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Old 16 doesn't appear to have ever been white. The car above however has the square felloed Kelsey Hayes style clincher wheels but not the heavy truck style wheels shown on later pictures of old 16. The mystery deepens.

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 Yes an interesting mystery for sure.  The hood catch looks to be the same as what is on my 1909 factory car.  I can't speak for all factory cars but most I have seen have had Firestone wheel hardware, my 1909 also.  Does anyone know of other wheel iron types used on Locomobiles?

Al

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I think what I'm looking at here is the archeological history of old16. More study might prove me wrong. There are clear differences between the mystery car above and old 16 but they might be able to be explained by a new set of wheels and a new spring shackle and the second grab bar removed from the seat. The radiator neck looks different but perhaps it is the angle the picture was taken. There is no white paint on 16 but the lighter grey paint might show up as white on a 100 year old black and white photo. I am out of my depth here but it appears nobody has undertaken the research or tried to answer the questions I have before.

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It would be nice if a real thorough study of the Locomobile race cars were to be done.  I think there are a few fellows that are quite well versed on that subject.  The fellow that put together the nice Old 16 presentation, shown on the 4 cylinder Locomobile gathering place, may be a good source for information.  Don't stop now, this subject is starting to get interesting!   🙂

Edited by alsfarms
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image.png.18ba3e124aea0c62a05d5a3cfc030535.png

 

Here is the 1905 car with a manifold fitted and short down pipe. Rare picture from the left side.The wheels on this car are equipped with racing tire bead locks. They are clincher tires on clincher rims. The wheels appear to have rounded felloes.

 

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Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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Do you suppose that this picture was taken along side the factory in Bridgeport?   I am curious, do you have a chronological list of the Locomobile competition cars, that are known to have been built, along with an associated picture of each?  I get rather lost thinking about them all!  You could be on to the basis of a nice write up that could be found in a future AACA article and also the HCCA.  This Locomobile competition car subject matter is surely the substance of what dreams are made of!  I would like to see a similar movie to the current "Ford and Ferrari" movie but based on something like early Vanderbuilt Cup races.  I suspect that I am not the only enthusiast with that thought!

Al 

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Easy question. Supposedly there were three. Harold Thomas commissioned one to be built in 05. Then Andrew Riker, cheif engineer at Locomobile, built two more in 06. The confusion enters because the cars are not documented and were raced in different events with different numbers. Again, one of the cars commissioned by Andrew Riker went on to win the Vanderbilt Cup Race and became the most loved American car ever made. All of the accomplishments of the Harold Thomas car were attributed to the Riker car and to question anything is viewed negatively. I guess you could say I am trying to discover the truth and document it.

 

In addition to the factory race cars, Loco also made the PUP in 05, which as I understand it, was a one off factory motor in a shortened chassis, commissioned by a Mr Beale. Then Loco raced two stock model 40 chassis in the 08 Fairmont but there was only three custom race cars. Loco realized quickly they did not have the income to continue racing. They were a limited production company, producing 3-4 cars per day.

 

That being said, people were racing Locos all across the country at fairgrounds who had nothing to do with the factory.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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Image result for locomobile pictures"

 

Here is an unusual picture. This is one of the two cars commissioned by Andrew Riker for 1906. Both were given the number 12 at this point in time. This car, however, has a louvered hood. Old 16 and the 1905 car are always shown with a hood with no louvers.

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Image result for locomobile pictures"

 

This is either the1905 car or one of the model 40 cars raced in the 08 fairmont. You can just see the the four exhaust pipes exiting the hood. There is a round tank behind the seat so I'm leaning toward the model 40. More research is required.

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Image result for locomobile pictures"

 

Ok, now we have a transitional photo. This is the 1905 car but instead of the gas tank under the frame, we have the tank behind the seat. I'm not really good at this so it takes me time and new pictures and new information adds to the understanding. The 1905 car has a short fairing around the cockpit that is open inside with an oiler attached to the flat dash underneath the fairing. The 1906 cars had a slopped floorboard, longer fairing, and a tank under the fairing.

