1911 REO Express Delivery
Engine no. 900
2-Speed planetary transmission
Double-chain drive rear axle
2-Wheel mechanical brakes
*Charming and fun
*Extensive recent service work
*Starts easily and runs great
*Nice small-sized commercial vehicle
The REO Express Delivery
Ransom Olds left Olds Motor Works in a dispute with the mercantilist Smith family over product plans. Olds thought the economical, reliable, simple automobile offered the best chance of market success. The Smiths saw bigger unit profits in luxury automobiles along with less capital investment and management complexity.
The Smiths owned more of Olds Motor Works than its founder, though, and followed their own inclination. Olds departed reasonably well compensated, leaving the sassy little Curved Dash, and his name, behind. But not for long.
In only a few months Olds formed the R.E. Olds Company in Oldsmobile's home city, Lansing, to manufacture an updated version of a low-priced automobile. His former partners reminded him that his name, at least applied to automobiles, now belonged to Olds Motor Works. Olds countered by using his initials, REO, and making sure everyone know what they represented.
The first REOs were two-cylinder runabouts which Olds designated as the Model B with obvious reference to an earlier model he'd left behind at Oldsmobile. The 16hp twin was soon joined by a small, simple 7 1/2hp single competing directly with the Curved Dash.
The 8hp Model B had a single-cylinder motor mounted under the body floor driving through a 2-speed planetary gearbox and single chain drive to the rear axle. In a concession to contemporary design trends, the Model B's used a conventional-style hood with the brass radiator at its front. Priced at just $1,250 it offered exceptional value at the time, value which REO demonstrated with the stunts, tours and expeditions which Olds had used effectively to promote the Oldsmobile.
The Model B proved so rugged and practical it served as the basis for a commercial express truck. Through reduction gearing the single could be made to move a fairly sizable amount of weight.
The Motorcar Offered
This 1911 REO Express was likely one of the many such REOs built for the railroads, used primarily to move luggage and cargo along the platform where the single cylinder engine was more than sufficient.
This rare survivor has been part of a small private collection for the last six years or so. In that, it has received a good deal of work to allow for reliable road use. The engine recently had new valves and guides fitted as well as machine work to the cylinder. The car today starts easily and runs smoothly with its original REO bronze carburetor. The current owner has regularly attended his local "cruise night" with the REO turning lots of heads.
This REO is fun, charming and represents a seldom seen piece of motoring history. Well-kept and ready to enjoy, this is bound to bring great fun to its new owner.