An Aristocrat at Old Trusty

We attended the annual Old Trusty Antique & Collectors Show a couple of weekends ago and were surprised to see this rare Empire sitting among the classics. Unfortunately, there was no one hovering around it that I could question, so I have no idea where it originated from or how it came to be in Clay Center; I only know it was there and it was amazing.

The Empire Automobile Company was founded in 1909 by a small group of Indianapolis businessmen. Three of these men, Arthur Newby of the National Car Company, Carl Fisher of Prest-O-Lite, and James Allison who later became known for Allison Aircraft, were also involved in the building of a certain famous brick racetrack in that city. On a cold day in December of 1909, the last brick, a gold-plated one, was laid into place, and it was time to prove the new track was a fast one. Many records were broken that day by bigger and more powerful automobiles, but the 4-cylinder Empire did participate in the record setting:

With the founders wanting to focus on the racetrack endeavor, Empire was sold in 1911, went through a reorganization that moved some operations to Pennsylvania, added a 6-cylinder 25-hp Continental engine as an option, and was gone by the time the 1920s rolled around. The Empire at the Old Trusty show looks similar to the drawing featured in this advertisement which provides some detail about the “The Little Aristocrat.”

The upholstery looks original, doesn’t it? Where on earth has this car been?

This was the 41st year for Old Trusty, and it really is a gem of a show with so much to see in terms of antique cars, trucks, tractors, and equipment. Here are photos of a few more things that were part of the show, including a 1966 Plymouth Satellite, a couple of Ford trucks , a canary yellow Model A, a 1912 Excelsior motorcycle, and all manner of military vehicles and engines.

1912 Excelsior