Saturday, January 21, 2017

The American Automobile Industry on the Eve of World War I

1916 Apperson Touring Car 
American Automobile Co.  Kokomo, In.

1916 Saxon Roadster
Saxon Mfg. Co., Detroit, Mi.
Hi folks -- I am starting a study of the American auto industry during WWII and found a source that summarized the state of things at the end of 1916.

Source:  Speech of Hon. Patrick H. Kelley of Michigan in the House of Representatives, Monday, May 21, 1917.  At the University of Michigan Library.

Kelley was responding to an initiative to place a 5% tax on various commodities, including automobiles. Undoubtedly a tax to help fund WWI costs.

In 1916:

1.525,578 cars were made, valued at $921,378,000 with an average price of $605.

There were 3.5 million licensed cars and trucks, 1 for every 29 persons.

92,120 motor trucks were made at an average price of $1.809.

Furthermore, there were 
25,924 dealers
23,686 garages
12,171 auto machine shops
231 auto manufacturers
800 auto parts companies

The heart of the industry was located in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and to a lesser  extent Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Farm states had a large number of dealers: California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

1914 Dodge

1914 Packard Moving Van

1916 Studebaker Speedster


  1. "Dodge Brothers" was funded by Chrysler Corporation and later and after the death of Dodge brothers the company was sold to Chrysler in 1928.

    1. The Dodge Brothers really got their start making engines for Henry Ford. Both die by the early 1920s -- one from cirrhosis of the liver, the other from influenza. After a number of years during which they are run by banking interests, the Chrysler Corporation (established in the early 1920s) absorbed the company in part to increase capacity and economies of scale. In this post I am confining my discussion to the period immediately before WWI, however.