Friday, June 25, 2010

Are You For Reo?

I am for Reo! This is a little reminder that these vehicles were always called Reo (pronounced Rio) never R.E.O. Despite the fact that the company was formed by Ransom E. Olds and used his initials. Olds had previously founded the Olds Motor Works, which built the Oldsmobile car. He sold his interest in that company and it eventually became part of GM. In 1904 he started the new company REO Motor Car Company, in Lansing, MI, to produce cars and trucks. He used his initials, to overcome objections from his prior company to the use of family name. REO built quality cars and began producing trucks in St. Catharines, ON in 1910. And yes, they did produce a truck called the REO Speedwagon.
A famous cross country trip from Halifax to Vancouver (with a slight detour through Washington State) in 1912 helped to establish Reo as a quality car manufacturer.
The Great Depression was not kind to Reo, and the company never really recovered. They stopped producing cars in 1936, and after bankruptcy and new owners took over they struggled until 1957 when they sold Reo to the White Motor Company. White used the Lansing-built Reo cab on their "vocational" trucks, but the brand did not flourish. In 1967 it was merged with another White subsidiary, Diamond T, forming Diamond Reo. Eventually in 1975 even that brand was liquidated. Executives went on to form Spartan Motors in Lansing-it is still going strong.
The best remembered Reo for me was the early 1950s model with distinctive radiator and Gold Comet engine. There were highway tractors but probably more straight trucks. The same hood and chassis was used for school buses,
1. Classic Reo from the early 1950s, seen in Fredericton, NB June 20. Something odd about the frame at the rear axles, but the front end is the Reo thing!

2. Bob and Marguerite drove this from Oklahoma to a square dance convention in Halifax in 1979.

3. It is a rear engined Reo chassis with a much modified urban bus body.

4. Under White ownership the cab remained in use for many years. Kaiser Construction and Services of Halifax were using this Reo in 1981. Hood and fenders are essentially White, but it still carries the Reo V8 engine symbol.
Reos are long gone now, although they are favourites among collectors because of their distinctive styling, and that is why I am for Reo.

No comments:

Post a Comment