The Big Car Database


Pictured: This radiator emblem belonged to a Partin-Palmer automobile that was manufactured by the Commonwealth Motors Company of Joliet, Illinois from 1915 until 1917. The Partin-Palmer had been manufactured since 1913, but business problems forced the car to be made by Commonwealth Motors in 1915. After 1917 Commonwealth changed the name vehicle’s name to match its own.

The Commonwealth Motors Corporation was a luxury auto company that produced cars from 1917-1922.

The company was founded originally as Partin-Palmer company in 1913, but in 1915 got into financial trouble in Chicago. So, in 1917, the name was changed to Commonwealth, and production was moved to Joliet, Illinois.


The slogan of the company was "The Car with a foundation", which was in reference to the build quality, including such parts as the frames lined with thick felt to prevent squeaks, chrome nickel alloy steel, and five-inch channel sections. The company produced four passenger open cars and five passenger closed-body cars. In 1919, the company tried a six-cylinder car with 25.3 hp called the Victory Six Tour.

Company failure

In November 1921, Leland Goodspeed joined Commonwealth as the new EVP of Engineering. Goodspeed was the former EVP of Barley Motors in Kalamazoo Michigan. At Roamer he was credited with the design and execution of the high end Roamer luxury roadsters and phaetons produced by Barley Motors. Hired on with Commonwealth the plan was to design and produced a new high end closed-body car to be called "Goodspeed". Leland Goodspeed was known within the automobile race community having broken two speed Indianapolis 500 records: one in 1919 and one in 1921, both driving Roamers, his brand name was very strong. Three aluminum bodied prototypes were produced and displayed at New York and Chicago auto shows. Despite positive feedback from the show, the Goodspeed was never put into production. In 1922 Commonwealth was taken over by Morris Markin, owner of both Markin Auto body (Commonwealth Supplier) and Checker Cab of Chicago (Commonwealth Customer). Markin consolidated all production on Checker Taxicabs, moved production to Kalamazoo, MI and suspended all Commonwealth auto production. The new reorganized company continued producing Checker cabs until 1982 operating as Checker Motors. Checker Motors continued producing components for GM and Chrysler until the 2009 failures of both GM and Chryler. Unable to survive the financial turmoil Checker Motors closed its doors in 2010.


The 1919 model is known as the "Victory. It contains the 31/2 by 41/2 six-cylinder Red Seal Continental engine and is a five-passenger touring car. It has been refined and is designed to meet the demands for a lightweight quality car. Other specifications are 118-in. wheelbase, Timken bearings, Borg & Beck clutch, full-floating rear axle and freeze-proof radiator. The body is of the straightline type with double cowl and is upholstered in genuine leather.

When the Partin-Palmer Motor Car Company got into trouble in 1915, the company'ss name was changed to Commonwealth Motor Car Company and  the car became the Commonwealth in 1917. It was known as "The Car with the Foundation". Generally, the motors were four-cylinders, but in 1919 six-cylinders were added to the line known as the Victory Six. A roadster with an optional of a tent was called the American Traveler. In 1922 a car designed by Leland Goodspeed and had his name was produced. In 1921 Commonwealth joined with Markin Body Corporation and the two companies proceeding in making Checker Cabs.

  • 1917-1918 Commonwealth HP: 19.6 Wheelbase: 112 inches
  • 1919 Commonwealth HP: 19.6 Wheelbase: 115 inches
  • 1919 Commonwealth Victory Six Tour HP: 25.3 Wheelbase: 115 inches
  • 1920 Commonwealth Model 4-40 Cylinders: four HP: 35 Wheelbase: 117 inches
  • 1921-1922 Commonwealth Model 4-35 Cylinders: four HP: 37 Wheelbase: 117 inches
  • 1922 Commonwealth Taxi Cylinders: four HP: 21.03 Transmission: selective sliding 3-speed Voltage: six to eight Wheelbase: 117 inches