1904 Northern Runabout news, pictures, specifications, and information
Runabout
Chassis Num: 1801
Sold for $55,000 at 2008 RM Auctions.
This 1904 Northern Runabout, powered by a 106 cubic-inch, horizontal single-cylinder engine produces 6.5 horsepower. It has a two-speed planetary transmission with single chain drive. There is a solid front axle and live rear axle, single longitudinal leaf spring on each side, and mechanical brakes on the transmission. It wears an older restoration; the engine was rebuilt several years ago. It has been formally dated as 1904 by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, and has participated in the London-to-Brighton Run.

In 2008 this car was brought to the 2nd Annual Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $40,000 - $50,000. It was offered without reserve. Bidding surpassed the estimated value, settling at $55,000 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
Runabout
Chassis Num: 2181
Sold for $68,750 at 2013 RM Auctions.
The Northern Company began producing vehicles in 1901 and it boasted the engineering expertise of Jonathan Maxwell and the business sense of Charles Brady King. King had built the first automobile to be run on the streets of the Motor City in 1896.

The original Northern was similar in design to a 'Curved Dash' Oldsmobile. This was understandable as both King and Maxwell had worked for R.E. Olds. The engineering component of the Northern was vastly improved, with a single-cylinder engine that Maxwell had developed. Its ease of operation and quiet running helped it earn the nickname of 'The Silent Northern.'

Chassis Number 2181
This Northern Runabout is powered by a 6.5-inch horsepower engine mated to a two-speed planetary transmission. There are semi-elliptic leaf springs and rear-wheel mechanical brakes. It rests on a wheelbase that measures 67 inches.

This car was formerly owned by Merrell Jones before being acquired by the Edwards family in 1991. The Edwards restored the car in their own personal shop. It has its original body panels and trim components, black leather cape top, upholstery, and tires.

The car was awarded an AACA Junior/Senior Award in 1992, and it won the Grand Champion Award for pre-1916 automobiles at the Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village. It has successfully competed in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in England.

The car was later acquired by the John O'Quinn Collection.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2013
Charles Bradley King and Jonathan D. Maxwell were responsible for the creation of the Northern automobile. Maxwell would later become a well-known name as a line of automobiles would later bear it name. King would not experience that same level of fame, though he is remembered for being the first person to drive an internal combustion car on the streets of Detroit.

King was the engineer; he had an engineering degree from Cornell and had moved to Detroit in 1891. Four-years after moving to Detroit, he formed the American Motor League to promote good roads. His first car was created in 1896 which he immediately drove on the streets much to the dismay of other travelers. The new contraption was loud - as was most other vehicles of the time - and disturbed the horse drawn carriages. Henry Ford's first vehicle was built three months after Kings.

King later switched to marine engines and then enlisted in the Navy during the Spanish-American War.

King and Maxwell worked at the Olds Motor Works in 1900. Two years later they were recruited by a group of businessmen and the Northern Manufacturing Company was formed. The 'Silent Northern' was soon introduced. Since both individuals had worked at Olds, it was not surprising that much of the design and mechanical components were similar to an Olds. It had long leaf springs that ran from the front to the rear and securing both axles. Power was from a single-cylinder horizontal water-cooled engine with integral transmission. The engine displaced two liters and provided about five horsepower. The cost to own was $800, making it more expensive than the Olds. The Olds would outsell the Northern.

In 1903, Maxwell was lured away be Benjamin Briscoe and the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company in Tarrytown, New York was formed. The Maxwell car was introduced in 1905.

King remained at Northern, continually improving the capabilities of the car. A twin-cylinder, shaft drive unit, followed by a four-cylinder engine in 1906 followed. By 1907, the single-cylinder cars were discontinued. King left Northern in 1908 but by then, the company was in precarious shape. It was soon taken over by the Wayne Automobile Company, which in turn was quickly acquired by E-M-F.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
 
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Single-Cylinder Runabout

Image Left 1903 Runabout
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