Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. v

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

Like most writers of history, I find myself indebted to a host of people for the valuable bits and pieces, large and small, that they contributed to the writing of this book. Some, however, stand out from the others, and to them I owe a very special mention and vote of thanks, for without their encouragement and...

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xi

The Chrysler nameplate has had a storied reputation for over three quarters of a century. The corporation’s meteoric rise to power during the 1920s as the third member of the “Big Three” is well documented, but its “prehistory” has received scant attention. Yet that prehistory was essential to the founding of Chrysler Corporation. It was the source...

PART I. THE MAXWELL-BRISCOE YEARS, 1903–1912

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1 Prologue to the Founding of Maxwell-Briscoe

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pp. 3-12

The formation of the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company can in a real sense be traced to a providential visit by Ransom E. Olds to Benjamin Briscoe during the summer of 1902. Olds was looking for someone to manufacture a cooling system for his Curved Dash Oldsmobile, the original one being too inefficient. Although Jonathan Maxwell, his chief...

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2 The Formation of the Maxwell-Briscoe Company

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pp. 13-24

The fact that Jonathan Maxwell selected Ben Briscoe as the man with whom he might begin a new automotive venture is inter-esting, inasmuch as it presented much more risk than working with the wealthy Barbours, for whom starting a car company was more of an adventure than an occupation. Briscoe was a good businessman, but not wealthy in the sense that he had command of a large amount Unlike in his venture with David Buick, Briscoe for his part was ...

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3 Maxwell-Briscoe’s Rapid Rise in the Marketplace

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pp. 25-46

The fact that Jonathan Maxwell selected Ben Briscoe as the man with whom he might begin a new automotive venture is interesting, inasmuch as it presented much more risk than working with the wealthy Barbours, for whom starting a car company was more of an adventure than an occupation. Briscoe was a good businessman, but not wealthy...

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4 Maxwell-Briscoe’s Failed Merger Attempts

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pp. 47-66

With the company’s working capital now increased to $152,000, thanks to Morgan’s $100,000 investment, Maxwell-Briscoe was in an excellent financial position to begin the new year. Production now could begin on a serious scale. The only negative factor was the rental cost of the Tarrytown factory which, at $15,000,...

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5 Maxwell-Briscoe as a Division of the United States Motor Company

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pp. 67-82

Despite the fact that Maxwell-Briscoe had weathered the Panic of 1907 without any major incident, Ben Briscoe was concerned that another business downturn could place the existence of the company at substantial risk because of its loan obligations, especially the debt acquired in building the New Castle plant. Such reasoning may have been...

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6 The Dissolution of the U.S. Motor Company

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pp. 83-96

Briscoe was seriously considering whether to resign and start a new firm when the stockholders of the Columbia Motor Car Company of Hartford, Connecticut, headed by Anthony Brady, proposed a merger with Maxwell-Briscoe. Columbia was not on anyone’s list of best buys. It was a reorganized Electric Vehicle Company...

PART II. THE MAXWELL MOTOR COMPANY YEARS, 1913–1920, AND THE MAXWELL MOTOR CORPORATION YEARS, 1921–1925

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7 Walter Flanders and the New Maxwell Organization

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pp. 99-124

A meeting of the Standard stockholders on January 25 verified the change in the name of the company to Maxwell Motor. The current Standard officers immediately resigned. As expected, Flanders was elected president and also signed a contract to act as general manager for a term of five years. Key names among the new eight-man board of...

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8 Bankers Select Walter P. Chrysler to Save Maxwell

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pp. 125-142

The November 1918 armistice brought great hope and expectations to the business community, including the auto industry. There was a pent-up demand for automobiles because auto production had fallen off drastically the previous two years as the industry turned to wartime manufacturing. The war now over, auto manufacturers looked forward to a resumption of normal business, not only in the near future but also in the long...

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9 Maxwell Corporation Reorganized as Chrysler Corporation

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pp. 143-158

As far as Zeder, Skelton, and Breer were concerned, Walter P. Chrysler no longer was in their picture. Durant now owned what would have been the Chrysler Six. After the sale of the Elizabeth plant, the three formed their own independent design group, Zeder-Skelton-Breer Engineering. With 28 employees on salary, they badly needed an income to survive. Although Durant had given them various engineering assignments...

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10 Briscoe, J. P. Maxwell, Flanders, and W. P. Chrysler in Later Years

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pp. 159-164

Shortly after Ben Briscoe departed from Maxwell-Briscoe and arrived in France in 1913, his brother Frank joined him. They soon were caught up in the cyclecar rage that had spread through Europe and across to the United States. The cyclecar was a miniature of the standard automobile. It was small and light with a wheelbase of about 90 inches and a tread of 36 inches. Seating..

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Conclusion

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pp. 165-168

Maxwell’s history does not consist of a straight-line unfolding of an important company out of which grew Chrysler Corporation. Basically, during the first eight years of its life, 1904–12, it went under the name of the Maxwell-Briscoe Company, then as the Maxwell-Briscoe division of the U.S. Motor Company. When U.S. Motor went bankrupt, Maxwell was salvaged as the Maxwell Motor Company, 1913–20, then...

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APPENDIX: Maxwell Production/Sales

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pp. 169-170

Production/sales figures for Maxwell cars are elusive. They have been acquired from various sources, as indicated below. Complicating matters is the fact that the company initially reported such figures according to the fiscal year (September through August), then later per calendar year. Other sources do not indicate which type of reporting they used, fiscal or ...

Notes

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pp. 171-186

Index

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pp. 187-190