The Daniels Motor Company and their Model D-19

1921 Daniels Eight Submarine Speedster (from the collection of the author)

The story of George Daniels (1877-1954) is a fascinating tale and the car that bears his name is a wonderful testament to his automotive legacy. George was educated as a lawyer, but left to head the Buick Motor Car Co.'s distribution in eastern Pennsylvania. According to, William Durant, Buick's owner at the time, took a liking to Daniels and the two remained lifelong friends. George left GM to start his own automobile company around 1915. Originally planned to be manufactured in Pontiac, MI, Daniels ended up finding financial backers in PA and Reading (3rd Street and Lebanon Vally R.R.) was chosen as the manufacturing location. The early cars featured a Herchell-Spillman supplied V-8. The company used bodies initially supplied by the Keystone Vehicle Co., a firm that was eventually taken over by the Daniels Motor Co. (these buildings appear to still exist).

In 1920, Daniels Motor Company introduced it's own V-8 in the model D. Although over seven body styles were offered, the most notable was the Submarine Speedster, of which 100 examples were constructed between 1920 and 1922.

The car pictured here (taken at Hershey a few years ago) is the only known surviving Submarine Speedster (this is a 1921 model D-19). Powered by Daniel's 464 cubic-inch V-8, the engine is said to produce 90 hp. There are a handful of Daniels cars that survive, and Daniels was always a small scale manufacturer - annual production was listed at 750 cars in 1922. Forced into bankruptcy in January 1923, when George's largest shareholder liquidated his stock, a year later the assets of the company were sold to Philadelphia-based Levene Motors Co. who specialized in buying out bankrupt manufacturers to acquire their replacement parts business. The January 17, 1924 issue of The Automobile (Automotive Industries) reporting: "The Levene Motor Co. of this city has bought at receivers' sale the entire plant of the Daniels Motor Co. of Reading, Pa., for $90,000, subject to a $50,000 mortgage."

It is said that Durant learned of Daniels embarrassment and offered him a job at Locomobile, appointing him general manager then later vice-president. 

Daniels factory and test car

1 comment:

  1. The Daniels did not have a radiator badge - the only identification was the letter "D" on the hubcaps.