Original logo artwork, Preston Motors Corp.
Back before antifreeze, nothing was more useful to a responsible motorist than a stand-up polished brass radiator gauge on the hood of his car.
This 1919 gauge is one of millions sold both as standard equipment or aftermarket by Moto-Meter Inc. of New York in the early part of the 1900s. The device proved so popular that Moto-Meter gladly produced gauges branded with various automaker logos, including Preston Motors, manufacturer of the Birmingham-made Premocar. The gauge on display is exhibited with original artwork for the Preston Motors' imprint, shown here, and photos of the Premocar, with Moto-Meter, during its short but high-profile life in the Roaring Twenties.
(Preston Motors manufactured two models in Birmingham, the Super Six and the Special.
The car's heyday peaked in 1921 when President Warren G. Harding toured the city in a specially made Premocar with ivory kid leather upholstery. The presidential vehicle perhaps tested one of Premocar's more extravagent claims: "Both cars have a wheelspan of 117 inches and both conform to the same general design which embodies all that the dictates of good taste demand, without being freakish.")
As for Moto-Meters, the devices gave way in the 1930s to decorative "hood ornaments" as advances in engine technology – and the advent of coolant – made the hood-mounted gauges obsolete.