Between 1905 and 1917, Floridians and visitors registered automobiles from over 300 distinct manufacturing companies in a variety of models and styles.

The record books in this collection provided space for the registrar to note the "style" of the vehicles being registered. The registrar's interpretation of "style" varied; in some cases he or she noted a specific model name for the vehicle, while in other instances a more general style of vehicle was listed. In some of the earliest records, the registrar sometimes even described a vehicle's "style" by indicating whether the automobile was powered by steam, gasoline, or electricity.

This page provides examples of the most common vehicle styles listed throughout the collection. All of these images are drawn from the Florida Photographic Collection and the Florida Broadsides & Ephemera Collection on Florida Memory. Click any image to enlarge it and learn more about the automobile it depicts.


Touring Car

The touring car or Phaeton was one of the most common styles of automobile in the early decades of the 20th century. Nearly every auto manufacturer offered a vehicle in this style. Touring cars generally were denoted by an open body seating four or more people. The standard-size Model T Ford is one of the most recognizable examples of this style.

Two Hudson Super-Six Touring Cars in front of Citizens Bank of Kissimmee

Hudson Super-Six Touring Car, c.1916

1909 Maxwell-Briscoe Touring advertisement

1909 Maxwell-Briscoe Touring advertisement

Young ladies going for a drive in a Buick Model 10

Buick Model 10 with side entdance tonneau (rear seats), c. 1908


Runabouts were one of the earliest varieties of automobiles, often referred to as "horseless carriages." They were typically characterized by a lack of doors, weatherproofing, or windshield. The engine was generally located underneath the seat, and in many cases it was powered by electricity. The Oldsmobile curved-dash vehicle, the Model A Ford (also known as the Fordmobile), and early Locomobile models followed the runabout style. In later years, the term "runabout" was used interchangeably with "roadster."

Three men with an Oldmobile Curved Dash Runabout, c. 1903

Oldmobile Curved Dash Runabout, c. 1903

People sitting in decorated Ford Model A "Fordmobile" - Tampa, Florida

Ford Model A "Fordmobile" with tonneau 1903

1904 Pope-Waverly Electric Runabout advertisement

1904 Pope-Waverly Electric Runabout Advertisement


The roadster was a sportier style of vehicle, usually a two-seater with a convertible canopy roof. Many manufacturers offered roadster versions of their larger touring car models.

Key West Fire Department chief Tom Reedy (left) and driver Leo Bowers in the chief's car - Key West, Florida

Unidentified roadster in Key West, c.1917

Two men on runningboard of a Ford Model T Roadster, c.1915

Ford Model T Roadster, c.1915

1915 Maxwell Roadster advertisement

1915 Maxwell Roadster advertisement

Luxury Cars & Limousines

The term "limousine" denotes a vehicle with compartments separating the driver from the passengers. Most early limousine were not of the distinctive "stretch" variety so common today. Landaulets, another variety of luxury car, provided an open roof for the rear passengers. Peerless, Pierce-Arrow, Packard, and Darracq were some of the most common makers of luxury cars in the early 20th century. The price for one of these vehicles was sometimes as much as ten times the price of a standard touring car.

Advertisement for 1904 Peerless

1904 Peerless Advertisement (prices started at $2800 in 1904)

Buick Model 41 Limousine, c. 1910

Buick Model 41 Limousine, c. 1910

1912 Advertisement for the White Company Berline Limousine

1912 Advertisement for the White Company Berline Limousine


Truck manufacturers generally advertised their vehicles according to their pulling capacity in tons. Some were fitted with special attachments such as tiltable beds. The White Company, International Harvester, Knox, Packard, and Reliance were some of the most popular truck makers in the early 20th century.\

Advertisement for 1904 Peerless

1912 Dayton Model K 3-ton truck Advertisement

Bill Dunning transporting bales of hay - De Leon Springs, Florida

Utility Truck, c. 1918.

1912 Advertisement for the White Company truck

1912 Advertisement for the White Company truck

Electric, Steam, and Gasoline

The gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine ultimately became America's motive power of choice, but not before steam and electric cars had an opportunity to compete. Electric car manufacturers emphasized the smooth, quiet ride their products provided, while steam car makers claimed to produce a safer, quieter vehicle whose primary requirement (water) could be found anywhere. Gasoline eventually won out, however, as the most economic and convenient fuel source.

Advertisement for 1904 Baker Electric Runabout

1904 Baker Electric Runabout advertisement

Family outing in Stanley Steamer Model 60, c.1909, Volusia County

Stanley Steamer Model 60, c.1909

Advertisement for 1904 Walter Car

1904 gasoline-powered Walter Car


Manually propelled bicycles had just become popular when the automobile came onto the scene at the end of the 19th century. The early motorcycle grew out of an attempt to merge the power of the automobile with the personal freedom and maneuverability of the bicycle. In fact, a number of early motorcycle manufacturers, including Hendee and Excelsior, started out as bicycle makers.

Indian on an Indian Powerplus motorcycle in front of C.T. Kruse's motorcyle shop

Indian Powerplus Motorcycle, c. 1916

Tampa Motorcycle Club, c.1919

Tampa Motorcycle Club, c.1919

Portrait of an unidentified man sitting on a Harley Davidson Model 7A motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson Model 7A, c.1911

Special Purpose Vehicles

When the so-called "horseless carriage" first emerged, most people viewed it as more of a curiosity or plaything for the wealthy. Quickly, however, creative business owners and auto enthusiasts found ways to modify the automobile for a wide range of uses. Many of the earliest hearses, delivery trucks, and buses were merely stripped-down cars with special attachments added after market. Increasingly, however, auto makers began offering these kinds of vehicles ready-made. Other companies specialized in making the necessary modifications to existing cars.

Portrait of an unidentified man sitting in a truck by the water.

Moving Truck, c.1912

Philbrick Funeral Home's hearse (1910) - Miami, Florida

Hearse, c.1910

1917 American LaFrance Firetruck, Key West Fire Department

1917 American LaFrance Firetruck, Key West Fire Department

R.M. Packard Transfer Co. truck - Cocoa, Florida

Moving Truck, 1916

Lakeland-Tampa line bus # 102 filled with passengers - Tampa, Florida

Lakeland-Tampa Line bus, 1919

Motor coach used by the New Ocklawaha Hotel - Eustis, Florida

New Ocklawaha Hotel Bus, 1910s

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