Union Automobile Company

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A 1901 experimental model automobile, later to become the "Union" designed by John W. Lambert

The Union Automobile Company began to make automobiles in Union City, Indiana in 1902.[1] It built the Union automobile from 1902 through 1905. The company was located in Union City, Indiana from 1902 to 1905. In 1905 it moved to Anderson, Indiana.[2]


John William Lambert's first automobile marketing success was with the model called the "Union." The reason it was called the Union automobile was because of favorable agreements and concessions from Union City chamber of commerce. Most of the automobile components for the Union automobile were made at the Buckeye Manufacturing Company in Anderson, Indiana, owned and operated by Lambert.[2]

The Union automobile was initially released in 1902. The first friction disk-drive gearless transmission automobile, as designed by Lambert, was on the road in 1901 as an experimental vehicle. The motor for the automobile was a pair of opposed 6 by 4-inch (100 mm) cylinders, far in front, crosswise, side chains to rear drivers. One model was a single seater that weighed 1,400 pounds (640 kg) and was equipped with a 4 horsepower (3.0 kW) motor. Another model was 1,800 pounds with a 7 horsepower (5.2 kW) motor. The motors were built by the Buckeye Manufacturing Company. The motors ran up to 1,500 revolutions per minute and as low as 150 rpm. They had a make and break ignition with current furnished by a magneto. The first model was quickly followed by a second friction driven model, same motor placed crosswise in extreme rear of the car.[3]

Union Automobile Company built in 1904 through 1905 a 5-seater tonneau model. This automobile came with a ten horsepower engine in 1904. In 1905 it was available in a 12 hp (8.9 kW) model or a 16 hp (12 kW) model. In 1905 the majority of the factory production was done in the Anderson plant. That plant had always made the engines and transmissions for the Union automobile from the start. In that same year the name of the automobile changed from the Union automobile to the Lambert automobile.[4]

Union Automobile Company manufactured a medium weight gasoline automobile for business purposes and for personal use. The stock of this company was principally owned by the Buckeye Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of parts of carriages and buggies, and the Lambert Gas and Gasoline Engine Company of Anderson, Indiana — both of which were owned by the Lambert family. Over three hundred of the initial "Union" automobiles had been made and sold.[5]


  1. ^ "Union City History". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  2. ^ a b Kimes, p. 835
  3. ^ "Union Automobile Company." Horseless Age, December 11, 1901, p 802.
  4. ^ G.N. Georgano, p. 1642
  5. ^ ATJ, p. 225

See also[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

  • Biography of John W. Lambert, written by his son January 25 1935 — obtained from the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection
  • Dolnar, Hugh, Automobile Trade Journal, article: The Lambert, 1906 Line of Automobiles, Chilton Company, v.10 January 1906
  • Forkner, John L., History of Madison County, Indiana, New York and Chicago, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1914
  • The Horseless Age: The Automobile Trade Magazine, The Horseless Age Company, 1902

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Bailey, L. Scott, Historic Discovery: 1891 Lambert, New Claim for America's First Car, Antique Automobile magazine, Vol. 24, No. 5, Oct–Nov 1960
  • David Burgess Wise, The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Automobiles ISBN 0-7858-1106-0
  • Dittlinger, Esther et al., Anderson: A Pictorial History, G. Bradley Publishing, 1990, ISBN 0-943963-16-8
  • G.N. Georgano, The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, Taylor & Francis, 2000, ISBN 1-57958-293-1
  • Huffman, Wallace Spencer, Indiana's Place in Automobile History in Indiana History Bulletin, vol 44, no. 2, Feb. 1967; Indianapolis, Indiana Historical Bureau
  • Huhti, Thomas, The Great Indiana Touring Book: 20 Spectacular Auto Tours, Big Earth Publishing, 2002, ISBN 1-931599-09-2
  • James, Wanda, Driving from Japan, McFarland, 2005, ISBN 0-7864-1734-X
  • Kimes, Beverly Rae, Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805–1942, Krause Publications, 1996, ISBN 0-87341-428-4
  • Madden, W. C., Haynes-Apperson and America's First Practical Automobile: A History, McFarland, 2003, ISBN 0-7864-1397-2
  • Scharchburg, Richard P., Carriages Without Horses: J. Frank Duryea and the Birth of the American Automobile Industry, SAE, 1993, ISBN 1-56091-380-0