Roamer was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1917 as a collaboration between Cloyd Kenworthy, New York City distributor of Rauch & Lang electric cars and Albert C. Barley, an automaker who built the Halladay automobile in Streator, Illinois. Barley brought in Karl H. Martin into the project, a New York body constructor and designer of the Halladay. Martin translated his experience into the Roamer, which bore more than a passing resemblance to a contemporary Rolls Royce. The Roamer was an expensive and very high quality car that utilized “off the shelf” engines courtesy of Continental or Rochester-Duesenberg, depending on the specification. Interestingly, the idea for the name “Roamer” is credited to Barley’s chauffeur, who was inspired by a race horse by the same name that was awarded American Horse of the Year for 1914.
1918 was the second full year of production for the Roamer. The model C-6-54 utilized a 303 cubic inch L-Head six-cylinder engine by Continental, making a respectable 54 horsepower. The 128 inch wheelbase chassis was somewhat conventional with its semi-elliptic springs, solid front axle, and two wheel brakes. While it may not have been a ground-breaking design, it was high quality, very well-constructed and built to suit each customer’s individual needs. The very deliberate and rather shameless imitation of Rolls-Royce styling (even the “RoameR” logo was clearly not an accident!) seemed to attract plenty of buyers and nearly 1,500 cars were produced in 1918 and approximately 11,000 in total over the life of the company. In spite of the high asking price, production continued until 1929, attracting several prominent clients along the way, such as Hollywood legends Mary Pickford and Buster Keaton.
This lovely 1918 C-6-54 wears attractive Sport Touring bodywork and presents in very appealing condition throughout. This example was restored some time ago by noted craftsman Tom Carrig of Wapakoneta, Ohio. The late Mr. Carrig was well known in the hobby as a restorer of brass lighting and his care and expertise still shine through on this very fine example. Smartly presented in white with red wire wheels, trim and accents, this handsome car certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to a Rolls Royce, yet manages an attractive style of its own. It shows fewer than 40,000 miles and has been recently re-commissioned and used on a regular basis as part of a prominent Kalamazoo-area collection. Body and paint remain in very fine order and the polished nickel trim is sound and attractive. A black top and black leather trunk tie the color scheme together. High quality red leather in the cockpit contrasts the white paintwork and presents in excellent condition, with a wood dash, wood wheel and folding windscreen for rear passengers giving a definite upscale feel.
The L-Head Continental Six is pleasingly detailed, showing some signs of use but with correct finishes and fittings and it proudly wears a proper “RoameR” branded alloy water outlet. Included in the sale are various spare parts, photographs and literature. This is an unusual, attractive automobile with fascinating Michigan history that is sorted and ready to delight at events and shows.