Brush - 1911 - The Everyman's Car
Alanson P. Brush was the brilliant chief engineer for Leland, Falconer and Norton in Detroit, and is credited with the design of the original one-cylinder Cadillac engine. Brush formed his own company in 1906. Despite the Brush Motor Company only manufactured for 6 years, Alanson P. Brush went on to become one of the most respected technical innovators of the motoring industry.
He designed a car called the Brush Runabout, which was unique with its wooden chassis and axles, and was one of the first vehicles to use left hand drive. His reasoning was to enable passengers to alight on the right side directly onto the footpath – thus avoiding the muddy road and traffic.
A distinguishing feature of the engines designed by Brush (who also designed the first Oakland Motor Car, ancestor of Pontiac) was that they ran counter-clockwise instead of the usual clockwise, which, in the days before the invention of the electric starter, was intended to make them safer for a right-handed person to crank-start by hand.
The 1911 Brush has a single cylinder, eight horsepower engine, similar to the Cadillac engine he designed for Leland. The friction clutch and chain drive, revolutionary four wheel independent coil spring suspension with friction shock absorbers, along with the first self-energising brakes fitted to a car, made it an innovative car for its time!
The car was marketed as “Everyman’s Car” – not big, not high powered, but affordable at $485 - the “cost of a good horse and buggy ”. Runabouts, in general, fell out of vogue quickly however - partly due to the lack of protection from the weather.
In 1912, a Brush Runabout was driven by Syd Ferguson and navigated by Australian adventurer Francis Birtles to complete the first east-to-west crossing of the Australian continent from Freemantle to Sydney.
Prior to this, long distance travel in Australia had been limited mainly to the Eastern States, with the cross continent journey (on mainly camel tracks) considered far too arduous. However, the Sydney agents for the American Brush car decided to attempt the first overland crossing as a means of proving the car's stamina.
The Brush's light weight made it ideal for negotiating desert conditions, and despite the challenging weather and landscape, and the need to make a replacement for the big-end bearing and one of the timber chassis rails, the travellers averaged 150 kilometres a day.
After 28 days, their arrival in Sydney on April 15, 1912 was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald: ''It was a quaint sight as the little runabout motor-car began to climb Taverner's Hill - the Brush carried well-known overlander Francis Birtles and the driver Sydney Ferguson - between the two weatherbeaten occupants was a terrier dog, Rex." *
* Click HERE to read the full story on drive.com.au.