1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe

(Model V, Serial #6141)


1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe
This 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe has a rich history documented back to its first owner, Mrs. Mave Olds. Mrs. Olds was born on August 22, 1863 and had been a resident of Tacoma, WA with her husband, Fredrick, since Sept 1888. Mr. Olds was one of the early founders of Tacoma and both husband and wife were active in civic and philanthropic activities over the years. In 1911, Mrs. Old purchased a new, 1911 distinctive, top-of-the-line Baker Electric, which the 1911 Baker Sales Brochure claimed had an "Extra Large Body" and was "The most luxurious and commodious car of its type". In her obituary in May 1936, it recalled "Mrs. Olds is remembered by many as she drove about town in the little electric car which has been in her own personal use for 25 years". After Mrs. Olds death, the Baker Electric was not idle for long as her daughter, Mave Olds, drove the car for at least the next 15 years. Mave was pictured with the car in a newspaper article on June 20, 1943 during WW II and both Mave and the car were mentioned again in a newspaper story on June 7, 1946.

The next documented owner, Ben Shandrow, owned the car from the early 1950's to the mid- 1960's. Ben and the car were front page news in the Tacoma News Tribune on Friday, August 28, 1953 as they prepared for the Washington Territory Centennial parade. On June 15, 1955, the Kitsap Sun reported that the State of Washington awarded the Baker Electric one of the state's first Horseless Carriage license plates. Another picture appeared in November 15, 1964 issue of the Tacoma News Tribune showing owner Ben Shandrow with his distinctive 1911 Baker Special Extension Coupe Electric. According to Horseless Carriage Club of America, a Mr. Wallrich of Tacoma was the next owner of the car for a short period of time around 1966.

Bob Sullivan of Olympia, WA owned the car for a few years in the late 1990's. Eric Edwards of Ontario, Canada, the next custodian of the car, took ownership in 2000 which continued until 2024. Eric's wife, Linda, was in love with the car and was the principal user most of those years. In 2018, Mr. Edwards and his son Chris, undertook a complete restoration of the car as a tribute to their wife and mother. Unfortunately, Linda passed in 2020 and did not live to see the completion of the restoration.

In March 2024, the car joined the Bill & Linda Lillie Collection of Gales Ferry, CT.

In honor of its previous owner, Linda Edwards, and its current owner, Linda Lillie, the 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe has been named "Linda".

A Story of Luck and Patience
How the History of the 1911 Baker Electric Came to Light

By Bill Lillie


As time marches on and our beloved cars (and we) get older, it gets more and more difficult to learn about a car's history without incredible luck and patience. This is one of those stories. Thanks to modern on-line newspaper search tools, 100-year-old newspaper stories, an owner saving a relic that was on the car in 1941, a thorough newspaper obituary writer in 1936, the uniqueness of vintage electric cars and some published newspaper photos over the years, this 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe's rich history has come to light.

My wife, Linda, and I are avid car collectors, especially early electrics. They fascinate me. In early 2024, we had the opportunity to acquire a rare 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe from Eric and Chris Edwards of Ontario, Canada. I enjoy researching the history of each of my cars and documenting it on my website: BillsVintageCars.com for future reference. The Edwards' had some ownership information going back to the late 20th century and knew the car had come from the US Pacific Northwest, but there was a 90-year gap going back to 1911 that beckoned to be filled.

I am a big fan of on-line newspaper search tools. Many search filters are available as well as an extremely large collection of newspapers. I began this search looking for "1911 Baker Electric" in the Washington, Oregon area over a wide date range in the 20th Century.

The first big "hit" I got was from Sunday, June 20, 1943, when the Tacoma (WA) Sunday Ledger News, ran a picture of a 1911 Baker Electric, owned by Miss Mave Olds of 55 Broadway (Tacoma). The article poked good-natured fun at gasoline war rationing because "Gas or no gas (the electric car will run)...when your A Coupons are gone" ("A" Coupons rationed gasoline to 4 gallons per week during World War II).

Astonishingly, just below Miss Olds face on the lower left windshield, there was a decal, a huge clue about the car's identity. (When Eric Edwards began a restoration of the car in 2018, he removed and saved a 1941 Washington State Inspection decal – just like the one that appeared in the 1943 photograph.)

