Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bygone Business: Michigan Motor Car Manufacturing

On February 25, 1910, the citizens of Rochester saw this large advertisement in the Rochester Era, informing them that their little village would soon join the ranks of Detroit and Pontiac as home to an automobile factory. The Michigan Motor Car Manufacturing Company, with offices in Detroit, announced that it would establish a factory here and build its 6-cylinder roadster, dubbed the "Michigan Six," in Rochester. The ad described the Michigan Six this way:
The Michigan Six is a light, smooth running car, six cylinders ("continuous power"), powerful, long wheel base, 123 inches; large wheels, tires 10x4 inches front and rear; multiple disc clutch, selective transmission running in oil; three point suspension of unit power plant; magneto; advanced system of carbaretion [sic], exclusive. For material and workmanship it is the best.
Residents of Rochester, according to the ad, would be given the agent's discount when purchasing a "built in Rochester" Michigan Six.
There was just one little problem. According to the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805-1942 (Krause Publications, 1996), this is what happened:
[the company] showed its first car at the Detroit Automobile Show in January 1910. It was a 30 hp six-cylinder roadster on a 123-inch wheelbase, with a $1,550 price tag. In February the company announced that it would relocate in a new factory in Rochester -- the former Ayres gasoline engine works -- and production for 1910 would be 500 cars. All this was window dressing. In March Motor World revealed that the factory in Rochester was a small shed, and the Michigan Motor Car Manufacturing Company, Ltd., was a stock-selling scheme. This one was found out more quickly than most others. The first Michigan Six was also the last.
Michigan Motor Car was just one of scores of auto manufacturing companies that came and went quickly during the infancy of the auto industry. In the first seven months of 1910, there were no less than 49 new motor car manufacturing concerns registered in the state of Michigan.

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