Monday, August 20, 2012

Whiting: A Forerunner to Chevrolet

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Our newest addition to the museum is a stunning, cherry red 1910 Whiting Model A Roadster. This was a difficult car to research, as I could not find much information about the short-lived Whiting Motor Car Company. James Whiting, president of Flint Wagon Works, bought the Buick Motor Car Company in 1903 and relocated it from Detroit to Flint. He turned Buick’s management over to William C. Durant, who would go on to establish General Motors in 1908.

 In 1910 Whiting established a division within Flint Wagon Works to produce cars bearing his name. The well-built Model A was the Whiting Motor Car Company’s first product. It was powered by a 20-hp, 4-cylinder L-head engine displacing 116 cubic inches. It's unusual in that the flywheel sits at the front, rather than the rear of the engine. Approximately 750 Whitings were produced in 1910, the same year that Durant was ousted from General Motors.

The following year Durant bought Flint Wagon Works and the Whiting car line for $10 and a promise of $1.2 million in stock in his soon-to-be-formed Little Motor Company. After discontinuing Whiting production in 1912, he revamped the Whiting 22 slightly and called his new product the Little automobile. A year later Durant took the best features of the Little and a prototype designed by Louis Chevrolet to create the new Chevrolet Light Six. Durant used the tremendous success of his new Chevrolet Motor Company to regain controlling interest in General Motors by 1916. 

My favorite feature on our Whiting is its monocle windshield attached to the steering column. These were typically seen on Stutz Bearcats and Mercer Raceabouts. The little windscreen was probably good for little more than keeping bugs out of the driver's teeth, and obviously offered no protection to the passenger. I'll be sure to wear goggles if Willy gives me a ride!

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