The Corbin Motor Vehicle Company

A Corbin in the process of restoration - circa 1955 (from the collection of the author)

I recently had a few pictures scanned from some undeveloped film Dad had shot as a Kid in the 1950s. Among the pictures was this Corbin. The Corbin is not a make see often these days and when I was growing up there was only one in the area - a fantastic yellow speedster own by John Lothrop. I had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Lothrop many years ago (he's now deceased) and viewing his cars. All  packed tight in the basement of his home were his Corbin, a Jeffery Touring car, a very interesting Autocar, and lovely boat-tailed Hispano-Suiza. 

The Corbin Motor Vehicle Company of New Britain, Connecticut appears to have introduced their first cars around 1903. The Horseless Age of November 25, 1904 states "The Corbin Motor Vehicle Co, of New Britain, Conn., will soon move into the old plant of the New Britain Knitting Co. The company expect to make a small car of medium price as well as their touring car, during 1905." According to the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal of the time, the Corbin Motor Vehicle Company was controlled by the American Hardware Corporation. The founder and president of the American Hardware Corporation, Philip Corbin, giving the brand it's name. It turns out that New Britain was know as the "Hardware Capital of the World" or "Hardware City" at the time, with companies such as The Stanley Works (Stanley Tools) located there. It's import not to confuse this enterprise with the Jones-Corbin Company of Philadelphia - later re-organized at the Corbin Automobile Company. Early Corbins were air-cooled, similar to the Knox engine of the same vintage. In fact, Corbin had acquired the patent rights to J.H. Jones' air-cooled engine design. Jones would leave Corbin in 1904 and go to Knox as chief engineer. Corbin would eventually adopt a water-cooled engine design and promote it's cars through racing. The company placed second in the 1908 Dead Horse Hill Climb (Worcester, MA) and entered the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race (Long Island, NY). However, Corbin was unable to expand it's manufacturing capabilities and would end production in 1912.

I can't confirm that the car pictured ended up with Lothrop, but it wouldn't surprise me. Mr. Lothrop's Corbin still resides in New England.

The former John Lothrop Hispano-Suiza today (from the collection of the author)


  1. Had the pleasure of showing the Seal Cove Auto Museum's 1909 Corbin Model O Tonneau Touring at the Klingberg Vintage Motorcar Festival in 2010. Lothrup was there with his Corbin and the ex James Melton Corbin was there as well. It was the largest assemblage of Corbins ever put together, thanks to Corbin expert and show organizer, Mark H. Johnson.

  2. My grandfather, John Lothrop, only had the one Corbin - his 1911, that you mention in your post. It is still in New England. Here's an old picture of it that I found online -