Cars in the Tractor Company Family Tree

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One of the automobiles Harry Jewett got involved with was the Lozier. Jewett was an investor in the Paige-Detroit Motor Co., which he eventually sold to Graham Bros. The Lozier in this promotional piece is a 1912 model that appeared on the cover of Motor Age on March 21, 1912. Touring cars sold for $5,000, and limousines for $6,500, princely sums at the time.
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By 1911 more than 100,000 Ford cars (including this 1911 Model T C-Cab Light Delivery Car) were in service and demand was doubling each year. The $700 purchase price included automatic brass windshield, speedometer, three oil lamps, two gas lamps, generator, horn and tools.
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The Maytag (formerly the Mason) Model C sold for $1,350 without the top. Maytag-Mason Motor Car Co. manufactured cars from 1910 to 1912.
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What could be better advertising for REO Motor Car Co., Lansing, Mich., than having the president of the United States go for a ride in a REO? In this 1907 REO Motor Car Co. photo, President Theodore Roosevelt is in the back seat behind the driver, company President Ransome Eli Olds.
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This 1910 34 hp Lambert 7, manufactured by the Buckeye Mfg. Co., Anderson, Ind., sold for $2,000.
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In 1923 Graham-Paige Motors Corp. made this Paige Daytona Model 6-70, named in honor of the Paige Model 6-66 roadster stock chassis that earlier established a 1-mile straightaway speed record at Daytona Beach, Fla.
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Bryan Harvester Co., Peru, Ind., built this Bryan Steamer in 1923 for company Sales Manager Roy Slater. It was painted platinum gray and robin’s egg blue with black fenders.
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A Type B Deere-Clark car dating to 1907. Deere-Clarks (the product of a partnership between car maker William E. Clark and Charles Deere, then Deere & Co. CEO and son of John Deere) were produced for just two years, 1905-1907.
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One of the cars William Galloway got involved with was this 1912 Argo (originally known as the Ajax when manufactured in France by Benjamin Briscoe). Though Galloway may not have been directly involved in the production of the Argo, Briscoe did manufacture the Arabian car – one very much like the Argo – for Galloway beginning in 1914.
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A Graham Bros. Co. truck chassis with a wood canopy body, available in 1- and 1-1/2-ton models.
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The Commercial Motor Truck Co., initially of Toledo, Ohio, built Plymouth trucks like this 1907 Plymouth stake bed. The company built a Plymouth automobile in 1910, but in the early 1930s sold rights to the use of the Plymouth name to General Motors.
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Pan Motor Co., St. Cloud, Minn., manufactured this Model A between 1918 and 1920. “It is a motor car,” company literature said, “that will appeal to both the masses and the classes. It is a car for everybody – a car that, we feel sure, will meet with the unqualified approval of a great army of motorists.”

Several tractor manufacturers actually got their start in the automotive industry. In this continuation of an article published in the June issue of Farm Collector, the focus is on manufacturers who came late to tractors. Some used success with cars and trucks as a springboard to expand into farm equipment. For others, tractors represented a last-ditch effort to stay in business. It was a time of rollicking competition against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technology. Win or lose, the rise and fall of these companies is an important chapter in the story of American industrialization.

Ford Motor Co.

Ford wasn’t the first car maker to branch out to tractors, but it was the most successful. Henry Ford built his first automobile in 1896. When he finished, he was forced to knock down a shed wall to get it out. The Quadricycle, as he called it, performed well, using a leather belt and chain and a 4 hp, 2-cylinder 4-stroke horizontal engine, which propelled the machine at 20 mph. Ford hadn’t planned on selling the Quadricycle, but when he was offered $200 he did, and used the proceeds to finance his second vehicle.

By 1899, the Detroit Automobile Co. was organized. When Ford decided to build a race car, stockholders shut down the company. In 1901, Henry Ford Co. was organized, but again Ford wasn’t satisfied, so he left to build yet more race cars. In 1903 Ford Motor Co. was organized, manufacturing Ford Model A runabouts for $750 each ($850 for a tonneau).

