This barn-find Jewett Six is a rare, forgotten relic of the 1920s
In the 1920s, automakers were as prevalent as trees in a forest. For every Ford, Chevrolet, or Cadillac that rose to prominence, there were multiple upstarts who tried and failed to make it. Most of their names are now obscure, nothing more than historic footnotes. One manufacturer that nearly made it was Jewett, a subsidiary of the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company.
According to the Jewett Six Antique Automobile Registry, Harry Jewett was a civil engineer who had made a fortune in mining around the turn of the 20th century. Soon he became interested in the infant automobile industry and acquired a car designed by Andrew Bachle, which was being promoted by Fred Paige. In 1909, Jewett and a small group of Detroit businessmen formed the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company, and Jewett hired Paige as president. The arrangement didn’t last.
Jewett relieved Paige of his position in 1910 and, after assuming the presidency of the company himself, hired a new engineering team, which redesigned and dramatically improved the mechanical aspects of the Paige. The first six-cylinder Paige appeared in 1915 and quickly grew in popularity. A truck line was also produced from 1918–23.
In December of 1921, Paige-Detroit added a secondary brand and named it Jewett Motors, Inc. This new subsidiary developed a six-cylinder-powered companion car to the Paige, which offered a less expensive alternative to the Paige. Nicknamed the “Baby Paige,” the Jewett Six started a trend that was also employed by Studebaker with the lower-priced Erskine; Hudson with the Essex; Chandler with the Cleveland; and, later, Cadillac with the LaSalle.
The Jewett Six was doing so well that the Paige truck line was shut down so workers could focus on the car. A year later, in 1924, a new factory was built to crank out more Sixes. Sales were brisk in in 1922, ’23, and ’24 but declined in 1925 only to plummet in ’26. With Paige-Detroit hemorrhaging money and the country on the precipice of the Great Depression, Harry Jewett began outsourcing parts to remain competitive. Being at the mercy of suppliers only made matters worse.
On January 1, 1927, Jewett sold his controlling interest in both Jewett Motors, Inc. and its parent company, Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company, to the Graham Brothers—Joseph, Robert, and Ray— who had recently sold their truck business to Dodge and wanted to get back into the automobile business.
Jewett, after remaining onboard to help with the transition, retired on June 27, 1927.
Like many of its more obscure brethren, Jewett Motors still has a loyal following through the Jewett Six Antique Automobile Registry. Nearly 100 years after it went out of business, Jewett automobiles occasionally surface online. In fact, a four-door 1924 Jewett is currently for sale on Craigslist in the Los Angeles area.
According to the listing, the car (chassis no. 99730 / motor no. 110505) is all-original, right down to its tires, which still hold air. It is listed as a complete “barn find,” with bench seats front and back, and its six-cylinder motor reportedly turns over. It was last registered in California in 1976 (black plate LXZ 301). The price tag is $8500.
We reached out to the seller, Chip, hoping there might be a cool story behind it, and he says he received the Jewett in trade for some dental work that he performed on a patient. “I am mechanically inclined guy, but I know my limitations of time, which is why I am selling the car,” Chip wrote back, calling the car a “perfect restoration project.”
Fewer than 40,000 Jewett automobiles were built in five years of production, and only 82 of those models are currently registered. The recently discovered 1924 car that’s for sale on Craigslist would be no. 83—and only the 22nd 1924 model known to survive.
Rare and inexpensive, this Jewett sounds like the perfect automobile to buy if you want to stand out at your local cars and coffee and have a flair for prewar wrenching.