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SNAPSHOT 427: 1903 Haynes-Apperson

This group of (moderately) happy motorists were snapped in Central Park, New York. The left-hand drive suggests that this Haynes-Apperson was a car for the middle classes: the most patrician machines still had right-hand drive. Indeed, a photograph of a Peerless (one of the ‘Three Ps’ – Peerless, Packard and Pierce-Arrow) on the same page of the magazine where our Snapshot appeared had this distinction.

The Haynes-Apperson Company was founded in 1896 in Kokomo, Indiana. It was the first motor car manufacturer in Indiana and one of the first in the United States. Elwood Haynes (1857-1925), one of the founders, was an inventor, automotive pioneer, entrepreneur and industrialist. He worked on early forms of stainless steel and invented Stellite – a cobalt-chromium alloy designed for wear resistance. This alloy, with no more than 3% iron but a small but important carbon content that forms hard chromium carbide particles, was originally intended for cutlery that would not stain or require constant cleaning.

Early in his career, while serving as a field superintendent at gas and oil companies during Indiana’s gas boom, Haynes invented several devices important to the advance of the natural gas industry and oversaw the construction of the first long-distance natural gas pipeline in the United States. He started to think about motor car production in the 1890s and successfully road-tested his first car, the Pioneer, on 4 July 1894. He formed a partnership with Elmer and Edgar Apperson in 1896 to start Haynes-Apperson for the commercial production of motor cars. He renamed it Haynes Automobile Company in 1905, after Elmer and Edgar Apperson left to form the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company.

By 1898 the Haynes-Apperson Company was producing one new car every two to three weeks and was selling early models for $2,000. Haynes-Apperson cars were known for their ‘long-distance running’ capability and the company regularly competed in endurance races. A Haynes-Apperson was among the cars entered in the first automobile race in America, the Chicago Times-Herald race from Chicago, in 1895. A Haynes-Apperson Light Car was introduced in 1904. It must have been smaller than the one in our Snapshot, since it was a runabout seating only two passengers, selling for $1,550. However, it probably had the same general layout, with a horizontally mounted water-cooled flat twin at the rear of the car.

The Haynes car that succeeded the Haynes-Apperson was built from 1905 to 1924. The company was declared bankrupt in 1924 and went out of business in 1925.

Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive:

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