a town called Easton MA. In a section called South Easton there were no less than two companies building cars at the turn of the century. The Eclipse Automobile Company and the Easton Machine Company built runabouts and modern style cars called the Morse respectively. Easton is also known for the Ames Shovel Company, manufacturer of the shovels that opened the west.
Marsh Motor Car
In my hometown of Brockton, manufacturers included the Marsh Motor Carriage Company, creating steam cars from 1899 to 1905 before quitting the auto business to focus on making motorcycles. Marsh Motorcycles eventually became the American Car Company and went on to create unique air-cooled runabout cars. The Cameron Car Company built cars in Brockton from 1906 to 1907, and the Pickard Brothers built expensive touring cars there from 1908 to 1912. Finally, the Roader Car Company produced fast little runabouts from 1911 to 1912 about a half-mile from my house. Brockton is also the home of fighters Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler, as well as being the first place in the world to have an underground electrical system, installed by Thomas Edison.
Morse Motor Car
Other Massachusetts car companies include the Stanley Motor Carriage Co of Newton Ma, who created a popular line of steam cars and racers. Jay Leno owns a few running examples. Locomobile, a company that built large touring cars had a plant in Watertown MA, before moving manufacturing to nearby Connecticut. The English car company Napier also had a plant in Massachusetts, located in Jamaica Plain. Napier of America originally imported cars from the UK, but eventually built the complete cars in the US until 1912.
1906 American Napier
Two of the most important contributions to the automobile occurred in the western part of the state. In Springfield, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company was the first American company to build gasoline automobiles. Founded by brothers Charles and Frank Duryea, they demonstrated their first “Ladies Phaeton” on September 21, 1893. This car also is heralded as the first successful gas-engine vehicle built in the United States. The brothers went on the create the Stevens-Duryea Company which build cars from 1902 to 1928, and then the Hampden Automobile and Launch Company.
1931 DuPont Model H Merrimac Sport Phaeton
Also in Springfield was the Hendee Manufacturing Company which made the famous Indian cars and motorcycles. Hendee was later purchased by Paul DuPont, who built a line of luxurious DuPont cars. The most well known venture is Rolls-Royce of America. From 1920 to 1930 the company produced over 3000 Silver Ghost and Phantom models, many of which are considered icons of the era. Springfield is the only place outside of Great Britain where Rolls-Royce cars have ever been manufactured.
Eclipse Motor Car
The automobile business in Massachusetts lives on to this day. In Wareham, a town about 10 miles from my home, there is a company called Factory Five Racing that re-creates some of the most iconic American cars ever made. From 1930’s hot rods, to the most popular recreation of the Shelby Cobra and Cobra Coupe, the company is the ultimate producer of the modern kit car. In addition, the company produces finished versions of the GTM supercar, a vehicle that can do 0-60 in about three seconds and is faster than a Ferrari 599 Fiorano.
Factory Five Type 65 Coupe
Massachusetts has an important place in automotive history. This history includes an impressive list of automobile manufacturers as well as a major role in the birth of the American car. Massachusetts is home to great coachbuilders like Waterhouse of Webster MA, builders of fine Packard bodies, and the old Framingham GM plant, builder of the iconic Pontiac GTO.
Pickard Motor Car
Massachusetts has been in the automotive business from 1792, when the Hand Pump Wagon was built at the Boston foundry of Paul Revere right up to present day, with the GTM supercar by Factory Five. It remains an important contributor to the evolution of the automobile.
Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photos Courtesy of earlyamericanautomobiles.com, bitbag.com, abapsupal.blogspot.com, conceptcarz.com, carinpicture.com, factoryfive.com