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image.thumb.png.f9d7c3b82f30b1b05e82aa47004786ba.png

 

Here is the mystery car again. Same two position grab bars, same thin spoked wheels, same tire locks, same rounded felloes, same horn. This car though, has some kind of tank under the cowl, as indicated by the filler neck. Old 16 also has the filler neck

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  • 4 months later...

Here is a picture of old 16s motor on a test stand.

 

S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Automotive Continuation Page 1

 

Here is the motor today.

1906 Locomobile Old 16 Image. Photo 21 of 28

 

By comparison, here is the 1905 motor.

What car is this? - Locomobile - Antique Automobile Club of ...

And right side

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I believe this is Harold Thomas in the picture. I can't for the life of me understand why this car would not remain to this day. The reason I make this comparison is because the 1905 car, commissioned by Harold Thomas to be built by Locomobile is routinely confused with the 1906 car that ran and won the Vanderbilt cup, known as old 16.

 

 

 

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You have a very good ability to scrounge up some very interesting pictures and information that relate to Locomobile.  I have seen the #16 before and have some pictures, but not with the hood up.  What a piece of machinery it is!

Al

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  • 1 month later...

I didn't write this article. It came up on a search I did on the web. I only have the name Steve as the writer. It is a compilation of magazine articles from several the turn of the century automotive magazines.

Andrew L. Riker - pioneer race car designer

 
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The Riker electric "Torpedo" racer (photo credit: Horseless Age, November 20, 1901)

Andrew Lawrence Riker (1868 - 1930) was a pioneer of the automotive age and much has been written about him. I won't try and retell the entire story here, but simply to illuminate his racing career. I believe Riker to be a bit unique in that he designed electric, steam, and gas cars over his storied career - also serving as the first president of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Riker started out as proponent of electric power and founded the Riker Motor Wagon Company in Brooklyn, New York. The company's name was soon changed to the The Riker Electric Motor Company and his racing career was born with a win at the Narragansett Park Track (Providence, RI) in 1896. They soon moved to Elizabeth, NJ and took the name the Riker Electric Vehicle Company in 1898. Riker would often speak of the supremacy of electric power for city vehicles and the bulk of his business was making commercial vehicles (today the Smithsonian holds one of these vehicles in its collection). Regardless, it seems his passion was speed and he built (to my knowledge) the first purpose-built electric racer in 1900 - winning a 50-mile endurance race on the Merrick road course on Long Island. This car was reworked into the "Torpedo Racer" of 1901 which unofficially set the mile record at Coney Island, NY - breaking the mile-a-minute barrier. This car is now held in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum

Riker sold his company to Col. Pope's Electric Vehicle Corporation in 1901 (taking a position in the firm) and immediately set about designing a gasoline powered car. This attracted the attention of the Locomobile Company who was looking to transition out of its dated steam car into a new product offering. By 1902, Andrew Riker was a Vice President at Locomobile and the driving force behind the design of their cars for the next decade. It wasn't long before Riker had a chance to design another race car. Dr. H.E. Thomas of Chicago made a request of Locomobile (through the company's Chicago agent) for a race car suitable for running the 1905 Gordon-Bennett race - to be held in France that year. It's said that the company wasn't really interested and sent word back to Chicago that if Dr. Thomas really wanted a race car he'd have to pay $18,000 for it. An astronomical sum of money at the time, it was thought this would discourage Dr. Thomas. However, to everyone's surprise, Thomas said yes, and Riker got to work. Riker designed a car unlike anything the company had built previously - very much in the style of the competing European cars of the day. Riker must have poured himself into the job and the company seems to have championed the cause as well. Locomobile actually selected a driver and sent him to Europe to campaign Dr. Thomas' racer car. Joe Tracy (1873-1959) was just the man for the job, but unfortunately Tracy stripped two of the four forward gears and the car was retired with only a couple laps under it's belt. Not to be deterred, the car and Tracy came home and entered the Vanderbilt Cup race in the same year. The car was improved (learning from their experiences in France) and Tracy (with Al Poole as his riding mechanic) handled her beautifully - finishing second in the elimination trials and third in the Cup race. This car was the first American car to place in an international motor race (wearing #7).
 
