The Big Car Database


The Matheson was an American automobile manufactured by Matheson Motor Company from 1903 to 1912.

The President of the company was Charles Walter Matheson, born Grand Rapids, Michigan, March 22, 1876. His brother, Frank F. Matheson served as company secretary.

Former type

Automobile Manufacturing
Industry Automotive
Founded 1905
Defunct 1912
Headquarters Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Area served

United States

Key people

Charles Walter Matheson and Frank F. Matheson
Products Vehicles
Automotive parts

Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1903

The first production of the Matheson Motor Car Company was shipped from Grand Rapids in July, 1903.

Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1903-1905

In 1903, Matheson acquired the assets of the Holyoke Automobile Company, and relocated production to Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Forty Fort, Pennsylvania from 1906

The business community in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was keen to attract and invest in manufacturing. In 1906, a new Matheson factory was opened in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania. Some 35 skilled employees transferred from the old works in Holyoke, Massachusetts. In the spring of 1913, heavily discounted cars were being sold off by the receiver.

In 1919, the Owen Magnetic Motor Car Company occupied the old Matheson works and in 1920 resumed production of the Owen Magnetic car.


The Matheson Motor Car Co. 
Grand Rapids, MI & Holyoke, MA 1903 
Holyoke, MA 1904-1905 
Wilkes-Barre, PA 1906-1912

In 1903 the Matheson Motor Car Company was formed and this new company purchased the assets of the Holyoke Automobile Company in Holyoke, MA. Frank F. Matheson & Charles W. Matheson were the driving force behind The Matheson Motor Car Co.

The Matheson brothers also aquired the services of engineer Charles R. Greuter who designed the Holyoke automobile and it's overhead valve engine.

Initally production of the Charles R. Greuter designed overhead valve engine and transmission was performed at Holyoke, Massachusetts with the Matheson automobiles assembled in Grand Rapaids, Michigan. In 1904 the entire operation moved to Holyoke, MA. By 1906 The Matheson Motor Car Co. relocated to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The 1903 and 1904 Matheson Touring Cars were painted a bright red with deep olive green leather interior. Long semi ellipic springs supported the body. It had a 95 inch wheelbase, 54 inch tread, 32 inch x 2 1/2 inch wheels and tires. Wheels had steel hubs and hickory spokes. Two drum brakes acted on rear wheels. Price was $2,500.00.

The 1903 Matheson's were equipped with a four cylinder vertical type water cooled engine rated at 25 horsepower. The transmission had three speeds forward and one reverse. Speeds range from 2 to 45 MPH. The engine speed was controlled by throttling the mixture and varying the ignition.

The 1906 Matheson automobiles consisted of two seven passenger side entrance touring cars. One was equipped with a 40-45 horsepower engine and cost $6,000.00. The second Matheson cost $7,500.00 and had a larger 60-65 horsepower engine. 1906 Matheson features include - self starting, automatic speed control, sliding gear transmission, double chain drive, honeycomb radiator, 20 gallon gas trank, 36 x 4 inch front wheels and tires, 36 x 4 1/2 inch wheels and tires, 112 inch wheelbase with 40-45 horsepower, 118 inch wheelbase with the 60-65 horsepower.

By 1907 The Matheson Motor Car Co. expanded production to a 123 inch wheelbase 2 passenger Runabout, 7 passenger Touring Car, 7 passenger Limousine and a 7 passenger Landaulette equipped with a four cylinder 35 horsepower engine. These same models could be had with 129 inch wheelbase and 50 horsepower 4 cylinder engines.

Only the 50 horsepower engines were used in the 1908 Matheson cars. In 1909 a Matheson Touring Car with a six cylinder 50 horsepower engine was introduced. Other 1909 models included a 50 horsepower Touring Car, Roadster and Limousine.

1910 Matheson models included a Model E 4 cylinder seven passenger Touring Car and Limo. The 1910 Matheson model M automobiles were equipped with 6 cylinder 50 horsepower engines. 1910 body styles included a four passenger Toy Tonneau, five passenger Touring and a seven passenger Limousine.

Although chain drive was fitted to most Matheson fours until as late as 1910 the six cylinder equipped Mathesons were shaft driven from the beginning. The 1911 Matheson six cylinder engines were improved into the "Silent Six.

It was 1911 when Matheson advertising claims included "Have You Tried To Hear It Run?".

The 1911 model line up included the following - Silent Six Model 18 five passenger Touring Car, Model 18 four passenger Toy Tonneau, Model 23 Limo and a large 135 inch wheelbase Touring Car. Big Four seven passenger Touring Car, seven passenger Toy Tonneau, seven passenger Limo and a seven passenger Landaulet.

All the 1912 Matheson models were equipped with six cylinder 50 horsepower engines in the following body styles - five passenger open Touring Car, seven passenger open Touring Car, four passenger Toy tonneau, two passenger Speedster, 2 passenger Roadster, 4 passenger Cruiser, Limo, Demi-Lemo, Berlin Limo and Landaulet.

By 1910 The Matheson Motor Car Co. was in financial trouble. Its first receivership arrived in July 1910 and was lifted in November of 1910 and reorganized as The Matheson Automobile Company. Its second receivership arrived in December of 1912 and the company did not survive. All of the Matheson Automobile Company assets were sold in April of 1913.


The sprawling building that housed the manufacturing plant still exists, although heavily modified into a series of commercial business locations. The Matheson building is quite long, taking up more than a block of space on Welles Street in Forty Fort. The anchor business is Matheson Warehouse, an agent of North American Van Lines and operated by several generations of the Hinchey Family.

Recently, it was announced that funding for the Welles Street Gateway Project has been awarded as part of the proceeds from state profits garnered from the Mohegan Sun Casino in nearby Plains Township. The Welles Street Gateway Project was the brainchild of former Forty Fort Council President Andy Tuzinski and current Borough Engineer Chris Borton. This project will introduce a "Main Street" USA motif with retail shops, sidewalks and period lighting.