History of the Red Bug Car
The early model Red Bug cars were part of Jekyll Island’s history. They were rented by wealthy industrialists from the Jekyll Island Club Garage for pleasure and a means of travel on Jekyll Island. Pictured below is an artist’s sketch of an advertisement for the Red Bug that was published in an early 1900’s magazine. It was often the preferred choice over the family car.
The current day “Red Bug” Electric Cars are nick-named after the early buckboard cars that were called “Red Bugs” and “Red Bug Juniors”. The earlier models were produced from 1914 to about 1930. A few reproductions were built in the 1950’s & 1960’s.
The early Red Bugs were powered by a fifth wheel with an integral motor. They were first produced by the A.O. Smith Company of Milwaukee in 1914. The manufacturing rights were sold to Briggs and Stratton and then to Majestic Engineering & Manufacturing Co., later known as the Automotive Electric Service Company of North Bergen, New Jersey in 1924. Production of the car continued for many years. Later versions were powered by a Dodge electric starter motor. Little is know about the Red Bugs after 1930, after all, it was the depression and a new Red Bug sold for more than a used Model T Ford.
The “Red Bugs” are back on Jekyll Island again and they are better than ever. The Red Bugs, known worldwide as Gem Cars, are manufactured by Global Electric Motorcars, LLC a Daimler/Chrysler Company. They are electrically powered and meet all the current-day guidelines for safety and comfort. These vehicles are street legal anywhere the maximum posted speed limit is 35 MPH. You can rent or purchase this car from Red Bug Motors, LLC. They are available in 2, 4 and 6 passenger versions and 2 passenger short or long bed utility trucks.