At the mercy of his financial backers, Ford was forced to produce cars he didn’t like, such as the high-priced Model B, which sold for $3,000. Models B, F and K came out in 1905, and finally in 1908, the affordable Model T – which would forever change American motoring habits – was born. Using a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine that got 25 mpg, the car remained in production for nearly two decades.

Ford’s first factory-produced commercial vehicle was the Model T C-Cab Ford Delivery Car, fitted with a delivery top. In 1912, Ford’s delivery car did not sell well, and it was discontinued, though aftermarket sales of bodies and conversion kits continued until 1917, when Model T and 1-ton Model TT trucks hit the market. Ford built an experimental tractor in 1915, and began full-fledged manufacture of the Fordson in late 1916.

Velie Motors Corp.

Velie Motors Corp., Moline, Ill., manufactured automobiles from 1908 to 1929. Willard Lamb Velie, grandson of John Deere, possessed a major advantage in securing funds to build his own car: The Deere & Co. board of directors was filled with Velies.

Velie’s interest in automobiles was piqued in 1901 when Hi Henry’s Minstrel Show came to Moline with automobiles. After watching his neighbors gawk at the horseless carriages, Velie decided to build automobiles. His first step: building high-wheel, horse-drawn Velie buggies.

In 1908, with Deere & Co. financing, he launched his auto business as Velie Motor Vehicle Co. (later renamed Velie Motors Corp.). Advertised in Deere catalogs and sold at Deere dealerships, the first Velie 30s were a success.

Like many auto builders of that era, Velie had a passion for racing. He entered the 1911 Indianapolis 500 and finished 17th out of 46. In the annual Pike’s Peak race in Colorado just after World War I, the Velie bested a field that included entries from Marmon, Essex, Templar, Chalmers, Paige, Packard and Chevrolet.

That early success prompted expansion, and in 1916 the company launched production of the expensive 12-24 Biltwel tractor, at a cost four times Henry Ford’s Fordson. Production ceased in 1920; no Biltwels are known to survive today.

Selling anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 cars a year, the company prospered until the untimely deaths of Velie and his son Will Jr. in 1928-29. Staggering in a sudden vacuum of leadership, the company was a victim of the 1929 stock market crash and closed.

R.E. Olds Co.

On Aug. 4, 1904, Ransom Eli Olds formed R.E. Olds Co. in Lansing, Mich., and sold REO autos for $1,250. Later that fall, the company came out with a two-passenger runabout for $650, targeting the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. (also of Lansing) Olds had just left.

REOs sold well, 2,456 in 1906 (the cross-town Olds company only sold 1,600 cars during the same period). In 1907, gross sales topped $4 million. In 1911 REO built what company officials considered their best car, REO the Fifth. “To that,” Olds said, “I have added all I have learned in 25 years of continuous striving.”

By 1915, Olds turned over control of REO to company Vice President Richard H. Scott and headed to Oldsmar, Fla., where he built the Oldsmar tractor from 1917-20. REO autos were manufactured until 1936.

Buckeye, Union and Lambert

Except for an early three-wheeler, cars bearing these names were basically the same automobile. The saga begins in 1891 with John Lambert of Anderson, Ind., who built the first gasoline-powered auto in the U.S. For unknown reasons, however, Lambert did not object when Elwood P. Haynes marketed his auto (the Haynes/Apperson, built three years later) as “America’s first car.”

After successfully testing his three-wheeled, gasoline-powered Buckeye in 1891, Lambert offered the car for $550. But nobody wanted the Buckeye. Too expensive? Too new-fangled? The answer is lost to time. Lambert moved on to manufacture stationary gasoline engines. In 1895 he said he would soon put a gasoline-powered vehicle (the same three-wheeled Buckeye) on the market. Still, the American public was uninterested. Determined, Lambert devised a friction transmission and in 1898 offered a four-wheel Buckeye. Again, sales were flat.

In 1902, development-minded officials at Union City, Ind., encouraged Lambert to relocate operations, and he began manufacturing Buckeye auto parts there. He carted parts 50 miles to Anderson, where Buckeyes were assembled as Union autos. The vehicle’s unique design and friction transmission (“No gears to grind or strip, and no clutches to slip”) were strong selling points.

