Look whats arrived! A Maxwell Model QS Touring

Maxwell model Q Touring: All I can say is it was very late one night in February 2015, I mean extremely late and I thought that looks interesting lets bid on it!  The following morning I woke up to find we now own a 100 plus year old Maxwell Model Q Touring which was sitting in Japan. Whats a Maxwell you may ask?  Maxwell-Briscoe Company,

The first popular, quantity-produced car to use shaft drive instead of chains, this Chrysler forerunner challenged all comers.

The story of the Maxwell car–which 20 years after its inception became the sensational Chrysler–is one of determination, constant endeavor and well-earned success, Back in 1903, Jonathan Dixon Maxwell and Benjamin Briscoe designed, built and tested a little car which ran so well that they decided to put it into production. Both Maxwell and Briscoe were outstanding personalities and pioneers in the automotive business. It was Maxwell, for example, who in 1894 joined the Apperson brothers in helping Elwood Haynes build the first Haynes auto buggy–which later evolved into a famous car.

Anyway, in 1904 the partners Jonathan and Benjamin incorporated their firm as the Maxwell-Briscoe Company and pro­duced their first two models during the fall of that year. Both were two-cylinder cars, but one had an eight hp engine while the other rated 15 hp. The engines of both had a bore and stroke of equal dimensions, de­signed to limit piston speed; quite a pro­gressive idea for those days, since it wasn’t until years later that de­signers became actively conscious of the direct influence of this factor on engine life and efficiency. The cylinders of the smaller engine were four inches by four, and of the larger, five by five.

View of Alice Ramsey & passengers in Maxwell automobile parked on city street in Chicago, Illinois during her 1909 cross-country tour. Another Maxwell automobile is parked behind her

Prices were $750 and $1,550 respectively and the cars found a ready sale. By August, 1905, in fact, 532 Maxwells were built and delivered from the factory at Tarrytown, New York. While on the subject of progressive features, the Maxwell was the first popular, quantity-produced car to use shaft drive in place of the usual chains. It also was one of the earliest to employ the principle of thermo-siphon cooling.

Encouraged by their success, Maxwell and Briscoe entered their product in the Glidden Tour, where it tied with a Pierce-Arrow for premier award. It was then en­tered in just about every competitive event that was going. The following year, a Max­well won the Deming Trophy in the Glidden Tour and the partners were busy building two special cars for the Vanderbilt Cup. Unfortunately, though both showed promise in the early stages, neither turned out to be a success.

In November of 1906, the factory moved to Newcastle, Indiana, although the Tarry-town plant was retained.

The first four-cylinder Maxwell was produced in 1907. It was a machine similar in basic design to its predecessors, but more powerful and still moderately priced at $1,500.

There already was plenty of well-estab­lished competition in the luxury bracket and the Model D Maxwell could make little headway against such contenders as Apperson, Thomas Flyer, Northern, Locomo­bile, Pierce-Arrow, Marmon and others. However, the original two-cylinder cars of eight and 15 hp were retained–the former as the RS or RL Runabout (with divided or undivided seat), selling for $825; and the latter as the Model HB Light Touring Car priced at $1,450. These continued to find a ready market.

Next came the 1908 Model D, a four-cylinder, 24 hp touring car that weighed 2,100 pounds, cost $1,750 and had a good sale. The change of rules in the 1908 Glidden Tour angered the partners, who alleged that the new regulations favored the cost­lier autos. The Maxwell Company there­fore issued a sharp challenge to the winner of that year’s Glidden Tour, and plastered the challenge in a dozen contemporary ads. “Come out and fight,” Maxwell and Briscoe said, in effect, “but under 1907 Glidden rules which will put the Maxwell on equal footing with the highest priced and most powerful cars made. We challenge you to a race from New York to San Francisco, with no quarter asked or given!”

The challenge went unanswered, and that same year a proposed merger between Maxwell and Buick failed to materialize–for the good reason that Buick became a part of the infant giant, General Motors. This seemed to cause the partners little worry. Benjamin Briscoe now became president of the company.

Back to our Maxwell Model Q Touring and here it is in Japan, being loaded on to a transporter destined for the docks so it can be shipped to the UK. It arrived at Dillybrook in mid 2015 and entered the workshop. After various check and pre start maintenance we decided to crank the engine, so Neil donned his bowler hat and cane (looking very Charlie Chaplin) and cranked the starter handle and wow, the Maxwell Model Q Touring sprang to life and purred away like a little sewing machine.

However, as with many other projects in the queue, the Maxwell went back into storage and work is due to start in early 2020.  Unbelievably it’s 110 years old, we can’t wait to get started on this one and go for a little run. Hopefully it will look more like the Maxwell below when finished.

The first women to drive across America, The year was 1909 and she did it in a Maxwell.

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