1912 Alco 40 Tourer

  • Brand: Alco
  • Car Code: 900335
1912 Alco 40 Tourer

Alcos were built by the American Locomotive Co. from 1909 until 1913 and were among the most expensive American cars of their day, costing in the $6,000 to $7,000 plus range. Their engines were massive: 453 cubic-inches for the 4-cylinder in 1911 and 579 cubic-inch for the 6-cylinder. It took one year and seven months to build a single motorcar and six months to build the rear axle.

On August 22nd of 1913, The New York Times reported the Alco automobile would be discontinued. Alco's management had been unaware that while locomotives are bought, automobiles have to be sold. When the time was taken to total up and analyze the figures, they revealed that thus far 5,000 Alcos, in 54 different models, had been built, and that the company had lost an average of $456, on each one of them. Fortunately, a handful of Alco cars survive today as testimony to how a motorcar can be built too well for its own good.

The Alco Company produced vehicles from 1909 through 1913, but their history began a few years prior. During the early 1900's, the American Locomotive Company was the largest producer of steam locomotives in the world. By 1905 they began exploring automobile production and shortly thereafter they contracted with a European company to produce a French car known as the Berliets. This agreement lasted until 1909 when the American Locomotive Company decided to discontinue its contract and began producing the Alco. The Alco automobiles were built in similar Berliet fashion; they were built to high standards and quality. It took over a 1.5 years to complete each vehicle with the rear axle requiring 6 months. The vehicles were the pinnacle of technology and the coachwork was unmistakably elegant. The company boasted that they were the most expensive car built in America. Though the engineering and coachwork were impressive, the $6000 to $7000 price tag was too much for most people to afford. When buyers purchased the car, they were purchasing it from a company that produced luxury cars, taxi cabs, trucks, and locomotives. This did not sit well with many since it took away from the ambiance of the vehicle. After just 5000 cars had been produced, the company ceased production.

Even though the price tag was high, it was estimated that the company lost nearly $500 on each vehicle. With over 50 different body styles it was nearly impossible to be efficient or cost effective.

This example shown is a Model Six Berline Limousine and carried a factory price tag of $7,250, making it the most expensive Alco model. The six-cylinder 579.5 cubic-inch engine was capable of producing 60 horsepower. The passenger compartment is exquisite with five feet of headroom, roll-up windows, and interior lighting. This is the only closed example produced.

Descriptions & Pictures by conceptcarz & bonhams
Production Start 1912
Country of origin USA