- McFarlans were the hallmark of distinction and quality – a car in which to be seen.
- They were often called the “American Rolls-Royce.”
- Famous McFarlan owners included heavy-weight boxing champ Jack Dempsey and silent movie star Fatty Arbuckle.
The McFarlan organization dates back to 1856 when J.B. McFarlan established a carriage building firm in Connersville, Indiana. His grandson, Harry McFarlan, established the McFarlan Motor Corporation in 1910 and produced an estimated 25 cars during his first year. Production built up slowly with 35 cars being produced in 1911, and 40 cars in 1912. Early in the 1920s, McFarlan began building sedan bodies for the Auburn Motor Car Company and soon this became the firm’s most important activity.
McFarlan introduced the “Twin Valve Six” in 1921 and, despite its high price, 1922 was the company’s best year ever, selling 235 cars. In 1924, the company introduced the “Single Valve Six” and in 1926 the “Eight-in-Line” series. The McFarlan car’s appearance was solid, dignified and regal, having extremely luxurious interiors and very large windows. They were often referred to as the “American Rolls-Royce.” It is likely that McFarlan passengers wished not only to see, but to be seen! There were pillows, a hassock, arm rests, a smoking set and, in the roadster, a separate golf bag compartment. Wide color choices were available both in the upholstery and exterior colors. The Twin-Valve Six T-head engine was designed with four valves (two intake, two exhaust) and three spark plugs per cylinder. McFarlan cars were considered the hallmark of distinction and quality and were owned by bankers, businessmen and diplomats. Famous owners included Jack Dempsey, world champion heavy weight boxer from 1919-1926, and silent film star Fatty Arbuckle.
Harry McFarlan became seriously ill in 1926, and this resulted in a loss of dynamic leadership. The company was declared bankrupt in 1928, and the McFarlan assets were purchased by E.L. Cord.