The Northern Automobile Company was launched in Michigan in 1902 by two veterans of the Olds Motor Works - Jonathan Maxwell and Charles King. The Northern was one of the first automobiles to adopt left hand steering and shaft drive. The 1906 Northern featured air-operated brakes and clutch. For 1908, all controls were mounted on the steering column.
Not long after this car was built, the Northern Automobile Company merged with another Michigan automobile manufacturer, the Wayne Automobile Co., and both were eventually acquired by E-M-F.
This two-cylinder, 260 cubic-inch, 24 horsepower Northern was restored by its owner and is driven extensively on vintage automobile tours throughout the United States.
In 1902 Charles B. King and Jonathan Maxwell created the Northern Manufacturing Company. Though the automobile industry was in its infancy both of these individuals had already compiled a resume of automotive experience. Both had worked for R. E. Olds and King is considered the first person to have ever driven on the streets of Detroit with an automobile. He was the chief designer at Oldsmobile but left the company after the 1901 fire at the plant.
Maxwell had produced a single-cylinder 5 horsepower engine which was used to power the new Northern automobiles. The design was similar to that of the Oldsmobile's and with the relatively advanced engine, the vehicles gained a reputation as 'Silent Northern.'
In 1903 the company produced 300 examples of the runabout. In 1904 the company expanded their offerings with the introduction of a twin-cylinder Touring model. This was also the same year that Maxwell left the company, joined forces with Benjamin Briscoe, and set-off to build their own version of the automobile.
Unique features of the Northern automobile were shaft drive, left-hand steering and air-operated brakes. By 1908, all operating controls could be found on the steering column of the limousine model.
In 1906, the company changed its name to Northern Motor Car Company. The following year, another plant was opened in Port Huron focusing on two-cylinder cars. The Detroit plant produced the four-cylinder cars.
In 1908, the company merged with the Wayne Automobile Company, and soon thereafter E-M-F took over the plants and equipment of both Northern and Wayne.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2014