- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2001

If things had worked out differently, preparations would probably be under way today to celebrate the upcoming Maxwell centennial in 2004.
Early in the 20th century Maxwell automobiles were strong competitors. In 1910 only Ford and Buick exceeded Maxwell's sales of 20,500 cars.
Maxwell's fortunes took a turn for the worse after World War I. Thousands of unsold Maxwells were parked in dealerships and storage lots across the country.
Insufficient gas tank brackets and faulty rear axles were the principal reasons the cars weren't selling.
Desperate Maxwell executives called on Walter P. Chrysler to bail them out of a sticky situation. Mr. Chrysler had a track record at Buick and Willys for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Mr. Chrysler joined Maxwell in 1920 and soon resolved the problem.
He then introduced the first Chrysler automobile in 1924 and concluded production of Maxwell cars in 1925.
One of the last 1925 Maxwells produced was a dark blue coupe with black fenders.
Arthur Morton Waddel paid about $950 for the 2,340-pound Maxwell in Oregon and drove the three-speed car home to Amity.
The warranty on his new car covered any defects for the initial 90 days after the sale with the caveat that any repairs had to be done at the Maxwell factory in Detroit.
By the early 1930s A.M. Waddel, not a young man when he purchased the Maxwell, either sold or gave the car to his son, Ed.
Interestingly, Ed Waddel didn't know how to drive, so it fell to his son, Ramond, to teach his father how to operate the automobile. Ramond recalls driving the Maxwell to his high school graduation.
The Maxwell sat out World War II. On March 15, 1952, just after it achieved antique status, Ed Waddel sold it to his bother-in-law Robert Schaeffer.
Within a decade the Maxwell received a $60 coat of dark blue paint. After the crowned fenders were hammered back into a semblance of their original shape, they were painted black.
Although the original brightwork was nickel plate, the radiator shell was chrome plated in 1973 for a total of $72.
Much of the nickel plating survives to this day, as on the headlight and cowl light rims, which share the same details. The walnut door handles are capped on each end with nickel.
Four new 5.77x30-inch tires and inner tubes were acquired for $247 in 1980. The side-mounted spare tire in the left front fender was not replaced. It remains secured there by a sextet of leather straps.
In 1990 the speedometer/odom-
eter/trip meter ceased to function and was repaired. At that time the odometer was reset to zero. The current actual mileage is a shade more than 35,000 miles far less than 500 miles a year for the last 76 years.
During the autumn of 2000, Mr. Schaeffer decided that 48 years of ownership was sufficient and sought a new owner. Keeping the car in the family was desirable, but none of the relatives in Oregon showed any interest.
He wrote to Jim Waddel in Delaware, however, he expressed no interest in the Maxwell. He did, however, mention the letter to his brother, Frank, in Charlotte Hall, Md.
This branch of the family tree was, indeed, interested in the car. Mr. Schaeffer assured him it was a running car. After a deal was struck, the title changed hands in October 2000.
The Maxwell, which crossed the continent via the closed trailer of a car-moving company, was delivered to Mr. Waddel's doorstep.
During the trip the exhaust system fell off the car, so instead of starting the car, it was hand pushed off the truck and, on its 109-inch wheelbase, pushed into the garage on its solid disc wheels.
Maneuvering the car was relatively easy because it can be turned in a 17?-foot radius. "The steering radius is terrific," Mr. Waddel exclaimed.
Sitting on the original plum blue leather upholstery was a thrill for Mr. Waddel, since he has a photograph of his great-grandfather, A.M. Waddel, sitting on that same seat when the car was new.
Knowing that his grandfather and father also had driven the car was a bonus.
Now that he had the Maxwell, Mr. Waddel thought it would be neat to drive it to the nearby Trinity Episcopal Church on March 5, 2001, his daughter, Bonnie's, wedding day.
Mr. Waddel, trying to replace the exhaust system, found that a critical manifold nut had rotted away.
After checking with hardware stores and plumbing-supply houses, he eventually had to have a machine shop fabricate one for him.
Closing the engine hood, with 14 cooling louvers on each side, Mr. Waddel then opened the ash-wood-framed door on its four hinges and climbed aboard the cab with four lateral, wooden ribs overhead. In hand were instructions from Mr. Schaeffer on how to start the Maxwell.
At the hub of the four-spoke steering wheel, he pulled the spark advance lever down about an inch. Then the throttle lever was pulled down about an inch.
Next the choke was pulled out from the dashboard about an inch.
Are you beginning to detect a pattern here?
There is no key, simply an ignition switch that is turned and, finally, a floor starter button that is stepped upon.
The Maxwell semiworked. A postscript to the instructions suggested tapping on the carburetor with a screwdriver handle.
Mr. Waddel located a Wichita, Kan., man who owns several Maxwells and who offered his expertise and spare manifolds. The original manifolds were beyond repair. With new wiring and spark plugs, the car, Mr. Waddel thought, was ready to roll.
Instead, he lamented, "It doesn't run at all."
After much trial and error, he found that the 185-cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine, rated at 21 horsepower, was wired backward.
Once Mr. Waddel solved one problem, another would take its place. The next dilemma was detected and solved with the help of friends. The rubber boot on the coil wire was faulty, and, he said, "sparks were jumping all over." A quick fix proved to be permanent when Mr. Waddel substituted a 1973 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coil wire for the original Maxwell wire.
A week and a half before his daughter's wedding, Mr. Waddel got the Maxwell running well enough for a trial run to the church and back.
When the wedding day arrived, he got it to the church for pictures of his daughter in the car, which makes five generations of Waddels that have been in the car.
He got it to the church on time, but it wasn't running correctly. "I had it up to 38 mph," Mr. Waddel said, "and it was like going 80 mph."
Since then, he has had more time to sort out the details of owning a Maxwell. For instance, he explains that bumpers were optional, pointing out the aftermarket name on the front bumper. Judging from the dents in the lead-lined gasoline tank, a rear bumper might have been a good investment. On the tank is a Neva-Lost gas cap that is damaged but has never been lost.
Above the left end of the fuel tank is an inverted triangle of red glass with Maxwell spelled out in the taillight lens.
At the other end of the car, atop the radiator, is a Jarvis water indicator. Mr. Waddel is convinced that the big side windows, cowl ventilator and windshield that tilts open are to compensate for all the heat thrown off by the engine. "It's a hot running car," he said.
For 1925, the Maxwell was well-appointed with nine-inch headlights from the American Flatlite Co.
The rear window is equipped with a roll-down window shade and at the ends of the seat is a leather flap hiding a storage space beneath the seat.
Mr. Waddel still has work to do on the updraft carburetor to stop the exhaust pipe from glowing bight red beneath the wooden floorboards.
Each success is a little triumph that he shares with his great-grandfather, who bought the car new 76 years ago.

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