History of the American Motor Company
America's first motorcycle company was the Waltham Manufacturing Company of Waltham, Massachusetts, co-founded by Charles Herman Metz (1863-1937). He is a man of undeniable inventive talent, as well as a practical man. He started in 1882 as an enthusiastic rider of the
high wheel bicycle. In 1885 he was the champion racing man in central New York State, his home being in Utica, NY. Metz moved to Massachusetts in 1893, to begin a new career designing racing bicycles for the Union Cycle Club in Newton Highlands. Waltham Manufacturing began by making bicycles, but by 1902, Charles expanded the company into automobile and motorcycles.
Waltham Manufacturing's early years produced pacer-style bicycles, tandem cycles, and the then-new safety bicycles. With a single cylinder engine attached, Waltham Manufacturing's 1900 Orient Light Roadster became America's first mass-production, motor driven cycle. Understandably, Charles H. Metz is credited with coining the term "motor cycle," first used in an 1899 advertisement for the upcoming Orient. Metz first introduced his creation in July 1900, to crowds at the Charles River Race Track in Boston, marking the first recorded motorcycle speed event in the United States. The new 'Metz motorcycle' was an instant success and set a track time of seven minutes over a five mile course, and established another American speed record for a 70 second one-mile run at 51.42 mph. Metz left the Waltham Manufacturing Company in 1902, to begin the "Metz Motorcycle Company".
With the recent success of the Metz motorcycle, Charles Metz joined into a partnership with the Marsh brothers, one of the first of the numerous motorcycle manufacturers dotting America's Eastern Coast in the industry's early days. Located in Brockton, Massachusetts, the Marsh brothers built a motorized bicycle in 1899, with regular production of "motorbikes" commencing the following year. The merger between the two created the American Motor Company in Brockton. By 1913, their final year of production, The American Motor Company was selling their Marsh-Metz designed motorcycles through retailers and jobbers under the names National, M-M, Haverford, Peerless, Arrow and Dixie Flyer, each with a unique color scheme. It was in Brockton, MA in that last year of their production that this Dixie Flyer 4HP battery 'Special' was born.
Unlike many early manufacturers, which used engines built by outside suppliers, Marsh made its own in-house. Though the first production engines produced less than two horsepower, a racing engine offering six horsepower was built in 1902. The motorcycle it powered could reach nearly 60 miles per hour, a blistering speed at the time. Like most power plants of the day, it had a single cylinder with an intake valve opened by suction created when the piston was on its downward stroke (called an "atmospheric intake valve") and a mechanically actuated side exhaust valve. This engine design is commonly referred to as an I.O.E. (intake over exhaust), or 'F' head. Both ignition and lubrication systems of this motorcycle are of the 'total loss' variety.
Sadly, this passionate, three person team of highly experienced, pioneers in manufacturing didn't last long. Like many others of the era, The American Motor Company folded under the weight of stiff competition, closing its doors in 1913. Thanks very much for your appreciation!