1-1/2 hp, 24-volt Elwell-Parker DC motor, five-speed controller, double chain drive, full-elliptic spring suspension, and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 67.5 in.
• Offered from the estate of John O’Quinn
• Rare survivor of an early model
• Formerly in renowned James Melton Collection
The names “Columbia,” “Columbian,” and “Columbus” have been used so often on automobiles that the cars are frequently confused with one another. That’s true even in the subspecies of electrics, where we find all three variants. Most familiar is Colonel Albert Pope’s Columbia Electric, whose parent company served as the weapon for enforcing Selden Patents. The Columbian Electric was built in Detroit from 1914 to 1917, and it passed from view almost unnoticed. This car, however, has a longer and more illustrious pedigree, arising from the Columbus Buggy Company in the Ohio city of the same name. As the name implies, the company began with horse-drawn transport, switching to automobiles in 1903. It managed to survive the slump in electric car sales that occurred around 1906 and prevailed until the second waning, after 1915.
This car spent the 1940s in the collection of the renowned performing artist James Melton, “America’s Favorite Tenor.” It was listed as a 1904 car in the catalogue of his Norwalk, Connecticut museum. It was subsequently owned by George de la Plaine in New Jersey, and was purchased by Lloyd Gano of Los Altos, California, in 1964. He and Mrs. Gano used it in parades and on tours, writing about it in the Horseless Carriage Gazette in 1978, “This little electric car is a joy to drive on a nice warm day when there is plenty of time for the trip.” Mr. Gano conducted extensive research on the car, including correspondence with the Elwell-Parker Company, who had made the motor. The company conclusively dated it as from March 1906.
John O’Quinn obtained the car from James Cousens’ renowned Cedar Crossing Collection of electric cars. The older restoration now appears as a time warp, with ancient green paint and a tattered top but with the Melton monogram “M” still proudly on the body. A unique piece of history, this car is truly one of a kind.