Locomobile Company of America - Switch To Internal Combustion Engines

Switch To Internal Combustion Engines

The 1904 internal combustion Locomobile Touring Car had a tonneau, space for five passengers, and sold for US$4500, quite a change from the low-priced steam buggies. The front-mounted vertical water-cooled 'straight-4' engine produced 16 hp (11.9 kW). A 3-speed sliding transmission was fitted, as on the Système Panhard cars it competed with. The angle steel-framed car weighed 2200 lb (998 kg).

Like other early marques, Locomobile entered motor racing, contesting the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup with a 17.7-liter (1080ci) racer; after suffering a transmission gear failure, and with no spare available, driver Joe Tracy only managed two circuits of Auvergne before the transmission packed up entirely. Tracy did better for the company at the Vanderbilt Cup, placing third. A 90 hp (67 kW) 16.2-liter (989ci) F-head was sabotaged by tire trouble, so Tracy failed again in the 1906 Vanderbilt, but in 1908, George Robertson (wearing #16) took the win in this car, ahead of fellow Locomobile pilot Joe Florida in third, becoming the first United States-built car to win in international competition. This would be the high water mark for Locomobile racing, and they soon faded from the scene, though Orin Davis did score a win in the Los Angeles-Phoenix rally in 1913.

On the strength of this, Locomobile soon became known for well-built and speedy luxury cars. The 1908 Locomobile 40 Runabout was a 60 hp (44.7 kW) two-seater and sold for US$4750. (nearly $100,000 in 2006 dollars)

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