January 20, 2023


Pan Motor Co. (1919-1921)
St. Cloud, Minnesota 

This is a Pan radiator emblem (1919-1921)     mjs
Size: 66mm high 58mm wide  MM: None

Sam Pandolfo was a teacher, who became an insurance agent. Pandolfo later decided to enter the automobile business based on his experience of driving many different motor cars in his days as a travelling insurance agent. He designed a car of his own, to be called the Pan, which he believed better suited the needs of a traveler than other cars on the market. The Pan car design had fold-down seats for sleeping, a compartment for tools and extra gasoline, a place for food and drink, and clearance under the car for improved driving on badly made and bumpy roads, as well as other home comforts.

Pandolfo was a great salesman and having printed a lavish catalog, he travelled widely convincing business people and others to invest in his company by buying stock, which they did to the tune of $9,500,000. He had some of his cars built using available parts by the Wayne Motor Works to demonstrate his design ahead of going into production. He came to St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1917, set up his Pan Motor Company and started to build a factory. Pandolfo also used part of the cash he raised to build a small, pleasant township for his factory workers, known as Pan Town, with architect designed houses, running water and sewerage disposal lines.

The Pan factory was ready in 1919 but before production began Sam Pandolfo and other Pan officials were indicted by the Federal Government for fraud and found guilty. Pandolfo appealed his conviction while Pan production proceeded at a reduced pace due to lack of funds. The Pan officials were acquitted but Pandolfo got a ten year prison term, although he was released after serving just two and a half years. 

Production of the Pan had continued for a while in order to help pay the company debts but the bad publicity had killed the Pan and the company was in receivership by 1922 after building only 737 cars. 

Even though the affair was a great scandal, Sam Pandolfo was so well liked in St. Cloud that he received a hero’s welcome after his release from prison. 


The pre-production Pan cars were displayed at auto shows and other publicity events to help create interest and find investors, see the following advertisement showing a Pan radiator with an emblem and a motometer:

Advertisement for the Pan car (1918) pantowners

The Pan carried a blue, white and red enamel Pan radiator emblem designed like a cooking pan with a Pan car at the top, see example shown at the top of this post and again below. This Pan radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a Pan radiator emblem (1919-1921)   mjs
Size: 66mm high 58mm wide   MM: None

Emblem collectors should beware as there is a slightly larger and slightly more crudely made Pan emblem, which has often been referred to as a reproduction Pan radiator emblem. This may be correct but I believe it is more likely to be the emblem for a Pan tractor, see original photo of a Pan tractor shown below:

This is a Pan tractor on display at a trade fair (c1919)  minnpost

This is the blue, red and white painted Pan emblem shown below:

This is believed to be a Pan tractor emblem (c1919)   dkc
Size: 73mm high 67mm wide      MM: None

The Pan motometer shown on the 1918 advertisement earlier above has an unusual design and is inscribed with the "Pandolfo" name rather than "Pan". This Pandolfo motometer is clearly illustrated alongside the Pan radiator emblem on Pan Motor Company stock certificates, see example shown below:

Pan stock certificate showing emblem & moto meter (1919) pinterest

Close up of Pan motometer

The Pandolfo motometer is seen on illustrations of the first Pan cars in Pan brochures, see example shown below:

Pan Tourist Sleeper Model brochure illustration (c1918)   pcc

Close up showing the Pan radiator emblem & Pandolfo motometer

An example of the Pandolfo motometer is seen on a restored 1919 Pan Model A, see below. However, it is not confirmed if this motometer was originally mounted on the 1919 Pan or was added during restoration:

Pandolfo Motometer     twoguysandaride

The same Pandolfo design is seen on the following most interesting blue, black and red enamel Pandolfo emblem:

This is a Pandolfo emblem (date unknown)     sam
Size:    MM: Unknown

It is not known where this emblem was mounted or, as seems likely, if this Pandolfo emblem was a prototype radiator emblem made before the decision to use the Pan radiator emblem shown at the top of this post. I have never seen another Pandolfo emblem making this an ultra rare emblem. If you have further details of the use of this Pandolfo emblem, please let me know, in order to update this post.


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