August 29, 2020

FRONTENAC (1)/FRONTY FORD

Frontenac Motor Company (1921-1925)

Chevrolet Brothers Manufacturing Co. (1922-1932)

Indianapolis, Indiana


This is a Fronenac radiator emblem (1921-c1928)      mjs
Size: 88mm wide 56mm high    MM: None

Louis Chevrolet established Frontenac Motor Corporation in 1914 for the purpose of developing racing cars. The first Frontenac race cars appeared in 1916 and three were entered for the Indy 500 but were unsuccessful. However, in December 1916 a Frontenac racer driven by Louis Chevrolet won the inaugural race at the Uniontown Board Speedway at 102mph. In 1917 Frontenac racers driven by Louis Chevrolet, Ralph Mulford and others won several important races and in 1919 the same Frontenac race cars won four major races and one finished 9th at the Indy 500.

In 1920 Louis Chevrolet moved his activities to facilities shared with the makers of the Monroe car. A new Frontenac race car was designed by Louis Chevrolet and Cornelius van Ranst. Seven cars were built and raced, four of which carried the Monroe name and one of these, driven by Gaston Chevrolet, won the 1920 Indy 500 at 88.17mph. This was the first Indy 500 win by an American car since 1912, and a newly designed Frontenac, driven by Tommy Milton, won the Indy 500 in 1921.

Fresh from these successes, Louis Chevrolet incorporated the Frontenac Motor Company in late 1921 and announced a new Frontenac passenger car, which had been designed by Chevrolet and van Ranst. The Frontenac was an advanced 60 hp four-cylinder motorcar, the prototype of which was driven at 75mph in tests at the Indianapolis track. The car made its debut at the Indy 500 race in May 1922 but never went into production. Chevrolet then designed another Frontenac car, this time powered by an 80 hp eight-cylinder engine but this too did not go beyond the prototype stage.

Louis Chevrolet and his brother Arthur had also formed the Chevrolet Brothers Manufacturing Company and in the early 1920's produced cylinder heads and other specialist auto parts for race cars, as well as complete high-speed dirt track racers powered by specially adapted Ford Model T engines, called Fronty-Fords. One of the first Fronty-Ford race cars, driven by Ralph Ormsby, broke the world record for a half-mile dirt track event at 29 seconds flat at Winchester, Indiana in 1922, and the same year, at the Indianapolis 500, Glen Howard drove a Fronty-Ford for 440 miles at an average speed of 85mph. In 1923 a Fronty-Ford finished 5th at the Indy 500. Fronty-Fords continued to be raced successfully on dirt tracks until 1932.

Emblem

The design of the blue, pale blue, white and black enamel Frontinac radiator emblem shown above appears on the brochure for the Frontenac passenger car announced in 1921, see below:

Frontenac brochure showing radiator emblem design (1921)   sfam

This original Frontenac radiator emblem is very rare but, beware, as there are reproduction Frontenac emblems with less front detail and a shiny flat back with two threaded studs, see example below:

This is a reproduction Frontenac radiator emblem    ms

The Frontenac emblem is believed to have been used on the radiators of the prototype Frontenac cars built by Louis Chevrolet. The same emblem was also used on some early Fronty-Ford race cars, see example below:

This shows the Frontenac radiator emblem on a 1926 Fronty Ford Speedster  ms 




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