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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Automobile Salon


The New York Times
December 4, 1922

Automobile Salon in Hotel Commodore Ballroom Has 90 Models by 27 Builders.


The French Voisin Makes Its First Appearance In This Country—Prices Run to $16,000.

With the best representation of foreign cars seen here since the outbreak of the war and some of the finest bodies for motor vehicles ever designed by American coach builders, the Automobile Salon, which might be appropriately defined as America's international automobile show, opened last night in the ballroom of the Hotel Commodore.  Six European nations with fourteen automotive builders vied with thirteen American firms in displaying not only the latest engine features for operating ease and comfort, but the most luxurious and artistic effects in body design and fittings.  These products were well presented in ninety open and closed body models, including eleven stripped chassis, all but two of which were from foreign lands.

One of the noticeable features, apart from the universal excellence of workmanship, was the gradual increase in the use of brakes on all four wheels, especially in many of the higher priced foreign cars, and which has been adopted here by the Duesenberg and the new Rubay, a striking four-cylinder car just brought out in Cleveland.  Another factor very apparent in the foreign types is greatly improved spring suspension, the springs being longer and evidently much stronger than hitherto.  The straight edge eight-cylinder motor is more in evidence, being well exemplified on the sturdy Isotta Fraschini cars from Italy, in the American Duesenberg and in the newest Panhard from France equipped with the first Knight sleeve valve motor ever made in the eight-cylinder type.

In body designs, while all are beautiful in outward appearance with palatial interiors for the closed models, the French Voisin cars shown in America for the first time present, perhaps, the most novel characteristics.  The Voisin is a new automobile for America.  There are only eight or ten in use.  The two on exhibition are fresh from the French factory, one being a town car and the other being a small sedan, the bodies being of French make.  In the sedan the double plate glass windows on either side can be folded back and dropped into a panel within the door.  The outward door closes over the dropped windows, holding them tightly so that there is no vibration, and the sedan is transformed into a typical open touring car, the top of which is collapsible.  The same folding window system is applicable to the town car, where not only the side windows but a section of the windshield may be folded back or dropped into the door panel at will.

The Voisin, by the way, is a four-cylinder car.  It is said to be the smallest engine with the Knight sleeve valves.  The cars on exhibition have a wheelbase of 140 inches and the price of the complete car is a little less than $11,000, undoubtedly the highest price four cylinder car on the market.

Beside the Voisin and the Panhard, France is represented by the Hotchkiss and the six-cylinder Hispano-Suiza.  There is also on exhibition a four-cylinder Hispano-Suiza made in the factory in Spain.  Italy has three makes, the eight-cylinder Isotta Fraschini, shown in eight body models, the Fiat of which only the "baby" four-cylinder is shown in an open and closed body, and the Lancia, shown in the new eight-cylinder chassis made by lining up two four-cylinder motors at a very narrow angle.  Germany presents the Benz and the Mercedes, Belgium is represented by the standard Minerva, and England shows the Lanchester, Sunbeam and the Rolls Royce, although as the Rolls Royce cars on exhibition came from the American factory at Springfield, Mass., they might qualify as American productions.

The thirteen American makes, shown both by local agencies and by body builders, include the Brewster, Locomobile, Rubay, Duesenberg, Cunningham, Winton, Cadillac, Packard, Peerless, Marmon, Lincoln, Daniels and Lafayette.

The newest American car is the Rubay, designed by Leon Rubay, which is built in Cleveland.  It is a compact four-cylinder car on a chassis of 118-inch wheelbase and has the four brake equipment.  The radiator has a distinctive design.

The English Lanchester is shown in the Brewster exhibit, the long 150-inch chassis being fitted with a strikingly artistic coupé body, the forward part of which is suggestive of the old-time English coach.  It is finished in deep brown with a two-tone effect, and the car on exhibition is valued at $16,000, the highest priced car in the show.  The chassis alone, landed in this country, is priced at $10,500.  The Panhard chassis on exhibition is valued at about $9,000, the Hotchkiss six-cylinder chassis at the same figure, and the speedy six-cylinder German Mercedes sport chassis, which has just arrived in this country, at $7,800.

The French Hotchkiss is shown in a four and a six cylinder chassis.  This is the first time that the Hotchkiss, one of Europe's best known cars, has been seen in this country for many years.  The company was organized in France in 1871 by an American Engineer, Benjamin B. Hotchkiss, and the well known Hotchkiss drive has been adopted as a standard on many American cars.

The salon will remain open every day and night during the week, closing Saturday.

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