Harry Mulford Jewett was not a man for sitting idle, waiting for life to happen around him. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Civil Engineering, Jewett competed in track, played varsity baseball, and as a halfback for The Fighting Irish during his collegiate years, where he scored the team’s very first touchdown.
After a successful and lucrative decade-and-a-half in the coal and mining industries, the Elmira, New York, native turned his attention—and his wealth—to the auto business, although he was a newcomer to the industry. According to historian Beverly Rae Kimes, Jewett took an early test ride in a prototype 25hp, three-cylinder, two-stroke car designed by Andrew Bachler and promoted by experienced automobile executive Fred O. Paige. Although he was later quoted as having a poor opinion of that early car, Jewett was still committed enough that he made a significant investment and formed the Paige-Detroit Company with Paige serving as president.
The aptly named Model 1 first appeared in 1909, but before long, Paige had left the company bearing his name, and Jewett assumed the helm. Learning his new industry quickly, he brought in fresh engineers and phased out the two-stroke engine, although for a short time in late 1910 or early 1911, the “Challenger“ roadster was available with either the two-stroke triple, or the new 176.7cid four-cylinder engine. Both the four-stroke four used in the new Model B, and the two-stroke were rated at 25hp and priced at $800. A substantially more expensive coupe was offered for $1,250. By 1912, the two-stroke engine was just a memory, along with the Detroit portion of the company’s original name.
This lovely Model B “Challenger” is likely the only example of the very early, Paige-Detroit four-cylinder model to survive. The lithe roadster coachwork glows with the warmth that only comes from many decades of proper care of a beautifully restored car. The original brass radiator, headlamps, side lamps, and details compliment the lovely blue body. The fact that this Model B remained in one collection for roughly six decades surely contributes to its fine condition.
The Paige-Detroit’s chassis has a wheelbase of 90 inches, and the specifications included two longitudinal leaf springs up front, and a single transverse spring in the rear. Typically for the era, drum brakes are fitted to the rear wheels only, and the manual transmission features a cork-lined clutch. The frame, suspension and wheels are finished in pale yellow to nicely contrast the blue body, and remain in remarkable condition thanks to many years of attentive care and enjoyment.
Lift either side of the hood, and the flat-head four appears clean and very presentable, especially considering the age of the restoration. The gray painted block, period hose clamps, ignition wires, and oil can remain as tribute to the quality of this older restoration.
The brown leather of the cockpit also plays nicely with the blue paint of the body, with details including brown linoleum floorboards with brass accents. The upholstery is in excellent order, showing only a light, age appropriate patina. Instruments and controls are rudimentary, with the hefty wooden steering wheel the most prominent feature of the cockpit. Although it was optional when the car was new, this Paige-Detroit sports a tan canvas top and a temporary canvas front screen for additional weather protection. When folded, the top rests on the cylindrical fuel tank located behind the interior.
When new, company advertising celebrated the Model B’s advantageous power to weight ratio of 1 horsepower for every 56 pounds, and its appetite for climbing hills. This unique and sporty Paige-Detroit is certain to offer strong performance for such an early, light automobile, and bring much joy to its next owner. It will surely make an outstanding entry into the adventurous world of Brass Era touring.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7420
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