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Acme Motor Co.
Acme Motor Company, 1950-1955; Sterling, Illinois
 
Associated Builders
Acme Auto Body Service, 1940s-1950
     

Donald Schultz was the owner of a small Sterling, Illinois body shop located at 1818 North Locust St, in Sterling, Illinois. Sterling is located on the North side of Illinois' Rock River, directly across from Rock Falls, Illinois, the home of two slightly more famous coachbuilders.

Enlightened by some customers to the burgeoning market for low-priced funeral coaches, Schultz decided to build one for a customer using Pontiac's newly-introduced sedan delivery sometime in early 1950.

Sedan deliveries had always been popular with small businesses and had been used by firms such as the Shop of Siebert since the 1930s for budget-priced professional cars. The new 1950-54 GM units were ideally suited for conversion with their one-piece side-hinged rear door, blanked-in rear quarter panels and exceptionally low cost.

Their first unit featured a 156" wheelbase (a 36" stretch of the donor's 120" wheelbase) and was finished off as a landau funeral coach.

With the help of F. J. Cullins, Schultz formed the Acme Motor Co later that year. Sales manager David H. Erby put together an impressive catalog of limousine- and landau-style ambulances, funeral coaches,  combination cars, service car sand flower cars - all based on Pontiac's attractive sedan delivery.

The orders poured in and Acme soon leased space across the street at 1833-35 North Locust St. to fulfill the orders. In 1953 alone, Acme sold almost 90 coaches - an almost unbelievable number considering their small size and limited resources. Their attractive flower car featured Cadillac-style hood and fenders and included an expensive-looking stainless-steel flower deck with integral casket compartment. They even went so far as to apply Cadillac badges and trim to disguise it's humble Pontiac origins.

Unfortunately General Motors stopped building Pontiac sedan deliveries at the end of the 1953 model year and small professional car builders who relied on the low-priced donor vehicle were forced to switch to the much more expensive Pontiac station wagon or to the less-prestigious Chevrolet sedan delivery.

For reasons unknown, Acme was either unwilling or unable to procure any new Chevrolet sedan-deliveries during 1954 and closed their doors in 1955. GM's redesigned 1955 Chevrolets and Pontiacs probably played a significant factor in Acme's decision to close as new dies and tooling would have been required to produce the completely new 1955 models.

Only two Acme professional cars are known to exist today, the first a 1951 Pontiac landau funeral coach, the second, a 1953 Pontiac combination hearse/ambulance.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

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Pictures
 
   
 
   
 
References

The Professional Car Issue #100 Second Quarter 2001

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

   
 
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