Roamer: America's Smartest Car - The Barley
Introduced in 1922 and named for the company's president, the Barley was a lower-priced six-cylinder car, meant to attract new buyers in the mid-class market. The Barley 6-50 (50 hp, 118" wb) came out in September, 1922, and customers were offered torpedoes and sedans, both with a Continental engine. The following year, the company added a Sport Sedan and Touring Sedan to its lineup. Prices for the Barley began at $1395 and went to $2250, quite a bit less than the pricier Roamer.
In introducing the car, the company took out ads such as one appearing in the October 16, 1922 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, with a message from A.C. Barley: "I have waited six years to write this message to motorists. Eight years ago I produced the ROAMER motor car—the first beautiful stock motor car. It introduced style, beauty, and color into a throng of commonplace, graceless, conventional black, self-propelled vehicles. It was a pioneer and leader but I worked to produce a fitting companion to the ROAMER at a price below $1500—to embody the same supreme beauty—the same mechanical mastery—in a car which could be sold to many people instead of a few."
The Barley Six came fully loaded, with a radiator of Liberty Silver, Spanish leather upholstery (tan or gray), three colors of body finish, aluminum instrument board, motometer, barrel-type headlights, and tools in the left front door. Advertisements claimed it was "a car so strong you can drive one wheel up on a 12-inch curb and then open and shut every door (Note: due to its stiff chassis)—a car you can drive over tough going at 35 miles an hour without whisper or complaint".
This "fine car at a fair price" started out strong, and nine months after its debut, the company work force was doubled to meet popular demand. A month after that, the Barley Motor Car Company merged with the Kalamazoo Realty Company (the holding company that owned properties where the Roamer and Barley factories were located), creating the Roamer Motor Car Company, with increased production and sales activities.
But sales of the Barley quickly faltered. When the Roamer Motor Car Co. moved to Toronto in 1924, the Barley was still being produced in the Kalamazoo factory. The company announced that, while it would exhaust its stock of Roamer and Barley cars and parts, its primary focus would be on Pennant taxi cabs.