September 14, 2020


Sunset Automobile Co. (1900-1906)

San Francisco, California

Victory Motor Car Co. (1906-1913)

San Jose, California

This is a Sunset 30 radiator script (1909)      sam
Size: 365mm wide

The Sunset Automobile Company started in 1900 by producing a small steam runabout. A new 10 hp two-cylinder gasoline engine powered Sunset runabout replaced the Sunset steamer in 1904. Touring and surrey models joined the roadster model early in 1906, together with a new 20 hp four-cylinder car. But then disaster struck and the Sunset factory was destroyed by the San Franciso earthquake in April 1906.

The Sunset Automobile Company teamed up with the Knapp Manufacturing Company and the Victory Motor Car Company took over production of the Sunset at a new factory built in San Jose. Three 15 hp Sunset models were offered for 1907, a two-cylinder runabout, a three-cylinder runabout and a three-cylinder touring. A new roadster model was introduced in 1908, which had some success in local racing events. A new Model 30 appeared in 1909 and was available in roadster and touring body styles.

The history of the Sunset after 1909 is confused. Some references suggest that production of the Sunset did not proceed into 1910, when the key figures in the management left the company. The Standard Catalog refers to a 1913 report that the Sunset was being built under the aegis of the California Motor Car Company but the Sunset factory in San Jose was sold that year.


The first Sunset steamer runabouts did not have a radiator and would not have carried an emblem but most likely did have a small maker's nameplate attached to the body.

The 1904 Sunset gasoline car did have a hood and a radiator and carried a small radiator emblem. A surviving 1904 Sunset also displays the "Sunset" name on an interesting brass radiator "script", see photos shown below:

Sunset surrey with radiator emblem & script (1904) glen miller

Close-up showing radiator emblem & script (1904)  flickr

The small rectangular, painted metal Sunset radiator emblem shown above is one of the earliest American radiator emblems. It is inscribed "Sunset Automobile Co. Manufacturers, San Francisco, CA.". An original Sunset radiator emblem would be extremely rare.

The brass Sunset radiator script has the "Sunset" name set in front of a sinking sun. This script is unlikely to be an original script from 1904.

The Sunset radiator emblem can still just be seen in the following original photo of a 1906 Sunset touring model:

Sunset touring with radiator emblem (1906)  ms

The larger Sunset Model 30 appeared in 1909 and displayed the brass "Sunset 30" radiator script shown above at the top of this post. Original Sunset radiator scripts are very rare. 

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