Thursday, May 23, 2013

Maryland, My Maryland

Ruth Maycliffe in her 1908 Maryland Roadster
Back on April 7, 2013 Dave of posted a nicely massaged version of the original Library of Congress photo (above) featuring Ruth Maycliffe sitting in an intriguing 3-seat roadster. Some raw, unaltered versions of this picture have appeared on a few websites in the past couple of years. The few guesses that were ventured on Shorpy and its companion Facebook page ranged from an Oakland (based on the visible radiator scrip) to a Studebaker Model H, to a Ford Model T, to a Ford Model K. However, the correct identity revealed a very obscure car indeed.

Miss Maycliffe's car was a rarity even when this picture was taken. It is a 1908 Maryland Roadster as manufactured by the Sinclair-Scott Company of Baltimore, a company far better known for their apple peelers and food canning machines. The Maryland started out in 1905 as the Ariel, made by the Ariel Motor Car Company of Boston (not connected with the Ariel Motor Company in England or its New York partner The Ariel Company).
1905 Ariel logo
Early Ariel back pages ad from the November 1, 1905 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

Ariel's first offerings were shown at the March 1905 Boston Auto Show and consisted of a 15hp three-cylinder air-cooled runabout with a standard grille, and a 25hp four-cylinder water-cooled, 5-passenger, wood bodied (available in blue or green) light touring with an oval radiator made by Whitlock.
1905 Ariel Runabout and Touring
Above left: 1905 3-cylinder Ariel Runabout. From Early American Automobiles website. Above right: 1905 4-cylinder Ariel Touring. From the January 11, 1906 issue of The Automobile.

Both were designed by Ralph C. Lewis and both sets of cylinders were interchangeable on a common crankcase. The original idea behind the interchangeability was that in winter the air-cooled upper would be used, and in summer the water-cooled equipment would be swapped onto the common crankcase—an idea quickly dropped.
Ariel 3 cylinder
The 3-cylinder air-cooled engine for the 1905 Ariel Runabout, with rear-mounted fan. The hood had side scoops. From the March 18, 1905 issue of The Automobile.

Ariel 4 cylinder intake side
The 4-cylinder water-cooled engine for the 1905 Ariel Tourer—intake side. From the April 1, 1906 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.
Ariel 4 cylinder exhaust side
The 4-cylinder water-cooled engine for the 1905 Ariel Tourer—exhaust side. From the April 1, 1906 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

They used as their mottoes "The Synonym of Light Weight, Speed and Power" and "Is As Fast On Hills As Most Cars Are On The Level." Later they changed it to "The Car With The Oval Front" then finally to "Look For The Oval Front."
1905 Ariel logo
In March 1906 Ariel moved to Bridgeport, CT. In the year since the Boston Auto Show they had dropped the air-cooled runabout, and redesigned the light touring into a double-side entrance tonneau powered by an 30hp overhead cam four-cylinder engine. This vehicle became known for its two distinctive features - a unique cast aluminum dash, and a redesigned oval radiator (now made by Briscoe Mfg. Co. of Detroit—an original equipment vendor.
1905 Briscoe ad
Briscoe Mfg. Co. ad from the June 22, 1905 issue of Automobile Review.

1906 Ariel radiator
Ariel Type Radiator (above). From the article "Cooling Systems in Water-Cooled Cars" in the February 8, 1906 issue of The Automobile. Original text reads "A novelty is the oval radiator of the Ariel car which looks well and certainly gives a touch of individuality to this machine."

1906 Ariel Touring
1906 Ariel 30hp Touring car with oval Whitlock radiator. From the April 1, 1906 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

Also early in 1906 Ariel redesigned the cast aluminum dash for the Roadster, giving it a scallop shape.
1906 Ariel chassis
1906 Ariel 30hp Roadster chassis. From the April 1, 1906 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.
1906 Ariel chassis front
From the February 7, 1906 issue of The Horseless Age.

Sinclair-Scott had ventured into the manufacture of car parts a few years earlier and Ariel became one of their customers—in fact Sinclair-Scott was soon not only producing most of the car, but assembling it as well. There were few sales of the $2,500 tonneau however, and Ariel was unable to make good on their debts. Sinclair-Scott acquired the rights to the vehicle in 1907 (Ariel Motor Car Company was officially dissolved that same year), gave it a bit of a face lift—the oval radiator was given a sleeker redesign—and renamed it the Maryland Car.
1908 Maryland dash
1908 Maryland 26hp chassis. From the March 1, 1908 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

They next added a 6-passenger limousine and a 2, 3, or 4-passenger roadster (later just available as a 3-seater) to the lineup while retaining the dash and Briscoe oval radiator on all three models. The Briscoe Mfg. Co. badge can be seen at the top of Miss Maycliffe's radiator.
Briscoe Mfg badge
Briscoe Mfg. Co. radiator badge.

Sinclair-Scott also carried on the Ariel tradition of equipping each vehicle with a tool box, a Nonpareil brand horn (used by 2/3 of American automobile manufacturers) and a full set of Atwood lamps (2 oil side lamps and 2 acetylene head lamps).
1908 Maryland Roadster
1908 Maryland front
1908 Maryland Roadster with oval Briscoe radiator. Both pictures above from the March 1, 1908 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

The new models were a vast sales improvement over the Ariels—albeit still fairly low volume when compared to the best-sellers of the day—and for 1908 the only changes made were some body refinements and to the finish. Given the low production, it is possible that the roadster Miss Maycliffe purchased was the very one used for the promotional photographs appearing in national magazines (above).
1908 Maryland specs
Specs for the 1908 Maryland Touring from the January 8, 1908 issue of MoToR.

Maryland 4 cylinder intake side
The intake side of the much cleaner Maryland version of the old Ariel 4-cylinder. From the March 1, 1908 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

Maryland 4 cylinder exhaust side
The exhaust side of the improved Ariel 4-cylinder, as built by Sinclair-Scott for the Maryland Car. From the March 1, 1908 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

Even with the increased volume, the vehicles were never profitable enough for Sinclair-Scott and in 1910 they discontinued the Maryland Car line. In the August 1912 issue of Automobile Dealer and Repairer, a reader requesting advice complained of cylinder misfiring in his 1908 Maryland Touring. The decidedly unhelpful reply began with "A Maryland car of 1908 is today practically obsolete and forgotten." So rare and forgotten is the Maryland, that I am unaware of any Ariels or Marylands in existence today—which would make them both extinct cars. In fact, the Library of Congress picture seems to be the only one in existence outside of period magazines. There is an index notation that Bulb Horn magazine published a photograph of a 1910 Maryland in Volume XXVIII (1967), Issue Number 2, but I cannot find a copy. If you have one please let me know. Note: This entry will be updated to show picture attributes and a link will be provided to an article on the life of Ruth Maycliffe.


Anonymous said...

Hi, An article on the Maryland automobile "A Car That Impressed Henry Ford" by John W. Rife, son of John M. Rife, who he said designed the car, was published in the Baltimore Sun magazine section on July 31, 1960. It includes a photo of the three body styles for the Maryland. I will send you a jpeg of the article if you want. Thanks, Jim Dawson

Steve said...

I'd appreciate that - Thanks.