1908 Baker Model Victoria

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It may come as a surprise to many, but in 1908, 38% of all cars in the United States were electric cars. In 1906, Baker assembled and sold 800 of its cars. That made Baker the largest manufacturer of electric cars in the United States. It remained so until 1913, the year before the company ceased to exist.
Today I want to focus on the 1908 Baker Model Viktoria. You may know that the company was founded in 1899, in Cleveland. The electric-powered cars were assembled in 1900. The car we’re talking about today wasn’t cheap. In 1912, the company’s slogan was, “The most expensive electric car in America, but the cheapest to run.” It emphasized the reliability and trouble-free operation of the Cleveland car. By the way, Baker liked to give their cars names in honor of light, horse-drawn carriages. This applies to the Victoria and the first model – Runabout. Cars of this brand were part of the first White House fleet.
In the last post, where we talked about Runabout, I wrote that Thomas Edison bought two cars of the first model at once. But besides that, he also made batteries for Baker electric cars later on.

Price and sale of the 1908 Baker Model Victoria.

Unfortunately I did not find exact data about the cost of a new 1908 Baker Victoria, but today a good copy can cost 70 000$.

Appearance and photos.

Visually, the 1908 Baker Model Victoria did not differ significantly from the gasoline cars of the time. You may notice oval windows in the sides and rear of the awning. These windows were noticeably larger than on the first model of the brand, the Runabout. Such a decision should contribute to good visibility, because at that time, the traffic in New York and Chicago was already very busy. The awning itself has a metal frame and folds easily and quickly.

The lights are installed not only in the front, but also in the rear. And despite the styling as a kerazine, or carbite lamp – it is an electric headlight with a 6 volt bulb. In the upper part of the plafond there is an imitation in the form of a false vent, – necessary for a cerasin lamp. Note that one such lamp is mounted at the rear.
It may also surprise you, but the fenders above the wheels are made of leather. Here it is not superfluous to remember that in ancient times even the armor of warriors was made of thick leather. Relative to the first models, the tires on the wheels are already quite wide and thick – this contributes to stability and comfort.
It is also noteworthy that the frame of the car is made of metal sheeting, wood. This carries the spirit of antiquity and undoubtedly gives the car charisma. At that time, many manufacturers made the frame of their cars from steel, but here the frame is wooden.

Interior and equipment.

There is no traditional steering wheel here. As it often happens on cars of the beginning of the century, control is carried out with the help of a special lever. But on this Baker this lever can change its shape; – straighten when it is necessary to leave the driver’s seat, or bend at 90 degrees when the car is ready to drive. The gear knob is mounted under the driver’s left hand.

There is a leather sofa designed for two people, under it there is not a big niche for things. There is only a voltmeter and an ammeter, no speedometer.

In 1908, before there was an electric starter on internal combustion engine cars, and accordingly the ignition key, Baker already had a kind of key. It was a smooth rod that was inserted into a special slot. After that, all that was left was to engage first gear and drive.

Even more surprising is that there is not one, but two brake pedals! The fact that one pedal is responsible for the brakes on the rear axle, and the second pedal is responsible for the brakes on the pulley of the electric motor. The fuses of the electric network here are mercury, which today seems something fantastic.

Engine and specifications of the 1908 Baker Model Victoria.

Power, 48-volt engine 1908 Baker Victoria – 2.5 hp. The engine itself is mounted under the bottom – I tried to show it in the photo.

The car has 6 forward and 2 reverse gears. The batteries are mounted in the back and front. The batteries are mounted in wooden boxes with handles. I don’t know exactly if it is so, but I found information that such batteries could be changed at a special station time after time. That is, it was possible to exhaust the range, drive up to such a station, remove the planted batteries and install the charged ones, and then do it again and again.

At the same time, under the rear, left wing there is a connector for charging the batteries – with a cable.
The range is 80km. Think about it – 80km at the very beginning of the 20th century! Thomas Addison’s batteries give a range of 250 kilometers. In my opinion, that’s fantastic! The maximum speed of the Baker Victoria electric car is 25 kilometers per hour.

As on other Baker electric cars, springs here are elliptical. The axles are not made of steel, but of cast iron. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a driveshaft.

This is an amazing, incredibly interesting car. For me personally, the Baker Victoria electric car is much more interesting than modern cars. Not only the design is impressive, but also the practicalities such as range. It is a pity that this car brand did not exist long. But electric cars Baker left a noticeable trace. At one time, the company was a leader in its niche.

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