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FormerlySmith and Mabley Manufacturing Co.
Industrycar manufacturer
FounderCarleton Raymond Mabley
Albert Proctor Smith
HeadquartersNew York City
Area served
United States

Crane-Simplex was a car manufacturer, operating in New York City and New Brunswick, New Jersey, at the beginning of the 20th century.[1]


The Smith and Mabley Manufacturing Co. of New York City was founded by Carleton Raymond Mabley (1878-1963) and his brother-in-law Albert Proctor Smith to import European cars for sale in America. They built their first car in 1904, which was called the S&M Simplex, largely from imported Mercedes parts. The company went bankrupt in 1906 and in 1907 the firm's assets were absorbed into the Simplex Automobile Co. Herman Broesel, passionate about racing, purchased the company and redesigned the Simplex so it could reach speeds of 90 mph (140 km/h). Wilbur C. Whitehead retired from the presidency of Simplex Automobile in 1910 to devote his energies to contract bridge.[2]

In 1914, the factory was moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey. The firm bought the Bayonne, New Jersey-located Crane Motor Car Company (founded by Henry Middleton Crane) in the fall of 1914, and absorbed its assets into the New Brunswick site. The company name remained 'Simplex' but the subsequent vehicles were commonly referred to as 'Crane-Simplex'.

The Simplex Company was purchased in 1920 by the Mercer Automobile Company but by 1922 ownership had passed to Henry Crane, who then failed to realize an ambition to revive the marque.

1912 Crane-Simplex car


1909 Simplex at Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum

The 1904 Smith and Mabley was a touring car model. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 5 passengers and sold for US$5,500 ($158,420 in 2020 dollars [3]). The vertically mounted water-cooled straight-4, at the front of the car, produced 18 hp (13.4 kW). A 4-speed transmission was fitted. The wood and angle iron-framed car weighed 1200 lb (544 kg). The car used a honeycomb radiator with a fan.

The Crane-Simplex, built in New Brunswick, New Jersey, was among the most expensive, largest, most powerful, and well-built luxury cars of the early twentieth century. They were owned by only the wealthiest socialites and entrepreneurs of the time and built by the best coachbuilders in the U.S. At least 467 examples were made.

Notable models[edit]

  • 1908 50 Speedcar Roadster (oldest known Simplex)[4]
  • 1909 90 HP Tourabout - large 11 liter straight four engine, with 90 horsepower (67 kW) and 3 valves per cylinder
  • 1915 Roadster - believed to be the only Simplex roadster ever made, with 110 horsepower (82 kW)
  • 1915 Sport Berline Brewster - personal car of Henry Crane and built for 1915 New York Auto Show, sold new for $13,800
  • 1916 Model 5 Holbrook Skiff - built for 1916 New York Auto Show with yacht-inspired design, (including doors in the middle rather than beside passengers and a propeller in back) soon purchased at the San Francisco Auto Show, now owned by Jay Leno
  • 1918 Crane-Simplex - owned by John D. Rockefeller, had two Brewster bodies, for summer and winter seasons, now one of the last surviving Rockefeller family cars
  • 1918 Model 5 Prince of Wales Limousine, coachwork by Brooks-Ostruk - built for Frederick W. Vanderbilt, now owned by Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

Notable owners[edit]


Simplex engines powered the Dixie series motor boats which won the Harmsworth Trophy four times between 1907 and 1911.


  1. ^ Crane-Simplex Model 5
  2. ^ Kimes, Beverly R. (1996). Clark, Henry A. (ed.). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1945. Kraus Publications. p. 386. ISBN 0873414780.
  3. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  4. ^ "Wayne Carini Auctions 1908 Simplex 50 Speedcar Roadster". Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  • Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (January, 1904)

External links[edit]