Mrs. Ella Goodall wanted to donate a car to the Master. She, in her letters expressed this wish and the Master approved of this but asked if it would be possible for the car to seat 7 persons.


The logo of Cunningham cars (this is not from the Master’s car). Picture taken from Wikipedia

Mrs. Ella Goodall purchased a new black Cunningham automobile (touring edition seating 7 persons) and had it shipped to Haifa. The Cunningham automobile was “was produced from 1896 to 1936” They “made fine carriages and sleighs, and became a leading manufacturer of these vehicles before the turn of the century. Cunningham went on to manufacture automobiles, car bodies (mainly hearses), chassis frames for other marques, and aircraft.” The Cunningham automobiles are considered to be high quality luxury cars of their days (the Rolls Royce of their own time). The 1919 Cunningham Touring edition should have cost between 4500 and 5500 US dollars (equivalent to about 70 000 dollars in todays worth). Mr. Fujita accompanied the car from the United States to Haifa where he maintained the car and was one of the drivers. It is interesting that Abdul-Baha had, in a Tablet dated as early as in 1913,  written to Mr. Fujita, saying:

O thou servant of God Thy letter was received. It was an indication to the outward and inward health and safety. Therefore it became the means of joy. As regard to thy profession of electricity. Endeavor from every direction that thou mayest gain perfect efficiency in it — so that I may send for thee to come with electrical machine (automobile) and lighting plant — in order that in the Holy Land thou mayest know how to run the electrical engines and dynamos, how to install electrical lights through the buildings and how to fill the batteries of the (automobile) and act (if necessary) as chauffeur. When thou shalt learn these things then I will send for thee. Thou wilt be confirmed to render a great service and this will become the cause of thine everlasting glory. (Translated by Ahmad Sohrab, May 15, 1913, Paris)


Mr. Fujita sitting in the Cunningham car. The picture is taken around 1920.

When the Cunningham car arrived at Haifa, Shoghi Effendi went to receive it. Ruhiyyih Khanum has written about this in the Priceless Pearl. She writes: I remember the Guardian telling me of how (I believe it must have been in early 1920) one of the old American Bahais had sent a gift to the Master of a Cunningham automobile; notice of its arrival at the quayside in port came just as the weekend commenced and the Master gave Shoghi Effendi instructions to see that it was cleared and delivered to the house. Shoghi Effendi told me that although the next day there were no high officials in the port and it was not a business day, he succeeded in getting the car delivered and when it arrived he went to the Master and informed Him it was outside the door. He said the Master was very surprised and immensely pleased and asked him how he had succeeded in doing this. Shoghi Effendi told Him he had taken the papers and gone to the homes of various officials, asking them to sign the documents and give the necessary orders for the car of Sir ‘Abdu’l-Baha ‘Abbas to be delivered to Him at once. This was typical of the way Shoghi Effendi did his work throughout his entire life. He always wanted everything done at once, if not sooner, and everything he had any personal control over progressed at that speed. (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 28)

Although Abdul-Baha rode in the Cunningham car on occasions, it was predominantly used for transporting the pilgrims.

Fujita on donkey car

Mr. Fujita next the Cunningham car.

This car has now been restored and pilgrims have the opportunity to see it. From what I understand, it has run somewhere between 6000 to 7000 miles and is one of few remaining examples in the world (of this particular year and model). I was told that it has no engine in it so it does not actually run.