Reo Motor Car Company, often referred to as Reo Vehicles, was a significant American automobile and truck manufacturer that operated in the early to mid-20th century. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1905, after he left the Olds Motor Works (originator of the Oldsmobile).
Key aspects of Reo's history include:
Foundation by Ransom E. Olds: Ransom E. Olds, after whom the company was named (Reo being a phonetic spelling of his initials R.E.O.), was an automotive industry pioneer. He founded Reo in Lansing, Michigan, following his departure from Oldsmobile.
Early Success and Diverse Production: Reo initially enjoyed success in the automotive market, producing cars, trucks, and buses. During its peak years, Reo was one of the more well-known automotive companies in the United States.
Innovative Designs and Models: Reo was known for producing a range of vehicles, including the Reo Flying Cloud, a well-regarded passenger car, and the Reo Speed Wagon, a light motor truck that was very popular and versatile. The Speed Wagon's name would later become iconic, influencing the name of the rock band REO Speedwagon.
Impact of the Great Depression: Like many other companies, Reo was hit hard by the Great Depression. Although it attempted to survive through diversification and innovation, including the introduction of new models, the company struggled financially during this period.
Transition to Truck Manufacturing: In the 1930s, facing dwindling car sales, Reo shifted its focus more towards trucks and commercial vehicles. This move helped the company to stay afloat but marked the end of its era as a car manufacturer.
Decline and Closure: After World War II, Reo continued to struggle and underwent several ownership changes. The company eventually ceased producing automobiles and focused solely on trucks until it was purchased by the White Motor Company in 1957. Truck production under the Reo brand name continued for a few more years, but by the early 1970s, the Reo name was discontinued.
Legacy: Reo is remembered today for its contributions to early automotive engineering and design, particularly for its trucks. The company's legacy is carried on by collectors and enthusiasts who preserve and celebrate the history of Reo vehicles.
The story of Reo Motor Car Company is an essential part of the history of the American automotive industry, reflecting both the innovative spirit of the early 20th century and the challenges faced by independent manufacturers in a rapidly evolving market.
1936 Basf Reo Paint Chart
Gargoyle Gray Code 534
Tokay Maroon Code 401
Mello Cream Code 533
Reo Blue Code 535
Tournament Blue Code 532