1909 Stoddard-Dayton Tours London

1909 Stoddard-Dayton touring London (from the collection of the author)

This postcard, showing the pride of Dayton, Ohio's Dayton Motor Car Company, the Stoddard-Dayton, appears to be taken in London. Upon careful examination, the building in the background looks to be Britain's House of Commons (or Parliament Building). Could this shot be taken from the Victoria Tower Gardens?

The Stoddard name was already well established and respected within Dayton. It was John Stoddard's farm implements business that put Dayton on the map as a center for industrial production. Together with his son Charles, the two would turn to automobile manufacturing in 1905. In 1907, they would introduce an engine of their own design and by 1909 they manufactured most all components for their cars within thier own factory complex. 

I believe this car to be a Model 9K, Detachable Tonneau. The largest of the line that year, the car featured a 4-cylinder, 45 horsepower engine on a 120 inch wheelbase and sold for $2700.00. Stoddard-Dayton also sold this Detachable Tonneau style on their 35 horsepower - Model 9C - chassis. The company had North American representatives spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to Texas, however I could find no reference to a London agent? It is certainly possible that a wealthy family brought over their Stoddard-Dayton for a European tour (no uncommon at the time).

The company earned a reputation for fast, reliable cars - competing (and winning) many tests of endurance and speed. Unfortunately, the Stoddard's made an error in judgment when they decided to merge with the recently formed United States Motor Company in 1910. The brain child of Benjamin Briscoe, the company was an effort to consolidate many automotive brands, a prevailing movement in the industry at the time. United States Motor Company would buy up 11 companies - including, Maxwell, Columbia, and Brush - before going bankrupt in 1913. A reorganized Maxwell would buy up the assets but the Stoddard-Dayton name was never revived. A few years later the Maxwell board would entice Walter Chrysler to lead the company. With a deal that allowed Chrysler to gain controlling interest, he would found the Chrysler Corporation and retire the Maxwell name.

Blog reader Ariejan Bos has added the following:

References to the presence of Stoddard-Dayton in Europe are scarce: according to the "List of Motor Cars 1908-1914" (accessible through the site of Grace's Guide) Stoddard (no suffix!) was present in the UK from 1912 on. However I have a photo of a Stoddard from a 1911 English magazine (probably The Graphic, but no exact date), so they were available earlier but how much remains unclear.

Although I first thought it was an early 'photoshop' because of the vague contours of the buildings, the photo was made in London indeed: the lamp is clearly a London Embankment example. Looking at the angle from which we see the Parliament buildings, the photo must have been shot from across the Thames, roughly along the Albert Embankment near Lambeth Bridge.

As always thanks for your always interesting blog!

Motor Age, September 10, 1908


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