Enid was once home to a successful car manufacturer along local hopes of being the second Detroit, according to automobile historian Bud Smith.

Smith, who is president of Liberty Federal Bank, told Enid Rotary Club Monday about the Geronimo, which was manufactured in Enid from 1917 until 1920.

It was a successful company until the factory was destroyed by fire in 1920, which put the company out of business.

William C. Allen formed the company in 1917 and initially sold $500,000 in stock, a fortune for that time. They began production of the car at 409 S. Grand and the building still has the Geronimo name on it.

There also is one Geronimo remaining, and it is owned by the Enid Region of the Antique Automobile Association of America, which restored the car after it was found in a Kansas pasture.

There were two models of the Geronimo built the 6A-45 and the 4A-40. The first had a six-cylinder 230 cubic inch Rutenberg engine that reportedly obtained 45 horsepower or a 55-horsepower six-cylinder engine. The second vehicle was a four-cylinder model with a Lycoming 166 cubic-inch engine that had 37 horsepower. The four-cylinder model sold for $895, and the six-cylinder model sold for $1,295.

Among the other features were a high-grade motor driven horn, a complete set of tools, a motor-driven tire pump hooked up to the transmission and the hose was enclosed in a compartment behind a small door under the fender.

Because of the popularity of the car, a new and larger plant was built on the “outskirts” of Enid at Cleveland and Oklahoma. The new plant was completed in the fall of 1917. The company purchased ready-made parts from specialty companies and assembled cars of their own design. At the January 1919 stockholders meeting, Allen was re-elected president and the company reported an additional $500,000 in stock sold for a total of $1 million.

Employment varied from 40 to about 125 during the peak times of the company. The plan turned out one car a day. They also manufactured cars for France under the name “Wing.”

By 1919 the price had also increased to $1,955 for one model. During the production, more than 600 Geronimos were manufactured and sold.

The plant burned on August 14, 1920, and insurance covered only $65,000 of the $250,000 loss and the Geronimo Motor Co. was out of business.

Allen sold everything to pay the bank, but managed to survive and eventually got into the gas business founding Allen Oil Co, a wholesale fuel company. He died in Enid in 1955 at the age of 80.

Smith believes most of the Geronimo cars in existence were sold during World War II for scrap metal and there did not seem to be any Geronimos left.

The Enid Chapter of the Antique Auto Club of America started looking for the remains of one, and in 1972, found a Geronimo in a pasture in LaCross, Kan. It had been in an open field for many years and was in poor condition. The manufacturer’s emblem was gone, but the car still could be identified.

“The wood framework had rotted, but the fenders, cowl and frame and radiator were with the car and in fairly good condition,” Smith said.

The car was returned to Enid where members of the club began a painstaking process of restoring the auto and now have it in running condition. The car is featured regularly in local historical events and parades.

No foundation has been created to care for the car, but Smith said there are a number of benefactors who contribute to its upkeep.

“Our reward is sharing this piece of Enid history at community events and with groups that come to Enid to see it,” he said.

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