Monday, September 9, 2013

1902 Knox Runabout: Our Newest Acquisition

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

We just acquired a unique automobile for the museum--a 1902 Knox Runabout. We have wanted to add a Knox to our collection for some time, so this news is very exciting. Our collection's theme focuses on early American automobiles with significant or unusual technology and/or design features, and the Knox certainly fits.

Harry Knox chose to make an air-cooled, one-cylinder engine for his first automobiles. Most makers of air-cooled cars at the time used fins cast integral with the cylinder block for cooling. Because this only worked for light-duty engines at the time, Harry Knox covered his cylinder barrel with over 1,000 two-inch pins. Each pin has a spiral-knurled surface, which reportedly increased the surface area for cooling by 100%. The combination of pins and a fan worked well to maintain a normal engine temperature.

You can see from the photos why the Knox earned the nickname of "Old Porcupine," although some thought the engine more closely resembled a hedgehog.

Our Knox is being shipped from its former home in Pennsylvania out to California for some TLC by Allan Schmidt's Horseless Carriage Restoration in Escondido. I'm not sure when it will make it to Fairbanks, but I want to to be the first to ride in that scary front passenger seat!

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying at one of the Fountainhead Hotels. All guests receive half-price admission to the museum!


  1. As I remember the body style with the fold out front seat was listed as the "Stanhope" body style. I am not sure why Mr. Knox chose that word.....

  2. Interesting. A stanhope is typically described as "a body style characterized by a single bench seat mounted at the center, a folding cloth top, and a dashboard at the front." Basically, what I think of as a runabout. Our 1904 Stevens-Duryea has a disappearing front seat like our Knox, and it was referred to as a runabout.

    The Standard Catalog of American cars doesn't list a stanhope among the Knox's models. I have come across references to a "Knox stanhope" in old classified ads and in this Bonham's auction listing:

    But, I have not found any old Knox ads or literature that refer to a stanhope, except in a 1908 ad for a front-engined model. Rather, the 1904 ads list "tonneaus, surreys and runabouts" as the options. Do you know for sure that Harry Knox used the term stanhope for the early models?


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