Moline Automobile Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Moline-Knight)
1911 Dreadnought Moline Model M
Moline Automobile Company
Root & Van Dervoort Engineering Company
Founded1904; 119 years ago (1904)
FounderWilliam H. Van Dervoort, Orlando J. Root
Defunct1924; 99 years ago (1924)
HeadquartersEast Moline, Illinois,
Automotive parts
Production output
12,767 (1904-1924)
BrandsMoline, Dreadnought Moline, Moline-Knight, R & V Knight
1913 Dreadnought Moline Model M-40

The Moline Automobile Company, (1904 – 1924) was an American brass era automobile manufacturer in East Moline, Illinois known for the Moline, Dreadnought Moline, Moline-Knight and R & V Knight marques.[1][2]



William H. Van Dervoort and Orlando J. Root were classmates in the Mechanical courses and graduated BS from the Michigan State Agriculture College in 1893.[3] Van Dervoort went on to Cornell where he received his masters and became an assistant professor of mechanics at Illinois State. They organized the Root & Van Dervoort Engineering Company in 1899 to manufacture stationary and portable gas engines. Within a few years, they were producing over 12,000 stationary gasoline engines annually.[4]

Moline automobile[edit]

In November 1903 R & V organized the Moline Automobile Company to manufacture medium-sized cars.[5][6] The first 1904 Moline automobiles were powered by a newly developed 2-cylinder 12-hp engine, and a larger 4-cylinder model was added in 1905. The two-cylinder opposed engine was continued as a junior model into1907[1][2]

In 1907 the village of East Moline was incorporated as the city of East Moline and became part of the Quad Cities area of Illinois and Iowa. By this year annual production had grown to more than 500 cars and the 4-cylinder engine was rated at 20-hp, priced at $1,750, equivalent to $54,963 in 2022.[2][1]

In 1909 the Model S became the Model M with a 4-cylinder 35-hp engine and would be offered into 1914. The model M as a touring car was introduced at $1,500, equivalent to $48,856 in 2022.[1] The larger 40-hp Model K participated in the 1909 and 1910 Glidden Tours. The Moline team in the 1909 Glidden Tour received the Hower (Chicago) trophy.[7][1] In 1910 R & V made improvements in their automobile plant with heated concrete floors and a new concrete paved testing track.[8]

Dreadnought Moline[edit]

Moline built one of the earliest long stroke four-cylinder gas engines that were becoming popular for improved power.[1] To capitalize on the good results of Molines in reliability and endurance runs, they were advertised as Dreadnought Molines with the slogan "The Car of Unfailing Service".[1] Offered in several body styles, from 1911 the Model M became the only offering as a 35-hp or 40-hp automobile. The radiator emblem was crown with a relief of the 1906 battleship Dreadnought. In the 1911 Five State Chicago Endurance Run the 3 Dreadnought Molines won the team class, while a Dreadnought Moline tied with a Staver automobile for the touring car class and a Moline won the roadster class.[7]

Root & Vandervoort Engineering Company expanded their plant in 1911 to increase production and resolve automobile backlogs and to build a projected 20,000 R & V Triumph engines.[9]


The Moline-Knight produced from 1913 to 1919 used a Knight engine.[2] The Moline-Knight engine was the first monobloc version with 4-cylinders and rated at 50-hp.[1] Provided with a 3-speed in-unit transmission, It was demonstrated in a record-breaking continuous 337 hour test in the laboratory of the Automobile Club of America.[10] The new sleeve-valve Knight engine advertised quieter running over the usual poppet-valve engines. The main drawback were the sleeve-valves large oil consumption.[2] Moline Automobile secured the services of a large advertising firm in Chicago to heavily advertise the new engine and the Moline-Knight automobile.[10][11] Bosch also, heavily advertised their magnetos and plugs used on the test. From a slow production start, sales increased to over 900 cars by 1915.[1]

