February 08, 2024


Columbia Electric Co.
McCordsville, Indiana (1905-1907)
Knightstown, Indiana (1907-1912)

This is a Leader radiator script (c1907-1912)     mjs
Size: 300mm wide

Luther Frost was an engineering graduate from Purdue University, who lived in McCordsville, Indiana and had a telephone factory, the Columbia Electric Company. In 1905, Luther Frost announced his plan to use his telephone factory to build an automobile to be called the "Leader". The Leader was well received and production moved to a larger factory in Knightstown, Indiana in 1907.

The first Leader cars were small 2-cylinder runabout and touring models powered by 16 hp gasoline engines, which grew to 20 hp by 1909.  A 30/35 hp four-cylinder Model L-30 touring car was introduced for the 1910 model year and a 40 hp model appeared in 1911. 

Production of the Leader rose from 25 in 1905 to about 300 a year by 1911 but all production ceased in 1912 after Luther Frost retired through ill health.


The Leader did not carry a radiator emblem. However, the Leader did display the "Leader" name on a brass script mounted on the radiator core, see the example in the original photo shown below:

Leader touring car showing radiator script (c1911)    carsandracingstuff 

This is the brass Leader radiator script shown above at the top of this post. Original Leader radiator scripts are very rare.

The "Leader" name was also shown on a small painted brass maker's nameplate/serial plate mounted on the dash, see example shown below. This Leader nameplate/serial plate is rare.

This is a Leader nameplate/serial plate (date unknown)  mjs
Size: 106mm wide 59mm high 

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