The Woods Dual Powered Coupe 

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County


Woods Dual Powered CoupeThe Woods Dual Powered Coupe, Model 54, was built in 1917 by the Woods Motor Vehicle Company located in Chicago, Illinois. The company was first organized in early 1899 and established to challenge the prominent east coast based Electric Vehicle Company. The backers of this fledgling venture purchased the patents of electric designer Clinton E. Woods and hired him as superintendent. The company went into receivership in 1901 and reorganized without Clinton Woods in 1902; it constructed a vast factory which could produce 500 cars annually. The first Woods cars were exclusively electric; however, the company did offer gas-electrics for three years (1905-1907), not returning to the building of electric vehicles exclusively until 1916 when the Woods Dual Powered Coupe was reintroduced. The 1917, Model 54, is a 2-3 passenger, enclosed, two door vehicle that has a 124” wheelbase and is powered by a four cylinder gasoline engine fitted to an auxiliary electric motor generator. At speeds below 15 mph, the gasoline engine idled, and the car was driven entirely by the electric components. The gasoline engine, in conjunction with the electric motor, could increase to speeds reaching 35 mph. The body is constructed using machined and hand formed aluminum panels that are attached to hardwood faming by means of nails and /or screws. Because repair and warranty issues took significant time and money, the company only produced 628 autos in 1918, despite orders totaling 1,300. The Woods Motor Vehicle Company ceased production in the fall of 1918.


Corroding BatteriesThe Woods Dual Powered Coupe, a rare survivor of its type and make, is in fair condition overall but is considered unstable and deteriorating due to several factors: actively flaking paint, iron corrosion, and crumbling wooden battery boxes caused by acid leaking from batteries. The chassis frame rail, cross members, axles, and wheels appear to be in stable condition having only minor areas of active iron corrosion. The proper left rear left spring appears to have been repaired or strengthened by the addition of two or three inserts between the original seven leaves. The rubber tires and inner tubes are missing from the rear wheels and only tattered remnants remain of the white sidewall front tires and tubes. The wire wheels have been repainted during the vehicles period of historic use and are actively flaking. The two oak boxes, which hold twenty-four tar topped batteries, are in poor and unstable condition. Battery acid has nearly destroyed the proper right wooden box, and pieces which remain are crumbling and falling on the floor. The proper left batty box is also weakened by contact with acid leaking from the batteries. The mechanicals appear to be in stable condition except for the embrittled red rubber hoses and fan belts. All surfaces are covered by moderate layers of dust, dirt and greasy grime. Minor fraying of the textile wrapped wires is noted. The painted aluminum and steel components of the body are actively flaking (35-40%) and surface corrosion is noted. It is estimated that 20% of the paint has been lost as the paint has oxidized and become embrittled. The steel fenders, splash aprons, and radiator shell have been recoated with black paint several times. The splash aprons are dented and have several small tears. All four fenders have minor dents, creases, or tears caused by impact; the surfaces are pitted and corroded with areas of flaking paint surrounding the areas of loss. It appears that the body has been completely over painted during its period of use with a yellow ochre that had been haphazardly applied. Based upon an earlier cleaning test, the original paint scheme appears to have been a pale green with find painted striping. The proper left cast aluminum running board had been fractured into several pieces and repaired from the underside. The proper right side glass panel in the rear sliding window is fractured; all sections of the glass are extant. The interior is in fair condition with areas of instability. The wool upholstery fabric has evidence of a once active insect infestation. Areas of damage or insect grazing and larvae casings were observed. Sections of leather, which cover the tops of the seat risers, are deteriorated and torn. The textiles are faded from gray to brown with minor staining and soiling. A section of carpet, not original to the Woods, covers a portion of the original carpet. The original fuel gauge has been removed and is missing; the throttle lever is cracked and the plating has been disrupted by copper corrosion breaking through the nickel plating.


Battery CompartmentConservation of the Woods Dual Powered Coupe is estimated to begin in the spring of 2009.






  • Contact Us

  • B.R. Howard & Associates

  • Phone: 1.888.264.2959
    Fax: 717.200.2537