The high wheeler was an early car body style virtually unique to the US.
It is typified by large-diameter slender wheels, frequently with solid rubber tires, to provide ample ground clearance on the primitive roads predominant at the turn of the 20th century. For the same reason, it usually had a wider track than normal automobiles.
High wheelers were derived from horse-drawn wagons, and often were conversions of these. So, they shared many details like similar wood-spoke wheels, suspensions or, often, the boxy wooden bodies.
These cars were available in many body styles; most usual were utility vehicles and runabouts/roadsters, some also with detachable tonneaus. Sometimes, 2-seaters were also called Buggy, Auto Buggy or Motor Buggy.
Before gasoline engines became widely available, high wheelers were powered by electric motors or steam engines. The decline of the high wheeler began when standard automobiles became more sophisticated and inexpensive. The end came with the popularity of the Ford Model T, which adopted the wide track for the same reason as the high wheelers did.
The last ones were built around 1910.
High wheeler automobiles
- Anchor Buggy
- Columbia Electric•
- De Schaum
- Hobbie Accessible
- International Harvester•
- Reliable Dayton
- Single Center
- Sperry Electric
- Strong & Rogers Electric
- Waverley Electric•
• = also made non-highwheeler automobiles
- Kimes, Beverly Rae and Clark Jr, Henry Austin. Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942 (Third Edition). Iola, WI: Krause. 1996. ISBN 0-87341-428-4
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