Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: February 2001
We proudly Present:
Stamford's First Oldsmobile and the Mechaley Brothers
Appended October 2005
John Mechaley in Stamford's First Oldsmobile.
The Mechaley Brothers had an early interest in automobiles.
John E. and Joseph (Joe) A. Mechaley worked as printers for the STAMFORD HERALD from 1887 to 1888, and the TOWN CRIER from 1889 to 1892, after which they opened their first bicycle shop at Main Street near Summer Street.
In 1897 they bought Seeley and Adams Bicycle Shop, and the 1902 City Directory finds them at 32 Summer Street. During that year, they added automobiles to their stock in trade.
On the back of the photo at left, the automobile is noted as of 1896, but we just learned the following:
Kit Foster, Society of Automotive Historians, writes us: “That is probably Stamford 's first Oldsmobile, but not in 1896. Ransom E. Olds built his first car, a three-wheeled steamer, in 1887, a better steamer in 1891, and his first gasoline car in 1896. The Olds Motor Vehicle Company was formed in 1897 to manufacture his cars, but the curved-dash model, as in your photo, did not appear until 1901, when 425 of them were built. By 1903 it had surpassed the steam Locomobile (built in Bridgeport ) as America 's best-selling car (over 4,000 that year).
Joe Mechaley, left, and Belden Brown in a "Standard" 1902 automobile, in an undated photo.
"And that takes us to the 'Standard.' There were several Standard automobiles circa 1902, but I don't have much to indicate what they looked like. This car is somewhat reminiscent of a line drawing I have of a 1903 Standard built in Chicago."
The B.75 number is interesting. 2005: Prior assumptions have been proven wrong. This number is most likely related to a New York to Boston race. A research of the Advocate microfilms in the Ferguson Library is under way. So stay tuned… (2010: this is still on the to-be-researched list.)
Joe Mechaley in a "White" steam automobile.
The back of the photo says 1902, but see below.
Joseph Mechaley on the left, with an unidentified gentleman, in a 1904 Cadillac.
Again Kit Foster:
"The White steamer is a Model C, which my references say was introduced in 1903.
The Cadillac looks like a 1904 Model B."
Summer Street was paved c. 1920
Cars lining up in front of Mechaleys for Automobile Show at the Armory, ca. 1920
Joe Mechaley is standing on the left.
Kit Foster: "Here we see two 1920 (probably) Brockway (certainly) trucks with an Essex following. Essex was Hudson's lower priced “companion” car, which would have been sold by the Mechaleys as part of their Hudson franchise. I suspect they also held an agency for Brockway. Note the tiny kerosene lamps on the trucks. Automobiles had used electric headlamps for several years by 1920, but trucks, particularly solid-tire ones like these, didn't go very far nor very fast, even in daytime, so strong lighting was not required."
Photos © Stamford Historical Society
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