The Lake Erie Region of the|
Antique Automobile Club of America
by Charles Wolski,
is the story of a 1903 Model C, Waterless Knox Runabout,
affectionately nicknamed “Old Porcupine” which came about from
the use of 2 inch pins stuck in the cylinder barrel instead of fins.
The company used the following slogan in marketing “THE CAR THAT
NEVER DRINKS”. The 1903 factory price for the vehicle was $1,200
with a 1 cylinder, 8 horse power and a 72-inch wheelbase. It also
had a fold-up front passenger seat, a scary place to ride.
Production of Knox vehicles began in 1900 when 15 three wheeled
runabouts were produced followed by 100 in 1901. Introduction of a
four-wheel runabout in 1902 resulted in an increase of production to
250. Old Porcupine was born sometime in 1903 as part of the 500 Knox
vehicles produced that year at the old Waltham Watch Company in
Little is known about her early life, except that she ended up in
Connecticut sometime between 1903 and 1940. She remained in
Connecticut where she was sent to an auto salvage firm in 1942/1943
to help the war effort. The salvage company wasn’t really
interested in a vehicle with a wooden carriage body, a wooden, steel
frame and a single cylinder engine but without the convertible top
frame. My dad was good friends with the owners of the firm and he
offered $15 for the Knox, far more than they would get for scrap.
She then was welcomed as a part of our family. My dad and uncle
tried to get her running without any luck. They then tore the engine
apart, a one-cylinder air cooled engine and discovered the valves
were broken, alas the reason it wouldn’t start. My dad machined
new valves using the old broken ones as a guide. They reassembled
the engine and attempted getting it to run. They were successful.
They then proceeded to assess the condition of the drive consisting
of the single cylinder engine coupled to a 2- speed planetary
transmission similar to what Ford Model T used, chain drive,
longitudinal springs, and the wooden carriage body as well as the
tiller steering. They had the fenders which were originally a
wrought iron frame that would be covered in leather but not
restored. All appeared in good condition but in need of paint, which
was done by my uncle, and they covered the original seating to the
main passenger area with mohair. They drove it to local parades in
southwestern Connecticut during the late 1940’s but stopped
because of increasing traffic. She had a top speed of 12 MPH coupled
with being perched around 4 plus feet off the ground to drive with
little or no protection to the driver or passenger(s). She spent the
rest of her life covered in a garage. But the Knox would be taken
out periodically to be checked over by my dad and uncle, and
displayed outside my family’s service station for people to view.
Then in 1960/1961 we were approached by a gentleman from New Jersey
that heard about the Knox. He made contact with dad, came to see the
vehicle and was very interested in acquiring the car to restore it.
After some negotiations, my dad and the gentleman agreed on a price
of $3000. He returned a couple of weeks later with a trailer and the
car was whisked off to New Jersey. Unfortunately, we lost contact
with the buyer sometime in the mid 1960’s and do not know what
happened to “Old Porcupine”. Hopefully, she lives in a museum
somewhere to be enjoyed by many people as I did growing up with her.
The Knox brand ceased production in 1914, a victim of poor sales and
mounting manufacturing loses. I have also attached some pictures of
“Old Porcupine” with my family and hope you enjoy my story.