By profession John Klink was a photographer. He was also Dansville’s incarnation of P.T. Barnum.
A growing fascination with automobiles led to a fortuitous discussion with Harvey Toms, the towns handyman and tinkerer who specialized in bicycle repair, which in turn led to the construction of an automobile for Mr. Klink. After driving his car for the first time on July 8, 1906, Klink decided to initiate immediate production.
Step one was the acquisition of a partner, Charles Day. Step two was organization of the company, Klink Motor Car Manufacturing Company, and the sale of stock to local residents and at least one hapless relative in California.
In March, 1907, the company leased a former chair manufacturing facility and fifteen men, including Harvey Toms as foreman, were hired to initiate production. In May the first Klink rolled from the factory, was driven to the railyard, and was shipped to the California stock holder.
After extensive promotion John Klink and three automobiles went to New York for the big debut at the auto show. Though it was an assembled car the press reviews were favorable. This as well as success in several local hill climbing events presented management with the illusion sales were about to soar.
Then in the summer of 1909, the company imploded; John Day walked, total sales of less than twenty cars led to an inability to pay creditors or meet payroll. On September 25, 1909, Klink had exhausted all options with exception of one, closing the doors.
In early 1910, an effort was made to revive the company and two cars were built from parts on hand. The paint had yet to dry on the cars before Klink pulled the plug and returned to photography.
The unsold cars were stored in the barn behind Klink’s photography shop until 1934 when the new cars, never driven, were sold for scrap. John Klink tried a few other endeavors such as a coffee substitute before being killed in an automobile accident in 1940.
Today the Klink is less than an historical footnote in the colorful annals of automotive history.
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