1911 PREMIER 4-40 TOURING CAR
Chassis No. 3288
Green with yellow and cream pinstriping with black fenders, black tufted leather interior and a black Panasote top
Engine: four cylinders, in-line, 38.40 rated horsepower; Gearbox: three-speed manual with reverse; Suspension: semi-elliptic springs front and three-quarter elliptic springs rear; Brakes: mechanical internal expanding on rear wheels. Right hand drive.
The first Premiers emerged from their Indianapolis factory in 1903 as four cylinder 16 horsepower air-cooled cars. By 1907 Premier was producing both air and water-cooled models, however, by 1908 the decision was taken to go exclusively with water-cooled engines. The marque earned a reputation for reliability and durability, demonstrating these characteristics in the early Glidden Tours by completing three of those demanding events with perfect scores; a remarkable feat equaled only by the likes of Pierce-Arrow. Premier also participated in racing contests, but not with the same success as the reliability runs. An air-cooled racer entered in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup event was disqualified for being overweight. Ten years later the company entered a team of three cars in the Indy 500 with one car finishing seventh, one crashing and the third dropping out with engine oiling trouble. From 1908 onward Premier built cars aimed at the upper-medium price market. The car pictured here, for instance, carried a factory list price of $3000 in 1911. Despite their obvious quality Premier was batting in a tough league and in October 1914 went into receivership. In late 1915 it was sold to a syndicate who reorganized the firm as the Premier Motor Car Company.
For 1918 Premier offered a six-cylinder car with Cutler-Hammer electromagnetic gearshift operated from the steering wheel, marketing the car as 'The Aluminum Six with Magnetic Gear Shift'. This radical accessory was continued for several years, but meanwhile the company changed hands again in 1920 and went through another change of name, this time becoming the Premier Motor Company. Its new owner died in 1921 and again Premier found itself in receivership, from which it emerged in 1923. Premier's excellent six cylinder cars were still trickling from the Indianapolis plant until November 1924. At that point the company changed strategy altogether after receiving a contract to build 1000 taxicabs and decided to go into taxi manufacture exclusively. This lasted until late 1926 when Premier was sold to the National Cab and Truck Company of Indianapolis, from which little was heard thereafter as it quietly left the automaking field to others.
We understand that this Premier was purchased for the Browning Collection in 1974 from Mr. David Fredrickson. Though it is currently finished in green with yellow pinstriping, it would appear that the car was last painted red. This is evident as the Premier shows various scratches and cracks that illustrate an earlier red color. Nevertheless, the Premier appears to be quite an honest example that has been largely preserved. Headlamps are correct Premier acetylene-powered units, but the sidelamps may be from a somewhat earlier car as nearly all automobiles in the 1911-12 period used square-bodied sidelamps instead of round-bodied bail handled lamps. There is some discoloration evident in the top lining, but the outside Panasote material is still in good condition. The black diamond-tufted leather upholstery still presents well. Period accessory rear view mirrors are attached to the folding brass windshield frame.
With its dignified but sporty appearance, powerful engine and comfortable springing and seating, this Premier would make an ideal car for 'brass and gas' tours, where it would always be a welcome addition. It is also eligible for touring and field events of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, the Veteran Motor Car Club of America and the Antique Automobile Club of America and represents an opportunity to own one of the better-quality American automobiles of the pre-WWI era.