- The beautiful Ruxton, with its signature headlamps on full display.

Ruxton- A Beautiful Car Nearly Lost to Time

This is the story of the Ruxton, a car that rivaled even Cords and Duesenberg's, but was nearly forgotten through the passage of time.

Ruxton, it's a name you may have heard of once or twice, maybe you've seen one in person at a Concourse event, but the Ruxton, like so many other wonderful cars of the time, fell subject to lawsuits, money troubles, and many other problems caused by the Great Depression, which killed Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg. So begins the story of Ruxton.

A timeless classic.

A timeless classic.

In the summer of 1928, William Muller, a lead engineer at Budd Manufacturing Company (a maker of automotive body's) decided to make something revolutionary. After managing to convince the management that it was a feasible idea, set out to produce a front wheel drive luxury car, grander and more beautiful than any other car on the market, the Ruxton. (though at the time, it had no name.) A front wheel drive prototype was developed, (with the intended purpose of being a concept that would then be sold to a company to produce, with Budd bodies for the car.) The prototype was designed by Joseph Ledwinka, with a Studebaker 6 engine, a 130 inch wheelbase, and a height of about 63 inches (many cars though, were over 10 inches higher than this at the time.)

Here is the prototype Ruxton Model C.

Here is the prototype Ruxton Model C.

After all this, a free-wheeling promoter, and financier became quite interested in the car. Archie Andrews, who had several board directorships, decided to take the project under his wing, and promoted it to the Hupp Motor Company. But with no success, so, Andrews decided to just manufacture, and promote the car himself, and organized New Era Motors, based right with an office in the middle of New York City. And, of course, they didn't even have a factory, but the good news was that Muller's prototype was complete, sporting the famous Woolite cat-eye headlamps, and a Continental straight-eight engine. After many other tries with many other companies, Andrews finally struck gold, Moon Motor company had agreed to build the car. But unfortunately, the company was in dire financial straits, and hoped this car would lift them out of their money troubles. Andrews managed a piece of Moon stock in exchange for the patent rights of the Ruxton, which then led to trouble, as Andrews decided to appoint his own people at Moon, including Muller.

A beautiful car, unfortunately doomed from the beginning.

A beautiful car, unfortunately doomed from the beginning.

After Andrews appointed people at Moon, the former president, C.W. Burst, decided to barricade himself and his officers inside the production plant. Then Andrews and his gang decided to break into the production plant with a court order in hand. Thus came the end of the partnership with Moon, as many lawsuits and a massive court battle followed soon afterward. The production switched through many different companies, such as Windsor and Kissle. After all this, the Kissle brothers, decided to let their company fall into Andrews hands, and received part ownership of the Ruxton. And, inevitably, soon after, both those companies became bankrupt (fun fact: the case with Moon didn't end until about 1965!) Andrews then proceeded to become president of the Hupp Motor Company, before he was quickly fired by the board of directors. Sadly, Ruxton died in 1930, with Andrews dying about eight years later.

An exciting and wonderful car, that met a sad and common end like many cars of its time.

An exciting and wonderful car, that met a sad and common end like many cars of its time.

Overall, there were around 500 cars that were built, and none were sold until around 1932. Most were roadster and Sedans, but there were a few that were custom. They were really spectacular cars though, with a wonderful sounding straight-8, front wheel drive, and beautiful looks. The cars front wheel drive system, and the advertisements claimed the car was the first front wheel drive car in the world, which was officially given to the Cord L-29, but actually, the Ruxton prototype was built earlier, but Cord actually made it into production. One thing that set them apart from other cars of the time, though, was the fact that they had no running boards, which was quite unusual, the car's symbol was of a majestic griffin, although the company met a not-so-majestic end. One funny thing, was that the car was named after William V.C. Ruxton, who funnily enough, took Andrews to court over it. Thus came the end of the Ruxton. But go ahead and take some time to admire the wonderful car in all its glory.

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Comments (24)

  • And the rest of the article about Budd.........

    Early automobile manufacturing customers included the Garford Company and the Oakland Motor Car Company for which Budd manufactured the first all-steel touring bodies. Crown fenders were produced for the Willys-Overland Corporation starting in 1913. The following year, The Dodge Brothers – after leaving the Ford Motor Company to form their own car building business – “arranged to buy all of their bodies from The Budd Company. This stable and most fortunate contract continued to be the backlog of the Budd Company’s business until the Chrysler Corporation’s purchase of Dodge Brothers, in 1925.” (Jr., 1950)

    These mass-produced all-steel touring bodies were lighter, stronger and more durable than bodies containing wood and steel. Instead of taking from ten to fifteen days per body for finishes (varnish) of varying degrees of satisfaction finishing (enamel paint) an all steel body only took about a day. The Budd Company pioneered all-steel fully enclosed auto bodies in 1919 for the Dodge Brothers. Using Budd engineering and production design assistance, and paying a $5 per car license fee, the French company Citroen would, in 1924, begin production of Europe’s first all steel-bodied car – the B10.

