Penn (automobile)

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Penn was the name of three American automobiles of the pioneer era:

The Penn Auto Company of Philadelphia was the first company with the purpose of manufacturing automobiles enregistered in Pennsylvania. It was founded with a capital stock of $5,000. The make is mentioned in the summer 1901 issue of the "Horseless Age," and while some writers have questioned its actual production,[1] a 1913 photo from the Philadelphia city archives shows a factory by this name.[2]

Dr. Shakespeare Penn was a poet and preacher. In 1908, he built a minuscule automobile with a canopy for his own use in Washington, D.C.. There is no information about the power source of this car.[3]

Penn (Pittsburgh) Thirty Model T; 5-pass. Touring (1911)

The most important automobile wearing the Penn name was built by the Penn Motor Car Company, located at 7510 Thomas Boulevard in Pittsburgh. It was established in November, 1910, with a capital stock of $150,000, and immediately started production.

For 1911, one model was available, the Thirty. This was a 4-cylinder, 30 hp car with a wheelbase of 105 in. Customers could choose from two body styles, the Model R 2-passenger Roadster, and the Model T 5-passenger Touring. At $975, or $1075 respectively, they were remarkably competitive.

Following the industry's trend, 1912 Penn cars saw body improvements that incorporated doors for all body styles, including front doors for the touring. At $1,200, a new roadster called the Comet was the most expensive Thirty. The Model R-F Fore-Door Runabout for 2 passengers cost $1,000. The Model T-4 5-passenger Touring was listed at $1,100.

Completely new for 1912 was a 45 hp car, appropriately called the Forty-Five. Another 4-cylinder, this car had a wheelspan of 115 in. Three body styles were available: The Model T-R Fore-Door Runabout for 2 passengers ($1,350), Model T-4 5-passenger Touring ($1,400), and another Comet roadster ($1,600). In a time when many 40 or 50 hp cars sold for prices in exceed of $3,000, these automobiles, too, were real bargains.

The end of the make came when Penn built a $90,000 factory in New Castle, Pennsylvania which was locally financed. As the backers withdrew immediately after completion, Penn went into bankruptcy. On January, 21st, 1913, the plant was sold at auction for $54,000. Not a single car was built in the new location. It is doubtful that any 1913 Penn was constructed.[4]


  1. ^ Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1805-1940, p. 1126
  2. ^ "Penn Auto Company - Chestnut Street West of 42nd Street," 4/3/1913
  3. ^ Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1805-1940, p. 1126
  4. ^ Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1805-1940, p. 1126

External links[edit]


  • David Burgess Wise, The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Automobiles
  • Kimes, Beverly Rae (editor) and Clark, Henry Austin, jr., The Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1805–1942, 2nd edition, Krause Publications (1989), ISBN 0-87341-111-0