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King of the Road: 1920

Washington, D.C., banker and bon vivant Eddie Voigt in a pimped-out Abbott-Detroit roadster circa 1920.  View full size. Thanks to PER for unearthing the story of his rise and fall. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

Washington, D.C., banker and bon vivant Eddie Voigt in a pimped-out Abbott-Detroit roadster circa 1920. View full size. Thanks to PER for unearthing the story of his rise and fall. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.


On Shorpy:
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A Warren

rather than an Abbott and almost certainly the race car campaigned by Irving Barber and modified for him by Carter Bros. Washington Motor Car Co. Carter Bros built it's successor the "Eye See Bee" to Barber's distinctive design around 1914.
The design appearance is remarkably similar to that of the famous DC area Kline-Kar racers "Jimmy" and "Jimmy Jr." Barber often raced his 1911/12 Warren with.
This picture appears to be the Warren in this guise sans fenders, headlamps and muffler in a starting lineup (5th from left) at Benning 1915...

Irving Barber in his Warren Laurel Md 29-30 June 1912...

'Eye See Bee' Benning 1915, Barber sold this car to William Weightman in 1916 and acquired the 1914 Indy 8th finisher 'Beaver Bullet'

Jimmy and Jimmy Jr Laurel Md 29-30 June 1912...

Jimmy Jr Laurel Md 29-30 June 1912 (Bob Burman, Cutting #15)...

Abbott-Detroit racecar

The photo is of an Abbott-Detroit car of 1911, it looks like and probably is one of the four ex Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize cars that were given to their drivers after the races and then sold on and used subsequently at speed events. The radiators were streamlined after being sold and wheel discs covered the wooden wheels. The photo is about 1913. I have a car exactly like this and race it at speed events today, I was radar checked at 87mph at the Nurburgring, marvellous photos please keep them coming.

Crank It

I've never had the pleasure, but guys my grandpa's age tell me you needed the right technique, if the engine fired at the wrong time the crank could come around and break your wrist if you were holding it wrong.

Hand Crank

The crank holder kept the crank from swinging back and forth as you drove about. On Ford Model T's it was buckled to the stand for the headlights. I guess the spring hanger was a better choice on this custom rig. This car did not have an electric starter. It was a strongarm starter. Electric starter were not common for another ten years. So you would bend down engage hand crank and give it a spin. If is was a cold day or the fuel mixture was set wrong you would get tired before it started. So I guess head back in the house for a cup of joe and when your arm was rested head back out and start cranking.

Engine Crank

The crank end is inserted into a crank holder, probably canvas or leather, attached to the leaf spring. Keeps the crank from rattling around or falling out.

Hundred-Dollar Funeral

It's as if he were the inspiration behind the old Porter Wagoner song "Hundred Dollar Funeral":

With one nickel in his pocket and a pack of cigarettes
There were no tears of sorrow no tears of regrets
In a plain wooden casket the county laid him away
Just a hundred dollar funeral with no loved ones to pray

There must be a mother who loves him somewhere
Perhaps she had gone home and was waiting up there
Where there`s no disappointments around God`s great throne
No hundred dollar funerals unloved and unknown

No pretty marble headstone not one friend came
He was lowered by four strangers that didn`t know his name
A loser on this earth a death so many must pay
Just a hundred dollar funeral with no loved ones to pray.

Front-end Harpoon?

Alas poor Eddie, sic transit gloria. Eddie's fate aside, what is that thing on the roadster's right front spring hanger? It's too small to be a gladiatorial tire piercer (and the tires probably were solid?) or cattle skewer, and bumpers and suchlike clearly were for sissies anyway. It's got a cord or cable, so is it part of the electrical system, some lethal device involving a magneto? An alligator clip from hell?

Great image, and thanks for not retouching the shots very much, if at all.

[It's the crank for starting the engine. And these photos as you see them all owe a lot to Photoshop. - Dave]

King dies a pauper

This is Edward Voigt Jr. during his finer days. He lived a high life but died lonely and poor. This story is one of the saddest I have researched for Shorpy. -PER

The Washington Post, Apr 17, 1959

Former Well-to-Do District Banker is Buried by Welfare Department.

