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Old 29-11-05, 17:33
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Default REO Records

While trying to find the WWII archives of the Diamond T company I cam across the archives of the REO company. These are held at Michigan State University. They have 283 volumes of files. To contact MSU Archives & Historical Collections call 517-355-2330

File list;


169 cu. ft.; 283 vols.

Copyright: Michigan State University

Property Rights: Michigan State University

Acc. No.: 2400, 2612, 1617, HC 55, HC 139, HC 391, HC 572

Donors: Allan H. Wright, Marvin Weeks, C.H. Giersbrook, Rajee Tobia, John P. Hoschek


Both the beginning and end of the REO company occurred amid controversy. The firm was incorporated on August 16, 1904 by R.E. Olds and other investors as the R.E. Olds Company. It quickly passed through several name changes and permutations. On May 30, 1975 the firm, then known as Diamond REO Trucks, Inc., filed for bankruptcy.

Ransom Eli Olds, founder of the Olds Motor Works (now the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors), was forced out of that firm in 1902. Two years later, Olds and other investors formed the R.E. Olds Co. to manufacture automobiles. Following a legal threat from the Olds Motor Works, the R.E. Olds Company’s name was changed to the REO Car Company (which later became the REO Motor Car Company).

On October 8, 1910 the investors also formed the REO Motor Truck Company to manufacture trucks, eventually known as “speedwagons.” This firm was combined with the REO Motor Car Company on September 29, 1916. During 1919 the firm sold more trucks than cars for the first time, and continued to do so until 1936. In that year car production was halted due to losses from declining sales which were caused by the Great Depression.

The firm was reorganized in 1938 as REO Motors, Inc. with the aid of a $2 million loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). Military contracts during World War II allowed the new firm to record modest gains. With the end of the war, these contracts ended and the gains became drastic losses. In 1946 lawnmower production was added in an effort to boost sales. Several years later Pal Aluminum Products (makers of swingsets and tricycles) were purchased for the same reason.

A $5.7 million RFC five-year loan was taken out by the company on January 18, 1949, to cover losses as well as the principle of the first RFC loan. This second RFC loan was paid in 1951 with a $9 million Victory-loan (V-loan). The V-loan and government contracts resulting from the Korean War enabled REO Motors to show its first sales level better than the 1944 network was not capable of selling the output without these contracts to the majority stockholders decided to sell the firm.

During May of 1954, C. Russell Feldmann of Henney Motor Co. obtained an assignment to REO Motor Co. for the purpose of combining it with another truck manufacturer, Diamond T. (Diamond T made excellent cabs while the REO Gold Cornet Engine was the best available at the time.) On the 29th of October Feldmann sold the assignment to Bohn Aluminum & Brass Corp. of Detroit, Michigan. At the end of 1954, to expedite this transfer, all the assets of REO Motors, Inc. (except cash and unsecured account receivable) were sold to REO Holding Company. REO Holding Company (having the same shareholders as REO Motors Inc.) completed the transfer by mid-1955, and was in the process of liquidation when it was taken over by a group of minority shareholders, who renamed it the Nuclear Corporation of America. The cash assets and unsecured accounts receivable were transferred to REO of Delaware, a holding company two-thirds owned by Bohn Aluminum. REO of Delaware saw to the resolution of these financial assets and liabilities. Nuclear Corp. then brought an unsuccessful suit against REO of Delaware and Bohn Aluminum to halt dissolution.

During this period, Bohn Aluminum also gained control of Diamond T trucks and combined the assets of the two truck companies into one division. This combination was sold to White Motors in 1957 and became the Diamond REO Truck Division of White Motors.

Data on other REO firms included in this collection:

REO Holding Co., (Lansing), 1954-1955 - Sold plant to Bohn Aluminum
REO Kull Car Co. (Oklahoma), 1927-(?) - Sales agent, sales financier
REO Motor Car Co. (Lansing), 1905-1938 - Manufacturer
REO Motor Car Co. of Canada, Ltd. 1908-1915(?) - Manufacturer
REO Motor Car Co. of Chicago, 1916-1930 - Sales agent
REO Motor Car Co. of Missouri, Inc., 1924-1930 - Sales agent
REO Motor Truck Co. (Lansing), 1910-1916 - Truck manufacturer, sold to REO Car Co.
REO Motors Ltd. (Britain) - Manufacturer
REO of Delaware (Lansing, incorporated in Delaware), 1954-1955 - Wound up financial affairs
of REO Motors, Inc.
REO Sales & Service, Inc., (Atlanta), 1926-1931 - Sales agent
REO Truck Leasing, Inc. (Lansing), 1952-1956 - Lessor
REO Truck Leasing, Ltd., (Canada), 1952-1954 - Lessor
Those who live by the sword will be shot by those of us who have progressed.
- M38A1, 67-07800, ex LETE
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