Tacoma, WA - America's Automotive Trust (AAT) will highlight a century of automotive innovation as one of its member organizations, LeMay - America's Car Museum (ACM), and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) spotlight a 1917 Crane Simplex Model 5 at events during its 12-day winter road rally called "The Drive Home II: The Heritage Run." The rally kicks off December 27 in Boston and winds through several cities before arriving at the North American Auto Show in Detroit on January 7.
"This Crane Simplex has a fascinating history: it was an 83rd birthday gift to the wealthiest American of all-time and oil tycoon - John D. Rockefeller," said AAT President and CEO David Madeira. "Estimated to cost 10 to 15 times the average family's income at the time, the Model 5 was just one example of Rockefeller's opulence."
The Rockefeller car will be on display at events throughout in the days leading up to NAIAS, as ACM journeys through more than six states in a '57 Chevy Nomad, a '61 Chrysler 300G and '66 Ford Mustang.
"It's amazing to see the effort that went into kick-starting our nation's automotive industry and how the automobile quickly captivated Americans," said Madeira. "The 'horseless carriage' takes on a different meaning when you learn about the history of companies like Crane Simplex and Brewster."
As automobiles began to gain popularity among the wealthy in the early 1900s, companies like Crane Simplex formed to meet the growing demand amongst the upper echelon. Positioning itself as an American alternative to European luxury brands like Rolls-Royce, Crane Simplex was a highly revered status symbol in the days before the advent of the assembly line.
Crane Simplex enlisted coachbuilders Brewster & Co., to construct the car's body to order; Brewster was a company known for their high quality and a discerning attention to detail.
"Having this century-old antique automobile positioned alongside our '50s- and '60s-era vintage cars allows us to pay homage to America's automotive heritage with many people throughout our country," said Madeira. "Additionally, displaying these relics for guests to the North American International Auto Show provides visitors with context for the industry's pace of innovation over the past 100 years, and the significant effort it took to make automobiles attainable for all."
"To celebrate our nation's rich automotive legacy, the story of forgotten manufacturers becomes increasingly important because cars like Rockefeller's were once only relegated to the wealthiest individuals."
Rockefeller's 1917 Crane Simplex Model 5 will be on display at events during The Drive Home II: The Heritage Run and at the North American International Auto Show from January 7 to 22.