Russell – Knight

1913 Russell-Knight – photo courtesy of Margaret James

Automobiles and prices varied tremendously in the years prior to the Great War, with smaller cars such as the Model T Ford selling in the $500 range. The Russell-Knight, Canada’s prime entry in the quality automobile field, sold for 10 times the price of a Ford. Canadian Cycle and Motor, usually known as C.C.M. and now more famed for its bicycles, entered the automobile business with their Ivanhoe electric car; when it became obvious that gasoline engines were the coming thing, C.C.M. started the Russell Motor Car Company, Limited, with offices in Toronto, Montreal. Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Melbourne, Australia and the watchword, Made up to a Standard, —Not Down to a Price.

In 1909, after three years of production, the company obtained exclusive Canadian rights to the revolutionary Knight sleeve-valve engine, an American design which was being used by the finest European makers (King Edward VII’s Daimler had a Knight engine) and, in 1913, they produced this fine example of automobile craftsmanship.

Swift, powerful and almost totally silent, with lots of brass trim, real leather upholstery and finely-polished hardwood, this Russell-Knight exhibits in every part and assembly the finest workmanship of the period, as one would expect in a car selling for nearly twice the price of the best Cadillac. Acetylene headlamps, wooden wheels, lots of power and a gentle ride complete the picture of one of the finest cars ever built in Canada. Russell-Knights today are an extreme rarity. This car was purchased new by Mr. George Kerr and later sold to Mr. Findley McMartin of Franklin, who claimed it was the closest thing to steam power, it ran so quietly. Mr. Clarkson restored the well-preserved car to nearly-new condition. T.A. Russell, after whom the car was named, was general manager of C.C.M.