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Dr. Thomas' Locomobile racer (photo credit: Horseless Age, May 10, 1905)
 

Inspired, Riker went back to the drawing board and created a masterpiece for 1906 - actually two Locomobile team racing cars to be campaigned by Tracy & Poole once again. One of these cars would win the American elimination race and, although favored, would place 10th in 1906 (wearing #9). These team cars were upgraded over the next two years - there was no Vanderbilt Cup race in 1907. In 1908, one of these cars (wearing #16) driven by George Roberson, with Glen Ethridge as his mechanic because Joe Tracy had retired, won the Vanderbilt Cup. The car lives on in its current home - the Henry Ford collection - as one of the most important American built race cars of any generation. This car was the first American car to win an international motor race - a very fitting tribute to its designer, Andrew Riker.
 
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1906 Locomobile racer (photo credit: Motor Way, 1906)
 
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The Locomobile team garage at the 1906 Vanderbilt races (photo credit: Motor Way, 1906)
 
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1906 Locomobile racer that won the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup at the Henry Ford
 
 
 
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The 1906 American team for the Vanderbilt Cup race (photo credit: Motor, October 1906)
Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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I now have some clarification. The white car above undoubtedly is the sister car to old 16. Old 16 was never painted white as evident by this period photo.

 

Locomobile Old 16 Race Car on Racetrack with Driver and Mechanic ...

 

It was said that Locomobile built two identical race cars in 1906 but that appears to be untrue. Old sixteen has Kelsey style wheels that are very beefy. The other car has Baker style thin spindly wheels. Old 16 was painted a grey color but the sister car is white. My suspicion now is the #1 car was the primary car. It is depicted as the white car in all the period photos. #16 was the back up car, the sister car and period photos of it are not easy to come by. George Robertson was determined to win the race and pulled out all the stops to do so. It was said that he drove like a madman and Riker didn't like it because he felt the car was being abused. This sounds an awful lot like a rivalry between the two drivers, also evidenced by the number 1 car coming in just behind old 16 to finish in 2nd place. The number 1 car was so numbered because it was expected to win. This is speculation on my part but seems reasonable.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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Nice summary or thoughts that does tend to line up with reality, (as we see it over 100 years later).  Maybe a good movie should be made depicting that very competitive circumstance and story.

Al

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I have a new theory. Most of the period photos of the 1906 cars show a white car with baker style wheels and Joe Tracy as the driver. Old 16 was never painted white and has the heavy Kelsey style wheels. The story goes that Locomobile made two identical special race cars, one the primary and one as a back up. I now believe the #1 car was the primary car and it was assigned the number 1 for the race accordingly. It is always shown with Joe Tracy as the driver. What we see in the race appears to be a rivalry between the two drivers, Joe Tracy and George Robertson. Robertson, as driver of the backup car, was determined to beat the favored number 1 car and did. Of course, once this happened, the back up car became the primary.
 
If you think about it, it is remarkable that Locomobile was allowed to enter two cars in the Vanderbilt cup and this may be the reason the 1905 car was reconfigured to resemble the two 1906 cars. The number one car may have been registered as Harold Thomas' car. This would allow Locomobile to have two cars in the race. Without any direct knowledge, I would think the rules would forbid any one entity from entering two cars.
 
 
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Ok, theory number two. There was never two cars built. The 1905 car was reconfigured to resemble the 1906 car and they were raced together. The two car build was propaganda to mask the fact that the 1905 car was now something new. We know the number 1 car was wrecked at the end of the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup and we know the 1905 car disappeared about the same time. What if they were the same car. Was there a reason all the photos are taken from the driver's side of the car? A photo from the other side would reveal the four exhaust stacks. What if the number 1 refers to Locomobile's 1st race car. This is all theory and supposition on my part. I'm looking for answers to anomalies.

