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Ron42Dodge

Omaha Motor Car Company 1912 - 1913

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Has anyone run across one of these Omaha Motor Cars?

I've seen 2 photos of this car on this street. Yet I have never heard if one of these cars still exist.

There were so many car companies developing back then that they had to be like kit cars where you bought a lot of the drive train components and then created your own body. This might be a kit from Europe since the steering wheel is on the right hand side. I thought the picture might be reversed but the sign on the building in the background is Omaha Electric Light & Power Co.

This ad appeared in a May 9th, 1912 Motor Age Magazine.

The car company seemed to fail around the same time the devastating Tornado Struck Omaha on Easter Sunday in 1913. I don't know if there was any relationship to that event.

Anyone know any more details?

Edited by Ron42Dodge (see edit history)

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Hi Bob,

RHD was still popular with American cars up to the beginning of WW1.

According to the "Standard Catalog', the failure of the company had nothing to do with the tornado on Easter Sunday. It seems that the Omaha was typical of many such cars that were produced around this time - if they were unable to sell cars in their local geographic area, then they were doomed.

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Interesting topic.

I've been trying to locate this building in the back round on google maps and from what I understand the sections between 18th and 26th Street along Farnum were referred to as "Automobile Row" in it's heyday. The building in the back round looks similar to a structure located around the 2500 block of Farnum.

This is the kind of thing I would imagine the city accessor/historical records may have on file. Anyone live close to the Omaha area that loves to do detective work ? It may lend clues to some answers of this seemingly lost history of the Omaha Motor Car Co. I bet there is a way to find out what building was first owned by the Omaha Motor Car Co.

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)

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The letters in the window say "Omaha Electric Light & Power Co.". I have not been able to find an address for them back in 1912-13.

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I found the Building!!!!

This was taken on the South side of the Union Pacific Building Between 15th & 14th on Dodge Street (The Lincoln Highway). The building was demolished in 2008. I found a postcard that resembled the picture and further research confirms it. Especially the details of the old entrance on Dodge Street.

15th And Dodge St. View looking NEpost-40694-143142947512_thumb.jpg

15th & Dodge View before demolitionpost-40694-143142947508_thumb.jpg

The South Entry during demolitionpost-40694-143142947511_thumb.jpg

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I found some legal reports on the demise of the Omaha Motor Car Company. Their business was located at 4311 N 20th. North 20th is now Florence Boulevard. There is no building at that address and according to the Assessor's site the buildings around were built at later dates. There is a railroad siding where the address would be. I looked at a 1941 aerial of the area and the building seem to be the same now as back then. I don't know if the numbering system was ever adjusted as the city grew so I could be off with the location. When the company closed they had 6 finished cars and several unfinished cars in inventory. Not sure what ever happened to the cars from there.

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Wow, that's some great detective work Ron, it's definitely the same building entrance...

This is the kind of stuff that I'm surprised more local folks don't get involved with to avoid the history being lost for good. Hopefully you'll find some other locals who are willing to join you in your search for more answers.

Again, nice work. Keep it up and keep us informed as you find more info.

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So I did some more looking. The Omaha Motor Car Company was temporarily operating in the Stoud Machine Company Building, also known as Stound Machine Works of Omaha, while they were going to build their new 2 story building next door. This Stoud Machine Building was said to be at 20th & Ames. The bankruptcy summary does not list a building as an asset and there are no 2 story buildings in this area, so the building probably never happened.

The building on the SE corner of 20th and Ames is Addressed 2411 N 20th (Florence Blvd) The bankruptcy summary in the automobile magazines lists the Omaha Motor Car Company address as 2311. Could be a typo.

The Omaha Assessors office indicates the existing building was built in 1935 although it resembles an earlier age building. After the Omaha Motor Car Company closed, the Nichols-Rice Company seems to have come to life at 20th & Ames. Nichols-Rice Motor Co. Incorporated in 1917 with Neal W. Nichols, Charles H. Rice and R. E. Hemming at the helm. The C.E. Paulson Motor Company Bought the Nichols-Rice Motor Co. in July of 1919. C.E. Paulson was a Ford Dealer.

The building that is there resembles an old dealership with a small showroom. The property was replatted in 1923 into smaller lots although the lot on the corner remain a decent size.

This might be the building the Omaha Motor Car Company used and the remaining inventory may have been taken over by Nichols-Rice. Its a reach.

