Elcar and Pratt Automobiles

The Complete History

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About the Book

A surprisingly little-known marque today, Elcar once ranked among the finest vehicles on American roads. Built to exacting standards in Elkhart, Indiana, an Elcar could compete head-to-head on the basis of performance, quality, or price with the products of much larger manufacturers. Ultimately done in by weak distribution and the ravages of the Depression, Elcar today stands as an example of an ambitious company that transformed itself, successfully if temporarily, from a maker of buggies and harnesses into a respected car manufacturer in the early days of the automotive age.
This remarkably exhaustive history, researched over several decades from all available sources, including interviews with former Elcar employees, details all Elcar models and the Pratt vehicles that preceded them, as well as the personalities behind the cars. Extensive appendices provide a complete model history, with specifications; a full corporate chronology; an illustrated accounting of all Elcars and Pratts known to survive whole or in part today; a roster of company employees; a descriptive list of all ads and brochures ever produced by the company; and a wealth of other data that can be found nowhere else. Lavishly illustrated and surpassingly thorough, this book is a well of information on a significant but forgotten line of automobiles.

About the Author(s)

William S. Locke, an engineer recognized in the Automotive Hall of Fame, has written numerous articles on automotive history. He has owned Elcars since the 1950s and is among the marque’s leading collectors.

Bibliographic Details

William S. Locke
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 346
Bibliographic Info: 563 photos (29 in color), appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007 [2000]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3254-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Acknowledgments      3

1. BUGGIES, CARRIAGES AND TACK      5

2. SELF PROPELLED BUGGIES      16

3. PRATT AUTOMOBILES      23

4. THE PRATT MOTORCYCLE      38

5. THE EARLY ELCARS, 1916–1918      41

6. THE TRANSITION YEARS, 1919–1922      50

7. JITNEYS AND TAXICABS      68

8. THE GOOD YEARS, 1923 TO 1929      76

9. EIGHT-IN-LINE      93

10. DEPRESSION ERA ELCARS      117

11. THE RACE CARS      122

12. ELCAR OVERSEAS      126

13. INNOVATION AT ELCAR      132

14. THE LEVER ENGINE      140

Between pages 150 and 151 are 8 color plates containing 29 photographs

15. THE ELCAR MODEL 140      151

16. THE ELCAR MOTORBOAT      157

17. MERCER MOTORS CORPORATION      160

18. ELCAR IN TROUBLE      166

19. POST ELCAR TAXIS      171

20. ELCAR TRAILERS      179

21. ELECTRIC ELCARS      187

22. SURVIVING VEHICLES      190

23. EMBLEMS, MASCOTS AND MEMORABILIA      199

24. FACTORY LITERATURE      213

APPENDICES

I. Nameplates of Powered Vehicles Built at the Beardsley Avenue Plant      229

II. Pratt, Pratt-Elkhart and Elcar Model Series      230

III. Engines Used      247

IV. Factory Specification Lists      249

V. Production Data      301

VI. Company Slogans      303

VII. Dealers      304

VIII. Officers and Directors of the Elkhart Carriage & Harness Manufacturing Company and Its Successors      308

IX. Roster of Employees      311

X. Biographical Sketches      315

XI. Corporate Chronology      319

Bibliographic Chronology      323

Index      329

Book Reviews & Awards

“excellent…hundreds of photos, good organization, excitement and adventure—this book has it all”—SpeedReaders; “superb”—SAH Journal; “a detailed and admirable history…a splendid volume”—ARBA; “many details about all aspects of Elcar’s products…car enthusiasts everywhere will enjoy…public libraries should purchase”—Public Library Quarterly; “in-depth study…on a one to five star basis, this is indisputedly a five”—Antique Automobile; “thorough…detailed history…timely…an enjoyable read”—Old Cars Weekly; “Locke has left no stone unturned. Automotive history is indebted to Locke for ferreting out so much information in his search”—The Horseless Carriage Gazette; “excellent”—Cruise IN; “highly recommended”—Classic Car Mart; “a great deal of…obscure information of interest to collectors”—SciTech Book News; “excellent…superb”—Classic Car Club of America Bulletin.