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Seal Cove Auto Museum’s Award-Winning & Unique 1904 Knox

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The Seal Cove Auto Museum’s 1904 Knox is an exceptional automobile with fantastic provenance.

It was originally custom-built for E. H. Cutler, the President of the Knox Automobile Company. Its ownership would then pass on to a stair builder by trade, who lived in Winthrop. Massachusetts. He needed a truck for his business and removed the car’s custom body.

Luckily, he saved it in his barn, and many years later, it was found and reunited with the chassis. The Knox eventually made its way to the Long Island Automotive Museum and the care of Henry Austin Clark Jr. before finally finding its way to the Seal Cove Auto Museum.

The July 27, 1904, issue of The Horseless Age described the car as built for Elisha Cutler. These features included side entrance doors, a brown folding top extending over both seats, and ample carrying space underneath the rear seat’s back. All of which can be seen on the car today. The article said that Mr. Cutler took a two-week tour in the vehicle through New Hampshire, Maine, and along the Massachusetts coast with his family. Quite an adventure in 1904!

The Knox’s ownership by a gent from Winthrop, Mass, is detailed in the book Knox Automobile Company by John Y. Hess.

The auto’s connection to the Long Island Automotive Museum was more coincidental. I had my suspicions, having seen a postcard produced by the Long Island Automotive Museum, of a car that looked just like the Knox in the Museum. Still, it was not until 2010 that I finally verified that provenance.

When going through the car, one of the Museum’s volunteers found the car’s registration hidden under the front seat; it read Waleta H. Clark, Henry Austin Clark’s wife. Clark’s son further verified his mother’s ownership when he visited the Museum. The Knox had been registered in his mother’s name to be issued a vanity license plate spelling out PICKLE.

Knox is a fine product of the early automobile industry in New England. Built in Springfield, Massachusetts, the car is of relatively conventional design except in one regard: its unique air-cooling system. Instead of being water-cooled like most of its gasoline-powered contemporaries, the Knox was air-cooled and used thousands of iron studs screwed into the cylinders to dissipate heat. To be exact, one thousand seven hundred fifty studs in each cylinder give the car the nickname “Porcupine Knox.” Ads also referred to the Knox as “the car that never drinks.”

The car steers via a side lever and a hydraulic damper that reduces road shocks and advanced technology for 1904. The two-cylinder, 16-horsepower opposed engine lays lengthwise in the car. The rest of the layout is not unusual for the period, a planetary transmission and the final drive are via a single large chain.

The Seal Cove’s Knox is a multiple show winner receiving awards at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, and the Misselwood Concours d’Elegance.

You can see the Knox and many other unique vintage automobiles at the Seal Cove Auto Museum located on Mount Desert Island in Maine.

The Museum is open from May 1 to October 31 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. SealCoveAutoMuseum.org

Roberto Rodriguez

Member, Board of Directors, Seal Cove Auto Museum

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