Return to 1912-24 Vintage Chevrolet Index Page

MODEL LITTLE FOUR PRODUCTION ESTIMATES - NOV. 1911 TO JUNE 1913

YEAR
PLANT
JAN
FEB
MAR
APR
MAY
JUN
JUL
AUG
SEP
OCT
NOV
DEC
TOTAL
1911
DETROIT                    
1
 
1
  S/Nís                    
1
   
1912
FLINT #1      
49
150
200
200
300
375
375
350
200
2199
  S/Nís      
50
200
400
600
900
1275
1650
2000
2200
 
1913
FLINT #1
200
200
200
100
100
             
800
  NYC      
100
100
49
           
249
  S/Nís
2400
2600
2800
3000
3200
3249
             

 

SHORT GENEALOGY OF THE MODEL LITTLE FOUR

MASON MOTOR COMPANY

The FLINT DAILY JOURNAL for May 30, 1911 announced that WC Durant was to organized the Chevrolet Motor Co. in Detroit. However, the Flint Board of Commerce, with banker AG Bishop, wanted the Chevrolet factory in Flint (FDJ June 2, 1911). So, just like the building up of the Buick, Durant and Bishop established an engine factory in Flint, backing AC Mason (who was the Buick Engine Superintendent since 1903) and incorporated the Mason Motor Co. on August 3, 1911. Space was leased at the Flint Wagon Works plant on West Keasley Street, and a contract was received from the Chevrolet company for 2500 engines for the first year.

LITTLE MOTOR CAR COMPANY

Repeating the steps of seven years before with the Buick, FWW new president CM Begole and treasurer WS Ballenger made Durant a sweetheart Proposition on September 13, 1911, offering the FWW to him personally for $10 cash. This was accepted by Durant and the FWW shareholders at the stockholderís meeting on October 12, 1911. A $200,000, 5%, five year bond (that was secured with a mortgage on the Little plant) was issued to former president JH Whiting as a settlement to his court claim against FWW. This was money owed him from a personal loan made to the FWW. Durant paid off the rest of the large FWWís debt owed to Begole and Ballenger from a $1.2 million Little stock issue, while the other stockholders got only a stock exchange worth 25% on the dollar. Durant, using Bill Little as a front man, had the Little Motor Car Co. incorporated October 30, 1911, to take over all the property, goods, and chattels of the FWW. That same day, he announced the new Little Four, with self starter and electric lights was to sell for $600.

LITTLE FOUR EXPERIMENTAL MODEL

Experimental model Little Four #1 was assembled at Chevroletís Detroit plant on West Grand Blvd., and shipped to Flint by express rail November 9, 1911 as reported in Fridayís FDJ, November 10, 1911. ABC Hardy, who was put in charged by Durant of the Little company on January 1, 1912, would later boast, the Whiting was simply "revamped and improved," by updating the 1912 Whiting chassis to create the 1912 Little Four! I believe Hardy scrapped the more complicated Chevrolet design Little Four #1, that was equipped with left hand drive, self starter, and electric lights, because he could not hope to build it for the target $600 price. Hurriedly, during the winter months, the Flint engineers revamped the RHD Whiting chassis (and later, added the stylish, torpedo body) in order to expedite Little Four production before the 1912 selling season would end.

LITTLE FOUR PRODUCTION

The FDJ on January 6, 1912 printed the first picture of the 1912 Little Four (which looked exactly like the former FWW built 1912 Whiting Model 22 with its straight-line body), when it announced the start of Little production, reporting that the first batch of 500 1912 runabouts were now underway. The first Mason engine (an improved 1912 Whiting Twenty Model 22 design) was completed in February 1912 for the Little Four. By March 2, 1912 AUTOMOTIVE TOPICS reported Little had stopped using the Whiting companyís name. The first Flint built Little Four left the former Whiting plant on West Keasley Street by mid April 1912. A Little Motor Car Co. factory ad in the April 19, 1912 FDJ disclosed that the last 11 unsold Whiting roadsters were available from the Little company at a special $450 close-out price.

READY FOR DEMONSTRATION

The very next day, the local Flint Garage printed its first Little Four announcement in the April 20 FDJ, that the car was ready for demonstration. The ad printed above is from the May 4, 1912 FDJ and shows the then, dated, straight-line body that probably was a left over from the replaced Whiting. After about the first two dozen Little Fours were assembled, the body was updated to the torpedo style as shown in all the sales brochures. The factory was building at a 7 unit a day rate with plans to increase to 25 by July, as reported in the June 15, 1912 FDJ. The January 11, 1913 FDJ claimed 1800 Little Four roadsters were sold between July 1 and December 31, 1912, with 2200 Little Fours being build the first 8 months (THE EVENING MAIL, December 6, 1912). I calculate the last, of that first batch of 500 1912 Little Fours, left the assembly floor by Saturday, July 13, 1912.

1913 MODEL YEAR BEGINS

It is most likely the 1913 Model year began with serial number 501. The Kansas City distributor first announcement ad (KANSAS CITY JOURNAL July 14, 1912) called the Little Four a 1913 model. The FDJ for August 1, 1912 reported that current engine production at Mason was 15 motors a day but would be increased to 30 a day in the near future. It further mentioned that they expected to build the 2500 engine by the end of September, so Mason was ahead of schedule for engine deliveries. The Little Four peak production rate of 15 cars a day was reached by September, but then, orders were canceled for the slow winter months. Reo Pacific, the California Distributor had given a 1000 car order in June, but because of slow sales, reduced its order to less than 150 total cars. After building 2200 units by the end of December 1912, production was cut back to a 8 car a day output during the winter and spring of 1913. An additional 800 units were build in Flint between January through spring 1913 for a total of 2999 units, as listed in Chevroletís Flint Production Memo dated April 4, 1917.

REPUBLIC MOTORS

Durant incorporated the Republic Motors of Michigan on April 17, 1912 as a selling company to market the output of the Little and Chevrolet factories, headquartered at the Chevrolet plant in Detroit. A few weeks later, the Republic Motors Company was incorporated in Delaware, as a $65,000,000 holding company, to manufacture the Little cars at ten different factories across the country. Next, the Republic Motor Company of New York was incorporated June 17, 1912 and leased a plant at 11th Ave and 57th St. in NYC to "built on the spot" the Little Four to cost $715. Other Republic Motor companies were incorporated in Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and California. The Republic Motor selling contracts were started August 1, 1912, and expired on August 1, 1913. The DETROIT FREE PRESS reported on April 12, 1913 the assembling of cars had been started by the Republic Motor Co. of New York. This could have been a last batch of 249 Little Fours, that were possibly completed to impress the Wall Street crowd, and were headed for export. This would make the #1 Little prototype built in Detroit, plus 2999 known built in Flint, plus the estimated 249 built in NYC -- add up to 3249 total units built. I can not actually prove Little Four production ever took place in NYC, but we know Little Four #3007 survives today in Australia, which lends credit that a last batch of NYCís Little Fours were built and exported overseas. The last known Little Four in the U.S. is #2822.

Return to 1912-24 Vintage Chevrolet Index Page