|Joseph Ledwinka & the Ruxton
Born in a swirl of fast deals and lawsuits, the Ruxton was nonetheless an excellent car. Shown here is a 1929 Ruxton. The car was conceived by Archie Andrews, an auto industry operator who served on the boards of Budd Co. and Hupp Motor Car Corp. The classic with its distinctive cat's-eye Woodlites was designed by Joseph Ledwinka. In his efforts to get the car built, Andrews forced a legal showdown with Moon Motor Car Co. of St. Louis, which drowned in a tide of lawsuits. Andrews went on to chair Hupp Motor Car Corp. until he was ousted by angry stockholders a couple years later. Some 500 Ruxtons were built by Moon in 1929 and 1930 and all are designated as classics by the Classic Car Club of America. The car was named for WilliamV. C. Ruxton, a Wall Street figure who never did invest in the venture.
The Woodlite headlamp style didn't seem to make its way to the taillamps as they did on some examples of Cord L-29s I've seen thus rounding out that menacing stance.
The Ruxton was built in limited numbers to rival the Cord L-29 of the same time period. Production actually began in 1930. The Ruxton was made in the Moon and Kissel factories. Ruxton collapsed, along with Moon and Kissel, in 1931. Ruxtons are often remembered by their rakish profile and their bright, wacky paint schemes.
Ruxton was a troubled manufacturer from before the word go. Designed by William Muller the Ruxton uses frontwheel drive (which explains why the front wheels are so far forward of the radiator) and sits about ten inches lower than the average car of the period. Running boards were never part of the Ruxton design but odd paint colors were. An art deco griffin stands as the cars logo. Many of the examples built used the cat-eye Woodlite headlamps (personally some of my favorite headlamps of all time).
Joseph Ledwinka & the Ruxton
During the late twenties, William Muller was working as an experimental engineer at Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company (producer of automobile bodies in Philadelphia), Muller persuaded management to allow him to develop a front-wheel-drive prototype. The idea was to sell the design to some manufacturer and provide the bodies by Budd. The prototype was completed by the fall of 1928. Joseph Ledwinka was the designer of the body and they used a Studebaker six engine. The wheel base was 130 inches and the car was a little bit over 63 inches high, when most cars were 10 inches higher. Archie M. Andrews a free-wheeling promoter and financier became interested. Andrews, who held several board of directorship in company's included Budd and Hupp Motor Car Corporation but he could not convince Hupp to build this new car. Andrews decided to do it himself and in April 1929 organized the New Era Motor, Inc. with the headquarters at 17 East 45th Street in New York City, but no factory. Without a factory he went out to search for a manufacture of the Ruxton. In his search he approached three company's Peerless, Gardner, and Marmon, which all three declined. With all of the turndowns it appear that he would not be able to produce the Ruxton, but that was not true. In November 1929 an announcement came from the Moon Company would build the Ruxton. No doubt the Moon people viewed the car as the perfect vehicle to lift their company out of a sales doldrums it had been in for the past few years. The Moon people did not count on losing their company and president in the process, but that's precisely what happened. Archie Andrews the canny promoter of the Ruxton, managed to obtain controlling percentage of Moon stock in exchange for the Ruxton design and patent rights. C.W. Burst and officers barricaded themselves in the Moon's St. Louis plant until Andrews, Muller and his gang broke in with court order in hand. Muller had been appointed president of the Moon Company. The entire matter of Moon control went to court thereafter, with suits followed by countersuits. But, by June of 1930 the Ruxton had joined the Windsor on the assembly line in St. Louis, Missouri and the Kissel Company of Hartford, Wisconsin. Andrews had also, maneuvered a deal with Kissel brothers. Instead of suing Andrew, in mid-September, rather than allow their company to fall into his hands, George and Will Kissel decided requested receivership. All Ruxton's transmissions and final drive assemblies were being produced Kissel. Because of this it stymied production in St. Louis. In any case the Ruxton venture had depleted the Moon Company's treasury. The factory's doors were closed on November 10th, following by receivership on November 15th. A total of aprox. 500 cars produced were in the Moon plant, with only about 25 cars assembled at the Kissel plant which included two special phaetons for the Kissel brothers. The majority of the Ruxton's were roasters and sedans. The roadster bodies were by Raulang and the sedan bodies were by Budd. They were good cars, and strikingly handsome, especially the sedans provided those wild multi-colored striped paint schemes. Most of them had cat-eyes Woodlites headlights and no running boards which where unseen during the early thirties. On the radiator, tire covers and large hubcaps was a beautifully stylized rendering of a griffin, the half-eagle, half-lion monster of classic mythology. Archie Andrews jumped from Ruxton, Moon and his now-bankrupt New Era Motors to Hupp Motor Car Corporation where he assumed the chairmanship of the board, until the courts and angry stockholders took it away from him. Andrews died in 1938 at age fifty-nine.
Joseph Ledwinka an the Citroen Traction Avant (TA)
The genesis of the TA idea was perhaps two-fold inspired. First was the front wheel drive, integral chassis-body prototype built by Joseph Ledwinka of Philadelphia's Budd Company in 1931. Second was the fwd prototype conceived a year earlier at Issy-les-Moulineaux by Gabriel Voisin and Andrť LefŤbvre with a 3.2-litre Knight engine, Cotal gearbox and no differential. An ocean separated these independent ventures, but both can be linked to CitroŽn. In 1923 Andrť CitroŽn bought a Budd patent for an all-steel body and adapted it for mass production. Bodies were initially built by Budd in Philadelphia; then after the Budd-assisted setting up of a plant in France and the shipping of the dies, CitroŽn made the stampings itself. Andrť CitroŽn had made several trips to America, visiting Budd apparently each time and though Bill Muller had left Budd by 1931 (for his own front wheel drive Ruxton adventure) he recalled to Automobile Quarterly that Andrť CitroŽn did visit Budd that year. Doubtless he and the CitroŽn officials with him saw the Ledwinka prototype then. However, when it came time for the design of his new car, CitroŽn stayed at home; he hired Andrť LefŤbvre for the project. Production plans for the Voisin prototype had gone awry, and in their wake LefŤbvre had gone away - first to Renault where he found the ambience "stultifying," then to Quai de Javel. He, with associate Maurice Sainturat, came up with the TA. Though inspiration for its parts may have derived from the previous prototypes, the whole was an all-new design. As such, some aborning problems were to be expected. But the TA had more than its share.
April 30, 1935, historical US patent # 2,000,000 was issued to Joseph Ledwinka for a vehicle wheel construction.
Joseph Ledwinka & Budd
In America the Hupp Motor Car Corporation began marketing the steel bodied Hupmobile in
Edward Gowan Budd, who was bom in Delaware in 1870, had an early career with the
Meanwhile, in Germany, Budd was also setting up the Ambi-Budd Presswerke in Berlin. In
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