The Great Chadwick "Six" Runabout

1910 Chadwick Great Six Runabout when owned by Bill Pollock

While in Northern California I had the great pleasure of viewing both of the authentic, surviving Chadwick cars. The 1910 Chadwick Six Runabout was in the process of reassembly after a mechanical refreshing - preparation for an upcoming tour. In speaking with the mechanic, he noted that the runabout had been well used over its lifetime and past efforts to repair the car simply weren't up today's standards.

The Chadwick Engineering Works, founded and run by the brilliant engineer Lee Chadwick, were located in Pottstown, PA when this car was produced. Chadwick had started manufacturing automobile components in 1904 / 1905 under the name Fairmont Engineering Works (His patent for a gear lever was recorded in 1904). The Horseless Age of May 31, 1905 notes the company's leaflet for a gasoline filter - the company's address is listed as 2652 Callowhill Street in Philadelphia. The Horseless Age of December 27, 1905 features the first Chadwick car, a four cylinder (40hp) Touring, manufactured under the name Fairmont Engineering Works - their address is listed as 3207 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia. By 1907 they had introduced the "Great Six", and a need for more space necessitated a move, 32 miles northwest to Pottstown (on the Schuylkill River), where a new factory was built in 1907. The Automobile of September 19, 1907 reported that work on the new plant in Pottstown was being rushed and the company expected it to be in operation by November (South Keim Street). Apparently, the company was looking to clear some back stock prior to the move, as the The Automobile of July 4, 1907 shows an advertisement stating: "Chadwick 1907 cars are all sold. We want to clean up for 1908 business, and offer the following at prices which should sell them at once: 1906 Chadwick 50-hp, brand new; 1906 Chadwick 50-hp, refinished like new; both cars guaranteed one year; one Panhard 20-passenger wagonette; one 24-hp Locomobile."

In a fascinating article in The Carriage Monthly of October, 1909, the same fastidious precision Lee Chadwick used in designing his cars is also seen in the systems employed to run his factory. The article illustrates the process used to manage the works along with the paperwork employed to track it all. I believe Lee Chadwick left his namesake company around 1911 for reasons that are not completely clear to me. The company would go out of business in 1917. Interestingly, the State Highway Department of Pennsylvania's Jan. 1917 Motor Vehicle Registrations and Licenses still showed two cars registered to the Chadwick Engineering Works at the time (X4696 & X4697).

Bill Pollock, an early collector who had a museum in Pottstown, found both the surviving Chadwick cars - I believe the runabout was found right there in Pottstown. Pollock restored the cars in the early 1950s with input from Lee Chadwick himself - long out of the automobile business but still living at the time. The cars have stayed together and circulated through some fantastic collections, including John Mozart and Richard Paine's Seal Cove Museum (the cars are now back in California). This 1910 runabout would have sold for $6500.00 and has a four-speed selective gear transaxle and 60 hp six cylinder engine (bore of 5 inches and a stroke of 6 inches).

The engine of the Chadwick Runabout

The Chadwick runabout when in the Pollock museum in Pottstown, PA (photo credit: Pollock Auto Restoration)

photo credit: photo credit: Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, March 1, 1908

photo credit: Motor Age, June 3, 1909

10 comments:

  1. Hi, Could you please inform me of where I could find the two surving Chadwick cars ? I have lost track of them since they left the Seal Cove Museum. Any information would be appreciated! My e mail is 74440mopar@hotmail.com. Thanks

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  2. Thanks for following the blog. The cars are together in a private collection in Northern California.

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  3. Hi my names ryan chadwick im from conowingo md and im related to the company owners that made the chadwick cars and would really like to know a name or phone number for the new owner in northern California plz thanks for your time.

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  4. You can email me at vintagemotoring@gmail.com

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  5. Nice article, Bill Pollock is my grandfather, great to see the cars still being cared for! Deep history of these 2 cars in our family!

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  6. Thanks for your comments. I'd love to hear the story of how Bill found these cars. Do you know?
    You can email at vintagemotoring@gmail.com.

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  7. Steve, As other posts have said, one of the cars was found either in or around Pottstown, However The other was just a rusted heap found somewhere in the midwest. I grew up in Pottstown and my family was close to the Pollocks. I have had the pleasure of riding in both those automobiles when I was a youngster.
    It was a memorable event because i have just turned 70 and remember the rides. Bill Pollocks son could be a more exacting source if you are looking for more information. He can be reached at Mayer Pollock Steel Corporation, Pottstown, PA . His name is Mayer Pollock II

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  8. Albert Mitchell, my grandfather, raced for the Chadwick Engineering Works in Pottstown, PA, I have a photo of him in car #25 during a race in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. When I heard about Pollock Museum I called Bill Pollock and I was pleased to find that he recognized my grandfather's name. I arranged a visit to the museum with some of the family in the late 1970s with my mother and aunt, two of his daughters. I regret never hearing or seeing one of these big 6s running! Does anyone know if there are any videos out there of a running Chadwick?

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    1. Ray, As a Chadwick enthusiast I would very much like to talk with you. Please contact Steve at Vintage Motoring (see above for e-mail address). He has my contact information.

      Doug Marin

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    2. The Chadwicks left the Seal Cove in 2008, but we do have a Seachmont that Lee Chadwick developed the engine for. Bill Pollock also found the Searchmont (only two known to exist.) It can be seen at the Seal Cove Auto Museum.
      curator@sealcoveautomuseum.org

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