Open Roads, Fall | Lot 2062
1922 Detroit Electric Model 93
$45,000 - $55,000 USD
| St. Louis, Missouri
11 - 20 November 2020
- A rare model from an important, innovative pre-war electric marque
- Features ‘Dual Control’ drive control setup
- Spacious, comfortable fully enclosed cabin with ‘parlor’ seating
- An excellent, solid starting point for restoration
Detroit Electric was one of the longest surviving automobile manufactures dedicated solely to producing electric-powered vehicles. Prior to 1907, the company was known as the Anderson Carriage Company, and they were one of the earliest champions of battery power for their line of lightweight city cars. After re-incorporating as Detroit Electric, the firm steadily grew, experiencing respectably strong sales throughout the teens and into the twenties, with production peaking at nearly 5,000 vehicles per year.
The Detroit Electric catalog included a variety of bodies, including open touring cars and even a sporty underslung roadster. Yet the bulk of production was comprised of fully enclosed coupes and sedans. These luxurious, formally-styled closed cars were the preferred transport of well-to-do, city-dwelling women who appreciated the Detroit Electric’s silent, smoke-free, no-hassle operation. These cars’ mechanical simplicity was particularly appealing in the days before the self-starting petrol engine, when the act of simply starting a motorcar could be dangerous.
As the petrol engine evolved, however, electric car sales dwindled, and the company focused more on commercial vehicle production. Passenger cars were still offered on a special-order basis throughout the 1920s, but the outdated looks did little to attract new customers. Detroit Electric attempted to modernize their line by purchasing bodies from Willys-Overland, and later Dodge. The refresh afforded them enough sales to carry on production; remarkably, a new Detroit Electric could be ordered as late as 1939!
This 1922 Detroit Electric Coupe is a rare Model 93 “Dual Control” model, featuring separate drive controls for front or rear passengers. Typical for Detroit Electric coupes of the era, it features a spacious cabin arranged with swiveling parlor-style seating in front, and a large overstuffed bench in the rear. The parlor seats allow occupants to turn and converse with their fellow passengers, assuming they are not the one doing the driving.
As offered, this Detroit is an excellent candidate for a straightforward restoration. It is essentially complete, and the body is in good order, with items like the headlamps, cowl lamps, and exterior handles intact. Likewise, most of the original interior fittings remain in place, including both sets of throttle/steering controls, the instrument panel, and the ornate interior lights. Enough of the original upholstery material remains to provide a restorer with an easy road map or be left alone and displayed “as-found.” Batteries are not currently fitted, however, the electric motor has been recently tested and proven to function, sending power to the rear wheels via the shaft-driven axle.
With virtually all of today’s major manufacturers turning to electric and alternative fuel vehicles, we can easily say that the Detroit Electric was a machine well ahead of its time, and this charming Model 93 provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate one of the great pioneers of the American motoring industry.