The Big Car Database


The Comet Automobile Co. has undertaken the difficult task of producing at a moderate price a car having the size and quality of cars in a higher price class, the prime object being economy.

Its exhibits wil1 include a stripped chassis and two standard touring cars, one 'in regular finish and the other in a special color. One chassis carries the four body models comprising the complete line—five-passenger touring, four-passenger roadster, and five-and seven-passenger limousines. The engine is a 50-horsepower six and the wheelbase is 125 inches. The price range is from $1,285 to $2,250. The leader of the line is the Centennial “C-50," which is a five-passenger touring car at $1,285.

George W. Jagers, a former costing clerk for the Case Threshing Machine Company, Racine, WI, bought the Racine Manufacturing Company, a toy maker, and proceeded to turn it into an automobile venture. He moved to Chicago in 1916 and designed six prototypes that was being made by his company in Wisconsin. He showed his models at the 1917 Chicago Automobile Show in January.

Production began in August for the 1918 season at his new factory in Decauter, IL. The car was an assembled six-cylinder model that was like all the other models being made that year. Sales were modest but were climbing and were being made only from firm commitments from dealerships. Its slogan "This Comet has Come to Stay." was put in its advertisements in 1920. An order for 40 cars from Belgium gave the company the initiative to build a larger and more modern factory with a daily output of 200 cars, but sorry to say, the order was never realized. This put the company into dep trouble and the Comet was not being made in Decauter any more.

It went into voluntary receivership and with a new plan to refinance, production continued with a small four engine. Plans to return to Racine and refiancing never took place and the company was in shambles. Its stock selling affairs were being investigated. The company was offered for sale but no bidders and the assets were sold in piece meal at auction in 1922 with one car being bought for $35 and parts as low as 8 cents each. Eight former officers were indicted for fraud, but most of them were cleared.

Comet V-8 – Powered Underslung

For quite some time, this Comet racing car has been attributed by others, either as a Buick or a Comet that was built by Premier and raced by Carl Fisher. After years of on-and-off-again research, a firm case has been developed proving that this is a Comet racing or test car built in San Francisco by Elbert John Hall. He later went on to form the Hall-Scott Motor Car Company in 1910 with Bert C. Scott and build the Hall-Scott A-2 V-8 aviation engine.

The Comet car was produced in San Francisco by the Comet Automobile Co. (1907-1909), and Hall joined the newly-formed Company, which soon floundered and died. According to the Standard Catalog of American Cars Hall, ended up with the rights to the name and soon formed the Hall Automobile Co. with Autocar dealer Walter C. Morris.

Hall continued to use the Comet name and over the next few years a total of about six automobiles were reported to have been built. The cars were powered by straight fours, one six cylinder and V-8 engines of Hall’s design. The small four cylinder 25- h.p. o.h.v. road car was guaranteed to do 75 m.p.h. which was very fast for the time.

The Hall also built a small and lightweight o.h.v. four cylinder racing car that tore up the race tracks in San Francisco and the Bay Area winning many events in the 1909 to ’10 period. Automobile Topics magazine reported on August 5, 1908 that the Comet won seven races at a meet sponsored by the Sonoma County Auto Club in Santa Rosa, CA.

A casual look at the photo (above) would lead one to believe that this was the four-cylinder racing car. Further investigation of the photo of this racing or test car shows that it is powered by one of Hall’s V-8 engines. This car may have served as a test bed for developing the A-2 V-8 aviation engine, and there is a possibility that it was the race car repowered with the new V-8.

This car was powered by a V-8 engine that is very similar to the Hall-Scott Type A-2 aviation engine that was introduced in 1910. If one takes the time to study the engine, it will noticed that the two cylinder blocks on the right-hand side of the car are inclined on an angle.

The V points to a radiator hose with a second water manifold behind it on top of the other bank of cylinders. V2 points to the tip of one of the exposed rocker arms on the other side of the engine. The bundle of ignition wires also begin at a magneto in the vee of the engine and are in the same location as the A-2 engines.

Photos from the Automobile Trade Journal November 1910 issue, show an early Hall-Scott A-2 V-8 aviation engine. Note the sophisticated oil pan Hall designed that used a lower collection section that in effect was the tank for a dry sump oil system. The four-cylinder aviation engine used a separate tank mounted off to the side of the oil pan. The first Mercer racing car designed at the same time would use a similar design as seen above, and it was used in all of the later 1911-14 production and racing cars.


The Comet

The slogan The Worlds’s Greatest Cycle Car is quite a boast, but during the short period of time between 1912 and 1914 when the cycle car craze was active, aggressive marketing was the practice at the time. The January 1, 1914 issue of The Automobile tells us that the Comet was built by the Economy Cyclecar Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana, and it was designed by Fred P. Merz. The name was later changed to the Comet Cycle Car Company.

The 100-inch wheelbase machine with a 36-inch tread was powered by a 10-h.p. Spacke V-twin air-cooled engine that was manufactured by the small engine and air compressor company also located in Indianapolis. The drive was through a planetary transmission and a shaft with dual V-belts and pulleys. It was a pleasantly-styled machine equipped with cycle fenders, the front pair were attached to the spindles and turned with the steering system.    

It was reported in the press that an initial batch of twenty cars were built for testing with production to follow. It is possible this was all that were assembled as the July 4, 1914 Automobile Topics reported on the Company entering into receivership at that time. The postcard image above was from Comet Cyclecar Co. of California, that was located in San Francisco and is courtesy of Alden Jewell.