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McFarlan Automobile

File:McFarlan Wreck Indianapolis 1912.jpg
Driver Mel Marquette's wrecked McFarlan racing car at the 1912 Indianapolis 500

McFarlan was an American automobile manufactured in Connersville, Indiana from 1909 to 1928 as an outgrowth of the McFarlan Carriage Company founded in 1856 by English-born John B. McFarlan (1822-1909).


J. B. McFarlan's grandson, Alfred Harry McFarlan (1881-1937) conceived the idea for the McFarlan motor car and ran the McFarlan Motor Corporation throughout its nineteen years. The first model year was 1910 and two of the company's cars were enterend in events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that year. McFarlans driven by Mel Marquette were also entered in first two Indianapolis 500 races (1911 and 1912) in which they finished 25th and 19th, respectively. The McFarlan was a luxury automobile owned by celebrities of the day such as Wallace Reid, William Desmond Taylor, Fatty Arbuckle, Paul Whiteman, Jack Dempsey and Virginia governor E. Lee Trinkle. Al Capone bought a McFarlan for his wife, Mae, in 1924 and bought a second one in 1926. Enormous models of the 1920s gave the company the reputation as being the "American Rolls Royce." 1928 was the final model year and the company went into bankruptcy that year.

In 1967, a book, What Was the McFarlan? was privately published in a limited edition of 1000 and is the definitive history of the McFarlan Motor Corporation. Authors Keith Marvin and Al Arnheim were McFarlan enthusiasts and avid automobile historians. The book identified nineteen extant McFarlans.

Today, a few McFarlans are owned in private collections and important automobile museums, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada and the Nethercutt Collection in California.

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