The Cole Motor Car Blog

The ‘New’ Oldest Known Cole Car to Exist – 1909 Cole High Wheeler Model D

Previously it was thought that the 1911 Palace Touring was the oldest Cole car to still survive.  Well, in December of 2018 a 1909 Cole High Wheeler Model D was identified.  The Cole High Wheeler was made by the Cole Carriage Company and you can find out more about the High Wheelers at this section on the site.  Here is a bit more information about the newly discovered Cole High Wheeler.

I received an email from a gentleman saying “How would you like me to bring the Cole car that none are know to exist to the owners meet in May?” As you can imagine my curiosity rose to a very high level! Car number 78 is a 1909 Cole High Wheeler and it will be unveiled at the Cole Meet up in May. There were no known surviving Cole High Wheelers from the Cole Carriage company out of the 170 that were made.

This car is in Kansas and a gentleman that was the owner recently passed away at 95 years old and this was in his barn. The man purchased the car when we was in high school as a car to work on and play with. Over the years it did have some modifications made to the seating and other various components. The man didn’t even really know what kind of car it was and he just loved it for what it was. In the 90’s he did write to the Horseless Carriage Research Foundation and sent them pictures and information about the car and they came back that it was a 1909 Cole Solid Tire High wheeler. The person that is doing work on the car for the family will be bringing it to the Gilmore and doing a talk on the car at the event. I am not going to share pictures of it now, except a teaser shot of the two cylinder engine. The tank and oiler are wrong on it and are being changed out, but the actual engine, exhaust, and transmission matches up perfect to the photos from the sales catalog.


















It will be great to unveil this wonderful automobile at the Cole owners meetup in May, 2019.  

1919 Cole Aero 8 Roadster Family Photo

I was going through the boxes of documents and papers from the former Cole Motor Car Club of America and I found this wonderful photo.  It is Helen and Joe Cole from the late 1940’s with their family’s 1919 Cole Aero 8 Roadster.  The photo is wonderful and it is great to see the Cole family still using the cars that represent their namesake.

This car is still around and resides in California.  Many years ago, the car was in the Great Race and below is a picture from an old Cole Club bulletin.  What a fabulous car and storied history that this Cole car has!

A Special Thank You to Leroy Cole

I wanted to give a special thank you to Leroy Cole.  Without Leroy’s amazing knowledge and all of the information that he has generously shared with my son and I, the Cole registry would not be possible.  As I mentioned in the page on the History of the Cole Motor Car Club of America, Leroy was instrumental in driving that very active club over the years.  He also assembled a large collection of Cole history and artifacts that comprised of multiple truck loads in size.  He has since passed on that collection to the Gilmore Car Museum and it is known as the “Cole Archive” in their research library.  After we acquired our first Cole Motor Car, we met Leroy and he inspired us with his stories and deep knowledge of this amazing company and car.  My son and I will carry on his dedication to the Cole automobile with the this registry and ensure that his hard work will continue on and be shared with others.

Again, thank you for all that you have shared with and done for us!

Leroy Cole (Center)
Three past Society of Automotive Historians (SAH) Presidents at the Gilmore Car Museum. Right to left. Sinclair Powell 1997-1999; Leroy Cole,1999-2001; Dale Wells,2001-2003. All have donated their archives to Gilmore. Dale worked with the Classic Car Club library.

Some Winter Season Cole Motor Car Pictures

Winter is here and in Michigan the snow is flying.  Many people do not take their historic cars from the 1910’s and 20’s out in the snow anymore, but back when the cars were made people did all of the time.  Here are some great photo’s of the Cole family out in their cars during the winter time.  It looks like lots of fun to me and I love the picture of JJ Cole pulling his son on a sled behind his Cole 30.

Cole Motor Car Company Master Parts Lists

Just recently, we acquired this wonderful 1919 Cole 870, 860,and 850 Master parts lists.  This catalog would have been available at the dealer and would have the entire breakdown of parts for the cars including prices, so that customers could order new car parts.  These guides are very useful for Cole owners as they do have some good breakdown diagrams, parts diagrams, and of course all of the parts that are in an assembly.  This particular 1919 Parts catalog has 143 pages and is in pretty good condition.  The parts catalogs are not easy to find and I would say are a bit rarer than a car owners manuals.  We also have a Series 9 parts catalog published in 1914 and will continue to add to the library.  As always, if you have questions, please just send me an email and we can help you out.

Post 1916 Coles are CCCA Full Classics

Did you know that all V8 Coles 1916 and newer are considered Full Classics by the Classic Car Club of America?  In 2012, Helen Cole and a few others worked very hard with the CCCA to have Coles considered Full Classics.  the post 1916 Cole cars are eligible to attend CCCA events and you can participate in your regional CCCA club if interested.  Right now there are 4 Coles registered in the CCCA and it would be great to see more of them as part of that club!  You can find out more here

1941 1914 Cole Series 10 Barn Find

Have you ever wondered what a barn find was like in 1941?  Well, through some of the Cole historical information we have, we can now get a glimpse into how it may have gone.  It looks like the Cole family was looking for Cole Motor Cars of their fathers namesake and an agent reached out to JJ Cole Jr. with a lead on what appears to be a 1914/15 Cole Series 10.  I say this because it has no cowl lights, but definitely looks to be a 4 cylinder model.  Here is a picture of the car in the barn with the current owner as well as a letter to JJ Cole Jr. offering the car for sale by the agent.  Also, here is a hand written letter to JJ Cole Jr. from the agent in follow up.  I have no idea if this sale ever went through, but it is a fascinating piece of history!

1913 Cole Series 9 Transcontinental Test Run

In early 1913, Cole took a specifically labeled new Series 9 car on a long trip to test it out and show endurance as well as to raise marketing awareness for the ‘Standardized’ car.  JJ Cole called it the standardized car because he wanted all of the best components in it that were or would be the standard in the automotive industry.  Here are a few pictures from a company or Cole family scrapbook of the trip.  The first picture is an 8×10 of the three drivers of the transcontinental test car.  The second picture is the typed note on the back of the picture.  The next picture is of the three individuals standing with JJ Cole. and then the picture after that is of some Cole execs arriving to the event in another Series 9 touring car.  The pictures after that are from a 1913 Cole Service Bulletin with a map of the trip and then a great picture and story about the bear mascot mentioned on the back of the 8×10 photo.  

Crawford and two other Cole employees with 1913 Cole Test Car


JJ Cole with 1913 Cole test drivers







Cole Executives in 1913 Series 8 car

Cole Route for testing the Standardized Car








Standard the Cole Bear cub


**Updated** The oldest known Cole car that survives today

1910 Cole Mrs. Simpson
Mrs. Simpson with the car shortly after purchased

At the time of this posting, this car was thought to be the oldest known Cole car known to survive.  Since the post, in late December 2018, a 1909 Cole High Wheeler was identified and has been added to the registry.

The oldest known surviving Cole Motor Company car today is a 1910 Cole Model 30-4F Palace Touring.  The car serial number is #598 and was
built in December of 1909.  It was originally purchased by John C. Simpson for $1500 in Middleton, NY.

1910 Cole Barn Find
As found in the field
After first restoration in 1950’s

Here is a picture of Mrs. Simpson with the car in the early days.  The car was found in a field in NY in 1952 and was restored for the first time shortly after that as seen in the included photo.

The car then went through two more owners and was again restored in the early 2000’s.  After the restoration, it made a grand entrance at the Hershey Show where it won an award.  We have not verified the current owners and hope to track them down soon.

1910 Cole Hershey
Making a grand entrance at Hershey
1910 Cole restored
1910 Cole after restoration