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Coach builder for Sterling Knight 1923-1926 - Warren, Ohio


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Posted (edited)

Does anyone have information to share about the coach builder for Sterling Knight?

I have conflicting information that I would like authenticate.

 

1. A 1987 WOKR 'Starter' article states that the Philips Custom Body of Warren, Ohio created the bodies and states that Sterling Knight was represented at the January 1925 New York City and Chicago automobile shows with the Philips bodies. I have seen the bronze casting plate used by Philips but cannot locate it on our 1925 Sterling Knight....yet. I have found other articles while searching the internet that also state that the Philips Custom Body was used by Sterling Knight. But I cannot authenticate the articles.  I know where in Warren, the Philips had their shop and where the Sterling Knight was assembled, as well as the engine manufacturing plant for the Sterling.

philips.JPG.cb0f4a2c89d5665e9df7b9bcb850c3e1.JPG

 

KRK Sr. has a few of the castings available. I'll be getting one for the Sterling for sure.

 

2. The "Automobile Manufacturers of Cleveland and Ohio 1864-1942" book by Frank and Elaine Wrenick, states that the Sterling Knight company entered into a contract with the Rubay Co. for 1000 bodies in 1923. But....Baker R & L purchased Rubay on January 16, 1924 and the contract was taken over by Baker. But Baker R & L only existed from 1915 - 1920 according to their book. The dates and times don't line up and their is no mention of the Philips Custom Body in the Wrenick Book. Is the Wrenick a well documented book and have you found them to be fairly accurate?

 

Any information about the Sterling Knight and/or their custom body manufacturer would be appreciated.

 

Thanks much,

 

Bill

 

Edited by wmsue
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I believe Will Saint Claire also used the Phillips Custom Body Company as well for their cars ( not all body styles)

Specific answers to what , who, which coach builders built anything and when, is something I have been trying to research for decades , but the only sound definite answer would be in company log books, records that after a century do not probably exist. There were trade magazines to the body industry published at the time but were available by subscription and not on the news stand for general purchase so copies for research which may or may not answer your question may exist in a private collection that is not available to the general public to view. I can well appreciate your frustration at not being able to get your answer immediately or even know who to ask or where to look but many of us who may have information do not have the hours/days etc to devote to look for anything that "might" be there or may not be. Have you contacted the major automotive library collections to see if they have anything? Rev's ( has the Peter Richley collection form the UK), Neathercutt collection, Harrah's, AACA, all most likely would charge a fee for their paid staff to look and there is no guarantee that they would even find anything for the $ you paid for their efforts .

I am not trying to put down your efforts or quest  in any way but this may not be an an easy question to answer or be specific for. Just trying to be realistic.

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Thank you for your honest reply.

My next step is to personally contact the Western Reserve Historical Society / Crawford Museum in Cleveland. I have contacted them through email a few months ago but never got a reply.

They require an appointment to visit but I haven't been able to confirm an appt. since they never got back to me.

Looks like it's going to take a personal visit to get things rolling.

I did contacted the AACA Library on a different matter back in Sept. 2021 and never received an answer, so they were not on the top of my list to contact again.

I had great luck with the Warren, Ohio public library and their Historical Dept. Within 48 hours, I got a reply saying that no info was found or with the info that was available for the various requests.

 

Thanks Walt.

p.s. We met at Hershey this past year and I shared with you some glass pendants that I made.

 

Bill

 

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WRHS has strange hours, and you need to make an appointment. They are very helpful, and protective of their items. Phillips was a small batch body building company that made runs of cars for many companies. They were a middle of the price range type of build, but they did try and reach higher and make some bodies for expensive cars. These small shops have left almost no digital footprint, and even digging in files, it's hard to find anything. I will be in the WRHS library in the next few months, if you want PM me a list of whet your looking for, if I run across it, I will take some photos for you. They have been quick to respond by email, and like scholars doing research............be prepared to answer why you want to see the items. When they realize you're a true car guy, it's a breeze. 

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Batch bodies most often did not have body tags, as the manufacturers wanted people to think they were making 100 percent of the car. I would only expect to see a tag on a custom job.......and even then, they were usually small batch builds. 

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For what it's worth the Coachbuilt.com overview of Philips Custom Body Co.:

Philips Custom Body Co., Philips Carriage, Stutz, Frank W. Philips, Edwin P. Carter, Philips-bodied, Briggs Mfg. Co., Sterling-Knight, Willys-Knight, Studebaker, Franklin, LeBaron - CoachBuilt.com

 

While they built a variety of body styles to be sure, the convertible coupe and convertible sedans were their forte. 

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Posted (edited)

Great information.

Thanks.

I will get together my questions and send them your way.

In about 6 months, we (National Packard Museum, Warren, Ohio) plan to have a talk about the Sterling Knight and car building in Warren, Ohio.

Other than info on Sterling and Packard, I hope to get a Knight Demonstrator for attendees to see. I've come to realize that the demonstrators are very rare, but they are out there.

I've seen two different factory models and a few homemade models that past few years. The large models are just too heavy for me to transport, but the salesman models would transport much easier.

Even the small demonstrators go for good money, so I'm hoping to borrow one for a few weeks. Any leads would be appreciated.

A fellow WOKR club member has a few sleeves and pistons I'm planning to borrow for the talk, but a demonstrator would visually show our members how it works.

 

*58L-Y8 - thanks for info. I spotted that sight awhile back and obtained a lot of information from it.

   I was shocked and disappointed that the Wrenick book directly contradicted this information. Since Philips was not a car manufacturer, I understand why they were not specifically mentioned.

 

*KRM SR. got back to me with the news that a few of the castings are available. Working out the details for purchase now.

  Even though the body was a batch body and not a custom, I hope to mount the casting somewhere on our display boards.

 

Since I have overwhelming information that Philips did indeed create bodies for Sterling, I'm going to continue stating that they were the source of custom bodies....and include....."to the best of my knowledge".

 

 

Bill

 

Edited by wmsue
correction (see edit history)
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