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Here is a picture of a 1907 Locomobile model E motor. When this motor is compared to the motor in the 1905 car, the design is the same. Apparently Locomobile enlarged a production motor design to build the 1905 motor. The 1906 motor was a complete departure in design but that departure was not

carried over to production models.

 

Bonhams : Formerly the property of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.,1907 ...

960 × 639

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

Now I have proof of my earlier suspicions. The below article was forwarded to me by Art Kleiner.  I contacted Howard Kroplick for help untangling this mess and he put me onto Art, who had just started going through the Helck collection of literature. It turns out that several people before me have tried to untangle the partial information and misinformation concerning Locomobile's race history, not the least of which was Peter Helck himself. I can't quite put my finger on why this story is so confusing but it is.

 

It is reported that Joe Tracy never believed there ever was a Harold Thomas and the Harold Thomas story was just a ruse to give Andrew Riker the authority to build the first race car. The board of directors at Locomobile believed racing was a huge departure from their regular business of building high end cars for the public and had no interest in entering the race car field. It was in 1904 that Harold Thomas inquired about Locomobile building him a race car in Chicago, Illinois, from his local agent. The agent promptly wired the request to the Bridgeport plant, where the board of directors, instead of saying, "No, we are not now, or ever will be in the racing business," as they later announced to the public, came up with a figure of $18,000; a figure they thought would put Dr Thomas off.

 

Instead, Dr. Thomas wired the first installment of $6,000 to the Bridgeport plant the next day. It turns out Dr. Thomas' father was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and had amassed a huge fortune in the rail road business. He died in 1903 and Harold inherited a tidy sum. He first bought a Locomobile touring car and was racing it in Chicago events. He was so pleased with the car He went back and bought a limo and inquired about the race car. Andrew Riker, the chief engineer at Locomobile, was excited about building the race car and his excitement was infectious and soon the whole factory was abuzz. It was not long before the racing world heard about the commission and newspaper articles were being written with pictures of the car. 

 

The car was completed and Riker began testing the car with Joe Tracy as its driver. The car was extremely fast for the day and performed very well and Riker began making arrangements to ship the car to France for the Gordon Bennett cup. I can only imagine that Harold Thomas was in Chicago during this time and when he learned of the plans to ship the car to France, he put all the plans on hold while he exerted his ownership. This got every bodies ire up and the racing commission almost pulled the car from qualification. In the end everything got smoothed over. I can only guess that Riker's excitement got the best of him. The car was most likely registered under Locomobile's name, instead of Dr. Thomas. When the racing commission understood the mistake, they allowed the car.

 

The car placed in the 1905 Gordon Bennett, despite losing second gear, won the 1905 Vanderbilt elimination race, and placed third in the main feature. From there the car seems to disappear. My gut feeling was that the car had not disappeared, but where was it? The below article, written October 15, 1906, explains how the car was remodeled (First paragraph). In the last paragraph the writer states, "a duplicate was made, but other than a few spins around the track, it was not used." This was in 1906, the year Locomobile was reported to have made two more race cars. The duplicate car is the car we know today as old 16.

 

Now it is still some conjecture on my part, but I believe the 1905 car, the Harold Thomas commissioned car, is the reported 120 hp behemoth. It is a 7x7 B&S, T head motor while old 16 is a 7.25 x 6, F head, rated at 90 horses. This article makes it plain the first car was remodeled, I believe, to resemble the 1906 car (old 16) and this is the two cars raced in the 1908 Vanderbilt race. In the above pictures I identify a white car with Baker style wheels that is similar to old 16 but significantly different. In one picture a car is shown with Joe Tracy at the wheel and the number 16 on the hood but I don't believe it is old 16. It is, I believe, an attempt to confuse the two cars. According to the last paragraph of this article, the first car, 1905 car, was the strongest runner of the two cars and the favored to win the 1908 Vanderbilt, which is why it received the number 1. Locomobile reported that it made two cars in 1906, old 16 and a sister car, to further confuse the public; the sister car in actuality, being the 1905 car.

