1904 Maxwell 16hp Model H Twin-Cylinder Side-Entrance Tonneau

Financed by Detroit sheet metal manufacturer Benjamin Briscoe and East Coast plutocrat J P Morgan, ex-Oldsmobile and Northern engineer Jonathan D Maxwell built his first car - an advanced twin-cylinder design with water cooling, mechanical inlet valves, two-speed planetary transmission, shaft drive and right-hand steering wheel - in 1904. The twin proved an enormous success; a four-cylinder model joined the line-up for 1906 and Maxwell expanded from its Tarrytown, New York base, opening factories in Auburn, Indiana and Rhode Island. Sound engineering was complemented by a series of headline-grabbing publicity stunts that helped boost sales, none more successful than a transcontinental trip from New York to San Francisco undertaken by a team of four lady drivers in 1909. The following year the firm sold over 20,000 cars, a total exceeded only by Ford and Buick. From this high point Maxwell went into decline. Briscoe's ambitious expansion plans proved disastrous; most of the factories were sold off and Jonathan Maxwell moved production to Detroit. Hit hard by the post-WWI depression, Maxwell merged - unsuccessfully - with Chalmers and acquired a new president in the person of Walter Percy Chrysler, whose new marque would rise from the Maxwell-Chalmers ashes.

This car is one of Maxwell's larger five-passenger 16hp tourers, the Model H, which is powered by a 3.25-litre engine driving via a three-speeds-plus-reverse gearbox. Other noteworthy features include hand and foot clutches, and port/starboard lights. It is recorded that a pilot run of these cars, designated 1905 models, was built in 1904.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams

Production Start 1904
Country of origin USA