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December 24, 2022

Traveling the Grand Canyon in a Metz 22 Speedster in 1914

Early automobile manufacturers used a wide range of tests to prove a car’s strength, endurance, capability, and worthiness. These tests were often adopted as selling points and to highlight the car’s performance and prowess in advertising brochures.

In 1914, Mr. L. Wing of the Metz Factory Branch in Los Angeles and K. Parker (a young Los Angeles reporter) chose to show off the car’s abilities by driving their 22-horsepower Metz Speedster car to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, having first departed Los Angeles and crossing deserts south of Death Valley.

They had few roads to follow, no reliable maps, and to cross three mountain ranges. After hundreds of grueling miles, they first went to the El Tovar Hotel and scouted possible routes to the bottom, but to no avail. They found a gorge at Peach Springs, passing the Hulapi Indian Reservation and busting over and through arroyos, boulders, washouts, and narrow passes. Finally, they made the 42 miles trip down to the river and back the next day.

Parker wrote a report about the trip and noted the photo spot (the first picture): “There was a shear wall at this point, making a clean drop of over two thousand feet, and the ledge projected so that we could run the car out to the extreme point, and make a photographic record of the Metz on the Canyon rim at El Tovar Point. It took a lot of grit to drive the car right towards that fearful plunge, but Mr. Wing, who handled the wheel, had every confidence in the car and its control, and did not put on the breaks until the front wheels were right at the very edge of the precipice.”

It took a lot of patience to get the car down that terrifying plunge, but Mr. Wing, who handled the wheel, had complete confidence in the car and its controls, and didn't brake until the front wheels were right.


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