 

Therefore, the motor Bob saw in the Helck collection is the motor from the 1905 car and the parts the Dragones received with the sale of old 16 are parts of the 1905 car. In the end, the 1908 Vanderbilt race came down to a race  between the #1 car and the #16 car. George Robertson had a huge ego, as most race car drivers do, and decided he had to prove the #16 car the better of the two cars and it is said he drove like a madman in an effort to win the race. The #1 car crossed the finish line a minute or two later. Locomobile's attempt to create mass confusion over its race history was extremely successful. Even today we are trying to untangle the web they spun. It is interesting to note that at the time the 1905 car was the strongest runner of the two cars but as soon as the sister car won the 08 race, everything changed. On the other hand, it appears the 1905 car was saved, albeit in pieces.

 

1997407416_TheMotorWayOct181906.thumb.jpg.7248eca7da4c8219e9e34a9ff983b58e.jpg

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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7_1905_VCR_edited-1-1.jpg

Here is a transitional picture of the 1905 car. You will notice the four exhaust pipes exiting the hood, which correspond to the four exhaust ports of the motor but the gas tank has been moved from under the frame to behind the seat

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OK, if this works, below you will find a write up on the Apperson Big Dick. There is confusion surrounding many of the race cars and in this case, the car that George Robertson wrapped around the utility pole is called the Apperson Jack Rabbit and the Apperson Big Dick. The article below explains the confusion. The Big Dick motor was placed in the Jack Rabbit chassis, thus it was called a Jack Rabbit and Big Dick, interchangeably. Both are correct. The Big Dick was rated at 96 hp while the Jack Rabbit was rated at 70.

 

The last sentence compares the Big Dick to the Locomobile Cup Car and the parenthesized quote confirms another of my suspicions: the 1905 car is the car that was rated at 120 hp, the 1906 car (old 16) being rated at 90 hp. In other words, the 1905 car was the strongest performer. The difference in the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup race was between the two drivers. If Joe Florida had pushed the car he drove, it could have won the race easily. Now let me back up, there were a lot of factors that went into winning a race in 1908. Cars were plagued with blowouts and failures of component parts. George Robertson pushed his car, which could have easily failed in the last few moments of the race. Florida felt he had a comfortable lead and was not willing to take the chance of having a failure. He surely believed Robertson would before he reached the finish line.

 

The above article plainly states old 16 was the back up car, the duplicate, that was run around the track a few times but not raced in 1906. It was undoubtedly entered in the 1908 Vanderbilt cup as a back up car, giving Locomobile two chances to win the race. The 1905 car, I'm assuming, was entered under the name of Harold Thomas, with the 1906 car entered under the name Locomobile, or perhaps Andrew Riker.

 

"For those with $15,000 to spend, Apperson would put their race engine in a 50hp Jackrabbit runabout to create the Big Dick. A 96hp racing runabout, the Big Dick actually had the highest advertised horsepower in an American automobile through 1914. It had open exhaust and a 6 1/4-inch bore and 5 1/2-inch stroke, for 675-cu.in. Amazingly, the company sold 15 of them, and that in the face of competition from Locomobile's own $15,000 short stroke 990.1-cu.in., 90hp Cup Racer (the factory claimed 120hp for the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup car upon which it was based)."

 

 

inlet.jpg

Apperson motor

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I just spoke with Manny Dragone and once again I have succumbed to mis-information. Despite published reports, the above article included, Locomobile did build two identical race cars in 1906 and both still exist, one as old 16 and the other in restored condition in a private collection. Both are F head, overhead intake valve cars, with copper water jackets; essentially the same.

