Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Brief History of the Templar Motors Company

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Last night, Lakewood city leaders decided against renaming a portion of Athens Avenue in honor of the Templar Motors company. Rather than legally change the name of the street to Templar Motor Way (a convoluted process that would leave more confusion than pride at the doorsteps of neighboring residents and businesses), City Council decided to bestow an honorary titled on the 750-foot stretch of pavement outside the hallowed factory, according to Lakewood Patch.

It may be the sort of *fluff* move the city is known for, but the discussion points certainly highlight an important part of west side lore. By all standards, the company failed miserably. But its history is tied to World War I weapons development and fierce American-style competition with fellow innovators like Henry Ford. Speed, you see, was the name of Templar's game for its brief eight years of existence.

- In 1916, a group of local investors founded the company with 300,000 square feet of floor space and an optimistic eye toward manufacturing primo automobiles.

- The cars were built with luxury and speed in mind. To illustrate, here's a bit of PR published in the company's heyday: "Those men of affairs, who like to do their own driving, are extravagant in their praise of this superlatively high-grade car. It is as serviceable as its originality is distinctive."

- Cars ranged in price from $2,000 to $3,500. In all, however, the company only manufactured 6,000 cars from 1916 to 1924. At its peak, the company was crafting eight cars each day. Some reports have only 30 Templar cars still in existence today.

- In 1919, E.G. "Cannonball" Baker set a world record for speed by driving a Templar vehicle from New York City to Chicago in 26 hours and 50 minutes. 26 HOURS AND 50 MINUTES!

- On Dec. 13, 1921, a fire destroyed nearly all of Templar's property, leaving only the current building (now dubbed the Screw Factory, for what it's worth). Production chugged along for three more years before the company defaulted on a loan and shut down.

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