Reo Fun in a ’17 Model M

Last week we talked about the beautiful Jaguar Mark VII we are in the midst of partially restoring. This week however, I’d like to take the time to talk about the 1917 REO Model M Touring car that we have in our shop.  The Reo Motor Company was based out of Lansing, Michigan and they produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 until 1975. The company was founded by Ransom Olds. Ransom Olds was an entrepreneur who founded various automobile companies and in 1897 he founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. In 1905 he left Oldsmobile and established a new company, the REO Motor Car Company. The company was originally to be called “The R.E. Olds Motor Company”, but upon facing legal action from the owner of Old’s prior company, Olds Motor Works, the name was changed to REO Motor Company. Early spellings of the name list it as REO, as later listings list it as Reo. The pronunciation however was always pronounced as one word, Reo.  The 1917 Reo Model M Touring vehicle was a four door seven passenger car.  It had a 5 litre engine that was naturally aspirated with an overhead inlet, side exhaust and  6 cylinders that produced 45 bhp of power at 1800 rpm. It was three-speed, rear wheeled drive with a carburetor fuel system.


The ’17 Reo Model M we’re working on in our shop is quite unique.  From The hand painted flowers on the door and fenders, down to the hand painted peace sign on the back. It has the original wooden wheels and the engine itself is in good shape.  Albert did a great job replacing the running boards as well as some miscellaneous body work. This Reo was purchased brand new in 1916 by the current owners great grand-father.  In 1935 he was going to junk it but his grandson, the current owners father, said no and took it under his wing for the mere price of $25.00.  Her mother and father drove it from that point on naming it “Joesphine”. Her father was the youngest professor at Toledo University and her mother was a nursing student.  At one point an article ran in the local newspaper that read “Oldest Car In University Parking Lot Operated By Youngest Faculty Member” Her mother and father were very active in racial equality and human rights in the 1940’s, this unfortunately lead to her father being accused of “communism” and being terminated from the university. Upon his termination the Reo was sold to a family friend. He owned the car for the next 15 years or so until they bought it back around 1967, the summer of love. The current owners sister outfitted it with a peace sign and flowers, and I think it’s safe to say their family got the last laugh; peace, love, equality and fine motor vehicles will always win.



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