Electric  Vehicles  produced  by  Columbia

This page deals with passenger vehicles - various electrics and one gasoline model.

The first group of illustrations and texts is from a booklet published in 1903,
sometime after the Chicago Auto Show (in mid-February) and before the first
Chicago to New York Record Record Run at the end of September.
These are followed by four additional models from later catalogues,
an ad, and a photograph of an open landaulet with a famous celebrity.
Then, one final model which is mentioned in the 1903 catalogue (but not
illustrated there), and an illustration of it from the 1900 catalogue.
(More photos from the 1900 catalogue - including both automobiles
and scenes from the factory - appear on a later webpage.)

The next section has some other materials from this era, including
the use of Columbias by an English Queen and an American President.

Commercial vehicles (wagons and trucks) are on the following page.





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The  Surrey was often seen
with a fringe on top!

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To see color photographs of the only known
surviving 1903 Columbia Electric Surrey,
which was sold at auction in October, 2011,
click here.


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A photo of Mr. and Mrs. Van Sciver in a 1901 Columbia,
which won the "Most Interesting" title at the
Fifth Annual Fall Outing of the AACA in 1944,
appears on a later webpage




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To read articles and see more photos of
City and Suburban Electric Carriages,
use the link within the photo of
Queen Alexandra's vehicle
later on this page.

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The only other foreign license to make Columbia cars was given in France.
Their models were manufactured in Paris and distributed by
Société l'Electromotion from 1900-1909.

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To see a few more items about the
Columbia cars in Paris, click here.




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Below is a collection of other materials relating to
Columbia electric cars from 1901-09



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August 22, 1902:

The First Presidential Motorcade

Teddy Roosevelt was not the first president to ride in a motor car. His predecessor, William McKinley, seems to have done so on a few occasions,  but out of the public eye. His final ride (on the day he was shot in 1901) was in an ambulance made either by Columbia or by Riker, depending on the source.  There was no such reticence for President Roosevelt. The first time he rode in an automobile, August 22, 1902, he did so very much in public, while on a swing through New England ahead of the '02 mid-term elections. It was the first presidential motorcade, through Hartford, Conn.

Frederic D. Schwarz writes in AmericanHeritage.com: "...this was the first time Americans witnessed a President sitting in a motorcar and waving to cheering crowds — a scene that has since taken on familiar and occasionally chilling overtones.

"The car in which Roosevelt rode was a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton. At this early stage in the industry’s development, about half of America’s automobiles were electric, with most of the rest running on steam and a small fraction being internal-combustion. (President McKinley’s first auto ride, back in 1899, had been in a steam-driven Locomobile piloted by its inventor, F. O. Stanley, in Washington, D.C.)

"Like other Columbia models, the Victoria Phaeton had an external box for the driver, in this case in the rear — a holdover from the days of horse-drawn carriages. It was propelled by two rear electric motors, using power stored in 20 two-volt Exide lead-acid batteries. Together the batteries weighed about 800 pounds, roughly 40 percent of the vehicle’s total weight; they were placed above the front and rear axles. The tires were solid rubber, and the chauffeur had a choice of four speeds, topping out at a blistering 13 mph, though in this case the car probably crawled along at the minimum 4 mph. It sold for $3,000, about five times the average annual wage...

"...By the end of the decade, the use of cars would be routine for Presidents. In 1907 the Secret Service bought a pair of White steam cars to carry visitors between the Oyster Bay train station and the President’s house at Sagamore Hill. In 1909, President William Howard Taft rode a Pierce-Arrow to and from his inaugural ball. From then on, automobiles became a staple of presidential appearances — though since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the use of open cars has been reduced considerably."

Apparently Theodore Roosevelt's entire family enjoyed motoring, as can be seen in the next items...

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Nearly a half-century later, these cars
became nostalgic items for display,
and as models-in-kits



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More information about these "Old Timers" kits is shown
on a later webpage in this presentation, along with the
material about the Selden Motor Wagon



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To see the Columbia Electric Commercial Vehicles,
click HERE