The 1914 Moline-Knight had a new streamlined body style and sat on a pressed-steel frame. It was equipped with Wagner Electric starting and lighting and featured wire wheels. Englishman A. F. Marshall, formerly with the Daimler Company was hired as engine inspector. The new radiator emblem for the Moline-Knight included a profile of Sir Galahad, "The most perfect of King Arthur's knights". The slogan at the introduction of the Moline-Knight was "The "Four" that makes the "Six" unnecessary".[10][11]

In 1914 W. H. Vandervoort became the President of the Society of Automobile Engineers succeeding Henry M. Leland, the founder of Cadillac and (later) Lincoln.[12][1] In 1915 Moline added to their Model 50 Moline-Knight cars with a junior Model 40 that was offered at $1,475 (equivalent to $42,668 in 2022 ), the lowest priced Knight engine car at that time.[1]

From 1914 R & V was heavily involved in the war effort of World War I and produced shells under contract for the British. An additional factory building was completed for ordinance manufacturing and when the contract for the British ran out, the machinery was stored. R & V was ready to begin arms production again when the United States entered the war, manufacturing shells and naval ordinance.[4]  William Van Dervoort served as a member of the Munition Standards Board and the National War Labor Conference Board. Van Dervoort toured Europe in May 1919 as part of the reconstruction effort and while there he grew gravely ill and nearly died. Although he was finally able to return home, he never completely recovered.[13]

In 1917 Moline Automobile Company was merged back into Root & Van Dervoort Engineering Company.[14] After the war ended, the market for gasoline stationary engines was much smaller. Contracts were taken out for engine manufacturing for tractors, Saxon Motor Car Company and others. Automobile production was moved to the former ordinance plant and other contracts to use the Knight engines were pursued.[4][1] 

R & V Knight[edit]

In 1920 The Moline-Knight was continued as the R & V Knight and manufactured until 1924.[1] The Model R was a 4-cylinder 43-hp automobile with prices starting at $2,150, equivalent to $31,407 in 2022. The larger Model J was a 6-cylinder 60-hp automobile with a starting price of $3,050, equivalent to $44,554 in 2022. Enclosed sedan and coupe body styles were added to the roadster and touring cars.[2][1]

The cost of expansion for the war effort were costly, and R & V was unable to recoup these funds from the U. S. Government. On February 25, 1921 William H. Van Dervoort died. His illness had forced him to retire in 1920.[15][16] Short on cash, R & V faltered during the Depression of 1920–1921. Reorganizing was attempted but R & V was declared bankrupt and the plant and machinery was sold by 1924.[1][2]

Since 1899, Orlando Root had been a business partner with University of Illinois professor Samuel W. Parr in the Standard Calorimeter Company. In 1925 the company was recapitalized and would later become the Parr Instrument Company.[17] On February 16, 1928 Orlando Root died at his home in Moline from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.[4][1]

There are an estimated 37 Molines, Dreadnought Molines, Moline-Knights and R&V Knights extant.[18]


The first Moline model designations were inverted starting with D and then C, B, A not always in order.

