Auto Trends 1909 + Hill Climb

The article in the attachment below was published in the July 10, 1909 Indianapolis News. It touches on two topics: 1) trends in the auto industry at the time and 2) a recent running of the Plainfield, New Jersey hill climb.
The trends were three cited developments:

  • Growth in the "buggy" and small car market segment.
  • Growth in the commercial trucks segment.
  • Increased demand for electric vehicles.

Despite asserting that there was increased demand for electric the article states that the sector was stunted by sensational publicity concerning competition events such as the then-upcoming Cobe Trophy and Glidden Tours.
As for the "motor buggy," it is described as "old-fashioned wheels and queer looking chain drive." With the small runabout car the article suggests the industry was seeing growth but provides no numbers. My guess is that there might have been interest in such vehicles largely driven by value pricing.
The article closes by saying that light delivery wagons used by department stores, heavy trucks found on downtown streets, government vehicles such as those used by the postal system, police cars or ambulances for hospitals were a mix of gas-powered engines and electrics. Vehicles known as carriages and coupes typically driven to social occasions such as church, clubs or theaters were dominated by electrics.
None of this is compelling because it is not supported by anything that looks like fact, just observation. Nonetheless it is an interesting artifact.
The final section of the article reports that S.W. Elston of the Indiana Auto Company, a dealership and garage business, had received a telegram from Newark, New Jersey reporting that a "forty" Blue Bird with a driver with the last name of Rankin at the wheel had won the $2,000 to $3,000 price class at the recent Plainfield hill climb.
The same car was second in the free-for-all race and first in something called "the winners' class." Simplex, National, Buick and Maxwell also competed. The time for the 0.7-mile course was one minute, 28 seconds. That equaled the previous record of the course.
H.H. Franklin, founder of Franklin Automobile Company commented, "Automobile owners generally are coming to a realization of the fact that a heavy motor car is not the profitable one for their use. Such vehicles mean great waste of power. Their first work must always be the carrying of their own excess weight, an increased percentage of power being used in the moving of the car itself and a smaller relative amount in the actual transportation of passengers or other load. Therefore, it is the lightweight motorcar which to the greatest extent makes its power do the work for which it was intended."

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