The history search was now getting exciting. The car in the 1943 was identical to the car I purchased in 2024 and there was an artifact that connected the two. The next question was where had the car been from when it was new in 1911 until 1943?

My next search of the "Olds" family name revealed the Obituary of Miss Mave Olds' mother, Mrs. Fredrick A. Olds, who was born August 22, 1863 and died May 25, 1936 at age of 73. Her Obituary describes how "Mrs. Olds is remembered by many as she drove around town in the little electric car which has been in her own personal use for 25 years" (since 1911)! The obituary also mentions that she is survived by two daughters, one of whom was Miss Mave Olds (who was pictured in the 1943 newspaper photograph)! Mrs. Fredrick A. Olds lived at 55 Broadway, the same address where Miss Mave Olds was living in 1943. Bingo! The dots connect!

The June 20, 1943 picture of the car showed that it was the distinctive, top-of-the-line Baker Electric, which the 1911 Baker Sales Brochure claimed had an "Extra Large Body" and was "The most luxurious and commodious car of its type". Despite what her obituary said about her "little electric car..." the photograph revealed that Mrs. Olds had, in fact, purchased the top-of-the-line 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe that listed new for $2,700.

Researching further, I discovered that Mrs. Fredrick A. Olds was born on August 22, 1863 and had been a resident of Tacoma, WA with her husband, Fredrick, since September 1888. Mr. Olds was one of the early founders of Tacoma and both husband and wife were active in civic and philanthropic activities over the years.

After Mrs. Olds death in 1936, the Baker Electric was not idle for long as her daughter, Miss Mave Olds, drove the car for at least the next 15 years. Another reference to Miss Mave Olds was in the June 7, 1946 issue of the Tacoma News Tribune.
Miss Mave Olds was born in 1886, never married and passed away on January 17, 1977.

The next documented owner, Ben Shandrow, had the car from the early 1950's to the mid-1960's. Ben and the car were front page news in the Tacoma News Tribune on Friday, August 28, 1953 as they prepared for the Washington Territory Centennial parade.

The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA - Friday, August 28, 1953
On June 15, 1955, the Kitsap Sun reported that the State of Washington awarded the Baker Electric one of the state's first Horseless Carriage license plates.

Another picture appeared in the November 15, 1964 issue of the Tacoma News Tribune showing owner Ben Shandrow with his distinctive 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe.
According to Horseless Carriage Club of America, a Mr. John Wallerich of Tacoma, WA was the next owner of the car for a period around 1966. On November 11, 1966, The Tacoma News Tribune published a picture of Mr. Wallerich with the Baker Electric.
On the front windshield lower left, the 1941 Washington State Inspection decal can be seen that was evident in the 1936 photo with Miss Mave Olds! Also, a second decal had been added to the curved side window to the left front. This was a Horseless Carriage Club of America, Seattle-Tacoma Regional Group Chapter decal that is still on the car today in 2024!
Bob Sullivan of Olympia, WA. owned the car for a few years in the late 1990's and sold it to Eric Edwards of Ontario, Canada in 2000. Eric's wife, Linda, loved the car and was the principal driver most of those years. In 2018, Mr. Edwards and his son Chris, undertook a complete restoration of the car as a tribute to their wife and mother. Unfortunately, Linda passed away in 2020 and did not live to see the completion of the restoration.

The restoration has since been completed and in March 2024, the car joined the Bill & Linda Lillie Collection of Gales Ferry, CT.
Linda Edwards


In honor of its previous owner, Linda Edwards, and its current owner, Linda Lillie, this 1911 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe has been named "Linda".
Linda Lillie
Thanks to wonderful on-line newspaper search tools, thanks to Eric Edwards for saving the 1941 Washington State Inspection decal, thanks to a young newspaper obituary writer who noted that Mrs. Olds drove her electric around town and thanks to people's vintage electric car fascination over the decades that make them so newsworthy and photogenic. The history of this Baker Electric is here for us to enjoy today thanks to luck, patience, and the unwitting help of people from decades ago. We are very fortunate indeed!

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