One of the lessor-known autos in the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is a 1920 Monroe Model S built by the William Small Company. This is the first Indianapolis-built Monroe I’ve ever seen.
In 1918, the Monroe Motor Company assets were purchased by the William Small Company, the former distributer of Monroe autos in Indianapolis.
Small then recruited Louis Chevrolet as a consulting engineer to work out design problems for the new Monroe at the Indianapolis Small facilities. This new Monroe sported a 35 horsepower, 4 cylinder Monroe engine. The 1920 Monroe Model S was available in either a five-passenger touring car or a two-passenger roadster.
In preparation of the Small entries for the 1920 Indianapolis 500-mile race, Chevrolet recruited Cornelius Van Ranst to help build seven race cars, four of them to campaigned under the Monroe name, and three as Frontenacs. Louis’ brother, Gaston Chevrolet, drove a Monroe to victory in the 500, which was the first win by an American car at the Brickyard since 1912.
Unfortunately, three months later, the William Small Company went into receivership. In January 1922, the Monroe assets were acquired by American Fletcher National Bank in Indianapolis. By June 1923, Premier Motor Corporation of Indianapolis obtained control of the Monroe Motor Company and produced cars for a short time.
I believe the brief story of the William Small Company adds rich details to Indiana automotive history and thank the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for sharing this car.
Be sure to visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit ending March 26, 2017, to see the gems of Indiana automotive production.