Phelps Motor Vehicle Company was a manufacturer of automobiles in Stoneham, Massachusetts, between 1903 and 1905. In 1906 it was succeeded by the Shamut Motor Company.[1][2]

Phelps Motor Vehicle Company
Founded1903; 121 years ago (1903)
FounderElliott C. Lee, Lucius J. Phelps
Defunct1905; 119 years ago (1905)
SuccessorShawmut Motor Company
Production output
Unknown (1903-1905)

History edit

Background edit

1901 Phelps Tractor steam-powered tricycle from L J Phelps, New Brunswick, NJ advertisement in the Horseless Age magazine

Lucius J. Phelps was an inventor and an electrical and mechanical engineer who first came to prominence in 1886 for his Induction Telegraph patent that was developed for trains to receive live telegraph messages while moving.[3][4] In the late 1890's he became interested in steam powered vehicles and in 1901 marketed the Phelps Tractor. The steam tractor was designed to be controlled by horse rains so that a coachman could operate it. As Phelps Motor Company, Phelps then began developing a gasoline engine.[5]

Phelps Motor Car edit

In 1903 Phelps Motor Company became Phelps Motor Vehicle Company with Elliott C. Lee as president and L. J. Phelps as general manager.[6] The 1903 Phelps was a touring car model, equipped with a tonneau. It could seat 4 passengers and sold for $2,000, equivalent to $67,822 in 2023. L. J. Phelps designed the vertically mounted water-cooled straight-3 engine, situated at the front of the car, producing 15 hp (11 kW; 15 PS). A 3-speed transmission was fitted. The car was unusual in that it did not have a parameter frame but a backbone frame that enclosed the drive shaft, and this weight savings made for a 1,500 lb (680 kg) touring car. In 1904 the engine was enlarged to 20-hp and the price was $2,500, equivalent to $84,778 in 2023.[1][2]

Motorsports edit

L. J. Phelps descending Mt. Washington after his record climb in his 1903 model 15-hp Phelps

Phelps demonstrated his car in several endurance runs and hill climbs including a 1903 record 1 hour and 46 minute climb up Mount Washington.[7][8] He returned in 1904 for the first Climb to the Clouds and cut his time to 42 minutes, placing second in his class.[9][10] The Phelps motor car won a double victory in the1903 Eagle Rock, N.J. Hill Climb.[8]

Fate edit

L. J. Phelps designed a 4-cylinder engine but in September 1905 decided to retire to his Forty Oaks Ranch in Paradise, California.[11] The company and manufacturing plant were succeeded by the Shawmut Motor Company headed by E. C. Lee in 1906.[1][2] Lucius Phelps continued to patent automotive and other devices until his death at the age of 75 in 1925.[12]

Models edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Kimes, Beverly Rae; Clark Jr., Henry Austin (1996). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942 (3rd ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-87341-428-9.
  2. ^ a b c Georgano, Nick (2001). The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (3 vol. ed.). Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.
  3. ^ Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review. 1886.
  4. ^ The Electrician. James Gray. 1886.
  5. ^ Horseless Age: The Automobile Trade Magazine. Horseless age Company. 1899.
  6. ^ The Motor World. Motor World Publishing Company. 1902.
  7. ^ The Automobile Magazine. United States Industrial Publishing Company. 1903.
  8. ^ a b The Automobile. Class Journal Company. 1903.
  9. ^ The Horseless Age. Horseless Age Company. 1904.
  10. ^ Motor. Hearst Corporation. 1903.
  11. ^ The Pacific. J.W. Douglas. 1908.
  12. ^ "New York Times July 16, 1925". The New York Times. July 16, 1925. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-10-12.