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History and Important Information of the Simplex, Crane Model 5

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

General history of the Simplex Automobile Company

An article in AUTOMOBILE Quarterly Winter 1963-64 volume 2 No. 4 Titled "The Three Lives of the Simplex" by Henry Austin Clark Jr. states:

"In the fall of 1914, the new management (of the Simplex Automobile Company acquired the Crane Motor Car Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, whose factory equipment was moved to New Brunswick early in 1915. With it went the talents of its founder Henry Middlebrook Crane, an M.I.T.-trained engineer who had built engines for the famous Dixie speedboats, four times winners of the Harmsworth Trophy for the fastest boat each year. Since 1912, Crane had designed and built in limited numbers, mostly to order, a six-cylinder car of very high quality which was more suitable to the increasingly refined needs of buyers of expensive cars and, incidentally, was then one of the most expensive cars in America. At best, the Simplex had been a rough-and-ready piece of machinery with more than its share of vibration and noise. Now in Crane's designs they had a machine of six-cylinder quiet and decorum. If a customer wanted the old get up and go, though, he could still buy the real thing for a time in a four-cylinder Simplex. This third and last period of Simplex history is, of course, the Crane period.

The Crane period car was an L-head six with all the valves on the same side of the two blocks of three cylinders as on the Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce. It was a big car with 4 ⅜ - inch stroke, modestly rated under the A.L.A.M. formula at 46 hp but actually developing 110 hp with its 563.7 cubic inches displacement. There were some special features designed for longer life and quiet performance rather than power. One car is known to have gone over 350,000 miles and still has plenty of life left."

An article from the Automobile Trade Journal August, 1915 states:

"The Simplex Automobile Company, inc., of No.240 West Fifty-ninth Street, New York City, offers for 1916 a chassis with a six-cylinder engine rated at 46 h.p. mounted on it. Center control with left side steer is provided, and transmission with four forward speeds is used. Silent chains are used to drive lighting system, water pump, etc."


Simplex Crane Model 5's gained early recognition. Mr. and Mrs. Snook rescued Simplex Crane Model 5's as early as 1929!

A photo of Mrs. Snook's Simplex taken at Larz Anderson Park in 1951

Here is an article on the Simplex Crane, Model 5 from the Automobile Trade Journal from August 1915

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Here is an article on the Simplex Crane, Model 5 from the Automobile Trade Journal from September 1916

Download PDF • 5.03MB

Here is the full article from AUTOMOBILE Quarterly Winter 1963-64 volume 2 No. 4 Titled "The Three Lives of the Simplex"

Download PDF • 31.27MB

The most famous Simplex Crane, currently owned by Jay Leno


Likely the most famous and highly valued Simplex Crane in existence is featured in an article in AUTOMOBILE Quarterly volume 11 No. 4 Titled "A Nautical Crane-Simplex by Holbrook" written by Richard M. Langworth. He states that this automobile was purchased for $10,000 off the floor of the Palace Hotel, San Francisco. He also says: "In 1941 the car was acquired by the well-known artist-enthusiast Melbourne Brindle of New Canaan, Connecticut, although wartime transport shortages prevented his shipping it East until 1946."

The BULB-HORN vol. 8, No.4 mentions: "George Crittendenden, who holds the fast climb record of 1906, shepherded Mel Brindle's leviathan Crane-Simplex to the summit. That spectacular item which Mel stalked for twenty-one years"

Herrah bought it in 1960 and Jay Leno bought it after him.

AUTOMOBILE Quarterly Vol. 2 No. 4 Describes this historic automobile:

Download PDF • 13.20MB


Simplex, Crane Model 5's are known for their durability!

Every component was the highest quality and made to last. These vehicles were known to last well beyond the life of possibly all of their competitors as is exemplified in this article in Bulb-Horn:

Owners and sales information of Simplex #2246

The 1916 Simplex, Crane Model 5 enclosed drive formal limousine #2246 featured on this site was purchased new by Frank Coykendall of Kingston, N.Y.

Frank Coykendal residence

On June 1, 1950 this vehicle was sold to Mr. Claude Schaffer of New Haven Connecticut. Claude Schaffer passed away and ownership was transferred to his daughter Marion. Who married Charles W. Bishop.

On March 9th 1977, Marion S Bishop of Fort Lauderdale FL sold the Simplex to Ralph De Angelis of Stamford CT.

Dan Obele of Phoenix AZ purchased the Simplex from Ralph De Angelis around seven years later in 1984.

Dan Obele sold it to Mike Kilian of Old Hickory TN sometime near 1991.

Finally, I purchased this Simplex on June 22, 2018.

A picture that I took of the car when I went to purchase it.

How much did a Simplex Crane Model 5 sell for?

Prices for the chassis alone generally varied from five to seven thousand dollars before adding the cost of a custom body.

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