101 Year Old Beauty: 1916 Maxwell Touring Car

In our life time, it seems like the cars of our youth are still new, even though they have become classics. Our love affair with the automobile seems like something fresh and exciting, but cars like this 1916 Maxwell make us realize America’s love affair with the automobile is well over 100 years old now. Described as museum worthy, this Maxwell is a very solid machine, with an absolutely wonderful patina. Completely original, and in great condition, this is like a dream come true. This Maxwell is offered at $25,000. Find it here on craigslist out of Los Angeles, California.

Imagine “rambling down the road” 100 years ago, and how things have changed so much in a century. Instead of hard packed dirt roads with muddy ruts, or tar thrown over them, we now have complex highway systems, which are still often not as well paved as the roads were 100 years ago. (All jokes aside). Bouncing down the road in these comfortable and original leather covered seats would be a joy. Leather is fascinating, as it is able to withstand a hundred years, and still be in fair supple condition. The door panels with map pockets are neat, and are in nice shape. With only some minor surface rust on the dash, the interior doesn’t look that much different as it did new.

With a healthy heart, and even compression, this old flathead 4 cylinder is acceptably clean after its long life span. With no heavy rust or corrosion, I dare say that the engine bay is reasonably clean.

The body adorned with a lot of very old paint, there is some surface rust present after 101 years. There is no rot, and the surface rust is minimal as the seller has indicated it has not thinned the sheet metal. All of the sheet metal looks solid for what it is, and there appear to be no major dents or dings. The running boards are excellent, with no signs of damage other than worn paint from foot traffic. The convertible top is present and the frame and bows are nice, though the top material needs to be replaced. Another concern, which is no concern on this Maxwell, is its wood wheels. The wood is solid, and uncompromised, ready to ramble right along. I think that the definition of “condition” gets skewed with time. Technically this Maxwell may not be in the best condition, but I consider it to be in good condition considering it has survived so long, and survived mass scrap metal drives for World War II. The seller mentions that this Maxwell is museum worthy, but what do you think?



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  1. Howard A Member

    Jack Benny drove ( or was driven around by Rochester) in a Maxwell just like this. It was used as a prop in his TV shows for several years. Being from L.A. perhaps this was one of Mr. Benny’s cars. http://classyauto.com/image_large.php?image_id=915444

    • ACZ

      And they had to get out and kick the tires to make it go around a corner because the steering didn’t work.

    • Wm Lawrence

      My first thought too. I’m sure there are some on the list saying “Jack who?”.

      • Racerx

        They don’t know who Eddie Anderson was,either. That is such a cool old car.

      • Ed P

        Or Dennis Day

  2. Terry J

    “Rust has not thinned the sheet metal”. THAT is a very good point, and one worth remembering. I bought the old family 1930 Chevy Truck from a relative once. Real barn find, but the barn was a metal building that by it’s nature resulted in a lot of condensation. The metal looked good with patina like the old Maxwell, but was VERY thin . Leads to another lesson: Not all barns are created equal.

    :-) Terry J

  3. Woodie Man

    This presents an interesting conundrum to a preservationist. Should you halt the advance of the surface rust, on the dash and doors? How would you go about it, slather it in naval jelly?

    Funny Howard mentioned Jack Benny.

    The Maxwell tickled the back of my fried memory ends and I went searching for a picture of Isadora Duncan in a Maxwell. It turned out it was an Amilcar she was riding in when her scarf became entangled in the rear spokes breaking her neck and tossing her from the car.

    I’ve forgotten more than I know!

    • Terry J

      Good one Woodie, Had to Google Isadora and her tragic demise in 1927. A San Franciscan, free spirit, dancer,& Bohemian, she wore the long flowing red silk scarf from the time she became a communist.

      Rust: I wouldn’t on the Maxwell but on my projects I always soak down the sheet metal in OSPHO. It’s a good rust killer/converter and in itself creates a cool patina. I don’t think I’ll paint my RaTT Rod thus treated. :-) Terry J

    • Puhnto

      I thought it was a Bugatti she was in! I like my version better. I’ll just stick with it because: Bugatti!

  4. Jeffro

    No cup holders!!! I’ll pass. Seriously though, I hope I look this good at 100.

  5. Bill

    This beauty should be left as is.

  6. nessy

    Oh I like this car! It reminds me of my 15 Baby Grand Chevy, all original. If Jack Benny could not get 25 bucks for his Maxwell, there is no way this seller is going to get 25000 for this one, even if it is 70 years after Jack Benny tried to dump his.

  7. nessy

    Oh how I like the brass and nickel plated cars from this era.

