Brockville Briscoe History

briscoeAd1916In October of 1915, with the help of Tom Storey (one of the directors of the Brockville Atlas Automobile Company), Benjamin Briscoe expanded Briscoe Motors of Jackson Michigan into Canada to form the Canadian Briscoe Motor Company of Brockville with Tom Storey as vice-president and plant manager. Brockville Briscoe bodies were produced by the Carriage Company on Park Street in Brockville, and the former Atlas plant was now producing Briscoes for the 1916 model year using parts shipped from Michigan. By May of 1916 the Briscoe plant was turning out about five cars per day, a far cry from Henry Ford’s Canadian production numbers of more than 50,000 cars during the same year. The 1916 Briscoe model 4-38 four cylinder car had 33 horsepower and a wheelbase of 114 inches. The wheelbase would be decreased for 1917’s B 4-24 model to 105 inches and 24 horsepower.

The Brockville Briscoe car is a rather plain design, with electric starter and headlights. In 1916 both 4 cylinder and 8 cylinder models were offered, and the company advertised that one could buy a car with the four, within 30 days of purchase it could be returned it to the factory, the difference paid plus an installation fee and the car would be upgraded to the eight cylinder motor. The touring model was advertised in 1917 for $935.00, while at the same time the Ford Model T touring was $495.00. Briscoes built with the “Half Million Dollar Motor”, a slogan used with much aplomb in 1917’s advertising campain, were tested in the roads around Brockville.

Specific production numbers are not known, but it is estimated that approximately 5,000 Brockville Briscoes were built over the life of the company, compared to approximately 50,000 in the US Briscoe plant.

End Of An Era

Brockville Briscoe Touring 1916On Sunday, October 27, 1918 the Carriage Company caught fire, destroying the plant and putting about 200 men out of work. Many bodies were rescued from the fire, but the damage was done. While the Briscoe plant was able to continue in business, the body plant was gone and Briscoe production ceased in 1921 ending a decade in the automotive business for the town of Brockville.

From 1916 to 1921, the Brockville Briscoe Motor Company produced five different models, including a three-seat clover-leaf roadster in the first part of 1916. A serial number chart is shown below, from the records of the Briscoe Motor Corporation of Jackson Michigan, where production started two years earlier. There is some evidence that shows Canadian car numbers started at or near 1 for 1916, with motor numbers taken from the US inventory. For example, the 1917 Briscoe in the Brockville Museum is car number 1022 (recall production numbers were roughly 1000 cars per year), with motor number 30730.

Year Model Cylinders Motor Number
1914-15 B15 4 100-4,000
1916 4-24 4 15,000-18,446
1916 4-38 4 5,001-8,751
1916 8-38 8 5,001-8,751
1917 4-24 4 18,447-26,604
1918 4-24 4 26,605-34,485
1919 4-24 4 34,486-45,786
1920 4-24 4 45,787-49,000
1920 4-34 4 50,001-55,298
1921 4-34 4 57,500-???
1922 4-43 4 58,588-58,606

 

Unfortunately, similar production figures including the numbers of each model or body style produced per year have not been found for Canadian Briscoes.

Brockville Briscoe Automobile