Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

United States Motor Company, Brush Division  Search this
overall: 78 in x 64 in x 9 3/16 ft; 198.12 cm x 162.56 cm x 2.79197 m
Object Name:
Date made:
Like Henry Ford, automobile manufacturer Alanson P. Brush encouraged people of ordinary means to give up horses, bicycles, and streetcars and buy cars. Brush emphasized small size and light weight as ways to reduce manufacturing costs and adapt cars to dirt roads that were alternately bumpy in dry weather and muddy in wet weather. Like Ford, he designed an automobile that was low-priced and suited to rural conditions. Introduced in 1907, the Brush automobile had a one-cylinder engine, a hardwood chassis frame, and tough, resilient hardwood axles and wheels. It featured innovations such as coil springs and shock absorbers, which smoothed the ride. The 1912 Liberty-Brush was a simplified version of the Brush runabout and was priced at $350. The Ethyl Corporation donated this Liberty-Brush runabout to the museum in 1976.
In the early 1900s, the automobile became more than a rich person's toy. Demand was strong among farmers, workers, and the middle class. Used cars provided a less expensive alternative to new ones, but problems with quality, reliability, and parts availability limited their appeal. Several car manufacturers introduced new models that were affordable, dependable and designed for everyday use on country roads or city streets. Because of its wooden chassis and wooden axles, the Brush automobile (1907-13) was exceptionally lightweight and resilient. The small, one-cylinder Brush appealed to many motorists because of its simplicity, relatively low price, and chassis features that were well suited to rural roads. Wider axles were available for use in the South, where a 60-inch tread fit wagon ruts on country roads. Brush cars were fairly popular, but the company's financial difficulties and competition from better automobiles brought an end to the venture in 1913.
Currently not on view
Credit Line:
Gift of Ethyl Corporation
ID Number:
Catalog number:
Accession number:
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Data Source:
National Museum of American History