Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Car Ownership in 1920s

1922 Maxwell         (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
Automobile Ownership Came with
Responsibilities in the 1920s

     In the early 1920s, automobiles had been around for the common man for more than a decade and were still growing in popularity.

     In 1922, the Frederick Chamber of Commerce executive was in charge of collecting vehicle taxes, and in a Frederick Free Press article from January 1922, he put a positive spin on the taxes.

From The Frederick Free Press, January 12, 1922


“The automobile license is being paid promptly and with smiling faces,” says E.J. McBride, secretary of the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, who is again collecting this tax from car owners in this county this year. Up to Wednesday morning over 200 owners of cars, tractors and trucks have already paid their license for 1922 to Mr. McBride. Those who do not pay by the last of January are subject to a $25 fine for each car, truck or tractor.
Mr. McBride attributes that the license is being paid so cheerfully to the fact that nearly all of the money collected is spent on the state highways in the county. Our commissioners have expended the money wisely on Tillman county state roads until we are generally recognized by those acquainted with the situation, to have the best dirt roads in Oklahoma. Over $30,000 was collected in motor license last year and it will run about the same this year.
The license runs all the way from $10 up on a car. Trucks are taxed according to the ton capacity. The tractor tax is very reasonable, fifty cents a horsepower the first year and ten cents less a horsepower each year thereafter until a minimum of twenty cents the fourth year. This makes a Fordson cost $5 the first year and $2 the fourth year. This is lower than the ad valorum, or regular taxes assessed by the assessor on a tractor.
Last year Mr. McBride kept a record of the engine number and other data on every car on which he collected the tax, and this is helping greatly in facilitating the work in his office the present year.
Printed notices are furnished the auto owner when the license is applied for, and these are placed on the wind shield. A few 1922 tags have already arrived, however.
The only ones who have any kick coming are those who bought cars at the peak prices, who are compelled to pay a tax according to the value of the car when it was originally purchased. The third year that a car is registered there is a 20 percent discount.

If fact, not everyone in the county was as eager to pay the taxes as McBride had indicated.

From The Frederick Free Press, June 1, 1922

Nearly 3,000 Cars in County
If automobile licenses are not paid better in other parts of the county than in and near Frederick, there are about 800 automobile owners who have not yet taken out their 1922 license. Last year there were about 2,900 cars, the licenses on 1,700 of which were paid through the Chamber of Commerce in Frederick, and the balance through banks in all of the other towns.
This year there are about as many cars, and so far licenses have been taken out on 1,200 in Frederick. They now pay through the office of E.L. Guyer, county superintendent of highways. A list is kept of each car owner, the name of the car, age of car, number of engine and number of license tag. The latter is placed on the cashier’s check when it is sent from the highway commissioner to the local bank. In this way the number of the license tag on any car in the county can be readily found, either by inquiring at the bank where a record of the check is kept or at Mr. Guyer’s office.
An unusual number have been taking out licenses the past few days, says Miss Culver, deputy collector.

      Maintaining a car in the 1920s was a very different process than today. The following article from June 1921 offered county motorists advice about preparing their car for summer.

From The Frederick Free Press, June 2, 1921

Get Car Into Shape For Summer Driving

Many Motorists Inclined to Overlook Cooling System
Nothing More Vital to Efficient Operation and Performance of Car ­–
Thorough Cleaning Increases Efficiency
While friend wife is enjoying her annual housecleaning bee and mislaying the furniture, friend husband has a few jobs that he might as well get busy at. According to the calendar the warm days are in the offing and will soon be beckoning to the open road. It is the advice of experienced automobile service men that now is the time to give the car a thorough inspection and take the necessary measures to put it in first-class shape for the summer use.
When it comes to overhauling a car or tuning it up many motorists are inclined to overlook the cooling system. This is a mistake, for there is nothing more vital to efficient operation and performance. At this time of year every car owner should give the cooling system, including the radiator, water jackets, hose and pump, a thorough cleaning.
The best way to do this is to drain the water out of the car, then fill up the radiator with a weak solution of soda and water. Having done this, let the engine run for ten minutes or so. Then drain off this liquid and replace it with pure water. Again let the engine run for a few minutes and again drain the car. You will then be ready to fill your radiator for regular use.
This advantageous because it cleans out the radiator, water jackets, hose and pump thoroughly, freeing them from deposits, especially those left by anti-freezing mixtures used during the winter, which, if allowed to remain in the car, would probably rot the hose and do other damage. Taking this simple precaution not only extends the life of the car, but prevents future trouble and increases efficiency.

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