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The Pratt Motor Buggy & The Elkhart Carriage and Harness Mfg. Co.

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Pratt Motor Buggy
Elkhart Carriage & Manufacturing Co. Elkhart, Indiana
1908-1909

The story of this American Automobile began in 1873 when Frederick Brooks Pratt and his son, William B. Pratt, began manufacturing horse drawn Elkhart Carriages, Elkhart Buggies and Elkhart Harnesses under the firm name of F. B. Pratt & Son. In 1882 the Elkhart Buggy Company was formed by Fred B. Pratt, William B. Pratt and George B. Pratt. George B. Pratt was the younger son of F. B. Pratt.

In 1888 the Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Company was formed and produced horse drawn Elkhart Carriages, Elkhart Buggies and Elkhart Harnesses up to 1919. William Pratt and his sons established a plan of selling carriages direct to the consumer. The company made had a very large line of carriages, buggies and harness. The company employed from 300 to 500 people, shipping annually from 5,000 to 9,000 finished carriages. In 1891 F. B. Pratt turned over the Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Company to his two sons, George B. Pratt and William B. Pratt.

1908 Elkhart Carriage and Harness Mfg. Company Advertising
1908 Elkhart Carriage and Harness Mfg. Company Advertising

The Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Company was an excellent example of a firm that made the transition from successful carriage and buggy manufacturer to a respected American Automobile manufacturer. After 25 years in the carriage and harness business, this Elkhart, Indiana based company introduced its first Motor Buggy in 1908 called the Pratt Motor Buggy. p>

Pratt Automobiles

The Pratts were a little late in entering the American Automobile manufacturing business. However, this played to their advantage due to the fact that much of the experimental period in the auto industry was over by 1908. The Pratts had all of the assets of a large carriage manufacturing business already in place. Having produced carriages for many years they had the factory space, machinery, tools, an established network of suppliers and skilled workers. In addition the Elkhart Carriage and Harness Mfg. Company had ample funds and available credit for a new start up automobile manufacturing business.

The Pratt Brothers first experimented with a Motor Buggy in 1906. It was equipped with a 12 horsepower engine. A sturdy frame was build and a Corning type body attached. This was the same type body used on there horse carriages. By early 1908 the Pratt Bros. first American Automobile was build, trimmed out in typical buggy fashion but without a horse. It was sold locally before it was made and by 1916 had four owners.

The immediate local interest in an Pratt Motor Buggy generated many orders. The cost was only $428.00 and with success of their Motor Buggy came request for more bodies and styles. So in 1909 a Piano body version of their auto buggy was made. Plus open and closed delivery wagons were produced for farm use.

The Pratt Motor Buggy and Delivery Wagons represented a small part of the overall market for automobiles. The Pratts recognized that the real growth in the market was for automobiles in urban areas on paved roads. So they designed a roadster with a rumble seat that appeared in the fall of 1909. The Pratt-Elkhart roadster had a new 16 horsepower engine in the front and a drive train to the rear. It was 90 inches long, looked like a car and the cost was $590.00. Before the end of 1909 the Elkhart Carriage and Harness Mfg. Company produced a medium sized five passenger touring car which weighed 2,400 pounds. It's 4 cylinder 30 horsepower engine had a displacement of 270 cubic inches.

Typical 1908 Touring Car
1913 Pratt Touring Car

Pratt, Elkhart, Elcar Time Line
1873 F. B. Pratt & Son Buggy Works (owners Fred B. Pratt and George B. Pratt
1882 F. B. Pratt & Sons Buggy Works (owners Fred, George and William Pratt)
1884 Elkhart Buggy Company (owners Fred, George and William Pratt)
1888 Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Co. (owners Fred, George and William Pratt)
1895-1919 Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Co. (owners George B. Pratt and William B. Pratt) 1919 Last Carriage built
1908 First Motor Buggy built.
1909 Expanded to 7 different models of Motor Buggies and Automobiles by fall of 1909.

  • Model 10 Piano Motor Buggy
  • Model 15 Large Corning Motor Buggy
  • Model 20 Roadster Automobile
  • Model 25 Shaft Drive Surrey
  • Model 30 Shaft Drive Roadster
  • Model 40 Open Delivery Wagon
  • Model 50 Closed Top Delivery Wagon
1910-1915 Pratt-Elkart Automobiles
1915-1931 Elcar Automobiles

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