The Auto Red Bug automobiles were amongst the first “micro cars” built in America. The earliest models were called the “Flyer” and made by the A.O. Smith Company. After building them for a few years, the Smith Company sold the rights to Briggs & Stratton. Briggs & Stratton built the small wood vehicles until 1924 when they sold the designs and patents to the Automotive Electric Service Corporation of New Jersey. Red Bugs were sold in the US, UK and France mostly as a novelty for the wealthy but also for transportation within resorts and amusement parks. At 300.00, they were priced about the same as a new, Model T Ford. This 1924 example was one of the first examples built by the Automotive Electric Service Corporation of North Bergen, New Jersey. From 1924 until 1928, the company offered the Red Bug with either a small, single cylinder, gasoline- engine or an electric motor. This example is powered by a 12-volt electric motor, which was basically the same Northeast motor that Dodge used as a starter for their automobiles. By virtue of the Red Bug’s weight of only 240 pounds combined with a properly geared, final drive assembly, the little car was capable of speeds up to 16 miles per hour. The car was built using a wood platform with steel re-enforcements. It was equipped with clincher wire wheels, headlights, a taillight and a horn. There was seating for two and a steering wheel attached to a conventional, frontend assembly. With its compact 62” wheelbase, the Red Bug was small, light weight, and easy to drive.
Saint Louis, Missouri, United States