The Big Car Database


Iroquois Motor Car Company
Former type
Automobile Manufacturing
Industry Automotive
Genre Runabout and Touring Cars
Fate Foreclosure
Founded 1903
Founder John S. Leggett
Defunct 1907
Headquarters Syracuse, New York,
later moved to Seneca Falls, New York
, United States
Area served
United States
Products Vehicles
Automotive parts
Owner Leggett Carriage Company

Iroquois Motor Car Company (1903–1907) was a manufacturer of automobiles in Syracuse, New York, and later, Seneca Falls, New York.

The company was founded by John S Leggett as Leggett Carriage Company and originally specialized in the production of automobile bodies


A 1906 advertisement for Iroquois Motor Car Company - Automotive Industries, 1906

Leggett Carriage Company was a manufacturer of automobile bodies in Syracuse, New York, beginning about 1900. John S. Leggett tinkered with his first auto prototypes as early as September 1899 where they were under construction in his factory at 109-111 State Street.

Auto bodies

Leggett designed and built automobile bodies for car manufacturers. A prototype constructed in 1900 by John Wilkinson for the New York Automobile Company had a Leggett body.

After Wilkinson teamed with Herbert H. Franklin to form the Franklin Automobile Company, the Leggett Carriage Company in Syracuse built auto bodies for Franklin from 1902 until 1903.

A 1907 advertisement for Iroquois Motor Car Company - Automotive Industries, 1907

Leggett also built an auto body for another occupant of the building the company occupied at State Street. C. W. Lower, an employee of Syracuse Chilled Plow Company, built an automobile in the fall of 1899 and the body was constructed by Leggett Carriage Company.

Automobile manufacturing

In February, 1903, J. S. Leggett, company founder, made the decision to switch to automobile manufacturing. He named his car the Iroquois. That same month, Leggett reorganized the company and renamed it J. S. Leggett Manufacturing Company.

The Iroquois was a compact car with an advanced design. It had a four-cylinder water-cooled engine rated at 15-horsepower. The company built runabout and tonneau models in Syracuse up to 1904.

Financial problems

J. S. Leggett announced in November 1903 that the J. S. Leggett Manufacturing Company was in financial trouble and the factory had been closed and the firm had decided to liquidate the company affairs. Leggett resigned as president and general manager. The company was "perfectly solvent" and paid the stockholders 100 cents on a dollar. It was rumored that the "present company will also be reorganized and will turn out a machine for 1904." The company was in receivership because it failed to raise enough capital from shareholders "to conduct a large enough business to yield profits." Production virtually ceased in 1904. The company retained one mechanic "to finish up a few machines."

During February 1904, several changes had been made at the J. S. Leggett Manufacturing Company. J. S. Leggett was president and treasurer. The factory had reopened on 1 February and men were being "put to work continually." The company was working on putting a four-cylinder, 15-horsepower touring car with direct or chain drive, known as the Iroquois, into market. They had also begun producing their own automobile bodies.

Iroquois Motor Car Company - Seneca Falls - 1905

For a few months, there was discussion of Century Motor Vehicle Company merging with J. S. Leggett's, Iroquois Motor Car Company who manufactured the body for Century, however, that did not occur because Century had too many liabilities.

Seneca Falls move

By December, 1904, the company raised $450,000 in capital, primarily from one shareholder, Charles A. Fox.

The name changed again to the Iroquois Motor Car Company and the production plant was moved to Seneca Falls, New York, where it occupied a plant formerly owned by the National Yeast Company known as the Chamberlain property. The businessmen of Seneca Falls subscribed $25,000 for the company to move there.

The main building had a frontage of 150 feet (46 m) and included two "L's and a boiler house." The facility had a total of 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) of floor space and was valued at $75,000.

The basic design of the car, including sliding gear transmission, 100-inch (2,500 mm) wheelbase and shaft drive, remained unchanged over the years; however, in 1904, and again in 1905, the four-cylinder engine was "beefed up."

In 1906, the five passenger Model D Iroquois touring car was introduced with a selling price of $2,500. The car was equipped with a four-cylinder engine rated at 25-30 horsepower.

A smaller, side entrance, Model C with a detachable tonneau was priced at $2,000. It had a four-cylinder engine rated at 18-20 horsepower. The company also produced canopy and folding tops for an additional cost.

Model D

Iroquois Motor Car Company - Model D - 1905

The Iroquois Model D in 1905 was a large touring car with 25 to 30-horsepower motor. The "general construction" followed regular touring car lines and had a four-cylinder vertical motor, side-entrance body, with individual front seats, roomy tonneau and moderately long wheelbase. The car weighed 2,400 pounds (1,100 kg) and had a maximum speed of 40 mph (64 km/h). It came with the "popular divided front seat and a rear seat roomy enough for three adults." The upholstering was of hand-buffed leather. The body was all wood and was finished in olive green with black moldings and wine colored frame and running gear. The equipment on the car came standard and consisted of two oil side lamps, two gas headlights, an oil tail lamp, French horn with long tube, automobile clock on the dashboard, water gauge and full set of tools.

The steering column passes through the straight dashboard and spark and throttle levers worked in sectors inside the wheel rim. All main bearing were lubricated by a force feed lubricator, located in front of the dashboard. Sight glasses were attached to the left-hand side of the engine.

Iroquois Motor Car Company - Model D frame - 1905

Jump spark ignition was used and two sets of dry cells supplied the necessary current.

Company fails

Despite the large inflection of capital, the company continued to flounder. By February 1907, the business was sold under mortgage foreclosure. Later that year, John S. Leggett attempted to reorganize again under the name Iroquois Motor Vehicle Company, however, he was not successful.

Leggett's failed business enterprise was described in local news as "an unsuccessful attempt to switch from carriage manufacture to automaking by assembling parts bought outside the city."

J. S. Leggett was involved in the manufacture of a second automobile called the DeLong. The builder, George Erwin DeLong, was the superintendent of Leggett Carriage Company and left in 1901 to build his DeLong in Phoenix, New York.