September 22, 2023

Historic Maytag-Mason automobile now on exhibit

The 1910-1911 Maytag-Mason Automobile is now on exhibit at the Jasper County Historical Museum. As tribute to Hoosiers David Letterman and, eventually, the Duesenbergs, we’ll do this story as a Top 10 list.

Why you should tour the museum and see the car this summer?

10. The car was donated to the State Historical Society by the Maytag Company in 1972, and this is the first time it’s been back. The loan agreement currently ends Dec. 31.

9. Fred and Gus Duesenberg designed the car in Des Moines in 1905 and with funds from Edward R. Mason created the Mason Motor Company in 1906. Mason was perpetually undercapitalized and reorganized several times.

8. F. L. and E. H. Maytag acquired 3/5’s of the company in May of 1909 and reorganized as the Maytag-Mason Automobile Company. At that time the car name became Maytag-Mason. From 1910 through 1912, the name of the company was changed to Maytag Automobile Company and the two cylinder car names transitioned to Maytag (formerly Mason). Newly developed four cylinder cars were named Maytag.

7. The cars were collectively known as the Hillclimbers and claimed to be the only car, at any price, to carry eight passengers up a 50 percent incline and they had the pictures to prove it. Another iconic picture on display is the Maytag-Mason being driven up the Statehouse steps.

6. The cars were designed to not only stand up to Iowa’s unpaved roads, but also to be competitive in hill climbs and road races.

5. In 2010, F.L. moved production to a new plant in Waterloo. F. L. sold out in 1912 and Mason eventually folded in 1915.

4. The Duesenbergs later moved to Auburn Indiana where the Duesenberg, Auburn and Cord automobiles were developed and became world famous.

3. Fred Maytag II purchased the car on display in the early 1950s and used it for a variety of events. It was sold to him as a 1910, but more recent information indicates it may be a 1911 or even 1912. In either case, it is probably a Maytag and not a Maytag-Mason (there are no badges or other identification on the car).

2. If you remember another Maytag-Mason owned by Fred Maytag and driven around town, you are correct, but it’s not this car. In 1935, he purchased a Maytag-Mason 2 in 1 car that was set up like a pickup. We don’t know what became of that car.

1. The number one reason you should see the car is because it clearly meant so much to Fred II and his generosity, and the foundation he created, means so much to Newton to this day. The Maytag Bulletin ran a picture collage shortly after his death and the largest, and most featured photo, was Fred and this car.

Upcoming Events

June 20 at 9 a.m. – Expanded Steam School – preparing for the Fourth of July parade, blacksmithing, antique cars and tractors, free coffee and coffeecake and Newton Seed Store exhibit premiere. The museum opens at 9 a.m.