Year Make Model Cylinder Horsepower (HP) Wheelbase (cm) Style
1904 Moline 12 HP (Model D) 2 12 188 Touring Runabout
1905 Moline Model B 4 18/20 267 Surrey Tonneau
1905 Moline Model D 2 12 218 Surrey Tonneau
1906 Moline Model A 4 30/35 279 Touring Car
1906 Moline Model C 4 18/20 254 Touring Car
1906 Moline Model G 2 16 218 Touring Car
1907 Moline Model A 4 35 279 Touring Car
1907 Moline Model C 4 20 254 Runabout
1907 Moline Model H 2 18 234 Touring Car
1907 Moline Model S 4 25 279 Touring Car
1908 Moline Model A 4 35 279 Touring Car
1908 Moline Model H 2 20 244 Touring Car
1908 Moline Model S 4 24 254 Touring Car
1909 Moline Model K 4 40 295 Touring Car, Baby Tonneau
1909 Moline Model M 4 25/30 267 Touring Car
1910 Moline Model K 4 40 295 Toy Tonneau, Touring Car
1910 Moline Model M 4 30 279 Roadster, Toy Tonneau, Touring Car
1911 Moline Model M-35 4 35 284 Touring Car, Fore-Door Touring Car, Toy Tonneau
1912 Moline Model M-35 Dreadnought 4 35 290 Touring Car, Torpedo, Roadster
1913 Moline Model M-40 Dreadnought 4 40 290 Roadster
1913 Moline Model M-40 Dreadnought 4 40 315 Touring Car
1914 Moline Model M-40 4 40 315 Touring Car
1914 Moline-Knight Knight 4 50 325 Touring Car
1915 Moline-Knight Knight 4 50 325 Roadster, Touring Car, Limousine
1916 Moline-Knight Model 40 4 40 300 Touring Car, Roadster
1916 Moline-Knight Model 50 4 50 325 Touring Car, Roadster, Limousine
1917 Moline-Knight Model 40 4 40 300 Touring Car, Roadster
1917 Moline-Knight Model 50 4 50 310 Touring Car, Roadster, Limousine, Coupé
1918 Moline-Knight Model C 4 40 300 Touring Car, Roadster, Limousine
1918 Moline-Knight Model G 4 50 310 Touring Car, Roadster, Coupé
1919 Moline-Knight Model L 4 40 300 Touring Car, Limousine, Roadster
1920 R & V Knight Model J 6 60 323 Touring Car, Sport, Roadster, Sedan, Coupe
1920 R & V Knight Model R 4 43 292 Touring car, Sedan
1921 R & V Knight Model J 6 54 323 Touring Car, Roadster, Sport, Coupe, Sedan
1921 R & V Knight Model R 4 44 292 Touring Car
1922 R & V Knight Model J 6 54 323 Coupe, Sedan, Touring Car, Sports, Roadster
1922 R & V Knight Model R 4 44 295 Coupe, Sedan, Touring Car
1923 R & V Knight Model H 6 56 315 Touring Car, Sport, Club Sedan, Sedan
1923 R & V Knight Model R 4 44 295 Touring Car, Coupe, Sedan
1924 R & V Knight Model H 6 56 315 Touring Car, Coupe, Club Sedan, Sedan, Sport


Moline Automobile factory in 1909
Moline Automobile Testing Track, 1909 (part of the track is extant)
Year Production
1904 50
1905 300
1906 300
1907 500
1908 700
1909 736
1910 783
1911 638
1912 782
1913 431
1914 336
1915 923
1916 906
1917 603
1918 481
1919 499
1920 767
1921 967
1922 856
1923 736
1924 473
Total 12,767


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Kimes, Beverly Rae; Clark Jr., Henry Austin (1996). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942 (3rd ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-87341-428-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Georgano, Nick (2001). The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (3 vol. ed.). Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.
  3. ^ University, Michigan State (1883). Catalog.
  4. ^ a b c d Lowe, Peter. "Root & Van Dervoort". Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  5. ^ The Motor World. Motor World Publishing Company. 1903.
  6. ^ The Horseless Age. Horseless Age Company. 1904.
  7. ^ a b Motor Age. 1911.
  8. ^ Universal Bulletin. 1909.
  9. ^ The Implement Age. Implement Age Company. 1911.
  10. ^ a b c Automobile Journal. 1913.
  11. ^ a b Motor Age. Class Journal Company. 1913.
  12. ^ The M.S.C. Record. 1915.
  13. ^ Automotive Engineering. Society of Automotive Engineers. 1921.
  14. ^ Automobile Dealer and Repairer: A Practical Journal Exclusively for These Interests. Motor Vehicle Publishing Company. 1917.
  15. ^ Automotive Engineering. Society of Automotive Engineers. 1921.
  16. ^ The Cornell Alumni News. 1920.
  17. ^ The Iron Trade Review. Day & Carter. 1925.
  18. ^ "Willys Overland Knight Registry - Moline, R&V History". Retrieved 2022-10-17.