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Old 29-11-05, 18:33
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Default REO Records

While trying to find the WWII archives of the Diamond T company I cam across the archives of the REO company. These are held at Michigan State University. They have 283 volumes of files. To contact MSU Archives & Historical Collections call 517-355-2330

File list;

1904-1976

169 cu. ft.; 283 vols.

Copyright: Michigan State University

Property Rights: Michigan State University

Acc. No.: 2400, 2612, 1617, HC 55, HC 139, HC 391, HC 572

Donors: Allan H. Wright, Marvin Weeks, C.H. Giersbrook, Rajee Tobia, John P. Hoschek


History

Both the beginning and end of the REO company occurred amid controversy. The firm was incorporated on August 16, 1904 by R.E. Olds and other investors as the R.E. Olds Company. It quickly passed through several name changes and permutations. On May 30, 1975 the firm, then known as Diamond REO Trucks, Inc., filed for bankruptcy.

Ransom Eli Olds, founder of the Olds Motor Works (now the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors), was forced out of that firm in 1902. Two years later, Olds and other investors formed the R.E. Olds Co. to manufacture automobiles. Following a legal threat from the Olds Motor Works, the R.E. Olds Company’s name was changed to the REO Car Company (which later became the REO Motor Car Company).

On October 8, 1910 the investors also formed the REO Motor Truck Company to manufacture trucks, eventually known as “speedwagons.” This firm was combined with the REO Motor Car Company on September 29, 1916. During 1919 the firm sold more trucks than cars for the first time, and continued to do so until 1936. In that year car production was halted due to losses from declining sales which were caused by the Great Depression.

The firm was reorganized in 1938 as REO Motors, Inc. with the aid of a $2 million loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). Military contracts during World War II allowed the new firm to record modest gains. With the end of the war, these contracts ended and the gains became drastic losses. In 1946 lawnmower production was added in an effort to boost sales. Several years later Pal Aluminum Products (makers of swingsets and tricycles) were purchased for the same reason.

A $5.7 million RFC five-year loan was taken out by the company on January 18, 1949, to cover losses as well as the principle of the first RFC loan. This second RFC loan was paid in 1951 with a $9 million Victory-loan (V-loan). The V-loan and government contracts resulting from the Korean War enabled REO Motors to show its first sales level better than the 1944 network was not capable of selling the output without these contracts to the majority stockholders decided to sell the firm.

During May of 1954, C. Russell Feldmann of Henney Motor Co. obtained an assignment to REO Motor Co. for the purpose of combining it with another truck manufacturer, Diamond T. (Diamond T made excellent cabs while the REO Gold Cornet Engine was the best available at the time.) On the 29th of October Feldmann sold the assignment to Bohn Aluminum & Brass Corp. of Detroit, Michigan. At the end of 1954, to expedite this transfer, all the assets of REO Motors, Inc. (except cash and unsecured account receivable) were sold to REO Holding Company. REO Holding Company (having the same shareholders as REO Motors Inc.) completed the transfer by mid-1955, and was in the process of liquidation when it was taken over by a group of minority shareholders, who renamed it the Nuclear Corporation of America. The cash assets and unsecured accounts receivable were transferred to REO of Delaware, a holding company two-thirds owned by Bohn Aluminum. REO of Delaware saw to the resolution of these financial assets and liabilities. Nuclear Corp. then brought an unsuccessful suit against REO of Delaware and Bohn Aluminum to halt dissolution.

During this period, Bohn Aluminum also gained control of Diamond T trucks and combined the assets of the two truck companies into one division. This combination was sold to White Motors in 1957 and became the Diamond REO Truck Division of White Motors.

Data on other REO firms included in this collection:

REO Holding Co., (Lansing), 1954-1955 - Sold plant to Bohn Aluminum
REO Kull Car Co. (Oklahoma), 1927-(?) - Sales agent, sales financier
REO Motor Car Co. (Lansing), 1905-1938 - Manufacturer
REO Motor Car Co. of Canada, Ltd. 1908-1915(?) - Manufacturer
REO Motor Car Co. of Chicago, 1916-1930 - Sales agent
REO Motor Car Co. of Missouri, Inc., 1924-1930 - Sales agent
REO Motor Truck Co. (Lansing), 1910-1916 - Truck manufacturer, sold to REO Car Co.
REO Motors Ltd. (Britain) - Manufacturer
REO of Delaware (Lansing, incorporated in Delaware), 1954-1955 - Wound up financial affairs
of REO Motors, Inc.
REO Sales & Service, Inc., (Atlanta), 1926-1931 - Sales agent
REO Truck Leasing, Inc. (Lansing), 1952-1956 - Lessor
REO Truck Leasing, Ltd., (Canada), 1952-1954 - Lessor
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Old 29-11-05, 20:08
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Default REO of Canada

As this is a Canadian site and as this is an area I am researching, here is some information to add to that excellent text from Clive. All I need to add is that REO Motors Limited of London were post-WW1 and sold REO Speedwagons, and then various other heavy trucks in the 1930s.