In 1904, the plant was moved to Anderson. The Union became the Lambert, and production continued until 1917. Buckeye Mfg. Co. jumped into tractor manufacture in 1912. The company built Buckeye tractors until 1917, then renamed them Trundaars. Production ceased after 1923.

Marvel, Mason, Maytag and Galloway

In about 1905, Fred and August Duesenberg of Des Moines, Iowa, built the Marvel auto. When the fledgling car makers accepted financial backing from attorney Edward R. Mason, the Marvel was renamed the Mason and the company became known as the Mason Motor Car Co. A five-seater, the Mason was powered by a 2-cylinder opposed, 24 hp engine. It was produced from 1906-1914.

In 1910, Iowa State Senator Fred Maytag (founder of the washing machine company) bought a controlling interest in the company, renamed it Maytag-Mason Motor Car Co. and moved operations to Waterloo, Iowa. There the company introduced a new 4-cylinder car called the Maytag and continued production of the 2-cylinder Mason.

Maytags sold for $1,250-1,800 and Masons for $900-1,750. The company faced financial challenges from the beginning, and in 1912 control reverted to Mason. Maytag began building tractors in 1916, but production did not continue in 1917.

William Galloway of Waterloo invested in the Maytag-Mason Motor Car Co. in 1910. The Maytag car was renamed the Galloway. Involved in the auto business since selling a carload of 1-cylinder Cadillacs in 1902, Galloway helped build and sell a high-wheeler in 1908. It was promoted as “the car that would take a large family to church on Sunday and haul heavy loads on weekdays.” From 1908 to 1911, Galloway sold Galloway high-wheeler trucks (built by Dart Mfg. Co., Waterloo) and Galloway automobiles.

Galloway was a player in other auto ventures as well. He backed an effort to package the French-made Ajax Cycle-car as the Argo Motor Vique in the U.S. (selling price: $295). But interest in the cyclecar was waning. In 1914 the Argo was redesigned as a conventional car and renamed the Arabian (selling price: $385-435). In 1916, he entered the tractor business, producing the Farmobile tractor. Production ceased in 1919. He remained a strong supporter of the internal combustion engine, repeatedly claiming hard-earned cash was better spent buying Galloway vehicles than feeding horses.

Graham-Paige Motors Corp.

A 1909 ride in a car promoted by Fred O. Paige prompted coal entrepreneur Harry M. Jewett to invest heavily in Paige-Detroit Motor Co. For two years, with Paige as president, the company produced two-passenger Paige-Detroit autos that sold for $800. But Jewett was not impressed. When asked about his Paige-Detroit car, he did not mince words. “It’s rotten,” he said. “A piece of junk.”

That frank assessment did not bode well for Paige, who was ousted. The Paige-Detroit was redesigned, tagged the Paige and priced at $800-1,250. The revamped Paige sold well. In 1921 a stripped-down 6-66 Paige roadster set a Daytona Beach, Fla., speed record of 102.83 mph. Soon after, the company included a Daytona model in its line-up.

Jewett was also involved with Lozier and Jewett automobiles. By 1925, Paige-Detroit had become the 10th largest automobile manufacturer in the U.S., and celebrated that achievement with publication of a brochure titled “43 Ghosts,” telling the tale of car makers that had gone out of business during the previous two years.

The tide turned soon after. Paige-Detroit lost $2.5 million in 1927. Jewett sold out to brothers Joseph B., Robert C. and Ray A. Graham, all of whom had extensive experience at Dodge Bros. The Grahams had been producing do-it-yourself trucks since 1919, providing the frame, cab, body and Torbensen internal gear drives. In 1920, when Dodge Bros. bought a majority interest in the company, the Grahams began building and marketing a separate line of trucks. In 1927, the Grahams sold that truck line to Dodge.

In 1927 the newly named Graham-Paige Motors Corp. sold 73,195 cars, a new record for a fledgling manufacturer. In 1930 the cars (now simply Grahams) sold for $845-1,065. After Ray Graham’s suicide in 1932, the company limped on for eight years, building cars for other companies as well as its own line. Graham-Bradley tractors were added to the operation in 1938-39. In 1940 a temporary plant closing turned out to be permanent, and production of all vehicles ceased.

