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The Other Motor City

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Two vintage Templar roadsters on display at today's Come Home to Lakewood House Tour commemorate the only time an automaker built cars in the city. History buffs can learn about the 1920s-era sets of wheels before they peek inside nine homes and businesses, like a stately Georgian colonial on Clifton Park, a turn-of-the-century cottage in the city's "Birdtown" neighborhood, and a lavish Victorian mansion that was owned by the same family for 90 years.

After the tour, Templar collector David Buehler of Lakewood will stick around to answer questions about the once-chic car. Grant Elementary School students will even screen an eight-minute documentary they made about local automaker Matthew Bramley, who designed the vehicle for upper-crust drivers. "They were very expensive — especially once the $300 Model T came into the picture," says Adams. "You could easily buy one of those, compared to a $5,000 Templar. It was a small niche market of wealthy people purchasing it."

Advertisers called it a "super-fine small car," even though the Templar was about the size of a modern-day sedan. Still, well-heeled consumers snatched them up. "The cars were more refined and supposedly easier to drive," says Adams. "In the ads, you'll see women driving the cars or standing outside them, with their nice furs on and holding their little dogs. But it's still a big car."
Sun., Sept. 10, 1-6 p.m.

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