Keystone Motor Company of Philadelphia

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This Searchmont Wagonette (1901) is very similar to the Keystone Wagonette

The Keystone Motor Company of Philadelphia was the manufacturer of an early automobile in 1900.

The car they built was a small vehicle with a water-cooled, single-cylinder engine of own development that delivered 5 bhp (3.7 kW). This engine was sold to other manufacturers, too. Buyers could choose from three models, all prized at US$750, with a wheelbase of 52 in., and with tiller steering.

The Autocycle was a rather crude car that could be described as a runabout for two passengers. They sat on a minimalistic bench with tube back and sides and very light upholstery, placed directly above the front axle. The engine was standing free behind the seat without protection by a hood. The vehicle had wire wheels, those in front being slightly larger.

The Wagonette was also a runabout but looked much more sophisticated. Its general lines were more modern and resembled those of the Oldsmobile Curved Dash (that appeared in 1901 at US$650). The front panel was curved inward. Fenders had an elegant bow with a step plate fitted between front and rear wings. The seat bench for two was richly upholstered with carved wood sides. The engine was concealed in a compartment under the seat, a canopy top was at least available.

Third model was the Parcel Delivery. This open car that accommodated the driver only.

When the Keystone became available in summer 1900, it drew enough attention that 75 engines, five Autocycles and four Wagonettes were built and sold in its first month alone, which was promising for the future.

But things went another way when a group of well-known Philadelphia business men (among them Theodore C. Search (1841–1920), head of the Stetson Hat Company) became aware of the company and it's well-engineered product. They made a very good buying offer and became the new owners just five months after the Keystone car was introduced.

A successor to the Keystone, the Searchmont Wagonette, either with the Keystone engine or a new 10 bhp (7.5 kW) two-cylinder engine developed using as many Keystione parts as possible, was ready by November, 1901.

Keystone chief engineer Edward B. Gallaher accepted a new position as plant manager for the Searchmont.

Sources[edit]

  • Kimes, Beverly Rae (editor) and Clark, Henry Austin, jr., ; The Standard Catalogue of American Cars, 2nd Edition, Krause Publications, Iola WI 54990 (1985), ISBN 0-87341-111-0
  • G.N. Georgano (editor): Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars, 1885 to the Present; Dutton Press, New York, 2. Auflage (Hardcover) 1973, ISBN 0-525-08351-0