The Martin Wasp

The Halls in the Bill Gregg built Martin Wasp (from the collection of the author)

The photo seen here was taken by Dad in 1953 climbing the hill to the Princeton (MA) meet. The story of Karl H. Martin - the car's namesake - is wonderfully told here: http://www.coachbuilt.com/des/m/martin/martin.htm.

Although two restorations (or recreations, depending on your view) of the Martin Wasp cars were created, the car pictured here is believed to be the car built from original parts purchased from Karl Martin in 1947 by Bill Gregg.  Gregg would sell the finished car to Mrs. Glade Hall of Florence, MA in 1949. I believe it is the Hall family seen in this picture, diving the car.

The story, as recounted here from Coachbuilt.com, starts with Karl's father Dr. Truman Martin of Buffalo, NY. Dr. Martin is said to be one of the earliest purchasers of an automobile in Buffalo (a Columbia Electric) and the first person in the United State to have purchased automobile insurance (from a Travelers Insurance Company agent in Hartford, CT). Dr. Martin invested in many automobile related enterprises and encouraged his son Karl to join the industry. After passing on Yale and investing in the booming oil business, Karl moved to New York City and became an independent automobile designer (designing bodies for wealthy New York clients and automobile showrooms). Most of his work ended up on European chassis, though no known examples of his Manhattan coachwork are though to survive. 

Karl would relocate to Chicago, serve in WWI, and end up designing the Roamer line between 1916 and 1918. Karl eventually got the idea of starting his own automobile company and moved to Bennington, VT where he brought in two local investors to fund the enterprise. The prototype Wasp was ready in time for the 1920 New York Automobile Show and an estimated 11 four-cylinder cars and 3 six-cylinder cars are thought to have been built between 1919 and 1925. The Martin-Wasp Corporation was dissolved in 1932 and reorganized as the Martin Shops which manufacturing cast metal and wood products into the 1940s. Karl H. Martin kept all of the leftover parts used in the manufacture of the Wasp and it was from this stock that Bill Gregg built the car seen here.

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