1910 Detroit Electric Model D Brougham
Chassis no. 1886
48-volt DC electric motor
4-wheel semi-elliptical leaf springs
Rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes
*One of the oldest surviving Detroit Electrics
*Ideal preservation or restoration candidate
*Formal Model D Brougham coachwork
*Former long-term ownership
The Detroit Electric
The growing appeal of electric power for automobiles today reprises its popularity in the automobile's early days, when electric cars and trucks challenged steam and gasoline for supremacy. Electricity offered many advantages, particularly instant availability without warm-up along with silent, clean running, simple operation and reliability.
Even with the battery technology of the day its range was more than adequate around town. Tests at the time of major manufacturers' electrics routinely produced effective ranges of 100 miles at the modest speeds they were capable of achieving.
The electric automobile's greatest strength was its operating simplicity and silence, attributes that commended electrics to women of the time who were put off by the smelly, noisy, cranky gasoline engined automobile. None other than Henry Ford acquired two successive electrics for his wife, Clara both of them Detroit Electrics.
Detroit Electrics were made by the Anderson Carriage Company. Originally from Port Huron, Michigan (coincidentally the home town of Thomas Edison) Anderson as its name implies was founded in 1884 as a maker of carriages and wagons. Its founder, William C. Anderson, moved his company to Detroit in 1895 and in 1907 began making electric vehicles under the name Detroit Electric. While Detroit Electric was never an industry technical leader, its products were soundly engineered and constructed, especially after the 1909 acquisition of Elwell-Parker, maker of the Detroit Electric's electric motor and its controller. Elwell-Parker's products were widely regarded as the best available.
Detroit Electric's vehicles were finely finished and trimmed, attractively adapted to the intended market of urban ladies, particularly the elegant, tall four-seat brougham which was one of if not the first to used curved glass in an automobile body.
The Motorcar Offered
This Detroit Electric Model D Type R Brougham was formerly preserved in the long-term ownership of the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection until earlier this year. It was shipped February 17, 1910 to the California Electric Garage in Pasadena and is one of the earliest known surviving Detroit Electrics.
Its Model D Brougham body is one of the best-known styles, a tall, formal structure that is emblematic of early electrics. Although it is unrestored it retains many of its features including the curved glass front quarter windows, dual electric carriage lights on the body pillars, embossed decorative interior leather trim, interior appointments and vis-à-vis seating with left side mounted tiller steering. The two battery compartments are empty but importantly show no significant damage from acid.
Substantially complete, it should prove a relatively straightforward restoration project, with plenty of original details to guide the restorer in getting it exactly right and when completed, should still make an excellent vehicle for attracting favorable attention around town.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.