1904 Northern Touring news, pictures, specifications, and information
This motorcar has participated in five London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs, including the 100th anniversary run in 1996. The Northern Manufacturing Company began in 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. This Touring model featured a new horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engine design and was known as the 'Silent Northern.' Another innovation incorporated fan blades attached to the fly-wheel which, the makers claimed, would eliminate 'the dust nuisance,' regardless of speed.' A good value at the time, the 18 horsepower Northern sold for $1,700 in 1904.
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 its 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

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