    The Budd Company also pioneered the first front-wheel drive automobile designed and built in the United States. The car was designed and engineered by Budd employees William Muller, Joseph Ludwinka and C. Harold Wils in 1926. The car would be produced starting in 1930 and it was named the Ruxton. Its frame design allowed the Ruxton to be lower than the more famous front-wheel drive Cord L-29 – which actually beat the Ruxton to market.

    Once again, Citroen would license engineering and manufacturing technologies from the Budd Company when it began production and sales in 1934 of the first all-steel monocoque front-wheel drive – the Traction Avant. This pioneering vehicle would stay in production for more than 20 years.

    During this time, Budd would also expand his business into Europe – both in England and in Germany. These companies would produce bodies for many of the automobile and truck companies in both countries, including Morris, Hillman, Austin, Rover, Mercedes, Opel, Adler, Audi, BMW, Daimler-Benz, Ford, Hanomag, Horch, and NSU. In 1935, Budd also got a contract to supply auto body parts and tools to the Soviet Union. Over the years, Budd would also supply parts and bodies to various American manufacturers, including Nash, Chevrolet, Hudson, Cadillac, Hupmobile, Ford, Wilys-Overland as well as others

      1 month ago
  • Here is an article I wrote for the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles about Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company.

    Edward G Budd – Pioneering Better Transportation

    Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a movie starring two of the late 20th century’s most famous comedians.

    It could also be the title of the story of the early 20th century’s least famous transportation maverick. Ford, Dodge, Chrysler, Citroen, Chevrolet are all names that reverberate in the automotive world today. Each of the men who gave their names to those companies will be remembered as some of the most important automotive icons of the early 20th century. Yet, who remembers the name of the man whose desire for experimenting, drive for improvement and dedication to the art of metal working created some of the most important advances in transportation in the last 110 years? That man was Edward Gowen Budd.

    Born in Symrna Delaware in 1870, Budd began his metal working career after high school graduation, becoming an apprentice machinist at the G. W. and S. Taylor Iron works in his hometown. Budd’s career development continued upon moving to Philadelphia in 1890 where he was employed as a machinist. He ended up at the Bermont Pond Works, a manufacturer of machine tools and hydraulic presses. (Theobald, 2019) Budd supplemented on the job experience with, “Further education at The Franklin Institute, the University of Pennsylvania extension school, and the International Correspondence School. Physics, Electricity, and Mathematics were the principal intellectual interests of this period.” (Jr., 1950)

    The American Pulley Company, manufacturers of, “The popular all wrought steel pulley, made exclusively of mild sheet steel” (The George V. Cresson Company's Establishment, 1898) was where Budd, “was awakened to the possibilities of press-formed sheet steel as a substitute for castings and forgings.” (Jr., 1950) The revolutionary press and die-formed sheet steel pulleys made were lighter and stronger than the cast iron pulleys in use at that time.

    In 1902, Budd moved to The Hale & Kilburn Company in Philadelphia, originally producers of wood furniture and mouldings at a plant on 6th and Filbert Streets. Budd, hired while the company was transitioning from working with wood to working with metals, spent the next nine years as the works manager. Under his leadership, the company transitioned from manufacturing fine furniture, to producing seats, interior trim and other railcar parts from press-formed steel that was welded together. Budd was not afraid to use other’s inventions as he imported from France the first autogenous gas welding equipment to be used in this country. Business boomed while railroads were switching from wooden cars to steel cars, but around 1910, the railcar business declined. Budd moved the company into supplying panels for automobile bodies, but ownership issues led to the company not continuing in the automobile supply business.

    After leaving Hale & Kilburn to forge his own path forward, Budd formed the Edward G Budd Manufacturing Company (the Budd Company), receiving the state charter on 22 July, 1912. The company would be based in Philadelphia. With thirteen employees who had worked with Mr. Budd at Hale & Kilburn, $100,000 and the group’s “knowledge of the methods of forming and joining sheet steel, and their belief that the automobile business was to be a growing industry”, (Jr., 1950) a revolution in the art of manufacturing automobiles, and other forms of transportation, had begun.

      1 month ago
  • Great article; I'd almost forgotten about the marque. Here's to art deco autos 🥃

      1 month ago
  • That's the most interesting headlamps I've ever seen.

      1 month ago
  • Wonderful cars, but of course Alvis in the UK was the first with front wheel drive in production in 1925, then Tracta in France. Amazing that Ledwinka designed it, but he never did fwd again.

      1 month ago
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