National Series S 50HP Roadster

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Series S 50HP Roadster





The National Motor Vehicle Company was an American manufacturer of automobiles in Indianapolis, Indiana between 1900 and 1924. One of its presidents, Arthur C. Newby, was also one of the investors who created the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The company first concentrated on electric vehicles but soon began producing gasoline-engined cars. National produced a range of four, six, and twelve-cylinder passenger vehicles, as well as numerous successful racing cars. In 1922, National was merged into Associated Motor Industries, which subsequently went out of business in 1924.

National's first vehicle was the tiller-steered electric runabout Style A in 1900. The single electric motor was situated at the rear of the car, producing 9hp (6.7 kW). A 4-speed herring bone transmission was fitted. The reinforced wood-framed car could reach 15 mph (24 km/h). In 1903, the company began producing internal combustion-engined cars with four-cylinder engines made by Rutenber. Electric cars were dropped from production in 1905.

For 1905, a circular radiator became a styling signature of the National brand. National introduced one of the first six-cylinder engines in the 1906 model range, which remained available until the breakup of the company.

The company president, Arthur C. Newby, was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so Nationals went racing early. In 1905, a National won a 100-mile endurance race at the State Fairgrounds, and with the Speedway opening in 1909, the company frequently raced on the dirt oval.

At the new Indianapolis Speedway, National and their big 50HP cars placed well and by 1911 National would field three cars. The inaugural Indy 500 race in 1911 saw them finishing seventh. 1912 would be their pinnacle success winning the second Indy in 1912 with Joe Dawson at the wheel. His average speed during the 500 miles was 78.22mph.

Peak production for National was reached in 1915, with over 1,800 cars produced. For 1916, the company introduced the Highway Twelve, a 12-cylinder engine of the company's own design and changed its name to National Motor and Vehicle Corporation. Curiously, the 6-cylinder engine option was priced higher than the 12-cylinder, perhaps because National outsourced the 6-cylinder to Continental under the "Continental Red Seal" moniker.

Forced to raise their asking prices to counteract the effects of wartime inflation, National ended up in a higher price range in which they could not compete. For 1920, National dropped their Highway Sixes and Twelves and issued a new model – the Sextet. The Sextet used a Continental side-valve six-cylinder, modified by National engineers with an overhead valve head.

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