 

The 1905 car has once again disappeared.

 

 

 

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Guys, firstly the car in the initial photographs in the initial post here is a 1909 40 hp Locomobile Model I. It is nothing special, just a stripped road cr. Same thing in the photo of Robertson sitting behind the wheel. However, Old 16 and number 1 (both #12 in the 06 Vanderbilt cup) are ALAM rated at 90HP. BUT! In actuality these cars produced a real 120HP. I know because my dad, uncle and I owned both cars. 

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I am surprised that the Locomobile race cars didn't use the same basic engine design as was used on the typical automobiles sold by Locomobile to the public?  Seems like they were investing big time on a design that was not deemed a test bed for the passenger automobiles.  Maybe I just don't see the value of a successful race car and what it would do for the market value of the brand, in this case....Locomobile.

Al

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Al,

The race cars were Andrew Riker's deal, his passion. The board of directors didn't like the idea of a F head motor. In their minds, an F head, or overhead valve motor didn't reach to the level the Locomobile directors aspired to. We are talking about an automobile marketed to the elite of society. We have remarked before how certain Locomobile cars were horse power rated very similarly to a Ford Model T motor. Locomobile did not believe horse power was a selling point for their cars. It is interesting to note the T head motor carries the same desirability today as it did in those early days even though the overhead valve motor is proven better.

 

We don't have enough information to know if the racing created sales but remember, Locomobile was committed to quality over quantity.

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Andrew Riker was the driving force of Locomobile during those early years and yes, he had a lot of clout, but, interestingly, the two race cars were built in 1906, raced in the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race, but there were no other special built race cars produced by Locomobile. The following year, 1909, Riker pulled two stock 40 horse model I cars from production, stripped them down and raced them but that was the last of Locomobile's race efforts. Andrew Riker had some clout but he used it up. Locomobile settled back in to regular production cars.

 

I believe Harold Thomas' commission of the 1905 car was the impetus for the building of the two 1906 cars. If Harold Thomas had not ordered the 1905 car, the two 1906 cars would have never been built. Therefore, Harold Thomas, and the 1905 car, were responsible for the win of old 16 in 1908. Furthermore, old 16 won the race because of George Robertson. It was George Robertson's driving that pushed the car over the finish line. All the glory goes to old 16. Again, this was because of Andrew Riker's clout and it continues to this day. Any attempt to spread the glory of the win in the 1908 race around is quickly batted away. The sister car to old 16, its identical twin, which finished second, exists to this day but has anyone seen it or known of its existence before now?

 

It is interesting to note the 1905 car carried a massive T head motor, so in 1905, Andrew Riker was either influenced by the board of directors, or didn't have time to design and build a completely new style of motor. I wonder what would have happened if the board of directors had adapted the proven engineering of the F head design for the 1909 production cars?

 

After 1908, a move was taken to race stock cars. It was racing cars that was influencing sales of production cars so an effort was made to race stock cars. Special built race cars fell out of favor. They were still built and raced but were carefully camouflaged to appear to be stock cars and all companies manipulated their stock and or race cars to get the cars accepted by the race commission. Apperson produced a stock car, the Jack Rabbit, then placed a larger motor in the Jack Rabbit chassis and produced 15 cars. That made it a production car and eligible to enter the race field. Buick was notorious in these efforts to camouflage special built race cars as production cars. The race commission was also lax in enforcing the rules, which made racing that much more exciting for the builders and fans.

 

Locomobile felt that racing was beneath them and not necessary to sell cars.

 

Now, I need to add a caveat. There is so much misinformation printed about Locomobile and its race efforts, no one can be sure of anything. The conclusions I have come to are based in the information I have gleaned from so many online articles. I have no idea what the truth is. It is like Pilate answered Jesus: Truth? What is truth? The truth seems to be a very personal thing and it is encapsulated by what you believe. If you believe it, it is true for you. There is no empirical truth about Locomobile or anything else.

 

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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