Company History - Pre Metz Car
Charles H. Metz founded the Waltham Manufacturing Company in 1893 for the purpose of manufacturing bicycles. He designed the bicycles to be lightweight and gave them the name "Orient". Bicycle manufacturing continued until 1903. In addition to single seat bicycles Metz designed and sold 2,3,4,5,and 6 seat bicycles. His ultimate design was the "Oriten", a 10 seat bicycle of which only one was manufactured.
After building one gasoline and one electric prototype automobile in 1898 and 1899, the company began manufacturing vehicles for sale which they called Orient automobiles. The vehicles were actually the single cylinder one seat tricycles and single cylinder two seat quadricycles shown below. C. H. Metz is riding the center quadricycle with his wife in the passenger seat.
These vehicles were produced from 1900 through 1901. Then the first real car produced by the company for sale was introduced as the Orient runabout in 1902; however, C. H. Metz had left the company in December of 1901 in a disagreemnt with other major investors over the type of automobile to build. He proceeded to design and produce motorcycles under a new company called the Waltham Development Company until 1905 when lack of finances forced him to combine his operation with the American Motor Company which manufactured the Marsh motorcycle. The motorcycles were ultimately named the Marsh-Metz. In the meantime, the Waltham Manufacturing Company manufactured the Orient Buckboard from 1903 through 1907 and several larger models of cars in 1906 through 1908 when the company went under financially. C. H. Metz was asked by the bank to step in and save the company but that is properly a topic for the Metz Car Era of the company.
The Orient Buckboard, as shown below,was an interesting vehicle designed to be the cheapest automobile available. Once again it could hardly be called an automobile. It consisted of a flat wooden platform on which a single two-person buggy seat was mounted. A 4 horsepower, single-cylinder engine mounted at the rear supplied the power. Initially steering was by tiller and there were no springs. The flexing of the wooden platform served to cushion the ride.