Established in 1899, the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago was an early champion of electric-powered automobiles. The firm got off to a rocky start and fell into receivership in 1901. By the following year, the firm was reorganized, and a new president was installed at the helm. With additional investment, a new factory in the north end of Chicago, and a line of high-quality cars, Woods finally found success. By 1904, the range expanded to include more luxurious machines, and between 1905-1907, they added a pure gasoline-powered car to the portfolio. But most intriguing was the so-called “Dual Power” model which could run on petrol or battery. Woods cars were expensive, exclusive, and boasted a reputation for exceptional quality. Unfortunately, the reputation alone was not enough to drive sales, and the high price combined with falling demand for electric cars spiraled Woods into a financial crisis. They experimented again with a new Dual Power concept, this time utilizing a primitive hybrid system, with electric power up to 15 mph, gasoline assistance up to 35 mph, and pure gasoline power above that. It was a novel concept, but it was horrifically costly to build and never quite functioned as advertised. A wave of warranty claims and plummeting demand spelled the end of Woods Motor Vehicle in 1918.
This 1906 Style 103 Victoria is a lovely and rarely-seen example of a pure electric Woods. This charming little two-seat runabout is offered from long-term private ownership and is presented with a wonderfully honest patina. It is a stalwart of the Antique Automobile Club of America and the Horseless Carriage Club of America since the 1950s and is exceptionally well-preserved. The body is simple yet elegant, finished in Brewster Green with cream accents, cream chassis, and detailed with period-correct carriage lamps and leather mudguards. Badges from the AACA and HCCA adorn the front lid, and a brass firewall tag documents its participation in the 1953 Midwest Antique Automobile Meet.
Perched in the lofty bench seat, the driver is greeted with simple controls consisting of a single foot pedal and tiller for steering and throttle. The beauty of these early electric cars is their inherent simplicity, with no fuel or cooling systems to worry about and refreshingly easy operation. A period-correct Weston combination volt/amp meter keeps tabs on the batteries, but the dash is otherwise free of distractions. The button-tufted leather on the seat could very likely be original, and it is in remarkably good order. It is consistently aged, displaying a few cracks, repairs, and plenty of character earned over more than a century of use and care.
The Woods Style 103 features a battery compartment at each end, with a mid-mounted motor and differential. The diff drives the rear artillery wheels via twin chains, and there is a single driveshaft mounted brake to keep that unbridled horsepower under control. As offered here, batteries are not included (batteries not included) though the motor has been tested and found to be in working order. There’s little doubt that this would be an immensely enjoyable buggy for use on club events and veteran car runs with minimal preparation. Increasingly, significant worldwide concours are celebrating the significance of early electrics, and this delightful little Woods would surely be a welcome participant in a wide array of gatherings.
Offers welcome and trades considered