REO is an acronym for Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of the Oldsmobile motor car company in 1896. After a disagreement with his directors, he sold his share of Oldsmobile and started his own company in late 1904 and began producing vehicles for the 1905 model year.
REO quickly became one of the most popular selling vehicles in America and became known for reliability and performance, and its sales were simulated by affordable pricing. From 1905 to 1910, REO produced one and two cylinder vehicles with either touring or roadster bodies. In 1911, they produced their first four-cylinder vehicle. REO built passenger cars in Lansing, Michigan until 1936 and commercial vehicles until the mid-1960s.
This 1906 REO is powered by a two-cylinder, sixteen horsepower engine which is actually mounted underneath the body. The vehicle is crank started from the side, unlike most vehicles with larger engines which were cranked from the front. The transmission is a two-speed, planetary transmission and final drive is provided via chain to the rear axle. The body has a demountable rear section which can be easily removed, thus converting the car to a two-passenger roadster.
Ransom Eli Olds was successful in selling his Curved Dash Oldsmobile, but when he resisted dropping it in favor of a more modern, expensive automobile he was forced out of his own company. Unable to use the Oldsmobile name, he started a new company using his initials.
In August of 1904, Ransom E. Olds founded the Reo Company. The REO Company manufactured automobiles and trucks from 1905 through 1936. In 1907, it was one of the top four automobile manufacturers in the United States, based on sales. After 1908, the demise of the REO Company began due to competition from Ford and General Motors.
The Depression and a courageous effort to offer vehicles in multiple price ranges ultimately led do the downfall of the company. The company was under the direction of Richard H. Scott from 1915 through 1933. The company was profitable from 1915 through 1925, but after 1933, Ransom Olds came out of retirement to get the company back on track. He resigned a year later and in 1936 the REO Company ceased production of automobiles.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2007
Sold for $275,000 at 2008 Gooding & Company.
Chassis #: 2354
Engine #: 2354
Many promotional tools were employed during the early days of the automobile, such as driving up the steps of teh state capital, traversing the untracked length of America in time trials, carried great loads, set speeding records, and even raced. Showmanship was a vital key to success, and Ransom E. Olds was one of the best in proving his vehicles reliable quality mechanisms and proving his vehicles were more than capable for the tasks at hand.
At the National Auto Show in New Yorks' Grand Central Palace in January of 1906, REO introduced their show-stopping Baby REO. It was a special project assigned By Ransom Eli Olds and his sales manager Ray Owen to the REO craftsmen. This group of individuals included patternmakers, machinists, mechanics, and experienced fitters.
The Baby REO was a one-eighth duplicate automobile of the REO Model A. It had a gasoline engine and was identical in every mechanical working part as its larger sibling. It copied every line, surface, function, and material of the Model A. The Baby REO captured headlines in nearly every major newspaper across the continent.
After the show, the Baby REO toured the country, visiting fairs, expositions, and auto shows. It made appearances at REO dealers and agent and attracted attention at every stop.
This 'midget car', as it was described, was powered by a two-cylinder horizontally opposed motor and had a detachable rear seat. The engine produced 18-20 horsepower and was entirely hand-built.
The car was later sold to the showmen at Barnum & Bailey Circus where it spent many years, appearing with featured acts like Tiny Tim, and the 'Lilliputians'. While in the circus, the car was modified to run on compressed air as a safety precaution as the vehicle operated while under a large, flammable big-top tent.
The car was lost for several years; a major search was embarked by the REO Motor Company in the mid-1930s. It was found in 1954, in the personal collection of Carl Hell, the REO truck distributor in Altoona, PA. It was in his shop from the 1930s. The car was featured in several automobile publications including Automotive Service Digest. It was put on display in the Henry Austin Clark's museum, and then put on display in the lobby of the office of ReO's controlling stockholder, R.L. Cappaert. It then became part of Dick Teague's collection.
In the 1990s, after Richard Teague's death, the car passed ownership to William Haines and the Haines Old car Barn in North Canton, Ohio.
In 2008, a 1906 REO Model A 16 horsepower Light Touring Car & 'Baby REO' were offered for sale by the Gooding & Company Auction at Pebble Beach, CA. They were estimated to sell for $350,000 - $500,000. As the gavel fell for the third and final time, the lot had been sold for $275,000 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2009