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Crane Simplex and Packard in Jacksonville FL in 1917 Senator James Taliaferro owner


Douglas Gilmore Brown
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My Grandfather, Will H. Dickey (1890 - 1972) of Belfast, Maine was chauffeur for Sen. James Taliaferro from about 1914 until Sept. 1917, when he joined the Army.  Mr. Taliaferro owned a mansion (still standing) in Belfast, which he used as a summer place. He hired Mr. Dickey to drive for him. Come winter, the cars were shipped on a flatcar to Florida.  They had the wheels removed, and were strapped down. Mr. Dickey oversaw this operation, and rode the train with them to Jacksonville, where they were reassembled. 

 

The Crane  Simplex has a Jacksonville plate on it. I don't think Florida had state issued plates then. This was Mr. Taliaferro's car.  The Packard was his wife's car. These pictures were taken in Florida, not Maine. Are the buildings in the pictures still standing? 

 

Mr. Taliferro has a brief biography on Wikipedia, and on Find A Grave. He is in the first one of the pictures. The other man is Mr. Dickey.

 

Does anybody have information on the models and years of these cars? Also, are either of them still in existence? I understand that the Crane Simplex was a very expensive car, and that not many of them were made.

Grampy Dickey chauffeur 1917 (4).jpg

Grampy Dickey chauffeur 1917 (5).jpg

Grampy Dickey chauffeur 1917 (6).jpg

Grampy Dickey chauffeur 1917 (7).jpg

Edited by Douglas Gilmore Brown
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Hello, Douglas Gilmore Brown

 

Your grandfather got to drive some of the most expensive, high-quality luxury cars of the era.  These are great picture, thanks for posting them.  The Packard appears to have been a 1916-'17 Twin Six, though the predecessor 1914-'15 Six 5-48 looks much the same, a real WWI-Era Packard expert will have to narrow it down. Prices ranged for the Twin Six touring from $3,000 to $4,000.

  

The Simplex, Crane Model 5 is another matter, by the radiator design, it was one of the 467 cars built between 1915 to 1917 (some assembled from leftover stocks 1918-'19) after the Simplex Automobile Co. management bought the Crane Motor Car Company from Henry Crane.   While they did catalogue a seven passenger touring for $5,000-$7,500, the bare chassis price was $5,000-$6,000.  It was then up to the purchaser to have their custom coachbuilder of choice create a body for it, typically at price equal to or greater than the chassis price.  Senator Taliaferro's landauette town car certainly was bodied by Brewster, Healy, Demarest, Judkins, Hume, Farnham & Nelson, one of the high-quality custom coachbuilders of the era.

 

Here is a link to a topic dedicated to Simplex, Crane here on which you should post this history and photos as well, here is a better look at them.

Simplex-Crane  Model 5 Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 a.jpg

Simplex-Crane  Model 5 Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 b.jpg

Simplex-Crane  Model 5 Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 c.jpg

Packard Twin Six - Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 a.jpg

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Hi Mr. D.G. Brown !

Thank you for sharing some of your family’s automotive history and photo album. I guess I could say too bad the senator did not exercise the tradition of passing his car(s) on to his chauffeur, so that he, in turn, could have passed the family treasures on to his grandson !     -   Carl 

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   Just in case you're not familiar with it, there is a 1917 Simplex-Crane very close to you:

https://www.sealcoveautomuseum.org/collection-test/1917-simplex-crane/

 

  My Grandfather was a chauffeur as well, starting in the same time frame. He drove for a Boston family until the mid-fifties and his driving career includes routine trips to Philadelphia (the Mister chartered an airplane, it was the mid to late '20s), trips to England and at least one trip to San Francisco, timed to meet the owners who made the trip by sea. The family owned a series of formal Rolls Royce autos.

