December 15, 2022


Pilot Motor Car Co. (1909-1924)
Richmond, Indiana

This is a Pilot radiator emblem (c1917-1924)    wchm
Size: 70mm high 64mm wide   MM:Unknown

The Pilot Motor Car Company was established by George Seidel, president of the Seidel Buggy Company, and production of the Pilot began in 1909 in the buggy plant while a new motor car factory was built.

The Pilot was not special but was a good assembled car sold at reasonable prices. From 1909 to 1912 all Pilots were four-cylinder cars with a six-cylinder model introduced in 1913 and a V-8 offered for one year only in 1916. From 1917 to 1924 all Pilots were six-cylinder models. Up to 1920, the Pilot was mainly offered in touring and roadster body styles, but the range of body styles was widened thereafter. 

George Seidel bought the Lorraine Car Company, also of Richmond, Indiana, after this funeral car company went into receivership in September 1921, and continued to build hearses, which initially continued to be called "Lorraine". However, contemporary advertisements suggest that the name may have switched to "Pilot", see advertisement shown below:

This is a Pilot funeral car advertisement (c1922)   funetorium

As with many other small producers of motor cars, Pilot was unable to survive the post First World War depression. The company was in receivership in November 1923 and the last Pilot cars were assembled early in 1924.


I can find no original photos or illustrations of Pilot cars before about 1911 and none showing the radiator before 1912. However, the following Pilot trademark script was claimed by the Pilot Motor Car Company to have been first used in May 1910:

Pilot script logo (1910)     wendel

There is what may possibly be a Pilot radiator emblem showing this script design, see the blue painted example shown below:

This is a Pilot emblem (poss c1910-1911)     ms
Size: Unknown

As mentioned earlier, I have been unable to locate any photos or illustrations of Pilot cars before 1911, but if the Pilot trademark registration details are correct and this logo design was used from 1910, then this emblem is certainly a candidate for a Pilot radiator emblem in the 1910-1911 period. If this is indeed a Pilot radiator emblem from about 1910, it would be extremely rare.

If you have further details about this Pilot emblem, please let me know, in order to update this post.

Pilot motor car advertisements from 1911 and 1912 use different styles of the "Pilot" name but none are in script style, see the following examples:

Pilot advert (1911)   ma

Pilot 40 advert (1912)
roots motor digest

The first Pilot car illustration I have seen showing a part view of the radiator appears in a Pilot 40 advertisement from 1912, possibly for the 1913 model year, see example shown below. There appears to be no evidence of a radiator emblem.

Pilot 40 advertisement (1912)    pinterest

The earliest original period photos showing Pilot cars that I have seen were taken during the Indiana Automobile Manufacturer's Association transcontinental tour in 1913. Photos of the lead Pilot car in this tour shows no evidence of a radiator emblem or a script. However, a photo of another Pilot car taking part in the tour does carry a script mounted on the radiator core, see below:

Pilot motor car taking part in the IAMA transcontinental tour (1913)    dpl

This Pilot radiator script is not the Pilot trademark script of 1910 shown earlier but is the same as a new Pilot script trademark seen in Pilot motor car advertisements from 1913, see example shown below:

Pilot advertisement (1913)  forums aaca

This the brass Pilot radiator script shown below. Original Pilot radiator scripts with this design are rare.

This is a Pilot radiator script (c1913-1915)   moroz
Size: 145mm wide 80mm high
This "Pilot" script trademark was also displayed on the hubcaps, see examples shown below:

This is a Pilot hub face (date unknown)    mjs 

This is a Pilot hubcap  (c1913)      ms

The "Pilot" name was also displayed on a small maker's nameplate/serial plate attached to the dash, see later example shown below. This Pilot nameplate/serial plate is very rare.

This is a Pilot nameplate/serial plate (1915)    mjs
Size: 88mm wide 45mm high

There are a few surviving Pilot cars, which indicate that, by 1917, the Pilot carried a radiator emblem, which depicts a ship's wheel, as well as the "Pilot" script logo and the "The Car Ahead" slogan. This is the green, white, blue and red enamel Pilot radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Pilot radiator emblem is very rare. 

This is a Pilot radiator emblem (c1917-1924)    wchm
Size: 70mm high 64mm wide    MM: Unknown

The following Pilot radiator emblem appears to be a color variation with green enamel in the ship's wheel. A surviving 1917 Pilot roadster model appears to carry a radiator emblem with a green ship's wheel. If this color variation is an original Pilot radiator emblem, it would also be very rare. However, it is possible that this emblem has been incorrectly restored.

This is a Pilot radiator emblem (c1917-1924)     mjs
Size: 70mm high 64mm wide    MM: None

Emblem collectors should beware as there are reproduction Pilot radiator emblems, see example shown below. Pulfer reproductions have shiny flat backs. 

This is a reproduction Pilot radiator emblem    ms

The following is a page from an undated Pilot motor car brochure from the "Export Department" of the Pilot Motor Car Company. The page shows an illustration of a Pilot radiator emblem in quite different colors. Whether this Pilot emblem illustration accurately reflects an export model version of the Pilot radiator emblem is not known.

Pilot export department brochure (date unknown) 

Pilot radiator emblem from export brochure (date unknown)

The following Pilot emblems are later Pilot hub emblems. These Pilot hub emblems are rare.

This is a Pilot hub emblem (c1915)     sac
Size: Unknown  MM: Unknown

This is a Pilot hub emblem (c1919)    moroz
Size: Unknown

The following is a Pilot hub showing a wire-wheel hub emblem:

This is a Pilot wire-wheel hubcap & emblem (c1923)   dkc

There is also a completely different Pilot emblem. This is the oval shaped blue and white painted Pilot emblem shown below, which does not use the "Pilot" script style. This Pilot emblem is rare. 

This is a Pilot emblem (dates unknown)  ms
Size: Unknown   MM: Unknown
If you can identify or give dates of use of this Pilot emblem, please let me know, in order to update this post.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the green steering wheel on the badge is a reference to a ship pilot?