The Vanderbilt 1918 Crane-Simplex Model 5
Producer of one of the finest and most exclusive luxury cars built in the USA before World War I, the Simplex Automobile Company was founded when wealthy textile importer Herman Broesel purchased the Manhattan-based S&M Simplex company in 1907. The latter had come into being in 1904 when A. D. Proctor Smith and Carlton R. Mabley set up as automobile manufacturers in order to avoid the punitive customs duties levied on the foreign makes they imported. These included some of Europe’s finest: FIAT, Packard, Renault, and the Daimler-built Mercedes, whose advanced Simplex range inspired a host of imitators—Proctor Smith and Mabley included. Designed by Edward Franquist, the four-cylinder S&M Simplex was a very expensive car ($6,750 in 1904) and although the price dropped to $5,750 under Broesel’s ownership, it remained within the reach of only a privileged few.
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