The Walter M. Murphy Company was based in Pasadena, California and was one of the greatest coachbuilder of his era. Walter's family had made a fortune in the Michigan timber industry and his uncle, William, was an investor in Henry Ford's Detroit Automobile Company. Later, William was an investor in the Henry Ford Company and then its successor, Henry LeLand's Cadillac.
In the early 1900's, Walter moved to California and started a millwork company which evolved into a successful venture. He sold the company in 1916 and opened a luxury car dealership on South Hope Street in Los Angeles. The company sold mostly Simplex and Locomobiles during its early existence. Later, other marquee's such as Lincoln were added.
Unimpressed with some of the bodies being produced, he opened his own coach-works factory on North Vernon Street in Pasadena. The company's first designer was general manager George R. Fredericks.
The birth-place of the American automobile was in the Midwest and Northeast of the United States. The vehicles constructed reflected these changing climates and terrain. Murphy wanted a body that matched the Californian lifestyle. His creations were graceful yet sporty; fresh but well crafted.
The first body constructed by the Murphy Coachbuilding company went into the possession of Walter Murphy. The second went to Douglas Fairbanks.
Murphy Coachwork appeared on prominent marquee names such as Duesenberg, Mercedes-Benz, and Peerless, among others. The Walter M. Murphy Company created more bodies for the Duesenberg Model J than any other single coachbuilder.