Tag Archives: Willys-Overland

Along Indianapolis’ Motor Row June 1911

To provide some context for motoring today, I would like to share some news along Indianapolis’ Motor Row in June 1911.

The Nordyke and Marmon Co. of Indianapolis appointed Paul Richey to take charge of the publicity department. Richey had previously worked in the Indianapolis Star advertising department.

1911 Marmon ad
1911 Marmon ad

A steel tank weighing nearly three tons fell from the roof of a new building under construction through the roof and floors of the Hearsey-Wills Co. showroom at 339 N. Capitol Avenue. Three new motor cars and accessories were wrecked at a total damage of about $10,000. Fortunately no one was injured.

About 200 Indianapolis manufacturers, wholesalers, and jobbers representing most of the local motor car companies planned a trade extension trip through southern Indiana on June 19 – 21. A special eight-car train was prepared for the trip.

1911 American Traveler
1911 American Traveler

Lew Ellingham, Indiana secretary of state reported that there were 2,435 motor vehicle registrations during May 1911, for a total of 4,035 registrations during April and May. The figures showed a gain of 595 over May 1910.

The Rapid Transit Motor Co. filed articles of incorporation with the secretary of state, showing a capitalization $150,000, to provide motor car omnibus service in Indianapolis. This new service was installed because of the condition of local street car service, which was usually regarded as inadequate with overcrowded cars, and the public seemingly was unable have any control of the situation.

Another organization announced bus service between Shelbyville and Edinburg via Nineveh. At the time, this was the longest of its kind in Indiana.

1911 Premier
1911 Premier

Robert H. Bryson, postmaster of Indianapolis, awarded a four-year contract to S. R. Hoffman, representing the Denver Rapid Transit Co., Denver Co., for collecting mail in Indianapolis. Hoffman submitted the only bid, asking $2,750 a year for each of three machines and drivers. The previous contract was held by the Willys-Overland Co., who did not bid on the new contract.

After reading these stories, it is interesting to note the growth of motoring and bus service. Vehicle registrations were growing, and motorized bus service was experiencing growing pains. Improvement of rural roads started later in the decade. We’ve come a long way today with modern highways and transportation systems.

For more information on Indiana rides & drives follow this link.

How shall I spend my vacation?

How shall I spend my vacation? The question in 1914 according to Joseph M. Block, secretary of the Gibson Automobile Company located on North Capitol Ave in Indianapolis, was settled once and for all. “Nearly everyone is independent of the railroads nowadays, and the first breath of spring no longer means the beginning of a long and arduous study of railroad and steamship folders”.

Automobiles relieved the vacationer from visions of long, hot and dusty rides in a stuffy railroad train to reach sometimes overcrowded summer places. When traveling by auto the vision was cool vistas, shaded country roads, green fields, hills and valleys.

1914 Overland
1914 Overland

“Every year, said Block who distributed the Willys-Overland automobile, thousands more Americans are taking vacations in a motor car, and enjoying every minute of them. They come back from those trips rested in mind and body, refreshed and gloriously healthy from open air touring.” Overland dealers reported a rush of orders for spring delivery, because patrons wanted their cars early so that they could prepare for a real vacation.

It’s interesting how the automobile provided new mobility for the common man over 100 years ago. Just imagine getting in a touring car and motoring out of the metropolis into the country side back then. With our modern highway systems we can readily jump in our car and in a short time be in the country. For many of us the automobile is our primary means of vacation travel. We don’t have to rely on public or commercial means of transportation.

1914 Marmon
1914 Marmon

We’ve come a long way in 100 years. It’s time to take the car on vacation.

For more information on Indiana rides & drives follow this link.