Page 1 of 1 In 1899 publishing mogul John Brisben Walker and his millionaire neighbour Amzi Lorenzo Barber bought the Stanley Steamer company. They retained the services of the Stanley brothers for at least a year for continuity. The one immediate change was the new name on the radiator of the Steamers; Locomobile. Steam engined cars were after all the locomotives of the road. Within a few years the two partners had a fall out and decided to part company. At first Walker looked like he had the better deal by taking the majority of the assets, leaving Barber with the original factory and the Locomobile name. Walker continued building cars under the name Mobile, but by 1902 was forced to close his door. Under new management of Barber's son-in-law Samuel Davis Locomobile thrived. The most important decision was to abandon the steam engine in 1904.
Instrumental in the success of Locomobile were the designs of Andrew Lawrence Riker, who built his first car at the age of 16 in 1884. His first car for Locomobile used a four cylinder internal combustion engine. It did so well that Barber decided to sell the Steamer patents back to the Stanley brothers. In the following years Locomobile built luxurious street cars that were aimed at the richest of clients. Additionally Riker developed some absolutely massive racing cars and in 1908 Locomobile became the first American manufacturer to win the highly prestigious Vanderbilt Cup. In those years the company gained the reputation for producing 'The Best Built Car in America.'
Locomobile's most famous model was launched in 1911. It was dubbed the Model M 48, referring the output of the engine. Penned by Riker, the all new engine featured three pairs of cylinders to create a six inline. The valves were operated by two lateral camshafts. The first version displaced just under 7 litre and as mentioned earlier produced 48 bhp. Within two years, the engine was enlarged to a staggering 8.6 litre. The output grew to 90 bhp. All that power was needed as the massive chassis was constructed from the finest materials like bronze, aluminium, brass and steel. High quality and comfort were paramount for Locomobile and every inch of the M 48 reflected that.
Like most luxury cars of the day, the Locomobiles were equipped with a wide variety of custom coachwork. Thanks to the size of the M 48 chassis, it could be bodied with anything from sporty torpedos to large four door sedans. The six cylinder Locomobile was popular with the rich and famous and the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille owned them. In September of 1915 the fortunes of the company suddenly turned; its president Samuel Davis died at the young age of 42. His replacement made some fatal mistakes and in 1919 the company was bought by Mercer. It did not improve the situation for Locomobile and by 1929 production ceased. In eight distinguishable 'series' the Model 48 remained in production until 1925, making it by far the most successful Locomobile. Page 1 of 1