Deere-Clark Motor Car Co.

In 1905, William E. Clark of Clark Mfg. Co., Moline, persuaded Deere & Co. to bankroll and produce the Deere-Clark auto. The five-passenger Deere-Clarks were marketed as “Cars designed to satisfy,” but satisfaction came at a price: Deere-Clarks sold for $2,500-3,500. Production of Deere-Clarks ended just two years later.

In 1911, the Midland auto, successor to the Deere auto, reverted to Deere & Co. A year later the Midland Motor Car Co., with the slogan, “Unusual cars at unusual prices,” declared bankruptcy, ending Deere’s involvement with automobiles.

Although Deere & Co. produced experimental tractor models in about 1910, the company first offered tractors after acquiring Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. and its Waterloo Boy tractor in 1918.

Bryan Harvester Co.

The Bryan Harvester Co. of Peru, Ind., got its start by manufacturing a steam car, the Bryan steam automobile. Six of the 4,500-pound cars, which looked like Apperson autos, were built in the Peru plant from 1918-23.

In 1920, the company manufactured the Bryan steam tractor. Within five years, George Bryan turned to steam home heating plants and abandoned vehicle production altogether.

Plymouth Truck Co.

The first Plymouth Gasoline Pleasure Vehicle was built in 1910, not by Chrysler Corp., but by Plymouth Truck Co. of Plymouth, Ohio. This massive seven-passenger car carried an unusual feature on the hood: a dome with a gasoline filler cap 8 inches across, designed to allow a 3-gallon bucket of gasoline to be poured into the gravityflow tank. The vehicle sold for $2,500.

Company directors took the car on a long maiden voyage to New York City. When the car suffered a broken cylinder casting en route, car and directors had to be shipped back by train. Fewer than four cars were built. Eventually the company became Fate-Root-Heath Co., which manufactured Plymouth tractors (later renamed Silver King when Chrysler bought rights to the Plymouth name) from 1933 to 1935.

Plymouth got its start in 1906 as a truck builder in Toledo, (the company relocated to Plymouth later that year). Plymouth’s 1912 trucks sported “Cyclops” headlights (a single beam mounted on the dashboard) with two small lights at the sides. Bowing to competitive pressures, the company ceased production in 1915. About 200 Plymouth trucks had been built.

Pan Motor Co.

The hand-built Pan autos really should have been winners. Launched in 1918 in St. Cloud, Minn., the company’s motto was “A motor car that will appeal to both the masses and the classes.” All Pan cars were extremely well-built and detailed.

The Pan auto seat converted into a bed, and the auto featured a “Commissary Compartment,” with areas for reserve supplies of gasoline and oil, as well as water, tools and food. The genius behind the Pan auto (and later, the Pan Tank-Tread tractor) was Samuel L. Pandolfo, whose publicity-seeking gimmicks showcased his flamboyant nature. He sent three Pan autos on an 11,000-mile trip through difficult North American terrain to prove the cars’ durability. He sponsored a free barbecue for 70,000 people. He also paid magazines to hype his vehicles in articles.

The Pan Tank-Tread tractor was built in 1918. Pan Motor Co. went bankrupt in 1920, and Pandolfo went to prison for fraud, effectively ending the Pan venture.

Waterloo Motor Works

Charles Duryea, who built one of America’s first gasoline-powered vehicles, convinced Waterloo, Iowa, investors to build automobiles under his patents in 1902. Two stationary engine companies merged to form Waterloo Motor Works. In 1903 that company built the Waterloo automobile, essentially a renamed Duryea auto. About 20 were built before the company returned to building stationary engines. In 1914 the company expanded to a new product: the Waterloo Boy tractor. The company was acquired by Deere & Co. in 1918; production of the Waterloo Boy ended in 1924.

Bill Vossler is a freelance writer and author of several books on antique farm tractors and toys. Contact him at Box 372, 400 Caroline Lane, Rockville, MN 56569; email: bvossler@juno.com

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