Long before there were cars, carriages were made in the town of Watertown, NY. For half a century before Ford, Chevrolet and the likes, there was the H.H. Babcock Company building carriages. Starting in 1909, they became one of the many manufacturers that began producing gasoline powered vehicles. For them, production was only four years. George Babcock had his own automotive department set up in April 1908. At the same time, work began on a prototype , with which 5000 miles (over 8000 km) were covered in the winter of 1908/1909. It was an easy-to-build, carriage-like highwheeler that appeared in two versions in 1909: as Model A High Wheel Buggy Runabout and Model B High Wheel Surrey. Both had two-cylinder engines with 18 hp (according to the calculation method used at the time), huge coach wheels with a diameter of 914 mm (36 inches) and solid rubber tires. The two-seater Model A had a wheelbase of 83 inches, the Model B, 13 inches more. The rather high price of US $1,050 on the Model A and Model B of $1,250 Babcock justified by stating that the vehicle was not an ordinary highwheeler, but a "real" car, only with extra large wheels. Both models remained in the range in 1910.
It seems that Babcock had realized that this market would collapse. New, solid automobiles at ever lower prices, such as those offered by Ford, Buick or Rambler, made the clumsy highwheelers unattractive, and Babcock even more had a problem with the more expensive representatives of this type. A new, more modern model was therefore used and by the following year there was no longer any high wheelers available from Babcock.
Their expertise was in autobody design and went on to produce both car and truck bodies for the likes of Ford, Dodge, Lincoln and even a few for Dusenberg. Due primarily to financial mis-management, the company folded in July of 1926. It should be noted that they were not part of the Babcock Electric Company out of Buffalo, NY, which designed and produced electric cars in the early 1900's.
This particular Babcock was purchased new in 1909 and remained in the same family to this day. It is an excellent example of the quality, engineering and workmanship done a century ago. Original advertisements for Babcock vehicles can be found at this link.
- Year Built: 1909
- Vehicle Type: Model A High Wheel Buggy Runabout
- Built By: Babcock Company
- Suspension: Leaf Springs front and rear
- Engine: 2 cylinder opposed engine 18 HP
- Owner: On loan to WOODLAND Auto Display