Quote:
The records of the Packard Electric Co. Ltd. show that on 16 January 1909, the automobile department was apparently sold to the REO Motor Car Company of Lansing, Michigan:. The old plant went back into production around April 1909 after having been closed ‘owing to trade depression’. The Canadian branch of REO started out as the REO AUTOMOBILE COMPANY LIMITED, formed on 10 December 1908 in Windsor, Ontario. The parent organization held 3,995 of the 4,000 $10 par shares, with single shares being owned by Ransom Olds, Richard Scott, Edward Peer, Donald E. Bates, and W.G. Morley, the former Olds Motor Works official who became the manager of the Canadian operations. The move to St. Catherines, Ontario became official on 23 January 1909 when the company’s name was changed to the REO MOTOR CAR COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED. Capital stock was increased fivefold. $99,500 worth of stock (at par) was editioned to Packard Electric in exchange for their complete automobile plant and a lump sum of $10,000. Manufacturing continued much as it had before. REO advertisements made no reference to Packard Electric, discounting notions that it was building cars for REO. The company exhibited at the 1910 Canadian National Exhibition, and a photograph exists showing their stand at the C.N.E. In 1911 REO were amongst others being sold by the Automobile and Supply Company Limited, not surprising since they had sold Oldsmobiles previously.

Business was booming and a doubling of plant capacity was accomplished in late summer of 1912, from 600 to 1,200 per annum. A major promotional event for the Canadian branch of REO was a coast-to-coast drive by the Englishman Thomas W. Wilby in 1912: Wilby published a book about the expedition, A Motor Tour Through Canada in 1914.

REO followed the tradition set by Packard Electric in making extensive use of machine tools, since these were part of the plant as purchased. Components were fairly standardised and one example of this is the use of carriage bolts with standard thread that could be found in any hardware store. Some of the machinists employed at the REO factory later joined the McKINNON DASH AND METAL WORKS LIMITED, of St. Catherines, which was later to be a major supplier to General Motors of Canada and then absorbed by that company in 1929. Production was allegedly ended in 1913 and at this time many tools and pieces of equipment were simply abandoned. Reportedly one former company man outfitted his own home garage as a complete machine shop. However, it is likely that the company stopped producing cars in 1915, switching instead to war munitions, under the name of METAL DRAWING COMPANY LIMITED, located at the junction of Mill Street and Phelps Street. Packard Electric Company Limited turned their premises across the ‘Mill Race’ to a war munitions plant REO production stopped in 1913 in St. Catherines for at least two reasons. Production costs had become prohibitive, possibly since competition was becoming fierce in this period (Ford had just debugged his moving assembly lines in Michigan). The other reason was an attempt to save on weight by using a pressed fibre body, supplied by the CHATHAM CARRIAGE COMPANY [William Gray & Sons Limited]. Sadly this scheme turned into a nightmare as the panels could not be completely weatherproofed and moisture quickly caused distortion, and eventual disintegration [it is believed that this also applied to early Gray-Dort bodies as well]. The opening of a sales office in St. Catherines to handle REO distribution for Canada supposedly followed the end of production, although there was it seems a degree of overlap of a few months. The REO Motor Car Company [of Canada Limited] had premises in Mill Street, St. Catherines but by the time of the Toronto Auto Show in February 1913 they also had General Selling Agents, ‘THE REO SALES COMPANY’ who were initially it seems based in St. Catherines, selling in that final year the 2-passenger and 5-passenger REO at $1,750 f.o.b. St. Catherines. They in turn appointed Local Agents, Anderson Limited of 559˝ Yonge Street, Toronto, and a host of our companies in the general area. However The Reo Sales Company apparently moved to Toronto subsequently as they were at 61-63 Ontario Street, by 1914-15 according to a street directory. The Sales Company also exhibited at the [August] 1913 and 1914 Canadian National Exhibitions, and Anderson Limited were again Local Agents in the summer of 1914. This organisation also reportedly established the first public garage in the city. The parent Packard plant in Michigan stopped automobile production in 1914 to build military trucks for the Canadian government. The St. Catharine’s plant was activated again in 1915 to produce shrapnel shells. By January 1916 The Reo Sales Company had become or been replaced by REO MOTOR SALES COMPANY OF TORONTO LIMITED now of 591 Yonge Street, Toronto, selling Lansing-built Reo cars and also the separate Reo trucks. The company continued to trade through the war, and in 1922 were at 593-5 Yonge Street. The Reo Motor Car Company of Canada Limited head offices were moved to Walkerville [‘Windsor’] in 1922 by when they were selling the Reo Speed Wagon. Later they moved to Toronto (Leaside) in the former Durant factory then owned by Durant-Frontenac Motors Limited [the DURANT MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED had taken over the abandoned Laird Avenue, Leaside, premises of the Leaside Munitions Company; in 1931 Durant sold its interest to Canadian investors and Frontenacs were built until 1934].
I assume that Reo Motor Car Co. Ltd remained in Windsor during WW2? Hope that this is of interest.
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