The REO Speed Wagon (alternatively Reo Speedwagon) was a light motor truck manufactured by REO Motor Car Company. It was an ancestor of the pickup truck.
First introduced in 1915, production continued through at least 1953 and led to REO being one of the better known manufacturers of commercial vehicles prior to World War II. Although the basic design and styling of the chassis remained consistent, the Speed Wagon was manufactured in a variety of configurations (pickup and panel truck, passenger bus) to serve as delivery, tow, dump, and fire trucks as well as hearses and ambulances. Other manufacturers provided refits for adapting the Speed Wagon for specialized purposes. The Speed Wagon used REO's "Gold Crown" series of engines and was well regarded for power, durability, and quality.
While REO produced some wagons based on its automobile chassis (the Model H) starting in 1908 and had organized a division to produce trucks in 1910 with success, the Speed Wagon's introduction in 1915 was a significant step and a sales success. The company was soon offering a variety of Speed Wagon models with many options and by 1925 had produced 125,000.
After years of roughly equal car and truck emphasis, REO shifted its focus completely to trucks, ending automobile production in 1936. Production for the civilian market was suspended during World War II, resuming in 1946
REO was initiated by Ransom E. Olds during August 1904. Olds had 52 percent of the stock and the titles of president and general manager. To ensure a reliable supply of parts, he organized a number of subsidiary firms like the National Coil Company, the Michigan Screw Company, and the Atlas Drop Forge Company.
Originally the company was to be called "R. E. Olds Motor Car Company," but the owner of Olds' previous company, then called Olds Motor Works, objected and threatened legal action on the grounds of likely confusion of names by consumers.Olds then changed the name to his initials. Olds Motor Works soon adopted the popular name of its vehicles, Oldsmobile (which, along with Buick and Cadillac, became the founding division of General Motors Corporation).
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