REO Speedwagon

1946 REO Speedwagon

The founder of REO Motor Car Company, Ransom Ellis Olds enjoyed great success in the automobile industry prior to the inception of REO. Originally, he created the Oldsmobile, produced by the Olds Motor Works that he had established in 1897.

REO initially concentrated on car production, but soon added a truck and bus division to the mix. By the mid 1920s, Olds had retired and Presidency of the company had passed to his protégé Richard Scott. However, the combination of an ill-conceived product range and the Depression took its toll and car production was abandoned in 1936 in favour of a truck-only policy. The mass requirement for lorries during WWII heralded a brief revival in the company’s fortunes, but they began flagging again not long after, and ownership passed from competitor to competitor before bankruptcy finally occurred in 1975.

The Reo Speed Wagon was a light-motor truck manufactured by REO Motor Car Company, first introduced in 1915; the Speed Wagon was the company’s first big success and remained in production until at least 1953. Although the basic design and styling of the chassis remained the same, the Speed Wagon was manufactured in a variety of different configurations (Pick-up, Panel Truck and Passenger Buses), to serve a wide variety of industries. REO Motor Car Company had produced 125,000 vehicles by 1925, which helped cement their place as a successful manufacturer of commercial vehicles prior to World War II.

Personally, I love the aesthetics of this vehicle, they are incredible. It makes you feel nostalgic for a period in history that I was not around for, despite the horrific tragedy of World War II. If the vehicles of today had this much character, the world would be a better place. This specific vehicle is Powered by a Gold Crown 4-litre flathead six-cylinder engine linked to a four-speed manual gearbox and is now in the collection of a proud new owner.

If the name REO Speed Wagon sounds familiar to you, The rock and roll band REO Speedwagon took its name from this vehicle, but pronouncing the name with each individual letter instead of as a single word. Founding band member Neal Doughty recalls seeing the name written on the board in his History of Transportation class at the University of Illinois and later suggesting it to his bandmates.

James Woods – DD Classics

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