Simplex Crane Model 5 Boat Tail Roadster

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Crane Model 5 Boat Tail Roadster





The Smith and Mabley Manufacturing Co. of New York City was founded by Carleton Raymond Mabley (1878-1963) and his brother-in-law Albert Proctor Smith to import European cars for sale in America. They built their first car in 1904, which was called the S&M Simplex, largely from imported Mercedes parts. The company went bankrupt in 1906 and in 1907 the firm's assets were absorbed into the Simplex Automobile Co. Herman Broesel, passionate about racing, purchased the company and redesigned the "Simplex" so it could reach speeds of 90 mph (140 km/h). The firm became Crane-Simplex after purchase of the Crane Motor Car Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, which had been founded by Henry Middleton Crane, in 1915. The Crane-Simplex Company was purchased in 1920 by the Mercer Automobile Company but by 1922 ownership had passed to Henry Crane, who then failed to realise an ambition to revive the marque.

Crane graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1896, with degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering. He then joined the Bell Telephone Company, and later worked for their manufacturing subsidiary, the Western Electric Company. His Crane and Whitman Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, formed in 1906, evolved into the Crane Motor Car Company by 1910. In 1912, his design for the Crane Model 3 automobile was ready for production. It was a large, refined luxury car, but "production" it barely achieved, with some 37 cars built in three years.

Henry Crane services were included in the transaction, and in short order the Simplex Crane Model 5 was introduced, with Crane's refined 564 cubic inch six-cylinder engine in a 144-inch wheelbase chassis. Bodies were supplied by several well-known bespoke coachbuilders, including Locke, Derham and Holbrook, but most were, like this car, by Brewster. Production continued into 1917. The cars are sometimes incorrectly called "Crane-Simplex," perhaps confused with a short-lived 1922 attempt by Henry Crane to resurrect the business at Long Island City, after the Simplex company had been brought down by the Hare's Motors debacle.

The 1904 Smith and Mabley was a touring car model. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 5 passengers and sold for US$5500. The vertically mounted water-cooled straight-4, at the front of the car, produced 18hp (13.4 kW). A 4-speed transmission was fitted. The wood and angle iron-framed car weighed 1200 lb (544 kg). The car used a honeycomb radiator with a fan.

The Crane-Simplex, built in New York, was among the most expensive, largest, most powerful, and well-built luxury cars of the early twentieth century. They were owned by only the wealthiest socialites and entrepreneurs of the time and built by the best coachbuilders in the U.S. Only 121 examples were made.

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