Strange, that the technology being pursued by modern automobile manufacturers were very popular at the dawn of the automobile industry. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, steam and electric were popular options for powering the horseless carriage. The internal combustion engine did have its advantages and many automobile producers chose it as their power-source, but its future in history was uncertain. It was a dirty technology and it was the source of many accidents. Starting the vehicle by hand often resulted in broken limbs. The electric automobile, however, was simple, quiet and clean. It was not until the invention of the electric starter, that gasoline became the supreme choice.
The Detroit Electric Car Company produced more electric automobiles than any other American passenger car company. This Model 57 Electric Brougham is powered by an 84-volt DC motor that provides 4.3 horsepower. There is a five-speed controller and two-wheel mechanical brakes.
It is believed that the motor is from 1916. Company records show that this vehicle left the factory as a Duplex Drive Extended Brougham, Model 60. The Brougham body is of the four-passenger type used from 1915 to 1918, and this car, built on the heavy, Type A chassis used for Models 51, 54, 57 and 59, is believed to be a Model 57.
The car wears an older restoration and has been upholstered in light blue cord cloth with matching blue carpet. The seating is vis-a-vis fashion, with front passengers facing aft and the driver is in the full-width seat at the rear. There is a fixed aft-facing cushion at the left front and a swivel chair in the opposing space.
This car was purchased by the current owner in 2008 from the James Cousens' Cedar Crossing Collection. Previous owners include John McMullen and Dr. Arthur Schultz.
In 2011, this vehicle was offered for sale at the Amelia Island sale presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $40,000 - $60,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had found a new owner for the sum of $52,250 inclusive of buyer's premium.