Remember the ‘Cannonball Express?’ The race that Burt Reynolds made famous in his movies, was inspired by Erwin George ‘Cannonball’ Baker. Cannonball Baker, to create publicity for the Templar line of cars, was timed from New York City to Chicago, in 1920, covering 992 miles in 26 hours and 50 minutes (which included stops for fuel and sandwiches without turning off the engine). The race may be over, but the cars still exist; in a collection.
I am constantly amazed at car collections, big and small. Car collections are a reflection of our history, which is sorely missing from our education today. Ask any college freshman what the constitution guarantees, our Bill of Rights says, or even what Abe Lincoln said in his historic, Gettysburg Address, and you’ll typically get a blank face reaction.
Car collectors I know normally have some kind of a car connection; like owning a car dealership. However, I found a classic car collection from the most odd source; my sister-in-law Chris. Her cousin, Dave Buehler, has a fascinating collection of cars manufactured in Cleveland, but were failures in mass sales; The Templar Motor car company. These are not what I’d call classic cars, but antique cars because they were built in 1917.
I think the name kind of doomed the brand; Templar, which comes from The Order of the Knights Templar, which was a monastic order formed in Jerusalem in 1119 to protect the holy sepulcher and defend the crusaders. Yeah. We know how that turned out. However, free masons and the Masonic Lodge would be proud.
These Masons wanted a beautiful, luxury car; their own ‘Dream Machines.’ The cars were very advanced for their early beginnings; like aluminum bodies and an array of nifty innovations like the closed circuit battery ignition system, Jacox steering gear, Perfection springs, Nigrum oilless spring bushings, Schwitzer universal joints and Goodyear tires.
Apparently a lot of competition in auto manufacturing at the time is what killed the brand. After WWI, a long time ago, a lot of auto manufacturers thought that there would be a post-war boom for cars. Ford won this battle to prove at the time that, ‘less expensive’ was better. Smaller companies that offered excellent quality, but higher prices, went out of business.
The Templar collection I visited is in an odd corner of Cleveland in a manufacturing building that the original Templars were built. I was shown how the final product had to be delivered by elevator to the main floor. According to everything I’ve read about the history of building cars, Henry Ford would not approve of car elevators.
I asked Dave, who owns all these cars, what he’s going to do with the collection. He didn’t really know. I thought of the Crawford Automobile Museum, in Cleveland, but apparently they’re not sure what to do either. Anyone out there, especially Masons, know what to do with these antique ‘Dream Machines?’ Let me know.