Indiana has a rich automotive history dating back before 1900. At one time Indianapolis contained more auto plants than any city in Michigan, including Detroit, and Indiana was ranked second after Michigan for automotive production. Hundreds of automobile, truck, and other vehicle producers claim Indiana as their home. Here are a few of those historical companies.
American car company, Auburn, made cars from 1900 to 1936, in its small namesake town. The car company evolved out of the Eckhart Carriage Company. It was sold from the Eckhart family to a group of Chicago investors who were then bought out by Errett Lobban Cord, who started the Cord automobile company.
Errett Lobban Cord started the Cord automobile company in Connersville. The Cord automobiles were produced in the Auburn Automobile Company factories in Auburn. Cord automobiles were known for their innovative designs including hidden headlights and front wheel drive. They were sold from 1929 through 1932 and after a short break came back again in 1936 and 1937.
The Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company Inc. produced automobiles from 1913 to 1937. Known for their bowtie style front bumper, Duesenberg automobiles—commonly referred to as “Duesy”— achieved racing success at races like the Indianapolis 500 and the French Grand Prix. Despite their success on the track, poor management overran the company and Duesenberg cars did not particularly sell well. Cord bought the company in 1926.
Studebaker was an active company from 1852 to 1967. They started as a manufacturing company producing wagons for farmers, miners, and the United States military. In 1902 they produced an electric vehicle and in 1904 they produced their first gasoline vehicle. Over the years they gained a reputation for quality and reliability. In 1954 they merged with Packard due to financial problems and eventually the company’s assembly line in South Bend came to a halt.
The Stutz Motor Company produced luxury vehicles from 1911 to 1935, then reemerged in 1968. Production stopped for good in 1995. Produced in what is now the Stutz Business Center in Indianapolis, the vehicles were known for their speed and enjoyed several years of racing fame. Running into financial problems in the 1930’s Stutz had to cease production. In 1968 the company was revived. The vehicles used many GM parts, but were once again focused at luxury car buyers. While the company enjoyed initial success, the cost of the vehicles was just too high for many people, costing well over $100,000 in the 1980’s. High costs and low sales caused the company to fade away yet again.