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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

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Chair Car: 1922

Chair Car: 1922

January 1922. Washington, D.C. "Man in three-wheeled vehicle." Which is, according to the nameplate, a ____G CAR. 4x5 glass negative. View full size.


Demon of the Roads

The driver is none other than L. Luzern Custer himself, piloting what the caption describes as a "Cootie Car." (Washington Post, Jan. 21, 1922)

Although another clipping (The Daily Ardmoreite, 17 Nov. 1920) describes a different vehicle, a toy electric car for children similar to the ones here and here, as a Cootie Car:

Restored Custer Car

Video linked from this blog.

Last stand

It certainly does appear to be a Custer Car. A close-up of the rear hub on a similar photo appears to show the embossed legend "CUSTER CAR".

The inventor, Levitt Luzern Custer, filed a 1919 design patent for a very similar-looking "juvenile automobile." (It's obviously not the same design, but the resemblance is clear.)

[Two "juvenile" Custer Cars can be seen here and here on Shorpy. - Dave]

Custer Chair Car?

The vehicle looks a lot like the Custer Chair Car, featured on the very informative blog called Just A Car Guy, which concerns all things transportation-related.

[It could be -- both are made by a "Specialty Co." -- although our chair-car has a G in the name. - Dave]


Wall sconces and wall embellishments, so typical in the 20's! All would be gone by the 40's, replaced by bland industrial looking light fixtures and plain blonde walls.

Tare weight

I bet that thing weighs a ton (short, long or figurative.)


I'm sure that vehicle was quite practical given the abundance of wheelchair ramps in 1922.

The Wheels!

About 60 years ago I had an old red wagon from the early 1930s that came off a hill and got hit by a car on Long Island. I bounced six times and was OK but the wagon was a fatality. The wheels were smaller than those in this photograph but I remember the style and inside the black rubber was all "fire engine red".

The Segway of its era

Just need to find enough room to do U-turns. Fairly easy in hotel lobbies, but hallways? Concept good, execution needs work.

[Next stop, Walmart. - Dave]

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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