Puh-wadda, buh-buh, puh-whee! Mel Blanc voices Jack Benny’s Maxwell in flivver style

Known as the Man of a Thousand Voices, Mel Blanc is famous for giving the world the intonations of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck. Well before any of them, Blanc gave voice to Benny’s Maxwell, helping to carry out a long-running cheapskate joke.

Benny’s 1923 Maxwell Model 25 touring competed with the Ford Model T in the low-price field, although it’s unlikely that Henry Ford ever told his staff, “We’ve got to do something about Maxwell.”

Still, it fell under the flivver umbrella. Benny kept reminding people about his Maxwell for a long time, and we thought it was hilarious.

In 1905, the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Car Co. was started in North Tarrytown, N.Y. by Jonathan Maxwell and Benjamin Briscoe, and the latter assumed the company’s presidency. Two-thirds of the initial $150,000 investment came from J.P Morgan. Five years later, Maxwell-Briscoe ranked number-three in the industry behind Ford and Buick.

When the company became overextended, a reorganization followed and Briscoe was out. The Tarrytown factory was sold to Billy Durant for manufacture of the new Chevrolet car and the reconstituted Maxwell Motor Co. moved to Detroit.

After World War One, a recession affected the auto industry. In 1923, Walter P. Chrysler was brought in and the next year became president of Maxwell.

Soon after, he introduced his own Chrysler car, and by 1926, Maxwell was absorbed into the new Chrysler Corp.

Benny’s Maxwell sold at auction in January of 2021 for $16,800.

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