  8. grant

    Wow. This. My birthday is coming up, you guys missed Christmas again…

  9. Bill

    Bucket list car for me, as a life long Jack Benny fan… If only….. Wonder if the engine sounds like Mel Blanc’s Sound effects…

    • Joe Nose

      Holy cr@p I must be getting old…that was my thought exactly!! Mel thputterin’ and wheething…

  10. Pharmag8r

    Just bought a 1917 Buick D45. Can’t wait to be able to drive it. Not as original as this is unfortunately but a heck of a lot cheaper.

  11. Deane Tranbarger

    Is that the gas fill neck on the right side of the dash ?? Ah the good old days !

    • Dean

      Yes that is the gas filler cap. Many (most?) of the cars of this era used a gravity feed fuel system, with the tank mounted in the firewall so it would be above the carburetor. That is why you had to reverse up steep hills…

  12. Ed P

    Don’t restore, just stabilize this car. It is an amazing piece of history that has held up well.

  13. Coventrycat

    This really deserves to be restored. Yeah I know – it’s only original once, but if you want to look like the Clampetts go for it.

    • Sidedraught

      I think it would be a travesty to restore her, then it would be just another restored car.

  14. G 1

    Maxwells were known to have weak rear ends. Turned into Chrysler in 1924.


    I think it’s really a cool piece of history, and wouldn’t fool with it much. I’d try to preserve it as much as I could, and drive it around a little every now and then. I don’t really follow these cars so I don’t know if $25K is in the ballpark or not. One thing that does amaze me about these old cars is the leather interior. How come my new Cadillac’s leather seats look (to me) worn way premature with only 8,000 miles on the car, yet this thing still has the original leather? Hello? GM?

  16. Paul apyan

    The wood wheels must be restored! If those are truly original then there has to be some rot. In a turn two spokes can easily collapse and create s serious accident/ injury. After that do the basic cosmetics , top etc and enjoy the car


      good point!

    • Mark S

      Yes restore the wheels then antique them so that they look original. As I would also do with a new top. As many of you know I’m not a fan of rustina but on this car I’d be willing to make an exception. However I would treat the metal with a light oil once in awhile to halt that rustina from progressing. Yes it should be in a museum trick is finding one that would want it. And an owner willing to donate it. As most car museums operate on a limited budget and quite often relie on donated cars and funding.

  17. Eric H.

    Map and photos in ad look to be in Rhode Island, not LA.

  18. Greg

    About a month ago the car was listed for $75,000 and it is in New England area. Is the price now of 25,000 fair? I would have thought it was high but I do not know a ton.

    • David Wilk Member

      There are three Maxwells listed for sale right now on Hemmings, range in price from $24K to $35K. The most expensive is a restored (and beautiful) 1910 roadster and the least expensive is a nice looking 1922 touring car model. So the one for sale here at $25K seems in the ballpark for being so original.


        As I said, I don’t follow these cars, but I have an appreciation for them. They are all hand made and the fact that so many survive is tesitmony to their quality. I wonder who does buy these. No 45 year olds or younger people that I know is calling me looking for anything older than a 50’s car, and most of them don’t even go that far back. They want things built in the 60-70’s usually. Who is buying these cars? I’ve been going to shows starting with my grandfather at Hershey in about 1960, and I know he loved these, because he remembered them, but younger collectors don’t seem interested.

  19. jcs

    Appears to be a really nice, solid car, but I’m not a fan of “patina”. I’m old and get to see all the patina I need to see by looking in the mirror.

  20. George

    perfect as is. love this thing!

  21. Mike Burnett

    Oil on the rust panels protects them for a while and is cheap, but attracts the dirt and can mark your clothes if they brush against them. In the world of traditional boats, they use a product called Owatrol which protects exposed metal surfaces and does not leave sticky residue. It can be removed easily with White Spirit. In the UK it is available at yacht chandlers. It used to be advertised in the States by mail order in the back pages of ‘Wooden Boat’ magazine. I used to use it on chrome bumpers, etc. if I was laying up a classic car for long periods.

  22. Pete

    Other than cleaning it up and adding some conditioning to the leather and metal surfaces, I would let it be what it is. But did you see that little brass oiler can mounted on the fire wall? How cool is that? I remember my dad having a couple of those and using them for various things like noisy hinges and what not. Perhaps I will invest in some next time I go to an estate sale.

  23. Richard Gagnon

    Hi My name is Rick I am the owner of this car, I bought it out of CT. I live in R.I. I went to check out a Model T Ford and and the 90 yr. old gentleman said “you want to see something really cool follow me.” So I followed him to a separate garage he opened the door and my jaw dropped . And thought I have to buy this car I was floored by the originality . So I made him an offer for both the 1926 Model T & This beautiful Maxwell. and he said sure It’s time to sell. The Model T I sold to a gentleman from Poland and he said that it was going to a museum. Any way Old cars are a lot of fun. I’m 60 yrs. old , But cars never get old to me. This Maxwell car can be seen on. Craigslist Los Angeles & Rhode Island

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