YARMOUTH COUNTY MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Electric Car

1921 Automatic Electric Pleasure Vehicle,
Model AE, Type IV, S/N 122

History

The "Automatic" Electric Pleasure Vehicle, built by the Automatic Transportation Company in Buffalo, NY, was announced to the public in 1921. At that time, it was marketed as the "practical electric automobile that would meet all requirements as a utility and pleasure car - and at a reasonable price."

Lewis Chipman, King's Council and senior partner in the law firm of Chipman and Sanderson, purchased it in Florida in the 1920s. The vehicle was shipped to Yarmouth in a wooden crate. Chipman preferred driving the vehicle along smooth wooden sidewalks rather than the rough streets. Its top speed was 15-18 miles per hour, with a radius of 50-60 miles. Around the time of Chipman's death in 1939, the car was sold to a local garage, where the battery was removed and sold to a lighting plant. John R. (Jack) Baker saved the vehicle from the scrap heap by offering $25 for it. During the war years, the car was often featured in parades and Victory Loan Drives. After the war, it sat in a storage shed for 20 years.

In 1964, Baker decided to look it over to see what was needed to make the Automatic Electric roadworthy. Surrette Battery Ltd. of Springhill, NS, supplied a new battery, which was fitted into the original wooden battery box. New tubes and tires were ordered, but were never used. The car was reupholstered, repainted in its original colours and back on the road for the following year. To the left, you can see a picture of Jack Baker in the car.

In 1967, the Automatic Electric was displayed inside the Bank of Montreal building, and later took part in the Canadian Tire Centennial Tour of Classic and Antique Cars. The following year, Baker drive the car aboard the M.V. Bluenose ferry to attend the MOALS International Rally Parade at Bar Harbour, Maine.

The Automatic Electric originally had black headlights and no pin striping. As far as we know, only two of these vehicles exist today; the Buffalo Transportation Museum has a green model with serial number 102. This vehicle was a bequest to the museum from the estate of Mrs. John R. Baker.

Licence Plate

The 990 licence plate was registered in 1912 or 1913 to Minnie L. Lovitt, the first female driver in Yarmouth, for her Rambler. During those early years, the province did not issue plates; they had to be made-to-order by the local sign-maker or blacksmith. These plates remained valid until 1917 and were replaced by provincially-made plates from 1918 onwards. The 990 plate was later obtained by Mr. Baker and attached to the Automatic Electric in 1965, although the vehicle never had this registration.

Specifications

Body: Aluminium with wooden frame
Length Overall: 95 inches or 237.5 centimetres
Width Overall: 42.5 inches or 106 centimetres
Height of Body: 41.5 inches or 103.8 centimetres
Weight: 900 pounds or 509 kilograms

Wheel Base: 65 inches or 162.5 centimetres
Wheel Tread: 35 inches or 87.5 centimetres
Turning Radius, Outside Wheels: 144 inches or 360 centimetres
Turning Radius, Outside Body Clearance: 152 inches or 380 centimetres

Tires: 26 x 3 non-skid cord whitewall (original)

Electric motor: 24 volt, 35 ampere, series wound

Drive: by means of silent and roller chain to rear left wheel; entire motor and gear reduction assembled as a unit and arranged to shift by means of a jack screw for adjustment (rediction of 10 to 1 rear wheels)

Controller: drum type; 3 speeds; forward and reverse by means of controller handle and small reverse lever; controller fitted with lock and key, so that handle may be locked in neutral position; controller handle also operates service brake, which may be locked in off position by means of foot latch

Emergency Brake: operated by foot pedal direct to rear right wheel

Battery (original): 14 cells Exide; MVG; 11 plate, 123 ampere hours
Battery (replacement): 14 cells Surrette; GTNS; 9 plate, 116 ampere hours

Standard Equipment: 2 electric headlights; 1 tail lamp; eletric horn; ampere hour meter; charging plug and cable; complete kit of tools, Tungar rectifier for 60 or 25 cycle, 110-volt alternating current, or Rheostat for 110- or 20-volt direct current

Price: Complete with charging equipment, $1,200.