Nov 12 2008

Update on the Latest Mystery Photo!

Okay automobile history fans, here is another mystery photo for your review and feedback.

Can you identify the car in the above photo? Is it a Vanderbilt Cup racer? This fantastic copyrighted photo was submitted by TL Thousand who would appreciate your help. Please place your comments in the blog.

Howard Kroplick

Help Solve this Mystery Photo

In a exclusive, TL Thousand has provided the following clues to the photo:

"The driver (left, in the cap) is my grandfather, Adolph Thousand and that he worked as a chauffeur for the man on the right. That much I can verify with absolute certainty. The driver is definitely my grandfather. Adolph emigrated to America from Germany in 1904 and worked his way across the U.S. as a mechanic and chauffeur until finally settling in Iowa and building his own manufacturing plant. In the mid-1910s, Adolph also raced Indian motorbikes (you should see those photos!), so seeing my grandfather sitting in this beauty of a racer with such a big grin on his face, is a joy!

My father believes that this particular photo was taken in Dubuque, Iowa, sometime between 1916-1918. I can date my grandfather's face and clothes to other dated photos I have and can confirm that those years are about right.

My father also believes that my grandfather's employer owned a brewery in Dubuque. That would make the gentleman on the right (in the bowler) Joseph Rhomberg. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any photos or images of Mr. Rhomberg available to compare against.

However, my father insists that that gentleman on the right is Fred Duesenberg. I can see the similarities, but several historians have flatly stated that it's not Duesenberg.

As for the car, itself, all I know is that it was a racer. Most every expert who's seen this photo believes the car was a Mercedes, similar to the ones that ran in the Vanderbilt Cup. However, Mercedes-Benz's Stuttgart archive says that it is not a Mercedes.

To me, looking at the photos on your Web site, the car looks remarkably like the #7 Locomobile from the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup, or the #16 Locomobile from the 1908 race.

Whatever it is, it's just such a great photo of such a terrific car, I'm dying to know what it is. If your fans can help nail it down, I would be forever grateful! This is one mystery that deserves to be solved. So, yes, you have my permission to post the photo -- with my many thanks."


December 10, 2009 Update: From TL Thousand:

Well, mystery solved! After scrounging through 100-year-old daily newspapers from the Binghamton, NY area, the mystery unraveled! The racer was a modified Mercedes Simplex 90 with either a 579 or 597 cubic inch engine. Mr. Faatz (the man for whom my grandfather drove) bought it the week of July 23, 1910. The auto's Mercedes and Simplex "twins" (the Mercedes#11 and Simplex #2 and #28) raced the next year (1911) in the first 500-mile race at the Indianapolis brickyard Speedway. (The Mercedes finished 4th.)

Mr. Faatz bought the racer after losing his 5th consecutive "gentleman's"Binghamton-to-Boston road race organized by the Binghamton Auto Club in June 1910. Apparently, he harbored no intentions of ever losing again!

Hope you enjoyed the rest of the story. And again, thank you for your help and enthusiastic support! It meant a lot!


TL Thousand


Nov 13 2008 Howard Kroplick 9:58 AM

An email from Walter McCarthy:

Thank you for that great photo of the “Mystery Race Car.”  I compared it with my photos of Mercedes, IF, and Fiat, and most of the details such as hubs, sprocket hub and sprocket bolts, wheels and other details seem to say MERCEDES.  The horn is later about 1912.  Walter

Dec 03 2008 Howard Kroplick 11:30 PM

TL Thousand has provided additional information on our latest photo:

Hi Howard!

Wow!  You will never believe this, but I was able to identify the man in the passenger seat next to my grandfather in the mystery car—which
changes quite a few things my family thought we knew about the mystery photo.

The man in the passenger seat—the man my grandfather chauffered for—is William Grant (“W.G.”) Faatz.  The location is Binghamton, New York. The photo was taken sometime between November 20. 1910 and April 14, 1911.

It’s a long story, but I was able to identify Mr. Faatz from a profile photo his family had of him, that was taken in 1890.  It erases all doubt; my
grandfather’s boss and co-pilot in this fabulous car is Mr. Faatz.

Some information on Faatz:  After starting as a harness-maker in Susquehanna in 1885, he gradually broadened his affairs and eventually founded the Faatz Brush and Felting Company of Lestershire (later, Johnson City) with his
two brothers.  Faatz retired from the business’s presidency in 1912 and, following his heart’s passion for motors, founded the Binghamton Motor
Car Co. Inc. the same year.

Maybe that information will help jog someone’s memory!

I plan to follow some historical leads in Binghamton, and will keep you apprised.  But, how great to know that this was a New York car!

TL Thousand

Dec 26 2008 Mark Dill 5:11 PM

Mr. Thousand:

I am a freelance writer focused on pre-WWI motor racing. Would you be interested in talking with me about your grandfather and sharing some of his photos. I’d like to explore the idea of doing an article about him. I believe I have an opportunity in a first-rate publication you would be proud of.

Mark Dill

Jan 27 2009 Steve A 9:31 AM

I respectfully ask T.L. if they also have the 1903 photograph attributed to being W.G. Faatz on a Google book site apparently titled- ‘Johnson City Firefighting’ by
Robert G. Blakeslee and Michael J. McCann. In the photo the blurb describes W.G. Faatz in his Chief Engineer firefighter uniform as a member of the Lestershire F.D. sitting behind the wheel of the town’s first automobile. The question I have is that he somewhat resembles the passenger in the mystery photo above, yet the ear shape appears different. I’m inclined to believe an accredited photo description a bit over one that is not. Bushy black eyebrows and a strong jawline can be similar on several men- particularly in that time frame. Ears are similar to fingerprints in that they are distinctive in shape and detail. the photo above shows a laid back pointed ear with tucked in lobe. The ear shape in the firefighter photo from a few years prior, apparently, shows a tucked in lobe but the top of the ear is not laid back or compressed and there is no peak at the rear- it’s rounded. I haven’t yet downloaded and enlarged the firefighter photo to take a closer look- but that is my preliminary view. Thanks.
Steve A

Sep 23 2017 Charles Woodruff 2:19 AM

I love this photograph!  Will Faatz was my great-great uncle and this certainly looks like him.

Leave a Comment