Ruxton Model C Roadster by Baker - Raulang

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Model C Roadster by Baker - Raulang





The Ruxton was a front-wheel drive automobile produced by the New Era Motors Company of New York, New York, USA, during 1929 and 1930. The car was the brainchild of William Muller and was built in the Moon Motor Car factory in St. Louis, Missouri. Kissel Motors of Hartford, Wisconsin, also built a limited number of Ruxtons; it produced the car’s transmission and running gear for its duration.

In production for less than a year, the short-lived Ruxton was one of the most groundbreaking automobiles of its era, as the very first American car to be designed with front-wheel drive. Tracing its roots to the Budd coachbuilding company of Philadelphia, the Ruxton was conceived by engineer William Muller, who was convinced the time had come for a frontally driven car. In 1926, he received approval to develop a prototype, which he ingeniously equipped with a proprietary three-speed transmission that overcame the spatial constraints of a straight-eight engine by placing some of the gearing behind the differential (with the motor rotated 180 degrees from a standard layout).

In an era when the American automobile had an average height of 6 feet (1,800 mm) from the ground to the level plane of the roof, Muller’s car was only 53 inches (1,300 mm) high, a feat accomplished by eliminating the drive shaft to the rear wheels. Ledwinka accentuated the lowness to ground through the elimination of the running boards.

Production officially began shortly after the stock market crashed, with the Moon Motor Car Company of St. Louis manufacturing the running gear and mounting sedan bodies produced by Budd to a design by Joseph Ledwinka (cousin of Tatra designer Hans Ledwinka); roadster and phaeton coachwork was by Baker-Raulang.

When Ruxton finally went on sale, some models sported Joseph Urban color schemes designed to lengthen the appearance of the car through broad bands of white intermixed with vivid colors such as blue, lavender, and navy blue . Many, but not all, Ruxtons featured the cat-like Woodlight headlights; while sleek, their performance paled in comparison to normal headlights. Most Ruxton owners soon learned that they either drove their cars during the daylight, or had them retrofitted with normal headlights or auxiliary driving lights.

Much like the era’s other front-wheel drive model, the Cord L-29, the Ruxton was a great idea at the worst possible time, and it was quickly upended by the Great Depression. Moon, Kissel, and other manufacturers involved in the model’s production all faced bankruptcy within a matter of years, and by 1931, Moon had sunk into receivership, with just a few cars remaining on the production lines. According to the research of Ruxton authority and author Jim Fasnacht, no more than 96 Ruxtons were produced in total, most of which were sedans. The marque will forever be remembered as a pioneer of front-wheel drive technology and cutting-edge styling, and it has grown to be one of the most appreciated of the limited-production pre-war American independent automakers.

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