Oscar Lear Automobile Company

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Oscar Lear Automobile Company
Automobile Manufacturing
GenreTouring cars
FounderOscar Lear, Lee A. Frayer and William J. Miller
Area served
United States
Automotive parts

Frayer-Miller was built by the Oscar Lear Automobile Company in Columbus, Ohio and advertised as "the car of endurance." It had a distinctive air-cooled engine.[1] The car was manufactured between the years of 1904 and 1910.[2]


The company was founded in 1904 by Oscar Lear, originally a typewriter and bicycle manufacturer beginning in the late 1890s. In 1901, Lear created an experimental automobile with an air-cooled engine. He joined with Lee A. Frayer and William J. Miller, both also from Columbus, in the design of air-cooled engines.[2]

The three partners went on to establish the Buckeye Motor Company in 1903 and designed a new engine that included the best features from both the Lear and Frayer-Miller engines. During 1904, the company was reorganized as the Oscar Lear Automobile Company.[2] The company also had a branch in New York City located at Broadway and 65th Street.[1]

The 1905 model had 24-horsepower and was priced at US$2,500. It was advertised as "light, strong and speedy" and had 4 vertical cylinders and sliding gear transmission with 3 speeds forward and reverse. It also had a bevel gear drive, side entrance, removable tonneau and was air-cooled[2] via a rotary supercharger which forced air through aluminum jackets surrounding the cylinders. This "single handedly" solved the air cooling automobile problem and the vehicle had no water pump, radiator, water tank or piping.[2]

In 1906, it was advertised in a national trade magazine as "an American product" that was cooled through air jackets and was an "imitation of no foreign car." Additionally, the company bragged that the "mud guard arrangement was novel and new."[1]

The 1906 offerings included a 4-cylinder with 25-horsepower for US$3,000 and a 6-cylinder with 40-horsepower at a cost of US$4,000.[1]

Auto racing[edit]

During 1905, the Frayer-Miller was entered in the world's first 24-hour race in Columbus, Ohio.[3] A "stripped down" Frayer-Miller was driven by Lee Frayer 728 miles (1,172 km) in 16 hours. It never completed the race due to an accident, although it did manage to average 2 hours and 10 minutes per 100 miles (160 km).[2]

The Frayer-Miller automobile entered in the Long Branch race covered "more miles in one week than any other type of self-propelled vehicle." The car was driven 3,202 miles (5,153 km) in 6 days, 15 hours and 29 minutes. During the last 1,866 miles (3,003 km) of the trip, the engine never stopped and broke the records for distance and endurance.[1]


Frayer-Miller - Oscar Lear Automobile Co. of Columbus, Ohio - 1906


  1. ^ a b c d e Ardsley. Modern Motor Cars, March 1906, pg.117. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "American Automobiles - Frayer-Miller". Farber and Associates, LLC 2009-2011. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  3. ^ Knapp, Michael (1979). "The World's First 24-hour Automobile Race". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2014-08-10.