Dort Motor Car Company

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1922 Dort sedan, showing design features derived from a Rolls-Royce model, in the Gilmore Car Museum
1918 Dort sedan and sedanet
Certificate for shares in the Dort Motor Car Company

The Dort Motor Car Company of Flint, Michigan, built automobiles from 1915 to 1924.

In 1886, William Crapo "Billy" Durant and Josiah Dallas ("Dallas") Dort, as equal partners, established the Flint Road-Cart Company, later named the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. By 1900 it was the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles in the United States. In 1914, Durant sold out of the business and departed, amicably, to pursue his existing interests in General Motors. Dallas Dort and the remaining stockholders took over the carriage business, incorporated the Dort Motor Car Company, and used some of the same plant to manufacture Dort cars.[1][2]: 26 [note 1]

Dort's chief engineer, the Swiss mechanic Louis Chevrolet, together with noted French designer Étienne Planche, designed the company's product. Two models were launched in 1915 and 1916: both touring cars (i.e., open cars without a fixed roof) with a 4-cylinder, 17-horsepower (12.7-kilowatt) Lycombe engine. They quickly acquired a reputation for being reliable.[2]: 26  Demand became so strong – 9,000 cars in its first year[4] – that the company opened an extra factory 60 miles (100 kilometres) to the south of Flint, adjacent to Detroit at Windsor, in the Canadian province of Ontario.

In 1917, three more models were introduced: the Cloverleaf roadster[note 2] and two sedan (closed-in) models.

Dort's cars came at a premium: whereas Ford Model T cars were selling for $440 in 1915,[6] the Dort sedan sold in 1917 at $1,065; the convertible sedan at $815; the five-place open tourer at $695, and the roadster at $695.[7]

A coupé followed in 1918.[2]: 28  In the company's peak year, 1920, production was 30,000 cars. Subsequently, more luxurious models, including the Harvard and Yale, were introduced with design features derived from a Rolls-Royce model, and a six-cylinder car was produced in 1923.[2]: 28 

Dort had become the country's 13th largest automobile producer by 1920.[8] The company built new large factory on the east end of Flint; however, the post-World War I recession took hold at the same time. The company started bleeding cash and attempted to seek capital or a merger partner, neither of which eventuated; staff numbers were cut and expenses were curtailed.[8] By 1924, J. Dallas Dort was ready to retire, and liquidated the company.[2]: 28  The new factory building was sold to AC Spark Plug to manufacture carburetor air filters and fuel pumps.[9] Dort died while playing golf on May 17, 1925, aged 64.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Durant-Dort Carriage Company stopped manufacturing carriages in 1917 and was dissolved in 1924.[3]
  2. ^ At the time, the United States Society of Automobile Engineers defined a roadster as "an open car seating two or three. It may have additional seats on running boards or in rear deck."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Automobile News. Chicago Livestock World, 23 March 1916
  2. ^ a b c d e Naldrett, Alan (2016). Lost car companies of Detroit. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 9781625856494.
  3. ^ "Articles of Association, Genesee County". No. Record Group 81-50, Container V1-10. Lansing, Michigan. State of Michigan Archives. 1841–1935.
  4. ^ Wood, Edwin Orin (1916), History of Genesee County, Michigan: her people, industries and institutions, volume 1, Federal Publishers, p. 778, retrieved April 7, 2013
  5. ^ "What's What in Automobile Bodies Officially Determined" (pdf). The New York Times. New York, NY USA. Nomenclature Division, Society of Automobile Engineers. August 20, 1916. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  6. ^ Georgano, G. N. (1985). Cars: 1886–1930. Random House Value Publishing. ISBN 0517480735.
  7. ^ "Dort auto brochure, 1917". Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved 2022-02-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ a b Schafer, Robert G. (1986). J. Dallas Dort: Citizen Compleat. Flint, Michigan: University of Michigan-Flint Archives. p. 33.
  9. ^ "20 Feb 1925, Page 29 - Lansing State Journal at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Lansing State Journal. 20 February 1925.Paid subscription required subscription: the source is available for a free trial period before a paid subscription is required ("paywall").
  10. ^ Associated Press. "Pioneer auto maker is dead". Unknown. Retrieved 14 February 2022.

See also[edit]