Pope HistoryThe Pope Manufacturing Company, founded by Colonel Albert A. Pope, produced Columbia bicycles prior to automobiles. Located in Hartford, Connecticut, it began producing vehicles in 1903 and continued until 1914 when it had entered into receivership. The vehicles it produced ranged in size and price ranges. A few of its products were the Pope-Waverly Electric, the low priced Pope Tribune, and the Pope Hartford. The Pope Toledo was the pinnacle of Pope Automobiles, being outfitted with luxurious amenities and powered by large engines. The early automobiles featured one cylinder engines producing ten horsepower. The Tonneau cover was removable and the brass trimmings gave the vehicle a distinguished and prestigious appearance. There were two forward speeds and one reverse. The steering was on the right and was able to seat four passengers.
The company averaged about 720 vehicles annually. In 1911, 693 vehicles were produced. Their vehicles were fast, reliable, and durable. They were more than a means of transportation; they were distinctive, stylish and luxurious masterpieces.
The headlamps were fueled by acetylene gas while the side lamps used kerosene fuel. These were standard on the vehicles, a feature provided by other automobile manufacturers at an additional price. The styling of the body was elegant while the interior was decorated and adorned in luxurious amenities.
The Pope-Hartford Touring Car could be purchased for $2750, depending on the options selected. Weighing in at 3260 pounds, the 229.4 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine producing 40 horsepower was capable of transporting five passengers. The ride was smooth and comfortable, thanks to the semi-elliptic leaf springs. The three-speed selective sliding transmission allowed the vehicle to cruise comfortably at 50 miles-per-hour. In 1910 a 40-horsepower Pope automobile was entered into a race that celebrated the 300th anniversary of the discovery of San Francisco. The Pope mobile emerged victorious.
At the turn of the century, Hartford was considered the automobile capital of the world. It was given this title because it was producing more than half of all motorized vehicles in the United States. Pope is credited with being the first manufacturer to mass-produce automobiles. His ability to use interchangeable parts and techniques developed for producing bicycles easily translated to the production of automobiles. However, this was not enough to compete with other rising manufacturers. Sales began to decline in 1912 and by 1915 the company was out of business.