The Big Car Database

Badger

Pictured: 1911 Badger Fore Door Automobile. It was powered by a four-cylinder, water-cooled, 30 horse power engine and priced at $1500. A Roadster was priced at $1250 and another model of the touring car was to be made.

The Badger Motor car company of Columbus, Wisconsin, United States,  was an automobile company founded in 1910.

History

Origins

In March 1909, E. W. Arbogast, who was the son-in-law of a wealthy grain merchant from Watertown, Wisconsin, was failing to persuade anyone there that he could build a high-power, high-priced car that he could sell in the medium price range. So he went to Columbus, where he said he could build an example, test it then sell it, but only if the town provided him money to manufacture it if he succeeded. In May 1909, he was successful. The company was the created, with A.M. Bellack (a local clothier) as president, Charles E. Fowler (a local grocer) as vice-president, and J.R. Wheeler (a local banker) as treasurer. The factory was completed in November 1909. Herman Wertheimer was the partner,who also was the Mayor of Watertown, Wi at the time period.

Badger Body Company - Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Private Coach designed by Brooks Stevens for the Western Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin. The body was built by the Badger Body Co. of Milwaukee to Stevens specifications on a custom chassis with a Mercury flathead V-8. The interior was complete with display cases and meeting are for selling books to distributors and dealers. The idea behind the traveling coach was that salesmen could be more efficient buy bringing the product directly to the customer’s place of business, an idea that is still used today by Snap-On and other tool manufacturers.

Production

Failing to convince anyone in Watertown, WI., to finance a medium-priced automobile that he had designed, F. W. Aborgast, son-in-law of a wealthy grain merchant, went to Columbus and offered to build a test a model.  He told the townspeople that he would build his car there if they would finance it. It was successfully tested and financies were granted. The Badger Motor Car Company was incorporated with A. M. Bellack as president and a factory was completed by November and production began on the Badger automobile. Storage space was needed to store unfinished cars and the Columbus Canning Company was used. Problems soon set in. The dealerships that were invisioned did not appear and the outside press found faults with the constucttion. In order to sell the cars, they were traded for farm land in several locations. Then the stockholders got worried and started  to sell the farmland without much success. The canning company bought back the factory and turned it into a grain mill.

By February 1910, storage space was important for cars completed but not yet delivered, so the third floor of the Columbus Canning Company was used. Trade press was flattering. One of the sales pitches, "a Hill Climber with Power to burn" was shown when finished cars were driven to the third floor of the Columbus Canning Company for storage. The cars had 4-cylinder engines. However, luck ran out when the nationwide network of dealers was not realized. Dealers already up and running did not always have good things to say, such as one Los Angeles agency who said

"Motors too small and torsion rod weakness not improved". 

There had been 237 cars built when it went under in 1911.

Models

Year Engine HP Transmission Wheelbase
1910 4-cylinder 30 3-speed manual  112 in (2,845 mm)
1911 4-cylinder 30 3-speed manual 110 in (2,794 mm) 
 

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