Sunday, July 21, 2024


At the beginning of the 20th century, about 11 million people lived in New York. About 60,000 of them had their own cars. This state had the largest number of cars in the country as of the beginning of the 20th century. Therefore, the genuine automobile capital at that time was not Detroit but New York City. It had more than a hundred different car manufacturers. Learn more at new-york-future.

The First New York Car

The first company to manufacture cars in New York was called Auto-Dynamic. It was located in the Manhattan area and did its automotive activities in the period from 1885 to 1900. The first model of the Allen car brand was chain-driven, like a motorcycle. The first Allen car was also a low-capacity car. The Allen was not equipped with a steering wheel but rather a tiller. In the 21st century, only one copy of the Allen car survived.

Famous New York car manufacturers

At the beginning of the 20th century, another car manufacturer, the Benner Motor Car Company, also worked in the Manhattan area. It was a very small factory that produced and sold three body styles of cars with overhead-valve six-cylinder engines. The Benner Motor Car Company production was very popular, high-quality and successful. At the beginning of the 20th century, the company was able to operate in the market without any mediators’ help as well as without participation in automobile shows. Throughout a year of its activity, in the period from 1908 to 1909, the company produced more than two hundred cars.

Another well-known and successful car manufacturer in New York was S & M Simplex. It was founded by two New Yorkers, A. D. Proctor Smith and Carlton R. Mabley. Initially, they created a company to import well-known car brands such as Fiat, Renault, Panhard and others. 

But soon, the heads of the S & M Simplex company decided to engage in their own car manufacturing. They decided to produce high-quality cars at a low cost which was many times lower than imported vehicles. S & M Simplex produced its first car in 1904. The car model was very similar in design to the popular car brand Mercedes in the early 20th century. The car’s power was 30 to 35 horsepower, while its cost as of 1904 was $6,750. In terms of quality, a car of the S & M Simplex company was practically in no way inferior to the world car manufacturer, Mercedes. At the same time, the cost of this car was more than one and a half thousand dollars less than the cost of a Mercedes car. Over the years, the cost of the S & M Simplex car only decreased. The company produced about 18 high-quality cars, after which the car manufacturing of S & M Simplex moved to another city and in 1922, it was closed.

A New York car manufacturer, Noma, was no less famous. Like many other car manufacturing companies, it was based in Manhattan. A distinctive feature of this car manufacturing was that the company bought to order all materials and parts for the car assembling and did not produce them on its own. For example, the Noma company in its cars used engines from companies such as Continental and Beaver and exterior panels from the Walton Body Company.

The main and innovative features of Noma cars were:

  • Ovoid radiator box
  • The presence of a speedster
  • Capacity: four-, five- and six-passenger models were produced.

Another successful New York car manufacturing was closed in 1923. Over the years, the Noma company produced more than 600 vehicles.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, various car manufacturing companies have opened and closed in New York City. Car manufacturing of many of these companies was distinguished by sufficiently high quality and low cost, due to which they had high popularity among New Yorkers and beyond. But by the 1930s, car manufacturing had entirely left the city.

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