The Company

One of hundreds of Michigan-based auto manufacturers in the "brass age," The Alter Motor Car Company was located in Detroit, with its factory in nearby Plymouth. Alter produced over 1000 cars from 1914 to 1916. The company went into receivership and closed its doors in January of 1917.

The Car

The Alter was designed by Clarence Alter of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The car was made from component parts shipped to Plymouth by rail for assembly. Two models were produced, a 5-passenger touring car and a roadster. Only one Alter is known to have survived.

The Factory

Built in 1914 for the assembly of the Alter car, the factory stands to this day on Farmer Street in Plymouth, Michigan. It war recently refurbished and is currently the home of the C.D. Sparling Company.

The Car

The first Alter was a five passenger touring car with a 22 1/2 horsepower four cylinder engine and a 106 inch wheelbase. A roadster was added to the line in 1915, with a 108 inch wheelbase and a 27 horsepower engine.

The base model sold for $600. An optional starter could be had for an additional $85. The Alter was by all accounts a well built, quality automobile. The Plymouth Mail reported that the 1916 Alter "embraced all of the very latest improvements in automobile design. It has that classy look and finish of the higher priced cars."

The Alter Motor Car Company produced about 1,000 cars in its short life, and sold every one of them. Only one Alter is known to have survived. It is on display at the Plymouth Historical Museum in Plymouth, Michigan. by John Penrice is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0