Seal Cove Auto Museum, Antique Autos and Motorcycles from the Brass Era, Mount Desert Island, Maine
1916 Abbott Detroit

ABBOTT-DETROIT – Detroit, Michigan – (1909-1916) ABBOTT – Cleveland, Ohio – (1917-1918)

Model 6-44

6-cyl., 44 hp,

122” wb

Tour. – 7P

Abbott was a victim of overenthusiasm and overreach. Established in Detroit in 1909, the Abbott Motor Car Company produced cars combining both company name and city of manufacture for seven years. Engines were always proprietary; Continental fours and sixes, later a Herschell - Spillman eight. The car was completely conventional, but some of the things it did were not. Among these was the 100,000 mile trek of the Abbott-Detroit “Bull Dog” that Dr. Charles G. Percival, the editor of Health Magazine, drove around the borders of the United States and from coast to coast three times “over the vilest roads this country possesses.” Although the company said it never built a race car, it did enter numerous events in the stock category, taking the Philadelphia Trophy at Fairmont Park in 1910, winning the Algonquin (Illinois) hill climb in 1911, and putting up a commendable showing as the lowest powered car in a field of racing behemoths in the 1911 Vanderbilt and Grand Prize events. Probably the most eye-catching Abbott-Detroit was the $1,250 Battleship Roadster introduced for 1913. It had a sharp vee radiator and a steel metal body with rows of rivet heads showing for dramatic effect. According to the company, the entire year’s output was sold from blueprints before the first car had made its appearance. From the beginning, however, the life of the Abbot-Detroit was checkered. Founding President Charles Abbott elected to retire a year after starting the business; he turned up later in Detroit in a stamping plant. When creditors complained in 1911, the were mollified initially by being made stockholders, and the company was purchased that December by Edward F. Gerber who paid $237,500 for the plant and the entire business, paid off the creditors at 15 cents on the dollar, and vowed to continue manufacture. He was cut out two years later, and R. A. Palmer (former manager of Cartercar) was in. Through slogans like “The One Perfect Car,” “The Car with a Pedigree”, and “Built for Performance and Guaranteed for Life” may have been overdoing it even for that age of gross exaggeration in advertising, production rose to a healthy 15 to 20 units a day – and it was this salubrious fact that prompted Abbott to overdo with a vengeance. The company name had been changed to Consolidated Car Corporation with Palmer’s entrance on the scene, and in 1916 the decision was made to consolidate manufacture in a huge and expensive plant in Cleveland that was leased for 10 years. Most cars built there by the again-renamed Abbott Corporation were simply called Abbotts, though the name Abbott-Detroit continued to be used occasionally. Any resulting confusion was short lived, however, because sales couldn’t pay the rent on the pricey new factory, and after a merger attempt with the Hal Motor Car Company failed in October 1917, the company proceeded into bankruptcy the following year.