The Empire Was founded in 1909 in a partnership between 3 heavyweights of the burgeoning Indianapolis Auto World- Arthur Newby President of National, Carl Fisher Founder of Presto-Lite, and James Allison of later Allison Aircraft fame. The concept was to build a small sprightly little 20 HP car called “the Little Aristocrat”. Unfortunately shortly thereafter along with Frank Wheeler of Schebler Carburator, they also decided to build a large Race Track on the West Side which served as a bit of a distraction. In fact the first Empire off the line was first car to complete a lap on the now Brick Paved Speedway track. In 1911 they hired Harry Stutz as Chief Engineer who changed the car from Chain to Shaft Drive before leaving to build his own car. In late 1911the company was sold to a group of local investors who had to immediately find another place to make the car since its factory had been turned over to Presto-Lite.
Manufacturing was moved to Greenville, PA, before being moved back to Connersville, IN, and then later to Indianapolis again in 1915. By then The Empire no longer resembled the Little Aristocrat as Empire was now producing cars with either Teeter 4 Cylinder motors or Continental 6 Cylinder engines in a dizzying array of models and body styles. The lack of focus did not result in big sales with a high point of 917 units reached in 1917. Only 191 cars were sold in 1919 the final year of Empire production.
Very few examples-some say less than 10-survive.
This very honest car was reportedly sold new in Hagerstown, Indiana and used until 1921 before being put in a barn in Washington, Indiana, where it sat until 1950. It moved to New York and lived there seeing very little use until 2017, however the front seat leather and a new top and tires were installed. It came back here to Indiana to be restored, but languished in that shop until an acquaintace of ours acquired the car and had it mechanically recommissioned. The car runs and drives well, and is really quite solid. The interesting bucket front seat arrangement and well preserved leather on the rear seat give the car an honesty that cannot be denied.