Company History - Metz Car


When C. H. Metz took over the operation of the Waltham Manufacturing Company at the request of the bank in 1908, he was in charge of a company with significant manufacturing plant space, a large supply of parts for uncompleted cars, a large debt, and no work force. The agreement was that he pay off $10000 per month until the debt was paid. He surveyed the situation and came up with a plan to offer to the public the Plan Car, shown at the left. The idea was that there were a number of poeple who had the mechanical skills necessary to put a car together if they were sent the parts and instructions. This required only a minimal work force to make additional parts needed and package and ship the groups of parts in installments to customers. The car was advertised to be a $600 car for the cost of the parts which was initially $300. Actually the price rose to $350 ($25 each for 14 groups of parts) before the first complete set of parts was finally shipped to a customer.The customer purchased on group of parts at a time and when he had assembled them he would purchase the next set so the plan also resulted in time payment for the car. Some customers worked more rapidly than others and some were delayed because Metz did not have all the groups of parts available at the time he started selling the parts groups. The final groups were not available until September - October 1909 and the per group price had increased to $27. The 14 parts groups that were used are listed on the Plan Car page.

Metz's plan was so successful that he had the total bank debt paid off by the fall of 1909 and he reincorporated the company as the Metz Company. The Plan Car was continued with little change through 1911; However, beginning sometime in 1910 the Plan Car was also offered as a complete, company-assembled car for an additional $97. By 1911 only the company-assembled car was offered at a cost of $485.

In 1911 Metz also became interested in aviation and set up the plant to also construct an aircraft. He called it the Metz-Air-Car. As seen in the advertisement shown to the left, he advertised it for sale either completely assembled or in kit form. The idea was not successful and only one aircraft was built.




In 1911 Metz introduced the Model 22, shown at the left, as a 1912 model. The Model 22 had a 4 cylinder engine and continued using the friction drive concept that had been used in the Plan Car. Only one body style was available and the color was dark blue with cream wheels. This was a two person roadster without doors. An available option to increase seating capacity was either a single seat or a double seat that could be mounted on the tool box at the rear of the car; however, utility of these seats was limited due to difficult access. It probably was really only useful for small children who could be lifted into place (see the cartoon to the right). The standard Model 22 roadster initially sold for $495 in 1912 and 1913. This price was decreased to $475 in 1913 and increased back to $495 for the 1915 model year when the body was changed to include doors. In 1913 only, the "Metz Special", a more stripped down version of the standard roadster, was offered at the reduced price of $395 but raised to $445 in several months. It was painted vermillion. In 1914 only, the standard roadster was also offered with a body modification that had a "turtleback" compartment instead of the tool box at the rear. In addition, a sportier speedster was offered at a price of $500. It had wire wheels, was painted bright orange with black fenders, had nickle trim, and for an additional $100 could be equipped with electric lights and an electric starter.

Metz entered three Model 22 cars in the July 1911 Glidden Tour. He did so to give them a good road test before full scale production. The Metz team was the only team out of the 70 cars on the tour that arrived at the finish line without a time exptension. However, they did not accumulate enough points to gain an overall win. Metz also sent a three car team to compete in the 1913 Glidden Tour from Minneapolis Minnesota to Glacier Park Montana and this time they won with perfect scores and no time extension. In some ways this win was detrimental to the Metz company since it convinced Metz that the friction drive concept was the best and he continued using it even though noticable sales resistance to it was evident. Another event that illustrated the toughness of the Metz Model 22 was the the trip undertaken by L. Wing who owned a Metz agency in Los Angeles and O. K. Parker, a reporter from Los Angeles. They started fom Los Angeles, drove across the desert to the Grand Canyon, drove to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up by following an intersecting gorge, and then drove back to Los Angeles. The total trip encompassed 1400 miles which included the 84 miles round trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back over very rough terrain. For details about this adventure see 1914 Grand Canyon Trip.

In 1915 Metz introduced the Model 25, shown at the left, which had the same basic engine as the Model 22 except that the horsepower had been increased to 25. The Model 25 had a single chain drive to the rear wheels instead of the double chain drive used in the Model 22. The roadster now looked more like contemporary roadsters prduced by other manufacturers and a touring car was also offered. The price for both was $600. The Model 25 was built from 1915 through 1917.

The Federal Government negotiated with the Metz company to use the Metz plant for production of war equipment to be used in World War I. They took over the plant in 1917 and parts for the Air Corps DH-4 DeHaviland airplane. They continued to use the plant until the end of the war in November 1918. Consequently, no Metz cars were produced in 1918. The Metz Company ran into legal problems in collecting final payment of $130,000 for the war production work from the Goverment. The company was in financial straits and could not afford to hire the needed legal representation so were never paid.

In order to raise cash to continue producing cars, The Metz Motor Sales Corporation was formed and shares sold to raise needed capital. In addition, the spare part business for previously produced Metz cars was sold to a newly formed company called the Metz Friction Drive Service Company. This business sale and the sale of parts for the previous cars to the new company provided additional cash. The car that was produced was the Metz Master 6, shown to the left, and was completely different from any Metz had produced before. To meet current competition, the friction drive and chain final drive was replaced by a gear transimission and shaft final drive and the four cylinder engine was replaced by a six cylinder engine. The car was an assembled car since the Metz Motor Sales Corporation did not have the finances to design and produce components in house. Production only lasted until 1921 with prices for the roadster and touring starting at $1495 in 1919 and increasing to $1995 by 1921. In addition to the roadster and touring, a coupe and sedan were advertised; however, only approximately 100 coupes and one sedan is reported to have been built. The price of the coupe started at $2695 in 1920 and increased to $2795 in 1921 and the price of the sedan was listed as $2895 in 1921. By 1922, the company was in dire financial condition and was taken over by the Waltham National Bank. They reorganized the company and renamed it the Motor Manufacturers Incorporated of Waltham.