1893-1921 Murphy,Carter,Durant


    Credits:
    “Pontiac! They Build Excitement, The Story of an American Automobile Company, 1926-1992”
    by Thomas E. Bonsall.

  • 1893- Edward M. Murphy establishes the Pontiac Buggy Company in Pontiac, Michigan and produces horse drawn carriages through 1906.
  • 1899- The Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works is incorporated by Albert North and Henry Hamilton in Pontiac, Michigan. They build the first Pontiac Car between 1907-1908.
  • August 28, 1907- Murphy incorporates the Oakland Motor Car Company, an offshoot of his Pontiac Buggy Company with a capitalization of $200,000. Murphy chooses the name Oakland for his car venture, located in the city of Pontiac and county of Oakland, Michigan, because cross-town rival Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works already was making a high-wheel motor wagon under the Pontiac name. 50,000 square feet of space was set aside in his buggy manufacturing operations to build cars.
  • 1908- Byron Carter, owner of the Cartercar Company, purchases Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works. Carter moves his manufacturing operations from Detroit to Pontiac. Production of the “Pontiac” nameplate automobile is discontinued. Approximately 50 cars are believed to have been produced using the Pontiac name, but only four still exist today.
  • 1908- Murphy forms a partnership with Alanson Brush. Brush had just resigned from Cadillac when it came under control of Henry Leland who rejected Brush’s engine design.
    The first Oakland cars are produced with the unusual Brush designed two cylinder vertical engine, which rotated counterclockwise. The Oakland car was produced as a Roadster and Touring Car that sold for about $1,300. The Brush 152 CID two cylinder engine car was equipped with a planetary three speed transmission. The engines worked fine but only 278 cars were built in 1908.
    The brief Murphy-Brush partnership ended when Brush left to start the Brush Motor Car Company with Frank Brisco. Brush left Murphy with a somewhat unsuccessful automobile.
  • 1908- Byron Carter dies of pneumonia/gangrene shortly after being struck in the jaw by a hand crank while helping a stranded Cadillac motorist on the Belle Isle bridge near Detroit. Byron’s death prompted his friend Henry Leland, founder of Cadillac Motor Car Company and later Lincoln, to request Charles Kettering of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (later to become DELCO of GM) in Dayton Ohio, to develop the automotive electric starter motor. Kettering’s “self-starter” was first installed on the 1912 Cadillac.
  • 1909- Murphy decides to replace the Brush two cylinder engine with a conventional 40 horsepower four cylinder engine – the 1909 Model K. However, he needs financing to make this new model.
  • January 1909- Murphy sells 50% interest in his Oakland Motor Car Company to William Durant, who the year before created General Motors Company, a holding company consisting of automobile manufacturers and automobile parts producers. The sale was an exchange of Oakland Motor Company stock for General Motors stock. Durant and Murphy were old acquaintances and Durant valued Murphy for his entrepreneurial/managerial talents and abilities. Also, in 1909 Durant purchases Cartercar Company.
  • 1909- Edward Murphy dies suddenly in the summer of 1909. He was 44 years old. A few months later Durant purchases Murphy’s 50% stock in Oakland Motor Company for General Motors Company. Murphy’s Model K automobile was a success, selling 1,035 cars in 1909.
  • 1910- Billy Durant becomes financially overextended by purchasing car and parts companies on borrowed money. He is forced by bankers to resign from General Motors. Oakland production rises to 4,000 cars.
  • 1913- By 1913 Oakland production rises to 8,600 cars.
  • 1915- GM Board of Directors decides to discontinue production of the Cartercar automobile and give the Cartercar factory space to Oakland Motors. This decision was made because sales never approached the annual 1,000-2,000 units that Durant had predicted.
  • 1915- Billy Durant regains control of General Motors through a stock proxy fight by exchanging his newly formed company, Chevrolet, stock for GM stock. Oakland Motor Car Company offers a V8 engine.
  • 1916- Mr. Fred W. Warner becomes president of Oakland and the rapid growth continues. Sales soar to 27, 000 cars in 1916.
  • 1917- Oakland introduces the Model 34 which proves to be very popular and production climbs to 35,000 cars.
  • 1918- Billy Durant loses control of General Motors for a second and final time. Alfred P. Sloan is appointed to lead General Motors Corp.
  • 1919- In this boom year, 52,000 Oakland cars were produced.
  • 1920- The depression of 1920 saw Oakland car production decline. Mr. George Hannum replaces Mr. Warner as president of Oakland.
  • 1921- Oakland production fell to just 11,852 cars this year. Additionally, manufacturing efficiency was declining and the Oakland automobile needed upgrading and a new engine to be competitive in the market place.


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