Aug 26, 2005

Pope-Toledo: The Glass City's Entry Into Automaking

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Left: the former Pope Motor Car Company, then located at 960 West Central Avenue

In 1900, recognizing the trend toward motorized transportation, Toledo's American Bicycle Company converted its 249,000 square foot manufacturing facility to the production of automobiles. Reorganized as the International Motor Car Company, the firm in 1901 began to produce steam-powered vehicles named the "Toledo" and the "Winchester."

Pope switched to gasoline-powered engines in 1902, and the Pope-Toledo made its debut as the company's marquee product.

Left: a 1904 Pope-Toledo

A 1906 strike led by the plant's machinists idled the nearly 1,600 Pope workers, and was a contributing factor in the company's eventual demise in 1909. After going into receivership in 1907, the company never fully recovered, and the firm was purchased by Willys-Overland in 1910. By 1920, Willys-Overland had become the second-largest automaker in the United States, trailing only Ford.

These were the relatively humble beginnings of automobile production in Toledo, a tradition that continues into the 21st century.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool! Nice article.

Anonymous said...

I never knew there was a car named the Toledo.

Lisa Renee said...

I remember hearing about this from my great-grandfather. He owned one of their cars.

Thank you for another walk down memory lane.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I knew about the Pope and about a smaller plant near the south end of Erie St., but not about the Toledo, the Winchester, nor their connections to the Willys.

Thanks for the informative history lesson Mike!