When some of the first cars were built in the early part of the last century, many different small companies popped up, especially around Michigan where the automotive industry in the US seemed to call home. One of these companies was the Alpena Motor Car Company which was founded in 1910 and began to build cars the very next year. This company promised a car that was ready to take out on the somewhat rougher roads of the time and was a company named after the town that it called home. All in all, it was an extremely American Dream story to start with.
The original production began in 1910 to produce cars for the 1911 model year. The company stated a goal of being able to produce 3,000 cars per year in the near future after the starting of production and their cars were made to be different from the rest. The goal was to offer two models to fill this quota and the cars were advertised to be “wonderful, silent, powerful and efficient” from the motor that offered everything enclosed including the valves in an engine and build that was being sold as “troubleless” in its execution.
There were original 70 workers that worked to build the new Alpena Flyers which began being shipped in 1911. The cost for these cars ranged from $1,450 to $1,600 and some of the later models would have different engine choices that could be made. Unfortunately, the Alpena Motor Car company ran into legal issues that caused it to have to shut down by 1914. The company was sued in 1912 for patent infringement over the suspension design and it seems this small company didn’t have enough cash flow to protect it from going under.
While there is said to have been no more than 1,000 cars made during the short time the company was in business, there really were probably only a few hundred that were made. The Alpena Flyer seen in the video below is the only one still in existence. This car is the result of a search by Ron Winter to find the Flyer and what he found were a frame and a few loose parts. He took those items to Restorations Unlimited II for the restoration that needed to be done in order to bring this car back to life.
The result of this restoration is a car that looks like it came out of the Brass Era and rolled right out of the factory. The car is now on display in Alpena, MI and it is a 1911 Standard Touring Alpena Flyer. This car is painted in “Dark Royal Blue” which was the only color offered that year. Its powered by a 33 horsepower four-cylinder Northway engine and is set up as a right-hand drive. This driving setup was common at the time and as the only one of these cars left in existence, it offers us a look at what once was part of automotive history even if only for a brief moment in time.