November 17, 2023


Templar Motors Corp. (1917-1923)

Templar Motor Car Co. (1923-1924)

Cleveland/Lakewood, Ohio

This is a Templar radiator emblem (1918-1924)    mjs
Size:76mm wide 53mm high   MM: Bastian Bros

The Templar car was a well designed assembled car with a sporty, stylish appearance. The engine was designed by the Templar Chief Engineer, A. M. Dean, and was unique to the Templar. The first few Templar car appeared in July 1917 and were built in Cleveland before the Templar factory in Lakewood was completed. 

The Templar factory at Lakewood was used for the production of munitions during World War I, which effectively interrupted Templar car production before it had really begun. Full Templar production did not begin until 1919. 

The Templar was a 43 hp four-cylinder motor car offered in a variety of body styles of aluminum construction and built by Lang or Rubay in Cleveland and later by Central of Indiana. The Templar was advertised as "The Superfine Small Car". In July 1919 the Templar enjoyed good publicity when Cannonball Baker drove a Templar from New York to Chicago in a new record time of 26 hours 50 minutes beating the previous record by more than six hours.

The Templar suffered from post war material shortages and after 1920 sales dropped. Then in December 1921 part of the Templar factory burned down and the company was in receivership in 1922. The company was reorganized in late 1923 as the Templar Motor Car Company and a new line of 27 hp six-cylinder cars appeared in 1924. It was all too late, however, and the Templar was finished before the end of 1924.


The Templar was named after the Knights Templar but used the Maltese cross as a logo, although the Maltese cross was the symbol of the Knights Hospitaller and not the Knights Templar. However, the Maltese cross is the symbol of the Order of Malta, which is a degree associated with the Masonic Order of the Knights Templar. The owners of the Templar Motors Corporation were serious freemasons and, no doubt, felt that the Maltese cross was visually more appealing than the cross pattee used by the Knights Templar.

The Templar carried a radiator emblem depicting a Knight Templar riding a horse in full armor with a lance. There are several versions of this emblem.

The first Templar cars appeared in 1917 and carried an oval shaped, black and white radiator emblem, see the photo shown below of the very first Templar car built in Cleveland:

Templar car No 1 showing white radiator emblem (1917)  dbc

This black and white Templar radiator emblem is more clearly seen on the following original factory photo of a Templar roadster built in Lakewood in 1917 but with a 1918 license plate:

Templar Roadster (1917-1918)   dbc

Close up showing white radiator emblem

It is believed that the black and white Templar radiator emblem was used for most, if not all, of the first 150 Templar cars built in 1917 and 1918. This includes the Templar Victoria Elite model built in 1918 for the 1919 model year, see original period photo shown below. This Templar model was very expensive and aimed at a small but wealthy, chauffeur driven clientele. Very few Victoria Elite models were actually built and the model was dropped in early 1919.

Templar Victoria Elite showing radiator emblem (1919)  dbc

There are no surviving examples of Templar cars built in 1917 or 1918 but it is believed that the radiator emblem may have been the black and white enamel emblem shown below, although I cannot confirm this absolutely. If this is indeed an original Templar radiator emblem, then it is extremely rare and possibly ultra rare.

This appears to be the first Templar radiator emblem (1917-1918) ms
Size: 76mm wide 53mm high      MM: Unknown

The white, brown and green Templar radiator emblem shown below has the same basic design of the Knight Templar and his horse as the black and white emblem shown above and, for this reason, is assumed to be an example of the next Templar radiator emblem but this cannot be confirmed absolutely. This Templar radiator emblem has not been seen on a surviving Templar car and is believed to have been used for a short time only from possibly late 1918 or early 1919, making this emblem extremely rare.

This is a Templar radiator emblem (c1918-1919)     mjs
Size: 76mm wide 53mm high   MM: Unknown (some Bastian Bros)

A new multi-color enamel Templar radiator emblem appeared later in 1919, see example shown above at the top of this post and again below:

This is a Templar radiator emblem (c1919-1924)    mjs
Size: 76mm wide 53mm high    MM: Bastian Bros

This Templar radiator emblem displays a more elaborate design of the Knight Templar, who now wears a plumed helmet, and his horse now carries more detailed trappings and a banner with the Maltese cross. This Templar radiator emblem is seen on all known surviving Templar cars and is very rare.

