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Built in St. Louis

Since the early days of the horseless carriage St. Louis has been the center of manufacturing vehicles. Vehicle makers could take up to a year of spare time to complete their vehicles. At first these vehicles were built for the novelty. Once they finished their first, they improved on the next ones and soon built them for profit.

American 'independent' automakers : AMC to Willys 1945 to 1960
Norm Mort.
Dorchester : Veloce, 2010.
The independent automakers who had survived the depression of the 1930s had flexibility and enough capital from the war to be the first to launch all-new models for a car starved nation. So lucrative was the American post-war car market that new automobile companies were also formed to cash in on the pent-up demand for new cars. This is their story told through text and the use of contemporary brochures, period literature, factory photos, road test info and over 90 new, unpublished color photos of restored examples to relate the importance of these historic vehicles.
     
Sixty to zero : an inside look at the collapse of General Motors--and the Detroit auto industry
Alex Taylor III ; foreword by Mike Jackson.
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c2010.
Drawing on more than 30 years of experience and insight as an automotive industry reporter, as well as personal relationships with many of the leading players, Taylor reveals the many missteps of GM and its competitors.
     
Crash course : the American automobile industry's road from glory to disaster
Paul Ingrassia.
New York : Random House, c2010.
This is the epic saga of the American automobile industry's rise and demise, a compelling story of hubris, denial, missed opportunities, and self-inflicted wounds that culminates with the president of the United States ushering two of Detroit's Big Three car companies-once proud symbols of prosperity - through bankruptcy. The cost to American taxpayers topped $100 billion-enough to buy every car and truck sold in America in the first half of 2009. With unprecedented access, Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Ingrassia takes us from factory floors to small-town dealerships to Detroit's boardrooms to the inner sanctums of the White House. He reveals why President Barack Obama personally decided to save Chrysler when many of his advisors opposed the idea. Ingrassia provides the dramatic story behind Obama's dismissal of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner and the angry reaction from GM's board-the same people who had watched idly while the company plunged into penury. In Crash Course, Ingrassia answers the big questions: Was Detroit's self-destruction inevitable? What were the key turning points? Why did Japanese automakers manage American workers better than the American companies themselves did? He also describes dysfunctional corporate cultures (even as GM's market share plunged, the company continued business as usual) and Detroit's perverse system of "inverse layoffs" (which allowed union members to invoke seniority to avoid work). Along the way we meet Detroit's frustrated reformers and witness the wrenching decisions that Ford executives had to make to avoid GM's fate. Informed by Ingrassia's twenty-five years of experience covering the auto industry for The Wall Street Journal, and showing an appreciation for Detroit's profound influence on our country's society and culture, Crash Course is a uniquely American and deeply instructive story, one not to be missed.
     
American automobile advertising, 1930-1980 : an illustrated history
Heon Stevenson.
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2008.
  1. Includes bibliographical references (p. 255-257) and index.
  2. pt. 1. Fueling a fantasy. -- Igniting desire -- Fantasy by design -- "There's added joy in added cylinders" -- Pushbuttons and plastic tops -- pt. 2. Beyond mechanism. -- "Wouldn't it be nice to have an escape machine?" -- A neurosis unleashed -- "Plymouth - the car that likes to be compared" -- The objectivity factor -- "Remember how you hungered for it?" -- "There's a Ford in your future" -- "Lady, relax!" -- pt. 3. Reality supervenes. -- Justifying the indulgence -- The Sybarite's progress -- "Get more 'go' from every gallon!" -- Padding and prejudice -- From utility to suburban chic -- Back to basics -- Fantasy under siege.
     
Race against liberalism : black workers and the UAW in Detroit
David M. Lewis-Colman.
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c2008.
"Race against Liberalism: Black Workers and the UAW in Detroit examines how black workers' activism in Detroit shaped the racial politics of the labor movement and the white working class. Tracing substantive, long-standing disagreements between liberals and black workers who embraced autonomous race-based action, David M. Lewis-Colman shows how black autoworkers placed themselves at the center of Detroit's working-class politics and sought to forge a kind of working-class unity that accommodated their interests as African Americans."--BOOK JACKET.
     
Trust and power : consumers, the modern corporation, and the making of the United States automobile market
Sally H. Clarke.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007.
"Trust and Power argues that corporations have faced conflicts with the very consumers whose loyalty they sought. The book provides novel insights into the dialogue between modern corporations and consumers by examining automobiles during the 20th century."--BOOK JACKET.
     

J.D. Perry Lewis saw his first horseless carriage while visiting Paris in 1892. Upon his return to St. Louis he turned his brother's horse drawn buggy into the first electric vehicle to drive the streets. It was able to go up to speeds of eight miles per hour. In 1902 he was issued automobile license No. 1.

The St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. was the first auto factory to have a patent on its one-cylinder that had the motor, clutch, and transmission built as one unit. When the company moved in 1905, George P. Dorris stayed in St. Louis and the patent was transferred to his new company, Dorris Motor Car Company.

The Moon Motor Car Company, founded by Joseph W. Moon also started as a buggy company.  They had several models including one that had a radiator that looked like one on a Rolls Royce. It's best European type product The Prince of Windsor, was named for the Prince of Wales.

Over the years there have been over 100 vehicle makers in St. Louis. Thirty-one local manufacturers were operating within city limits between 1900 and 1929.

Russell E. Gardner Sr. started making banner buggies. He then worked manufacturing bodies for Chevrolet. By 1919 he became a multimillionaire by selling his franchise and started the Gardner Motor Car Company.  He built luxury cars with hydraulic brakes and front wheel drive.

The auto industry grew from the horse drawn carriage. These early contributions created the biggest boom for the present day automobile.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff