REO Motor Car Company

REO Motor Car Company


The REO Motor Car Company was a Lansing, Michigan-based company that produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 to 1975. At one point the company also manufactured buses on its truck platforms.

REO was founded by Ransom E. Olds in August 1904 (the name of the founder also lived on in the Oldsmobile). Olds held 52 percent of the stock and the titles of president and general manager. To ensure a reliable supply of parts, he organized a number of subsidiary firms like the National Coil Company, the Michigan Screw Company, and the Atlas Drop Forge Company.

The company's name was alternately spelled in all capitals REO or with only an initial capital as Reo, and the company's own literature was inconsistent in this regard, with early advertising using all capitals and later advertising using the "Reo" capitalization. [] The pronunciation, however, was as a single word (like "rio"), never as letters (like the band "R.E.O. Speedwagon").

Early REO production

REO manufactured automobiles from 1905 to 1936, including the REO Speed Wagon light delivery truck, an ancestor of the pickup truck.

By 1907, REO had gross sales of $4.5 million and the company was one of the top four automobile manufacturers in the U.S. After 1908 however, despite the introduction of improved cars designed by Olds, REO's share of the automobile market shrank due in part to competition from emerging giants like Ford and General Motors.

REO added a truck manufacturing division and a Canadian plant in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1910. Two years later, Olds claimed he had built the best car he could, a tourer able to seat two, four, or five, with a 30-35 hp (22-26 kW) engine, 112 in (2845 mm) wheelbase, and 32 inch (81 cm) wheels, for US$1055 (not including top, windshield, or gas tank, which were US$100 extra); [Clymer, Floyd. "Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925" (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.162.] self-starter was US$25 on top of that. [Clymer, p.162.] By comparison, the Cole 30 [Clymer, p.104.] and Colt Runabout were priced at US$1500, [Clymer, p.63.] Kirk's Yale side-entrance US$1000, [Clymer, p.115.] the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout went for US$650, [Clymer, p.32.] Western's Gale Model A was US$500, [Clymer, p.51.] a Brush Runabout US$485, [Clymer, p.104.] the Black started at $375, [Clymer, p.61.] and the Success hit the amazingly low US$250. [Clymer, p.32.]

In 1915, Olds relinquished the title of general manager to his protégé Richard H. Scott and eight years later he gave up the company's presidency as well, retaining the position of chairman of the board.

Perhaps the most famous REO episode was the 1912 Trans-Canada journey. Traveling 4,176 miles (6,720 km) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, in a 1912 REO special touring car, mechanic/driver Fonce V. (Jack) Haney and journalist Thomas W. Wilby made the first trip by automobile across Canada (including one short jaunt into northeastern Washington State when the Canadian roads were virtually impassable.)

From 1915 to 1925, under Scott's direction REO remained profitable. In 1925, however, Scott, like many of his contemporaries/competitors, launched an ambitious expansion program designed to make the company more competitive with other automobile manufacturers by offering cars in different price ranges. The failure of this program and the effects of the Depression caused such heavy losses that Olds came out of retirement in 1933 and took control of REO again, but resigned in 1934. In 1936, REO abandoned the manufacture of automobiles to concentrate on trucks.

Reo Flying Cloud and Reo Royale

REO's two most memorable cars were its Reo Flying Cloud introduced in 1927 and the Reo Royale 8 of 1931.

The Flying Cloud was the first car to use Lockheed's new hydraulic internal expanding brake system and featured styling by Fabio Segardi. While Ned Jordan is credited with changing the way advertising copy was written with his "Somewhere West of Laramie" ads for his Jordan Playboy, Reo's Flying Cloud - a name that provoked evocative images of speed and lightness - name changed the way automobiles would be named in the future. The final REO model in 1936 was a Flying Cloud.

The 1931 Reo Royale was a trendsetting design, introducing design elements that set the stage for true automotive streamlining in the American market. The model was built until 1935. Beverly Kimes, editor of the "Standard Catalog of American Cars," calls the Royale "the most fabulous Reo of all". In addition to its coachwork by Murray, the Royale also provided buyers with a convert|125|hp|abbr=on straight-eight with a nine bearing crankshaft, one shot lubrication, and thermostatically controlled radiator shutters. The Royale rode upon factory wheelbases of 131 and convert|135|in|mm; a 1932 custom version rode upon a convert|152|in|mm|sing=on wheelbase. The Royale also featured REO's semi-automatic transmission, the Self-Shifter.

After passenger cars

Although World War II truck orders enabled it to make something of a comeback, the company remained unstable in the postwar era. In 1954 it was sold to the Bohn Aluminum and Brass Company of Detroit, and in 1957 became a subsidiary of the White Motor Company. White then merged REO with Diamond T Trucks in 1967 to form Diamond-Reo Trucks, Inc. In 1975, this firm filed for bankruptcy in the Western District of Michigan and most of its assets were liquidated.

Meanwhile, the corporate shell reorganized in the 1930s after a bankruptcy and the end of automobile manufacturing went through a series of transmutations into the nuclear medicine and prefabricated housing businesses before becoming today's steel company Nucor.


* 96HTD
* W series


* Toronto Transportation Commission

REOs in Fiction

A Reo is mentioned in a humorous 1933 short story by James Thurber entitled, “The Car We Had to Push.” It tells the story of Thurber’s family car, which would only start if pushed a long way. After several odd adventures, the car is destroyed by a trolley car.

James Thurber, "MY LIFE AND HARD TIMES: The Car We Had To Push," The New Yorker, July 15, 1933, p. 13


See also

* List of defunct United States automobile manufacturers
* List of automobile manufacturers
* Prevost Car

External links

* [ A Tribute To The REO Motor Car Company] many photos; site may be slow loading and have javascript pop-up ads
* [ R.E. Olds Museum]
* [ REO Gallery at White Glove Collection]
* [ REO Club of America]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • REO Motor Car Company — Emblem REO Modell B Runabout (1906) Die REO Motor Car Company war ein US amerikanischer Automobilhersteller, der in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • REO Flying Cloud — Hersteller: REO Motor Car Company Produktionszeitraum: 1927–1936 Klasse: Oberklasse Karosserieversionen: Roadster, 2 Türen Cabriolet, 2 Türen Coupé, 2 Türen Limousine, 2/4 Türen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • REO Royale — Hersteller: REO Motor Car Company Produktionszeitraum: 1931–1934 Klasse: Oberklasse Karosserieversionen: Cabriolet, 2 Türen Coupé, 2 Türen Limousine, 2/4 Türen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • REO Speedwagon — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda REO Speedwagon REO Speedwagon presentándose en el Summerfest de Milwaukee en el año 2007. Información personal …   Wikipedia Español

  • REO — may refer to:*Real Estate Owned *REO Motor Car Company **Ransom E. Olds, its founder **Reo Speed Wagon, the truck that the rock band REO Speedwagon was named for *Reo, Lord of the Jungle, an earlier stage name of Rick Williams * The FAA… …   Wikipedia

  • REO — steht für: REO Speedwagon, eine amerikanische Rockband REO Motor Car Company, ein US amerikanischer Automobil und LKW Hersteller Rome (Oregon), IATA Code des Flughafens in den USA Reo ist der Name von: Réo, eine Gemeinde und Departement im… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • REO Speed Wagon — The REO Speed Wagon was a motor truck manufactured by REO Motor Car Company. It was an ancestor of the pickup truck. REO are the initials of the company s founder, Ransom E. Olds, also the founder of the Oldsmobile (company later sold to General… …   Wikipedia

  • REO Speedwagon — For the vehicle, see REO Speed Wagon. REO Speedwagon REO Speedwagon on their Love on the Run tour, 2010. L R: Neal Doughty, Bruce Hall, Bryan Hitt, Kevin Cronin, and Dave Amato. Background information …   Wikipedia

  • REO Speed Wagon — Emblem eines REO Speed Wagon Feuerwehrwagens Der REO Speed Wagon war ein Nutzfahrzeug, das von der REO Motor Car Company gefertigt wurde. Nutzung James Son(s), eine Spedition in England, setzte REO Speed Wagon LKWs zum Transport von Getreide von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • REO — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. REO peut désigner: le réacteur à eau légère REO Motor Car Company, un constructeur automobile américain. Ransom E. Olds, fondateur de ce groupe le jeu… …   Wikipédia en Français