After selling its automobile business in 1907, the Reliance Automobile Mfg. Co. concentrated on trucks for two years. General Motors purchased the truck portion of the firm and former Reliance president Fred O. Paige decided to re-enter the automobile business. He was joined by coal merchant Harry M. Jewett, whose investment helped build the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Co. Sales struggled by 1927 when the Graham brothers purchased the company, after which it became the Graham-Paige Motors Corp. A transition line of 1928 Paiges debuted in August, which would be the last cars so badged.
Harry Jewett was a coal company owner who'd ridden in a two-stroke, three-cylinder car from Fred Paige's Reliance Motor Company and got the auto magnate bug. He bought in and reorganized it as the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company. They started with a two-seater in 1909 powered by a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine, but four-stroke, four- and six-cylinder models were soon added to the lineup.
In 1919, they planned a new series with a more powerful engine, known as the '6-66' series. To highlight the '6-66' series, they built this first 'speedster,' without the Daytona name. A racing version, driven by Ralph Mulford, set a world speed record (102.83 mph) for its class. Hence, the name 'Daytona Speedster' was used for the following 50 production cars. They were advertised as the 'World's Fasests Car.'
This example is the original show car. Special features include disc wheels, Westinghouse air springs, special dashboard layout, and a mother-in-law seat, all on a long wheelbase chassis. Over the years, through mergers and acquisitions, Paige-Detroit became a part of what is now known as Daimler-Chrysler.
The Daytona Speedster was powered by a Continental six-cylinder, 331.4 cubic-inch motor that developed approximately 100 horsepower.
The Paige Automobile Company was formed by Harry M. Jewett, a wealthy coal company owner. He had taken a ride in a two-stroke, three-cylinder car that had been created by the Reliance Motor Company. The president of the company was Fred Paige. Jewett purchased the company, reorganized it as the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company (based in Detroit, MI), and established Fred Paige as its president. Paige would remain as president for only a short period, as he was later forced out after several production problems arose. The 'Detroit' portion of the name was dropped in 1911, after Jewett had shut down production, fired many of the employees, and re-organized the company.
Their first vehicle was a two-seater vehicle powered by a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine that displaced 2.2-liters. A few years later, a four-stroke, four-cylinder model was offered. A six-cylinder unit became available by 1914. Four-cylinders would be apart of the Paige line-up until 1916, when the company focused solely on their 3.7 and 4.9-liter sixes.
The company's most famous automobile was the Paige Daytona, built between 1922 through 1926. It was a sporty, 6-liter car that (in proper guise) set many speed records. The engines were Continental units that had a stroke of 5-inches and a bore that measured 3.75-inches. The block and cylinder head were constructed from iron while the crankcase was from lightweight aluminum. The crankshaft featured adjustable pressure oil feed driven by a gear pump that provided the lubrication. It engines breathed through Rayfield carburetors, had an L-head design, and had fully-enclosed and lubricated valves. Equally impressive were the gearboxes, which were among the finest built of the era. They were three-speed Warner non-synchromesh units that had a reputation for their ease of use, reliability, and quietness.
The Daytona 6-66 Speedsters were advertised as the 'World's Fastest Car'. Their claim was reinforced when a stripped production car exceeded 100 miles per hour at the Daytona sand-beach track. In doing so, it broke every stock car record for speed after traveling a mile in a mere 35.01 seconds at a speed of 102.8 miles an hour.
A low-cost alternative was also produced, called the Jewett.
Following on the coat-tails of its sporty sibling, an eight-cylinder unit was added in 1927.
The Graham brothers were successful businessman who had made a sizeable fortune in the manufacture of glass bottles. They later began building kits for modifying vehicles into trucks. This led to the manufacture of their own line of trucks which was later purchased by Dodge in 1925.
In 1927, the Graham brothers purchased the Paige-Detroit Motor Company for four million dollars. The following year, Paige-Detroit cars became known as Graham-Paiges. For several years, trucks were added to the lineup, but this was short-lived as Dodge had a non-competition agreement with the Graham Brothers which meant Paige-Detroit had to cease production of trucks.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2008