The Incomparable White

The Cleveland based industrialist, Thomas White (of the White Sewing Machine Co) is said to have purchased a Locomobile streamer which he found quite unreliable. His son, Rollin investigated the problem and ended up inventing a water tube steam generator that operated with super-heated steam. Rollin convinced his father to allow him to build automobiles and with the help of two other brothers, the company was selling cars by 1901. In 1905, the automobile business was split off and by 1910 the company had entered into production of gas-powered cars as well. They advertised steam cars in their catalog as late as 1912, but by 1918 the company had moved away from automobiles entirely. Truck production ran through 1980 when the proud brand would be absorbed by Volvo.

White famously advertised their steam cars as "The Incomparable White", however period publications show the company was eager to compare their cars against some of the finest being produced. American automobile exports started early (Locomobile was exporting cars in 1899). However, Europeans generally had a poor view of American cars - considering them crude and poorly constructed. Not all brands suffered this opinion, as an example Cadillac won the Dewer Trophy, and as we see here White was actively showing off it's superiority overseas. White's were well made and generally considered the finest production steam cars ever made (Doble would be the exception to this statement, but he produced under 50 cars total).

I find the use of the White by the Royal family fascinating. I included an advertisement claiming the fastest time between Los Angeles and San Francisco (this claim would be made by a number of companies in the early years of motoring) because I'm about to make this same journey tomorrow. I'm headed to see a couple wonderful private collections and I'll be sure to share my findings upon my return.

The Autocar, March 2nd, 1907

The Autocar, May 18th, 1907

The Autocar, May 11th, 1907

The Horseless Age, August 23rd, 1905

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