Jeffery encountered his first automobile concept in 1895. He tinkered around, and by 1897, had built his first Rambler automobile. He chose the name because of the reputation established by the bicycle. He could not produce it in the bicycle factory due to space limitations; and his partner did not want it there. Jeffery then sold his share out to his partner, using some of the proceeds to buy the empty plant where Sterling bicycles had been made, in Kenosha Wisconsin. It is still a viable location today, and is a former site of a Chrysler Corporation factory.
Jeffery took some time to manufacture automobiles, adopting a production line system, the second to do so. (Henry Ford was hardly first in production line technique; he just took it to usury proportions for thousands of workers!) Ransom Olds had, with Oldsmobile, been the first car manufacturer to install a production line.
By 1898, Jeffery's facility was on line and producing cars. It took awhile for advertising to catch up, but it was thought that the Rambler sold 25 to 30 cars in the first year. Not quite a profit, but enough that Jeffery was more convinced than ever he was on the right track.
Not one to go at things until they were established, Jeffery did not begin earnest auto production until 1902. By then, the car, the facility, the lines, advertising, and parts were all established. As well, the first dealership, under John North Willys, was operating in Canandaigua New York. Willys sold 2 Ramblers that first year, then 8 the next, and 20 the next. Arranging financing was the key, and Willys found out how to get banks to
Jeffery continued to innovate, changing the prerequisite steering tiller to the easier and more controllable steering wheel. He also included, at no charge, a spare wheel, mounted tire, and jack and wrenches to enable the changing of a flat tire on the road. The cars quickly gained a solid, dependable reputation, with low maintenance costs, and high resale values.
Thomas Jeffery passed away in 1910 at the age of just 65. His son inherited the company, changing its name to Jeffery to honor his father. He did not have his father's driving spirit, but he invented conventional (two wheel) drive trucks and they were introduced in 1910, and quickly established as solid a reputation as the cars. Profits were excellent, and the future appeared bright.
Development of the Jeffery Quad
Before World War I, the US Army had been diligently searching for a vehicle to replace their mule teams. A sort of Уgo anywhereФ, 24 hour job that would outclass the mules, which were becoming difficult to obtain, maintain, and provide adequate care for.
In early 1913, the Army came calling on the Jeffery company. At that time, the military was not ideal customer; they were exceptionally slow in paying, and wishy-washy about their requirements. Even with this visit, they were not exactly certain of what might be able to replace mule teams. There were still many higher-up ranks that didnТt want anything but mules, even in the face of mechanization of the armed forces by other nations. The captains and the majors of the Army purchasing bureau had to tread lightly. However, one Army Officer and Mr. Jeffery hit it off. After the official visit, that officer came back to see Mr. Jeffery, and a vehicle was discussed that would not only meet requirements, but would be seen by the world as the vehicle to have in their military as well. Within a few days, the Jeffery Motor Company introduced the QUAD.
It was remarkably innovative, yet conventional as well. It was constructed on a 1.5 ton (3,000 lb) chassis. Power came through a Buda 312 cubic inch 4 cylinder gasoline fueled engine. Water was cooled by a full stand up radiator that rode on the extreme front of the chassis, ahead of the driver and passenger positions, which were not under a cab; they were like a mule wagon, wide open. The engine drove a constant-mesh 4-speed transmission, connected to the drives by propeller shafts to automatic locking differentials. They were centrally located on the upper face of substantial I-beam axles. Half shafts then delivered the drive, by universal joints, mounted directly above the steering kingpins, to a pinion.
The steering was four wheeled, not unlike the modern Torsen differentials used today, with an internal tooth ring gear in each of the four wheels. This kept the differentials up high and out of the way of items in the roadway, allowing for amazing road clearances.
Word spread quickly. In any trial, the Quad proved itself more than capable. Military people from around the world jumped to buy the new Quad.
In 1916, Jeffery sold the entire company to Charles Nash, who had just left General MotorsТ presidency, due to repeated clashes with the smarmy William C. Durant. Nash had substantial finances of his own, and Jeffery was ready to sell. Nash immediately changed the name of the company from Jeffery to Nash, and the Quad became the Nash Quad while the Rambler became the Nash Rambler.
The 1916 list price for the Nash Quad, $2,850, was substantial when compared with a conventional 1.5 ton truck for $990. Even so, Nash sold 11,000 Quads in 1916. Nash did quite well, and Quad production continued for 15 years, a testament to the original design. Company books showed a total production of 41,674 Quads.
Two sales were recorded for our friends in Australia. One in 1917 went to a mining concern in Koomooloo Station, and one in 1918 went to Burra. The truck in Burra survives, and has been renovated to original condition, a remarkable find.