Company History

The Michigan Motor Car Company started out in 1909 as the Michigan Buggy Company. Several other companies were using similar names, so present day confusion is understandable. It was probably confusing 100 plus years ago too. The first cars by THIS company were produced for the 1910 season. Other than the car bodies, most of the components were purchased from other manufactures. The company was bankrupt and out of business by the end of 1913.  Records seem to indicate that approximately 1000 cars were produced in 1911.  The company supposedly produced 1700 in 1912. Bankruptcy testimony is that approximately 4000 cars were produced in 1913.  The company apparently spent a disproportionate amount of  money on advertising, examples of which will be posted later. By the middle of 1913, the company was in deep financial trouble and production of cars was halted, the company went bankrupt, company managers were indicted on stock manipulation and embezzlement charges.  While the top managers did not go to prison, the Chief Financial Officer, Victor Palmer spent 2 years in Leavenworth, Federal Penitentiary . The entire episode had a great negative impact on both Kalamazoo and suppliers to the company. If the testimony of the corrupt managers is to be believed, approximately 7200 cars of all types were produced before manufacturing stopped. Our car, a Model K, Touring car bears the serial number: 3531 K, which puts it in the middle of all production. Today, we understand that only a dozen or so MICHIGANs of any sort are left. The brand is frequently referred to as the “MIGHTY MICHIGAN” but was never actually branded or badged as such. This unofficial name is the result of advertising promotions related to the power of the popular 40 horsepower version. For examples of these promotions, go to the “Advertising” section of this website.

Factory In Back of Car AD

Totally BOGUS picture of the factory. It was a fraction of this size, but still an important addition to the Kalamazoo economy.

The definitive work on the MICHIGAN MOTOR CAR COMPANY was prepared by David O. Lyon in his comprehensive book “The Kalamazoo Automobilist”.  Most of the information here is from Chapters 12 through 19. I’ve also gotten information from the Horseless Carriage Gazette articles by Bill Cuthbert (HCG Jan-Feb 1990, page 30-33 & HCG Mar-Apr 1993, pFW 28-29). If you want more information, I suggest you look at these references. And I’m always looking for more resources, so let me know if you are aware of others.

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