Pullman automobile

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York Motor Car Company
Pullman Motor Car Company
Founded1905; 118 years ago (1905)
FounderAlbert P. Broomell, Samuel E. Baily
Defunct1917; 106 years ago (1917)
HeadquartersYork, Pennsylvania,
Key people
Albert P. Broomell, Samuel E. Baily, James A. Kline, E. T. Birdsall
Automotive parts
Production output
23,384 (1905-1917)

The Pullman was an American automobile that was manufactured in York, Pennsylvania by the York Motor Car Company from 1905 to 1909 and the Pullman Motor Car Company from 1909 to 1917.

The Pullman automobile was named by industrialist Albert P. Broomell to reflect the quality and luxury of rail cars and coaches made by the Pullman Company, but the two organizations were not related.[1][2]


Six-wheeled Pullman Automobile

Six-wheeled Pullman[edit]

Albert P. Brumell of Broomell, Schmidt & Steacy Company built his first car in 1903. Named the Pullman, it featured six wheels and was built in the Hardinge factory. The axles were evenly spaced; the endmost two axles were in their conventional fore and aft locations and the middle two wheels, which were the powered wheels, sat directly under the passenger seats.[2]

When steering the front and rear axels would turn in opposition, enabling the car to turn very tightly. If the car passed over a low spot in the road the driving wheels could become suspended and stop the car until it was pushed. When the car reached a particularly high spot in the road, it had a tendency to see-saw. In 1903, this problem contributed to a car crash.[3] The vehicle was subsequently torn apart and items such as the engine were rebuilt in a more conventional four-wheel configuration.[1]

Pullman Motor Car[edit]

The revised car was thought to be good enough for production and Brunnell and Samuel E. Baily established the York Motor Car Company in 1905. Also in 1905, master mechanic James A. Kline joined to design an improved car. Originally planned to be called the York, the name Pullman was settled on before the new car went into production. Thirteen York pilot cars were built in 1905, a figure that increased to 273 in 1906, the first full year of production.[2][1]

Pullman automobiles were sold as premium vehicles, using advertising slogans such as "Not Only The Best at the Price, But the Best at Any Price." The first Pullmans were large Touring and Runabout cars with twenty-hp or forty-hp engines priced from $2,000 to $2,500, equivalent to $81,426 in 2022.

By 1909, annual production exceeded one thousand cars and was then increased in 1910 to more than two thousand.[1]

Due to the Panic of 1907, financial assistance was needed and Thomas O'Connor and Oscar Stephenson of New York City became investors. In 1908, James Kline and Samuel Baily departed the company and would go back into automobile production with the Kline Kar in 1910.

In 1908, one vehicle was driven from the York factory to San Francisco and back over a period of about a month to prove its reliability.[4] The Lincoln Highway which ran through York had not been fully organized or completed and this was a challenging journey.[5]

In 1909, the company was reorganized as the Pullman Motor Car Company.[1]

A Pullman won the famed Fairmount Park Road Race in Philadelphia in 1910, and in 1911 was awarded three gold medals at the Russian Exposition in Rostov on Don, considered an unprecedented "victory" for an American automobile manufacturer.[1]

In 1912, Pullman introduced a sixty-hp six-cylinder car on a 138-inch wheelbase that was priced at $2,750, equivalent to $83,391 in 2022.[2]

Annual production by 1915 was more than four thousand cars. The Cutler-Hammer electric gear change was also offered; however, quality issues resulted from the high production and sales severely declined. In late 1915, E. T. Birdsall was brought in from White Motor Company to design a lower priced car to be called the Pullman Junior, but it was too late to save the company. The Pullman Junior, with a twenty-two-hp Golden Belknap & Schwartz engine that was priced at $740, (equivalent to $19,901 in 2022) was introduced for 1916 and was the only car produced in 1917 while the company was under receivership.[2][1]


The Pullman Motor Car Company declared bankruptcy in December 1916 and ceased operations in 1917; the factory was sold to Bell Motor Car Co. (also of York) and the rest of the company's assets were then sold at sale in July of that year, .[1]

The original building which housed the Pullman factory still exists in York, Pennsylvania at 238-242 N George St. There are about 27 known Pullman automobiles still in existence, about half of which have been restored.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h 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 Georgano, Nick (2001). The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (3 vol. ed.). Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.
  3. ^ "1900-1939". York Daily Record. Archived from the original on November 23, 2018. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  4. ^ "1909 Pullman Model K". Conceptcarz. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "1908 Pullman Model H Touring / 902 Chassis Information". Conceptcarz. Retrieved August 17, 2019.