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Not to be confused with American Simplex

Crane-Simplex was a defunct car manufacturer, who operating in New York City, USA at the beginning of the 20th century. The cars have had several notable owners.


The Smith and Mabley Manufacturing Co. of New York City was founded by Carleton Raymond Mabley (1878-1963) and his brother-in-law Albert Proctor Smith to import European cars for sale in America. They built their first car in 1904, which was called the S&M Simplex, largely from imported Mercedes parts. The company went bankrupt in 1906 and in 1907 the firm's assets were absorbed into the Simplex Automobile Co. Herman Broesel, passionate about racing, purchased the company and redesigned the "Simplex" so it could reach speeds of 90 mph (140 km/h). The firm became Crane-Simplex after purchase of the Crane Motor Car Company , which had been founded by Henry Middleton Crane, in 1915. The Crane-Simplex Company was purchased in 1920 by the Mercer Automobile Company but by 1922 ownership had passed to Henry Crane, who then failed to realise an ambition to revive the marque.


The 1904 Smith and Mabley was a touring car model. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 5 passengers and sold for US$ 5500. The vertically-mounted water-cooled straight-4, at the front of the car, produced 18 hp (13.4 kW). A 4-speed transmission was fitted. The wood and angle iron-framed car weighed 1200 lb (544 kg). The car used a honeycomb radiator with a fan.

The Crane-Simplex, built in New York, was among the most expensive, largest, most powerful, and well-built luxury cars of the early twentieth century. They were owned by only the wealthiest socialites and entrepreneurs of the time and built by the best coachbuilders in the U.S. Only 121 examples were made.

Notable models

  • 1909 90 HP Tourabout - large 11 liter straight four engine, with 90 horsepower (67 kW) and 3 valves per cylinder
  • 1915 Roadster - believed to be the only Simplex roadster ever made, with 110 horsepower (82 kW)
  • 1915 Sport Berline Brewster - personal car of Henry Crane and built for 1915 New York Auto Show, sold new for $13,800
  • 1916 Model 5 Holbrook Skiff - built for 1916 New York Auto Show with yacht-inspired design, (including doors in the middle rather than beside passengers and a propeller in back) soon purchased at the San Francisco Auto Show, now owned by talk show host and car collector Jay Leno
  • 1918 A Crane-Simplex - owned by John D. Rockefeller, had two Brewster bodies, for summer and winter seasons, now one of the last surviving Rockefeller family cars

Notable owners

See also


  • Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (January, 1904)

External links

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