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Brand Heritage — Maxwell and Chalmers

1897    Bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope (1843-1909) (maker of Columbia bicycles) begins manufacturing gas and electric vehicles under brand name Columbia.

1899  Pope’s Columbia brand merged with Electric Vehicle Company.

1903  Maxwell Briscoe was founded by Benjamin Briscoe (1869-1945) and Jonathan Maxwell (1864-1928). E. R. Thomas (1850-1936) founds Thomas in Buffalo, NY.

1904  Stoddard Dayton founded; Thomas is now Thomas Flyer; Alden Sampson founded to make cars.
1905  Alden Sampson switches to trucks.

1906  Thomas Detroit offshoot is begun by Roy D. Chapin (1880-1936) and Howard Coffin, both later to found Hudson.
1907  Frank Briscoe (brother of Benjamin)(1875-1954) and Alanson P. Brush found Brush to build the wood framed Brush Runabout.
1908  A Thomas Flyer wins the New York to Paris race; Thomas Detroit discontinued in favor of Chalmers Detroit; Hugh Chambers (1873-1932).
1909  Electric Vehicle Company (which has always made gas and electric cars) change their name to Columbia; Alden Sampson sold to United Motors.

Benjamin Briscoe forms United Motors out of Columbia, Brush, and Maxwell Briscoe at one time, includes 130 firms; Chalmers Detroit becomes Chalmers.

1912  United Motors collapses; 1912-1913 Columbia markets Columbia-Knight with sleeve valve engine.

1913  Hugh Chalmers founds Saxon.
1914  Jonathan Maxwell reorganizes Maxwell Briscoe into Maxwell Motors—only firm to emerge from United Motors; the firm moves to Detroit and Walter Flanders becomes head of the firm.

1915  Saxon bought from Chalmers (Saxon expires, 1922).
1917  Maxwell begins leasing plant facilities from Chalmers.

1918  Flanders leaves Maxwell.


A poor redesign of the Maxwell results in axle failures and gas tanks that break loose—thousands of unsold cars pile up.

1920  Walter Chrysler joins Maxwell in August.

1921  The Good Maxwell ad campaign rejuvenates the brand’s reputation and sells the re-engineered and refurbished excess inventory at a token profit. Re-design and improvement of Maxwell cars undertaken by Zeder-Skelton-Breer.

1922  Chalmers merges with Maxwell; development of a new car to bear Chrysler name is begun; Chalmers discontinued.

Last Maxwell.