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Antique Electrics

I hope Mr. Shiftright has some info on this-now that we are (at last) finally seeing some commercially viable electric cars in the market(eg Prius), what is the status of the old-time electric cars? I seem to recall that the last one made was the "BAKER" electric-made until 1926 or thereabouts. There were also electric trucks made into the 1930's(believe Hupmobile made a few). So, are there any collectors of these unusual vehicles? What was the range of these oddities?and what killed them off?
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  • Hope you folks don't tire of Cleveland car memories. At one point, the city was the 2nd only to Detroit in the industry. The Hupmobile Electrics were called Hupp-Yeats and were very rare in number. However, Baker and Rausch&Lang were both built in Cleveland. Rausch&Lang was built about 2 miles from where I worked. The plant is still there at W25th & Monroe Streets. Now used by Voss Industries who mfgrs aircraft components. Baker was built at 85th & Baker Avenues. Baker subsequently bought out Rausch & Lang and the cars were called BakerRauLang. I lived near an independent creamery named Old Meadow who processed high grade dairy products and used Baker Electric trucks through WW2 for home delivery. They also had a few Divco gas trucks as well. (continued)
  • On the way home from school, once or twice a week, there were two ladies driving what appeared to be a 'teens Rausch&Lang Electric. They patronized a drugstore near the creamery described in the other posting. The car had a tiller for steering and wood spoke wheels etc. A friend who lived in the Cleveland Heights area had seen several of these in the shopping areas up there as well. They also went to the creamery as did I to get gallon jugs (glass) of milk. The other makes of electrics were Milburn and Detroit. Those were built, I believe, in Detroit and probably quit in the early 20's.
  • Templar Motors - Halstead St, Lakewood, Ohio plant still standing. Plant used by Lake Erie Screw Co. Chandler Motors - E140th St & St.Clair Ave, Cleveland. Office & assembly buildings still standing. Plant used by Weatherhead Co.
    Cleveland Motors - E174th & Euclid Ave. Cleveland
    Plant used by Parker-Hannifin. This plant also built Hupmobiles until 1933. Plant still standing.
    White Motors. E79th & St.Clair Ave. Plant was 80%demolished in the early 90's. Stearns-Knight - E140th St. and Coit Rd. Plant still standing and used by a metal stamping firm. That's all for now folks.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Great postings, as usual. You seem to go back a ways. I wish I had your memory.
  • Some of the very first cars ever sold commercially were electrics. Netranger gives you a pretty good idea of the major ones--but there were many more that are now quite obscure...one not mentioned I believe was the Detroit Electric.

    Around 1900, nobody was quite sure if the electric, steam or gas car would dominate the field, so entrepreneurs hedged their bets on all 3. By around 1910, it was clear that the gas car was winning, and by the time the self-starter (electric starter motor) appeared in 1912 on the Cadillac, steam and electric cars were doomed.

    Steam cars took too long to "get up steam", and they used lots of water...not very convenient...and you really had to know what you you were doing or you'd blow the damn thing up.

    So gas cars basically outperformed their rivals in either speed, distance or convenience. Survival of the fittest!

    The collector market for electric cars is small, and generally those avid enthusiasts who want them aren't about to pay huge some of money for one. But they are historically significant, and somewhat usuable for parades, etc, so within this limited appeal they have value. Probably $20,000 would be all the money in the world for a very very nicely restored electric, IF...IF...it were one of the more famous types.

    Sometimes you'll see obscure or primitive pre World War I cars selling for well under $10,000 in decent shape, and way less than that as basket cases.

    Oddly, enough, even the modern "pure" electric cars of today (not the hybrids) don't have that much more range than they did 75 years ago. The problem is, and always was, batttery efficiency and cost of replacement batteries. Prius is not a true electric, but maybe the best possible solution until some breakthrough in cost-efficient battery technology comes around.
  • Thanks for the compliment. I have been in love with cars for about 57 of my 62 years. Cleveland had the Thompson Products Automotive Collection and it was one of my favorite haunts. TRW as the Co is now known was a major producer of auto parts for many car companies. Frederick C Crawford was an avid car enthusiast and collected some unusual cars. Many donations by Cleveland's wealthy of custom built cars added to an already fine collection. The Collection is now housed at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Wade Park. This includes several either original or restored electric cars which were Cleveland products.
  • Having an uncle on the Detroit Police Dept during the 1950's was an unexpected bonus. Many summers were spent with his family and I got to ride along sometimes. On his beat there was a huge set of corrugated iron sheds belonging to a company named Pollard Construction. This company was a major builder of streets, curbs and sidewalks for many years. They also did driveways. According to my uncle, B J Pollard would either buy or accept in part payment certain or odd old cars seen in yards/garages for concrete work done on the owners premises. These sheds, along the Pere Marquette tracks, housed several hundred cars from 1900-1939. The open cars were hung in the sheds by their front or rear axles. I saw Chadwicks', Mitchells', Hupmobiles', Paiges', Auburns',Whippets'and and a few early electric cars. The closed cars were kept in a huge yard in front of the sheds. NO VISITORS were allowed to see the cars. However, the police were allowed in the yard as kind of a courtesy. My uncle took me in there once and it was unlike anything I had ever seen. Mr Pollard passed away and some of the collection was sold piece by piece by his heirs in the 80's. I am told, however, that a number of rare cars are still left. The collectors apparently badgered Mr Pollard and his heirs to the point that NO ONE got to see the cars after about 1970. Glad I had the opportunity to see them when I did.
  • Cleveland had the Willard Battery Company with a very large plant, still standing, with painted signage on the building, made many of the storage batteries for the Baker and Rausch&Lang Electric cars. Baker survived in later years manufacturing the Baker Lift Trucks in a more modern plant on Tiedeman Rd in Cleveland. I can vaguely remember seeing Willard car batteries in gas stations through about 1955. Since many of these plants are in very old,unsafe and rundown areas of the city, my advice to anyone looking to see them would be well advised to take a UZI and a cranky Rottweiler for traveling companion.
  • Having covered Cleveland obscure car plants and locations, Detroit is next on the list. Many of the big plants such as Hupp, Dodge and Hudson have long since been demolished. However, some plants still exist. Graham-Paige is one. Located on West Warren Ave in a relatively safe area. Scouting around in some of the older industrial areas can be exceedingly dangerous. Two UZI's and 4 Rottweilers are appropriate companions. Although much of the city's older industrial areas are in nearly total ruin, there are still some of the pioneer auto plants still standing. A check of the Detroit City Directory for about 1918 will give you addresses if ye be so brave as to venture onto the turf.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    It's interesting that so many of the old Cleveland plants are still standing. I would have thought they were too small or not laid out well for modern manufacturing. What are they used for these days?
  • It is indeed sad hoe the Motor City has deteriorated! I used to work for a company that sold components to FORD, so I had ocasion to visit Detroit many times. One time, a colleague wanted to visit the Rennaisance Center-I wound up taking a wronk exit off the freeway, and wound up in an old factory area-it was spookey-nothing but deserted old factory buildings, stretching as far as the eye could see!
  • Check out posting #5 for info on current plant usage. Am digging thru some older notes of mine and will post those at a later date.
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