Although far from a household name, the New Era Motors Company produced a single, stunning entry in the history of automobiles: the 1929 Ruxton Model C Roadster.
This vehicle is an important yet overlooked part of motor history as it was the first car announced that would feature front-wheel drive, but American business executive Errett Lobban Cord released the L-29 with a front-wheel drive before the Ruxton made its debut.
Although not as famous as the L-29, the 1929 Ruxton is still an important and breathtaking vehicle. Here’s a brief history of this forgotten beauty.
History of the 1929 Ruxton
William Muller was the first to come up with the idea for the Ruxton. He worked in the engineering department of the Budd Boy Company in Philadelphia and convinced his employer, Edward G. Budd, to supply $15,000 in funding for the front-wheel drive vehicle in 1926. From there, Muller and two other engineers at the Budd Boy Company, Joseph Ledwinka and James Ragsdale, designed the impressive car.
Muller was in charge of designing the car’s drivetrain while Ledwinka designed the car’s body, which was only 53 inches high as opposed to the average height of 72 inches at the time. The designers reduced the vehicle’s height by removing the drive shaft to the rear wheels, and Ledwinka also removed the car’s running boards, emphasizing the vehicle’s lowness to the ground.
When Muller and the engineers at the Budd Boy Company produced the prototype, they piqued the attention of one of the company’s board members, Archie Andrews, who was also on the board of the Hupp Motor Car Company.
Andrews attempted to get the Hupp Motor Car Company involved with the Ruxton, but they passed, leading to him and Muller forming New Era Motors to market the vehicle.
New Era Motors struggled to find funding for Muller’s brainchild, so Andrews named the vehicle “Ruxton” in the hopes of attracting the investor William V. C. Ruxton. Unfortunately, the investor declined to support the production of the vehicle. William V. C. Ruxton even eventually sued Andrews over the name because he didn’t want any association with the car.
Although New Era Motors faced much adversity, they finally started producing the car through Moon Motors of St. Louis, Missouri in June of 1930. Andrews also purchased a controlling interest in the now-defunct, Missouri-based car company. In addition to working with Moon Motors, Andrews struck a deal with the Kissel Motor Car Company based out of Hartford, Wisconsin to construct transmissions and drivelines for the 1929 Ruxton.
Unfortunately, production for the Ruxton was short-lived. Like with Moon Motors, Andrews attempted to purchase a controlling interest in Kissel, but the company fought back by filing for receivership protection and stopped production on the Ruxton’s transmissions and drivelines.
1929 Ruxton Model C Roadster Specifications
Though production on the Ruxton was brief, the vehicle still boasted impressive qualities. It sported a 268 cubic inch continental straight eight engine. Its total horsepower is somewhat unclear due to contradicting sources, but it likely featured between 85 and 100 hp. Its wheelbase was 130 inches, and the vehicle weighed 3,900 pounds.
The sleek car featured attractive Woodlite headlights, but although they were stylish, these headlights weren’t as functional as standard headlights and failed to produce sufficient lighting.
New Era Motors and Moon Motors produced around 500 Ruxton units, and they came in different colors, including white, blue, brown, lavender, and navy blue.
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Although the 1929 Ruxton Roadster didn’t make a tremendous impact at the time of its release, it was still a highly innovative car with its front-wheel drive. If Muller and Andrews had successfully pitched the vehicle to a Detroit manufacturer, such as Chrysler, the history of the vehicle would be quite different, and the car may have left a tremendous impact.
If you have the good fortune of owning a 1929 Ruxton Model C Roadster or another stunning vintage car, you need robust classic car insurance to protect your investment.
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