Notice: The next story was excerpted from the December 2015 problem of Collectible Vehicle journal
Many unbiased makes disappeared throughout the Nice Despair, however Reo beat the percentages to reside on as a truck maker till 1975. What makes the story all of the extra outstanding is that Reo needed to survive not solely the Despair, but additionally its personal board of administrators.
For a lot of the Thirties, Reo’s boardroom was as chaotic as a Marx Brothers film, with warring factions waging fixed proxy battles. When the corporate filed for chapter in 1938, the court-appointed trustee was sharp sufficient to request a reliable board of administrators. Reo resumed truck manufacturing in 1940, and shortly had a full order ebook as World Struggle II engulfed Europe.
Certainly, Reo was a toddler of a dysfunctional boardroom relationship. Ransom Eli Olds based Oldsmobile, however left in 1904 when he didn’t safe sufficient votes in a board assembly to stay as common supervisor. Staying put in Lansing, Michigan, Olds rapidly arrange a brand new firm utilizing his initials because the title for a brand new automotive. Reo entered the truck enterprise in 1911 and launched its most well-known mannequin, the Speedwagon, in 1915. Whereas heavy-duty vans of the time typically used solid-rubber tires and normally operated at 10 to fifteen mph, the Speedwagon might journey quicker on its pneumatic tires.
Reo manufacturing grew steadily, reaching a peak in 1928 of 47,016 automobiles (23,497 vehicles and 23,519 vans). Then got here the Despair, which was laborious on Reo. Manufacturing bottomed out at 7029 in ’32. Truck gross sales rebounded higher than these of vehicles, which had been discontinued after 1936.
Launched in mid 1935, the Speedwagon Collection 6AP half-ton pickup rode on a chassis borrowed from the Reo Flying Cloud automotive. The 118-inch X-frame chassis had beefier rear springs for pickup-truck obligation. Nonetheless, reasonably than Reo’s personal Gold Crown six, the 6AP used a 209.5-cid Continental six of 72 horsepower—albeit with the Reo title forged within the block. The engine was marketed because the Silver Crown. A few of the bodywork was from Reo’s 1933 Flying Cloud S2. Disguised with distinctive sheetmetal, the Reo 6AP was additionally bought by Mack sellers because the Mack Jr. Reo gained some much-needed income from the deal, whereas Mack sellers had been in a position to provide a light-duty truck along with their huge rigs.
The ’36 Speedwagon 6AP pictured right here is owned by Michael Kisber of Memphis, Tennessee. This Speedwagon initially served a California winery, however had migrated to Canada, which is the place Kisber bought it. The truck had been restored at a while, although not very properly. No less than it was practically full.
Kisber needed the truck painted an genuine coloration. Commonplace Speedwagon colours had been gray, black, or purple. Nonetheless, the unique paint found behind the coil was maroon. It appears that evidently any Reo automotive coloration was non-compulsory on Speedwagons—on this case Tokay Maroon. Different choices on this truck are grille-mounted twin horns and a radiator-cap decoration. Reo stenciled the 6AP mannequin title together with a sequential ID quantity on the firewall.
Tom Van Steyn of Full Circle Restorations in California returned the truck to inventory specs. There are fewer than 10 recognized remaining 6APs, and Van Steyn—who additionally restored the 1935 Speedwagon 6AP featured in CA’s February 2012 problem—considers this one to be probably the most authentic of them.
Kisber, who owns a number of different classic vans, says the Speedwagon drives like a automotive. Actually his solely different truck that’s as carlike is a Hudson pickup, which can also be primarily based on a automotive chassis.
How a lot precise pace is there in a Speedwagon? Van Steyn claims to have hit 45 mph, and, though steady, he didn’t wish to go any quicker. For his half, Kisber says, “Quicker than you wish to go.”
1936 Reo Speedwagon 6AP Pickup Gallery
Click on under for enlarged pictures.