5 Maxwell-Briscoe as a Division of the United States Motor Company
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■ 5 ■ Maxwell-Briscoe as a Division of the United States Motor Company B riscoe 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 that had gone into receivership during the Panic of 1907, but with a name change. Its products were high grade but also carried high prices. Production had been limited to 1,500 vehicles per year, and the company’s financial success was questionable.1 Nevertheless, Briscoe found the proposal interesting. What made this proposition attractive was, that the Columbia was owned by a number of very wealthy men, the Brady-Wiedner-Elkins crowd, so-called. They had a very unfortunate experience with the Columbia, it having been engineered to death. They agreed to put in $1,000,000 of fresh capital and turn the Columbia over to us with practically no debts in addition to this $1,000,000 in cash. . . . although the Columbia ■ 67 68 ■ C H A P T E R 5 was something of a burden, yet we believed that by specializing in the manufacture of a few hundred high priced cars, we could very easily dispose of them through our branches and make the Columbia at least pay its way. The deal therefore was consummated, and the United States Motor Co. was organized.2 The key to the entire transaction was the infusion of $1 million in fresh capital, which Maxwell-Briscoe could well use to expand its production facilities and to reduce some loan obligations as well. Also attractive was the acquisition of the Columbia plant in Hartford, Connecticut, said to be one of the largest in the trade. It extended over 15 acres of property, and its buildings and machinery were valued at about $1.5 million.3 Columbia also had taken over the Selden patent, for which it was being paid a share of the royalties collected by the ALAM. Thus, early in November 1909 Briscoe and Brady quietly incorporated a new firm called the United States Motor Company, with a capitalization of $2 million. Then, on November 17, 1909, U.S. Motor negotiated an exchange of its stock for all the shares held by the stockholders of the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company and the Columbia Motor Car Company, thus acquiring both companies without any transfer of cash between them. (The actual acquisition and exchange of the stock belonging to all individual shareholders would not be completed for another six months.) Most interesting was what the merger meant to Anthony Brady, who was Columbia’s largest stockholder. The U.S. Motor stock he received in exchange for his Columbia stock became appreciably greater in value through the merger. Moreover, under the acquisition agreement, Columbia’s annual share of the Selden royalty payments was not involved in the transaction. It went directly to Brady and other former Electric Vehicle/ Columbia stockholders, not to the combined companies.4 The press at first knew little of Maxwell-Briscoe’s part in the formation of U.S. Motor since the latter’s officers were relatively unknown. Identified were Lawrence Arnold as president and Walter Crosby as secretary. Although rumors linked Briscoe’s name with the new firm, no official announcements were made for several months. D i v i s i o n o f t h e U . S . M o t o r C o m p a n y ■ 69 Maxwell-Briscoe’s attendance at the Madison Square Garden New York Auto Show in January 1910 gave no indication that the company now was a division of U.S. Motor. Its display featured an entirely new lineup of Maxwell vehicles. The four different two-cylinder cars offered the previous year were eliminated, replaced by a single two-cylinder runabout, the Model AA. On a wheelbase of 86 inches and rated at 12 horsepower, the Model AA was priced at only $600. The reduction gave a signal that Maxwell believed the two-cylinder car was no longer a popular market choice. What Maxwell did feature was a new four-cylinder car, the Model Q, which it offered in five different body styles ranging in price from $900 to $1,000. Each of the five carried a wheelbase of 93 inches and horsepower output of 22. The previous year...