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On 3/14/2021 at 12:22 PM, 58L-Y8 said:

Hello, Douglas Gilmore Brown

 

Your grandfather got to drive some of the most expensive, high-quality luxury cars of the era.  These are great picture, thanks for posting them.  The Packard appears to have been a 1916-'17 Twin Six, though the predecessor 1914-'15 Six 5-48 looks much the same, a real WWI-Era Packard expert will have to narrow it down. Prices ranged for the Twin Six touring from $3,000 to $4,000.

  

The Simplex, Crane Model 5 is another matter, by the radiator design, it was one of the 467 cars built between 1915 to 1917 (some assembled from leftover stocks 1918-'19) after the Simplex Automobile Co. management bought the Crane Motor Car Company from Henry Crane.   While they did catalogue a seven passenger touring for $5,000-$7,500, the bare chassis price was $5,000-$6,000.  It was then up to the purchaser to have their custom coachbuilder of choice create a body for it, typically at price equal to or greater than the chassis price.  Senator Taliaferro's landauette town car certainly was bodied by Brewster, Healy, Demarest, Judkins, Hume, Farnham & Nelson, one of the high-quality custom coachbuilders of the era.

 

Here is a link to a topic dedicated to Simplex, Crane here on which you should post this history and photos as well, here is a better look at them.

Simplex-Crane  Model 5 Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 a.jpg

Simplex-Crane  Model 5 Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 b.jpg

Simplex-Crane  Model 5 Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 c.jpg

Packard Twin Six - Grampy-Dickey- Taliaferro chauffeur-1917 a.jpg

 

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Thanks, 58L - Y8 for your information, and enhancing the photos. My grandfather said the CS cost $12,000, which was an enormous sum back when gold was abiut $20.67 an ounce. I am contacting the Belfast Historical society, to see if they have any photos of the Taliaferro family with their cars. These 4 pictures were snapshots that my grandmother probably took. Can you tell me where to find the Crane Simplex link?

 

Hello, C Carl;   Well, we all can dream of  being given a great car like this ...  but perhaps it is still exists in a carriage house down South. The Taliaferro's was one of those old colonial families of Virginia, and possibly it has been preserved by them. My Grandfather enlisted in the Army in the fall of 1917, and was lucky enough to see no overseas duty. He saved up  his chauffeuring  and Army pay, and opened a garage in Belfast in 1920, which he operated until the end of 1945.  He worked on  a lot of the cars of the gentry, as well as rumrunners, and his share of farmer's Model T jalopies.  But, he and my grandmother (who was an upstairs maid for the Senator) used to recall thir happy days "before the War".

 

Hi, JimKB1MCV;     Thanks for your link to the Seal Cove Museum. Yes, I have seen this CS numerious times. There was also a gray touring car, (which may have been a Crane or Simplex,  but was similar) , when Mr Richard Payne was still alive. Mr. Payne was pretty eccentric, but his focus on those big pre WW1 cars paid off in the end. 

 

Your grandfather saw a bit more of the world than mine did. Driving those big monsters on the roads of the day was not an easy job. Then there was the routine maintenance, and the cleaning and polishing. Those old time chauffeurs certainly earned their pay.

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Mr. Brown:

 

Here is the Crane-Simplex topic link:

Crane Simplex - CCCA - General - Antique Automobile Club of America - Discussion Forums (aaca.org)

 

Thank you for filling out more of your grandfather's history with the Taliaferro family and his life thereafter.  The Simplex, Crane Model 5 was indeed one of the most expensive, handcrafted, high quality automobiles of the WWI era.   As you note, life as a chauffeur was not an easy job, the wealthy tended to be very demanding in all details of appearance, functionality and decorum.   Piloting a monster such as this on the poor roads was a mentally and physically demanding task which a young man might best endure.   Long-distance road trips were still rare though did take place.  The railroads would ship the cars of the wealthy as they shuttled between their winter and summer estates.   Thanks again for sharing these images of an extremely rare car and relating your grandfather's life experiences.    

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