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Maybe some of the 6 finished cars are still in/near Omaha. With 6 made, I doubt they've gotten too far from the main office...

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I found this short summary in an October 2, 1913 Motor World Publication. It does show the address as 4311 N 20th. The building picture I uploaded is 4411 N 20th on the corner of 20th & Ames. Interesting, there is no 4300 block in that area on todays Assessor's site. Goes from 4200 numbers to 4400 numbers. The Omaha Auto Top Company was one of the creditors as well as Walter Moise. Maybe the Auto Top Company was paid in cars. I have tried talking with some of the Historical Society folks in Omaha but nobody seems to know.

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I found this second short summary in an Oct 1, 1913 The Horseless Age Publication. It shows the address as 4211 N 20th which is 2 blocks from Ames. Aerials from the 40s show established houses at that spot. The closest building is 4225 which is said to be built in 1926. Time for more research.

Edited by Ron42Dodge (see edit history)

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Quick summary

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February 26, 1912 the company was introduced to the world.

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An ad for the car in April

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By July there is already a power struggle going on and this summary was put out on Sept 26, 1912

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Then on March 23, 1913, Easter Sunday, a large tornado swept through Omaha leaving death and destruction. The storm reeked havoc on much of the Midwest. The path of the storm came within a few blocks of the Omaha Motor Company. Although it appears that the business was not directly hit, based on this article, the economies of Nebraska and Iowa were going to get hit the hardest due to the few industries in those states.

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But in the bankruptcy Asset summary printed in October of 1913 the cars were listed as an asset and W.L. Huffman was one of the creditors.

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Between the legal proceedings which froze the sale of cars and the damage to the economy from the storms (people were focused on rebuilding their homes and businesses, not buying cars), the company did not survive. It looks as though W. L. Huffman may have taken the cars as payment in June of 1914.

The quest to find their building continues.

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Edited by Ron42Dodge (see edit history)

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WOW ! That is incredible research work. I can tell you really enjoy this sort of thing Ron and you're very good at it too...

If you ever come across a McConnel Motor Company Inc. out of Pittsfield MA dated 1927-1932 I'd be very interested in any information you find.

When it comes to the Omaha Motor Car Company it sounds like there may have been two reasons for it's demise, the storm and the legal issue with a $85 check ? Is that correct ? Hard to see some of that print but thanks for posting it.... very interesting topic

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)

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I think the $85 check and the power struggle started the ball rolling. Legal battles froze the assets so they could not sell any cars. And about the time they were getting those resolved, Omaha was nailed by a massive tornado on Easter Sunday of 1913. The one article suggested that Iowa and Nebraska's economies would be hit harder from the storms than states that had industrial based economies. The next few months were probably focusing on repair of homes and businesses. I suspect the Omaha Motor Car could not pay their bills due to the 1, 2 punch and ended up un bankruptcy a few months later.

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I did a little more looking and W.L. Huffman was a auto dealership in Lincoln, Nebraska. He sold Hupmobile, Chandler and Detroit Electric cars and probably others. (a couple of pictures from the Townsend Studio) As I recall he was listed as investing $8000 to the Omaha Motor Car Company, probably for the purchase of some of the first cars. Maybe he took the cars because he had the means to sell them.

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There was an ad in the American Contractor magazine for the W.L. Huffman Automobile Company looking for bids to Remodel a 75' x 132', 2 story plus a basement Garage located at 1814 to 1818 Farnam Street in Omaha. The Ad was in the January 25, 1913 edition so they were trying to get established in Omaha. So whether the cars stayed in Omaha or went to Lincoln or both is still up in the air. This building has been long gone.

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In 1917 A Hupmobile Sales building was established 7 blocks west at 2523 Farnam which is where auto row developed. I don't know if W.L. Huffman built this or not. This building is still there.

I also noticed W. L. Huffman of Omaha purchased the old Sun Motor Car Plant and started the Huffman Brothers Motor Company in Elkhart Indiana in 1919.

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Edited by Ron42Dodge (see edit history)

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Small coincidence, I found this ad for W. L. Huffman in the May 31st, 1914 Omaha Sunday Bee Newspaper. It shows they did occupy the garage they advertised for remodel bids.

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One the same page was a tiny article indicating the Omaha Motor Cars were finally being released to W. L. Huffman after being tied up in litigation. So June 1st, 1914 was the first day they were available for sale.

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Another ad that day

Edited by Ron42Dodge (see edit history)

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