March 24, 2020


York Motor Car Co. (1905-1909)

Pullman Motor Car Co. (1909-1917)

York, Pennsylvania

This is a Pullman radiator script (1906-c1912)      mjs
Size: 157mm wide

Albert P Broomell built a two-cylinder six-wheeled car in 1903 which he called the Pullman but which was unsuccessful. He then designed a new four-wheeled car, which he called the York (see York). He was joined by Samuel E Baily, president of the York Cariage Company, and together they promoted the York motor car. The interest generated in the York was sufficient to encourage the formation of the York Motor Car Company and to engage James A Kline to develop the York design for production. The new car was ready by late 1905 by which time the name had been changed back to Pullman.

The first Pullman cars were finely built, large and expensive 18/20 hp four-cylinder automobiles, which grew to 40 hp by 1907 with six-cylinder models added in 1908. Pullman cars were well respected for quality and comfort. The range of avalable body styles was increased after 1910. A taxi model was introduced in 1911 and a light delivery van was offered from mid-1916.

Pullman cars took part in various tours and competitions. In 1910 a Pullman car won the Fairmount Park Road Race and Pullman won three gold medals at the Russian Exposition in 1911. 

The financial panic of 1907 resulted in management changes and the company was reorganized in 1909 as the Pullman Motor Car Company and the management was in the hands of financiers from New York. James Kline and Sam Baily departed and went on to build a car to be called the Kline Kar.

The Pullman was successful, sales were high and orders for the Pullman grew. Unfortunately, in the hurry to meet demand, quality was sacrificed and the Pullman reputation for superb motor cars suffered badly. This proved to be the undoing of the Pullman and bankruptcy was eventually declared in December 1916. The final Pullman cars left the factory in 1917 after a total lifetime production of over 20,000 units.


The first Pullman cars in 1905 did not carry an emblem but would have displayed the Pullman name on a serial plate attached to the body of the car.

The four-cylinder Model C touring car built in late 1905 for the 1906 model year was the first Pullman car to leave the factory with a brass "Pullman" script attached to the radiator core, see example shown below:

This is a Pullman Model C showing a radiator script (1906)    yaim

The small brass emblem just visible at the top of the radiator in the above photo is the radiator maker's nameplate.

This is the Pullman Model C radiator script (1906)       yaim 

Pullman advertisements show several, slight variations in the style of the "Pullman" script logo. Not all of these would be reflected in the actual radiator scripts used at the time. 

The "Pullman" script shown above on the 1906 Model C is the same design as appears on some original Pullman photos from 1909, see example below:

Ths is a Pullman in the Harrisburg Endurance Run showing a radiator script (1909)     dpl

However, there were some variations in the script sizes and designs, for example, see the following original photo from 1906 showing a much larger radiator script:

This is a Pullman Model E with a large radiator script (1906)   hacc

The following photo of a restored 1910 Pullman Model O shows a variation in the "Pullman" script design but I cannot confirm that the script is original:

This shows the radiator script on a Pullman Model O (1910)     sotheby's

The "Pullman" radiator script shown above at the top of this post is another slightly different and, possibly, later design. Original brass "Pullman" radiator scripts are rare.

The Pullman name was also displayed on brass sill plates on early models, see examples shown below. The first example is seen on a surviving 1908 Pullman Model H Touring:

This is a Pullman sill plate (1908)    bmhv

The following Pullman sill plate is seen on a surviving 1910 Model O Pullman but presumably built in 1909 before the reorganization to the Pullman Motor Car Company:

This is a Pullman sill plate (1909)      sotheby's

The following photo shows part of a different early Pullman sill plate:

This is part of a Pullman sill plate (date unknown)     sam

The "Pullman" name is also found displayed on a maker's nameplate mounted on the dash on the surviving 1908 Pullman Model H Touring and also on the step plate, see below:

This is a Pullman maker's nameplate (1908)     bmhv
Size: 135mm wide 40mm high

Pullman step plate (1908)     bmhv

From late 1911, the "Pullman" name was also displayed as an embossed script in the radiator tank top, see example shown below:

This is an embossed "Pullman" radiator script (1911)     rentzels

The same embossed "Pullman" script is seen on Pullman cars in an original photo from 1912, see below:

This is a Pullman car with the embossed "Pullman" script (1912)     pvc

This embossed "Pullman" script was not used on all Pullman models and, by 1914, there was a change in the design of the embossed "Pullman" name to a block letter version, see the example below of a Pullman Model 6-46:

This is a Pullman Model 6-46 showing an embossed block letter script (1914)      dbc

This embossed block letter "Pullman" radiator script was last used on the 1915 Pullman Model 6-48.

The Pullman Junior models built in 1915 displayed a "Pullman JUNIOR" radiator script, see 1915 brochure illustration and original photo shown below:

This is a Pullman Junior brochure illustration showing the radiator script (1915)   sfam

This is a Pullman Junior showing the radiator script (1915)    pvc

For 1916, all models carried a "Pullman" script on the radiator core, except for the very last few units, which carried an unusual radiator emblem in the form of a colored circular decal in the center of the radiator tank top. 

This radiator decal emblem was used as a cost saving measure and was used for the Model 4-24, which was the final Pullman passenger car model that appeared in 1917. There is a surviving, unrestored Pullman Model 4-24 in the York Industrial Museum, see photo below:

This is a Pullman Model 4-24 showing the decal radiator emblem (1917)     vaim

Unfortunately, the colored decal emblem is so badly worn, that the detailed design cannot be seen, see below:

This is the surviving Pullman Model 4-24 decal radiator emblem (1917)      yaim

However, the detailed design of the emblem is shown on Pullman advertisements from 1916 and 1917, see example below:

This is a Pullman ad showing the emblem design (1917)   mm

Close up showing the Pullman radiator emblem design (1917)    mm

The following shows a reproduction version of the Pullman emblem decal:

This is a Pullman radiator emblem decal   pvc

The same decal radiator emblem was also used on the prototype closed sedan Pullman model intended to be used for 1918, see original photo below:

This is the 1918 prototype Pullman closed sedan showing the decal emblem    pvc

The Pullman name was also displayed on the hub emblems, see example below. Original Pullman hub emblems are scarce.

This is a Pullman hub emblem (c1916)      mjs
Size: 35mm diameter

This is a Pullman hubcap (c1916)    dkc

The Pullman taxi model introduced in 1911 was based on the passenger car chassis and most likely displayed a brass radiator script in the same way as the equivalent passenger car model. The following Pullman taxi serial plate suggests a 1912 date of production. Pullman taxi serial plates are very rare.

This is a Pullman taxi serial plate (1912)     khc
Size: 76mm wide 41nn high

The Pullman light delivery van advertised in 1916 for the 1917 model year, also had the Pullman name displayed on the side of the vehicle by the driver's seat, see factory illustration below:

This is a Pullman Light Delivery Van showing the "Pullman" name (1917)   ms

I am grateful to Paul Vaughn for his valuable advice on the emblems used on Pullman motor vehicles. Any errors in my interpretation of this advice are entirely down to me.

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