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Alternative Power Cars at Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance

Alternative Power Lederer 08White | Milwaukee Concours d'Elegance | August 6, 2017Alternative Power cars will make up one of the class features at the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance on Sunday August 6th. While electric and steam powered vehicles trace back to the 1800s, by the turn of the century there was a quite a competition between steam, electric and gasoline power.

Early electric cars were particularly popular as taxi cabs within urban areas. The driving range on a Detroit Electric was advertised at exceeding 80 miles, but in actual use some early electric cars exceeded 200 miles. Ironically, these are similar ranges to electric cars of today. Although there were many companies offering electric cars, they soon fell out of favor due to range limitations when leaving the city and lack of charging infrastructure. However, during their heyday, electric cars were very popular with ladies. Interiors were often done in soft fabrics with beautiful floral embroidery. Ads would usually show a woman driving the car and often speak of their usage including in shopping trips or afternoon tea.

With the shortfalls of electric cars, and gasoline engines still quite new, steam power was a known entity from trains and offered a lot of power. In 1906 the Stanley brothers took their steam powered Streamliner Special up to 127 mph.

One of the premium steam car manufacturers of the time was White Motor company. So grand was this car, that it was the first of two cars to arrive at the White House for automotive enthusiast President Taft in 1909. At the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance, we will be fortunate to show the beautiful 1908 White steam car belonging to Bob and Jackie Lederer from Elk Grove Village, IL. Stylishly dressed in its Roi-des-Belges body (often called a Tulip Phaeton, due to its unique style of beautiful curves that resembled a tulip), this car still wears its original leather upholstery. The Lederers are avid drivers and will be touring with this car following its recent mechanical freshening.


The two-day Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for the first weekend in August at Veterans Park. The open Show & Glow by the Lake car show, a motor tour and the annual Style & Speed Social are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 5, followed by the Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, Aug. 6.

The Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance is hosted by The Masterpiece Ltd. The Masterpiece Ltd. is organized and operated exclusively to support other public charities including, but not limited to, those operating in southeastern Wisconsin which provide medical and social service care and relief to underprivileged children and families through various motor vehicle-related fundraising events.