Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Templar Motor Corporation

In tune with the early 20th century, Art Nouveau fad for everything Arthurian, The Templar Motor Corporation chose the Knights Templar as their namesake and the Maltese Cross as their emblem. They set out to build small cars, but the US entry into World War I hampered the production of automobiles and the company went into the wartime business of manufacturing artillery shells. In 1918, when Templar returned to limited production of automobiles, they included as standard equipment a compass (understandable in the pre-interstate highway and pre-GPS era) and a Kodak camera (more fad than understandable as an automotive feature).

During the post-war boom, Templar had no problem selling cars and the prices for its automobiles rose while the company lagged behind in innovation. By 1921 Templar was still selling its 1919 model for the cost of a third more to the consumer. Eventually, with competition from companies like Oakland, Cole, Oldsmobile, and FAL, Templar priced itself out of the market.

The reign of the Knights Templar, at least as an automotive company, ended when Templar went into receivership in 1922 with a debt of $1.4 million. In 1924 its loan was called by a group of local bankers and the plant's doors closed forever. 

I appologize for the quality of the Templar ad I'm running. To be honest, I couldn't find one that looked any better. Its style is pretty typical for 1920, but it is interesting that the company chose two women to illustrate their product. It probably speaks to the fact that the Sportette, shown in the ad, was a small model and therefore "womanly". I did a brief search for the illustrator, but found nothing on the all-inclusive internet on L. G. Kemeteger. He'll have to remain a mystery to be solved another day.

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