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We Really Must Be Going: 1917

We Really Must Be Going: 1917

        UPDATE: Commenter 426hemi has identified our mystery ride as a 1917 Olympian Motors "Tourist" touring car. The Olympian, made in Pontiac, Mich., lasted from 1917 to 1921; the image above might be, as far as the Internet is concerned, one of the very few (if not only) surviving contemporary photographs of this rare bird.

Circa 1917 San Francisco is the backdrop for this unlabeled shot of four motorists in their anonymous auto, bound for points unknown. With, by the look of things, not a moment to spare! 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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More Olympians

Mark Thomas actually owns two Olympians, and it's possible that there may be others. The 1957 Register of Antique Automobiles shows that there were at least three known at the time of publication.

The Olympian Dealer in San Francisco was the California Motor Sales Company at 1319 Van Ness Avenue.

During World War I, Olympian produced aerial bombs for the U.S. Government. They also made an armored car in hopes of selling additional examples to the U.S. military, but it appears that none were actually sold. Instead the vehicle shown below was used to help sell Liberty Bonds during the third bond drive in 1918. A couple of Olympian coupes, both open and closed, are also shown below.

The Olympian ceased production in 1920, it then became the Friend for 1921, and then it became defunct. Olympian production is thought to have been approximately 2,070 cars although some sources estimate up to 3,000. Friend production was approximately 50 autos, and at least one still exists.

It's alive. It's ALIVE!

Well, at least on display, rather. The very rare 1917 Olympian Tourist as part of the private Mark Thomas collection here in Michigan. Thomas has made it his stated goal to collect at least one of the 13 different makes that have hailed from his hometown of Pontiac over the past century plus. And he has the Olympian on display.


A lot of automobile companies went bankrupt before they discovered advertising with pretty girls.

I would say that ...

This 5 seater is a 1917 Olympian Tourist Touring car.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any photos of this model, but based on this advertising illustration, the car had similar details including the spotlight, and moreover, other 1917 Olympian models sported five vertical hood louvers.

[Excellent detective work! - Dave]

Could it be

a Saxon Six?

Five Louvers

Seems similar to 1916-1917 Detroiter Automobiles, fender lines look the same, door shapes, angled windshield, wheels, hubs, etc., only difference I see is sharper radiator lines in this pic. Possible different year. Not many have only five large louvers.

Cellular distractions

It's clear the front and rear passengers are distracted by their status updates on Facebook.

A Whatzit.

Come on people, somebody's got to identify this thang. My first guess is a Star built by Durant; a smallish inexpensive, light, no frills car to compete with the Model T.

[We already have several examples of the Star Car on these pages, none of which match this vehicle. Which also lacks the Star Car's star hubcaps. - Dave]

Merrily We Roll Along

Since Hugh (Woo-Woo!) Herbert seems to be along for the ride, perhaps they're on their way to Warner Bros. for a Busby Berkeley musical or a Merrie Melodies cartoon.

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