The following apparent variant of this emblem design displays several detailed differences and is of poor quality. The transparent pale green enamel in the central wedge panel is a mystery but this emblem is likely to be a reproduction emblem.

This likely to be a reproduction Templar emblem   kmc
Size: 76mm wide 53mm high   

The photo below shows that the oval Templar radiator emblem was mounted on a specially designed collar at the top of the radiator under the filler cap or the motor meter, where this was fitted. All oval shaped Templar radiator emblems are the same size in order to fit into the same mounting collar.

This is a Templar radiator emblem and motor meter (1922)    caam

After a series of record breaking runs in a Templar car, from New York to Chicago in 1919 and New York to Los Angeles in 1920, Cannonball Baker, the driver, was presented with a Templar car, which carried a specially made bright gold and black Cannonball Baker Special emblem displaying the Maltese cross, similar to the example below:

This is a Cannonball Baker Special emblem (1920)     mjs
Size: 76mm wide 53mm high      MM: None (original Bastian Bros)

This emblem is exactly the same size as the other oval shaped Templar emblems and may have been made to fit into the radiator emblem mounting collar. In the event, however, the car presented to Cannonball Baker carried a standard Templar radiator emblem, as shown at the top of this post, and the Cannonball Baker Special emblem was mounted on the outside of the car near to the driver's entrance, see photo below:

Cannonball Baker Special emblem mounted near the driver's entrance    autoweek

The above photo is of the actual Templar car presented to Cannonball Baker, which has survived. The Cannonball Baker Special emblem on the door has a Bastian Bros maker's mark. This emblem was not used on any other car and is ultra rare. The Cannonball Baker Special emblem shown earlier above is believed to be a reproduction but is, nevertheless, rare. 

The following black and green enamel Templar radiator emblem is a bit of a mystery. It has not been seen on a surviving Templar car, but an original brochure illustration of a custom-built Brunn bodied Templar shows black and green in the wheel hubs. This suggests that the emblem shown below may have been used on the radiator but this cannot be confirmed. This Templar radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a Templar radiator emblem (c1920 date uncertain)     ms
Size: 76mm wide 53mm high      MM: Unknown

Original black and white photos of a Templar taxi cab with 1920 license plates made for the Checker Taxi Company in Chicago show a radiator emblem, which appears closely similar to the emblem shown above with dark, probably black enamel outside the middle triangle, see photo shown below. It is highly likely that the emblem shown above was used on this Templar taxi but, in the absence of a color photo, I cannot confirm this absolutely.

Templar taxi cab showing radiator emblem (c1920)  dbc

Close up showing radiator emblem     dbc

A completely different Templar radiator emblem was introduced in 1924 for the Templar-Six model, see Templar brochure cover illustration below:

This is a Templar-Six brochure cover showing the radiator emblem (1924)    ms

This is the blue, pale blue and white enamel Templar-Six radiator emblem shown below. This Templar radiator emblem is extremely rare:

This is a Templar-Six radiator emblem (1924)     sam
Size:  71mm wide 71mm high      MM: Unknown

The Templar Maltese Cross trademark was displayed on the hubcaps, see examples shown below:

This is a Templar wire-wheel hubcap    ms

This is a Templar wood-wheel hubcap   dkc

Templar roadsters also displayed the Maltese Cross trademark on leather scuff protectors and on the step plates, see examples shown below:

Templar scuff protector    dbc

Templar scuff protector & step plate (1922)   caam

Templar step plate     dbc

As mentioned earlier, the Maltese cross logo adopted by Templar Motors was the symbol of the Knights Hospitaller not the Knights Templar. The cross used by the Knights Templar was the cross pattee, as shown below:

This is a Knight Templar wearing the cross pattee    wiki

I am grateful to Dave Buehler of the Templar Cars Factory Display at the Erie Building in Lakewood, Ohio for his most helpful and detailed advice on the Templar motor car and for providing original period photographs of Templar cars from his comprehensive photographic and literature collection. Any errors in my interpretation of his advice are entirely down to me.

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