Philip Corbin, an “automobilist,” encouraged his family, owners of the American Hardware Corporation in New Britain, to enter the automobile business. The first Corbin automobiles were built in 1903. They were air-cooled, employing an ingenious system with a horizontal fan blowing air over 56 rows of sheet steel fins around individual cylinder castings.
Corbin may have been an enthusiast but he was also a conservative New Englander. He hedged his bets on air cooling by designing a parallel set of cylinder castings with water jackets so the air-cooled Corbins could also be built with a radiator and water cooling. Liquid proved to be the more successful coolant and, by 1910, the air-cooled Corbins were no more. The 1909 Seal Cove Auto Museum’s Model O still had a parallel Model S air-cooled version.