Edward Voigt Jr., 75, once a bank president who had a swimming pool in his basement, was buried by the Welfare Department yesterday after his death in a one-room apartment among the relics of his past.

Voigt had lived alone at 1117 Vermont ave. nw. for four years. One day last month, he died alone in the kitchen. His body had rested there until April 6, when the caretaker, Joseph Meade, called police.

The police found a neat apartment furnished with old and faded tapestries. They saw pictures of handsome women and a large Wyoming ave. house identified as costing $50,000 with a swimming pool in the basement.

They saw a liveried chauffeur beside a limousine with a woman and two small girls on the porch. Welfare records showed that Voigt had been divorced in Las Vegas in 1928 by his wife who had borne him two daughters.

The record also shows that Voigt had since lived with his late mother on Massachusetts ave. and later in a small apartment on that street. But when he moved to his last home he closed the door on his past, instructing Meade not to let anyone know he lived there. Meade recalls that a well-dressed woman once came to see him but he turned her away.

Meade says that Voigt never wore any clothes while in the apartment, but he always dressed up whenever he went out - once or twice a week for groceries or a stroll.

Old business associates remember Voigt as being a dapper dresser during his days as president of the old American Commercial and Savings Bank at 7th and sts. nw. The bank failed in 1924 when it was taken over by the present Security Bank.

Voigt's father, Edward Sr., sold jewelry and religious articles in a shop at 7th st. between G and H sts. The younger Voigt was a partner in this business for about 30 years.

A lifelong resident of Washington, Voigt was buried at a cost of $200 to the taxpayers. He now rests along side his mother and father in Prospect Hill Cemetery.

A few other factoids gleaned from the pages of the Post.

He participated in dirt track racing at Benning. His car in 1915 was listed as a Warren. In 1918 he was the director of events for the Labor Day racing at Benning track.

He joined the District Automobile Club in 1915.

Was involved in an automobile accident with Representative John Langley of Kentucky in 1921.

Declared Bankruptcy in 1928 with debts exceeding $47,000.

The Washington Post, Jul 4, 1915
The Washington Post, Sep 5, 1915
The Washington Post, Sep 1, 1918
The Washington Post, Oct 14, 1921
The Washington Post, Aug 26, 1928

A Retrofit Here...

a retrofit there, and this cream puff could have looked exactly like Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang!

That's not a leer.....

Poor Eddie, as would any man of that era, is merely putting on his best stage smile to hide his terror at actually having to drive that thing home.

Eddie And His Cruiser

Yep, Eddie was a manly man, alright! Look at his leering expression! Yikes.

I guess if you are going to have the hottest (only?) car in town it might as well be actually hot! Someone should hunt him down in the census, and see if he survived his volatile machine.

Yes, people do love what they know. But the Mustangs didn't get me too much. We still have a couple on every street in my town to this day, although most are not convertibles. But the Lark was awesome.



The thing that grabbed me is the combination of a wide-angle, semi-fisheye perspective of the vehicle in the foreground with perfectly straight lines and parallel uprights of the buildings in the back.


Proof that people love mainly what they know....while everyone is gushing on about commonplace Mustangs in the next post, no one has yet commented on this amazing vehicle.

Look at the thing. It's incredible. Obviously meant for high speed, this car, I'm sure, weighs as much as a locomotive. It's almost as big as one (But with a lot less seating) and probably costs as much. The amount of metal in this machine probably threw off the compasses in ships in the Potomac.

And piloting it was probably not for the faint of heart either. The brakes, if they were typical of the times, would have been negligible. I'm betting that making all that mass change direction was like steering an aircraft carrier.

And safety devices? They were for sissies only! Look - no retraints, no protection of all...the guy's seatback is the gas tank! were men back then.

New Favorite

Just when I think Shorpy can't get any better, it gets twice as good. Incredible shot that has all the architecture and automotive art that I come here for, and in spades. What a great photo! Thank you so much!

Some Car!

Wow! Eddie must have had some dough. That was the 1920 version of a hot rod sports car.

Acetylene Headlamps?

Looks like acetylene headlamps and that old coach lamp up top. And watch out for that muffler as you're getting in and out.

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