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Locomobile - marque/manufacturer information

List of all Locomobile cars

Locomobile was a company that produced automobiles in the United States of America from 1899 to 1929.


The Locomobile Company of America was founded in 1899, the name coined from locomotive and automobile. John B. Walker bought out Francis and Freelan Stanley's steam car company for US$250000 (with all of one car built, but 199 more ordered), promptly selling half to paving contractor Amzi L. Barber. Their partnership lasted just a fortnight; Walker went on to found Mobile Company of America at the Stanley works in Tarrytown, New York, while Walker moved house to Bridgeport, Connecticut, as Locomobile, the Stanley twins named General Managers.

Locomobile began by producing steam cars. The steam Locomobiles were unreliable, finicky to operate, prone to parafin fires, had small water tanks (getting only 20mi {32km} per tank), and took time to raise steam; Rudyard Kipling described one example as a "nickle-plated fraud". Nevertheless, they were a curiosity and middle class Americans clamoured for the latest technology. Salesmen, doctors and people needing quick mobility found them useful. Over four thousand were built between 1899 and 1902 alone. Most had simple twin-cylinder engines (3x4", 76.2x102mm; 57ci, 927cc) and wire wrapped 500 psi flash boiler burning naphtha. Typical of the product was the 1904 Runabout, which seated two passengers and sold for US$850. The compound two-cylinder steam engine was situated amidships of the armored wood-framed car.

During the Boer War, Locomobile did establish a new mark of sorts, becoming the first ever automobile to be used in war; it was a generator and searchlight tractor and catering vehicle, with the useful ability (in British eyes, at least) of being able to brew a cup of tea by tapping the boiler.

This was, unfortunately, not a sure way to guarantee commercial success, even in Britain, and Locomobile started experimenting with gasoline internal combustion engines in 1902, starting with a four-cylinder steel-chassis model designed by A. J. Riker. This encouraged the firm to drop steam vehicles the following year, selling the Stanley brothers back their rights for US$20000.

The 1904 internal combustion Locomobile Touring Car had a tonneau, space for five passengers, and sold for US$4500, quite a change from the low-priced steam buggies. The front-mounted vertical water-cooled straight-4 produced 16 hp (11.9 kW). A 3-speed sliding transmission was fitted, as on the Système Panhard cars it competed with. The angle steel-framed car weighed 2200 lb (998 kg).

Like other early marques, Locomobile entered motor racing, contesting the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup with a 17.7 liter (1080ci) racer; after suffering a transmission gear failure, and with no spare available (surely poor planning), driver Joe Tracy only managed two circuits of Auvergne before the transmission packed up entirely. Tracy did better for the company at the Vanderbilt Cup, placing third. A 90hp (67kW) 16.2 liter (989ci) F-head was sabotaged by tire trouble, so Tracy failed again in the 1906 Vanderbilt, but in 1908, George Robertson (wearing #16) took the win in this car, ahead of fellow Locomobile pilot Joe Florida in third, becoming the first United States-built car to win in international competition. This would be the high water mark for Locomobile racing, and they soon faded from the scene, though Orin Davis did score a win in the Los Angeles-Phoenix rally in 1913..

On the strength of this, Locomobile soon became known for well built and speedy luxury cars. The 1908 Locomobile 40 Runabout was a 60hp (44.7kW) two-seater and sold for US$4750. (nearly $100,000 in 2006 dollars)

In 1922 Locomobile was acquired by Durant Motors, which continued using the Locomobile brand name for their top-of-the-line autos until 1929.

The word 'locomobile' in fiction

In Robert Sobel's alternate history book For Want of a Nail, where the American Revolution failed, automobiles are known as locomobiles. In the online For All Nails continuation, the word is abbreviated to "loke".

In Ward Moore's alternate history novella Bring the Jubilee, automobiles are also referred to as locomobiles. In this world, internal combustion was never discovered and automobiles are always powered by steam.

In Thomas Savage's novel "The Power of the Dog" the Locomobile is estimated by protagonist Peter Johnson higher than the Pierce-Arrow: "...Those were the vehicles of the high and mighty, and he knew that only the Locomobile (fancied by old General Pershing, among others) rivaled the Pierce"

Clive Cussler's 2007 novel, "The Chase," features a 1905 Locomobile.

In Dashiell Hammett's 1925 mystery story "Scorched Face" the rich girls that the Continental Op is looking for were driving a Locomobile "with a special cabriolet body"when they disappeared.

List of all Locomobile cars

Source: Wikipedia


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