The Locomobile Company of America was founded by Amzi L. Barber and John Brisben Walker and was based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The name "Locomobile" was coined from the words locomotive and automobile. Locomobile began by producing steam powered autos, leasing a motor design from the Stanley Steamer Company. The steam Locomobiles were unreliable, finicky to operate, had flammable parafin fires, small water tanks and took time to raise steam. Nevertheless, they were a curiosity and middle class Americans clamoured for the latest technology. Salesmen, doctors and people needing quick mobility found them useful. Several thousand of the steam buggies were eventually sold. Locomobile started experimenting with gasoline internal combustion engines in 1902, and stopped making steam vehicles the following year.
The 1904 Locomobile Touring Car was a touring car model. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 5 passengers and sold for US$4500. The vertically-mounted water-cooled straight-4, situated at the front of the car, produced 16 hp (11.9 kW). A 3-speed sliding transmission was fitted, as on the Système Panhard cars it competed with. The angle steel-framed car weighed 2200 lb (998 kg).
Locomobile soon became known for well built and speedy luxury cars. A Locomobile was the first United States-built auto to win an international motor race, taking the Vanderbilt Cup in 1908.
In 1922 Locomobile was acquired by Durant Motors, which continued using the Locomobile brand name for their top-of-the-line autos until 1929.
The word 'locomobile' in fictionEdit
In Robert Sobel's alternate history book For Want of a Nail, where the American Revolution failed, automobiles are known as locomobiles. In the online For All Nails continuation, the word is abbreviated to "loke".
In Ward Moore's alternate history novella Bring the Jubilee, automobiles are also referred to as locomobiles. In this world, internal combustion was never discovered and automobiles are always powered by steam.
- Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (January, 1904)