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Automobile Metal Co., Auto Metal Body Corp., All-Metal Co.
George Smith & Co. 1898-1910; George Smith Plumbing & Automobile Metal Co., 1910-1920; Auto Metal Body Corp. (aka Auto Body Co.), 1920-1924; All-Metal Co. 1923-1928; Springfield, Massachusetts
Associated Firms
Vehicle Metal Works, 1917-1936; Springfield, Massachusetts

The Auto Metal Body Corp. was another little-known Springfield, Massachusetts production body builder that is known to have supplied coachwork for Checker Cab and Hupmobile during the 1920s.

The firm’s history dates to February 1898 with the establishment of George Smith & Co., a Springfield plumbing and heating contractor.

The Smith family traces their American heritage back to William Smith, a British subject and early resident of Ipswich, Massachusetts, who is first mentioned in1653, when he and Robert Wallis rented the farm of William Goodhue.

George A. Smith, seven generations removed from his British ancestor, was born in Au Sable Forks, Clinton County, New York on February 17, 1867, to Henry and Margaret (Courtney) Smith.  

Henry Smith, the son of Luke and Serisa (Bloyd) Smith, was born in 1846, at Wilmington, New York. In 1866 he married Margaret Courtney in Au Sable Forks, New York and to the blessed union was born eleven children; George; Mary; Henry; Daniel; Joseph; William; Michael H.; Frances; Margaret; Luke; and John.

After a public education George A. Smith, our subject, moved to Springfield, Massachusetts and in 1888 became a plumber’s apprentice, working as a journeyman until February, 1898 when he established his own firm, George Smith & Co. at 140 Dwight Street, Springfield.

On September 22, 1894 George married Mary McCormick (b.1865) at Springfield and to the blessed union was born four children: Mary Edna; Lillian Katharine; Frances Veronica; and William Henry Smith.

He took an active interest in the affairs of his vocation, serving as president of the Master Plumbers' Association for two terms and vice-president and president of the State Association of Master Plumbers. Smith also took an active interest in local politics and in 1900-01 served as Ward Six’ representative on Springfield’s Common Council.

In 1910 George and his younger brother, Michael H. (b. Feb 1881 - married to Helen H.), a skilled tinsmith, began the manufacture of metal automobile bodies. A share of the firm’s success can be attributed to long-time employee Jeremiah J. Moynahan (b. 1875 in Ireland, emigrated in 1896) who had worked for the Smith brothers starting at the turn of the century.

George Smith & Co. relocated to 95 Dwight St. in the early 1900s and by 1908 had entered into the production of sheet steel components for local automobile dealers and manufacturers, relocating to a new facility located at 524 Worthington St., Springfield. The firm’s automobile business expanded and by 1910 was doing business as the Auto Metal Co. (aka Automobile Metal Co.), the enterprise being conducted next door (520 Worthington St.) to George Smith & Co.

Its listing in the 1910 Springfield Directory follows:

“Auto Metal Co., Michael H. Smith mgr., metal workers 520 Worthington.”

Its listing in the 1912 Springfield Directory indicates the firm had moved across the street from their old facility:

“Auto Metal Co., Michael H. Smith mgr., automobile body builders 531 Worthington.”

(The Springfield Commercial Body Co. was located a few blocks away at 367 Worthington St.)

The text from a display ad in the 1913 Springfield directory follows:

“The Pictures Tell Our Story

“The upper cut shows an old model machine, ungraceful in appearance, out-of-date in finish, a car that has served its time.

“The lower cut shows the same car after a short stay at our plant. It looks like a different car, and it is. The old body has been changed to a 1913 fore-door design. Equipped with a new radiator, windshield, lamps, and our rivetless guards, this car bids fair to compare with any 1913 machine on the market.

“Many automobiles bought a few years ago run as smoothly to-day as ever; perfect from a mechanical standpoint, but sadly out of style in appearance. Our service should interest the owners of such cars. What the accompanying illustrations show we have done for one owner, we can do for you. We will take your old car and change the body to the latest design and do it all within a reasonable charge. We also make a specialty of high grade painting.

“Call at our plant or write us for estimates on any of the above work or equipment.

“Auto Metal Company, 531 Worthington St., Springfield, Mass.”

In 1914 George A. Smith’s two firms were reorganized as the George Smith Plumbing & Automobile Metal Co., the May 2, 1914 issue of Domestic Engineering reporting:

“Springfield, Mass. — The George Smith Plumbing & Automobile Metal Co., of this city, has been incorporated with a capital of $50,000. The incorporators are: George Smith, Jeremiah J. Moynahan and Michael H. Smith, all of this city.”

Its listing in the 1915 Springfield Directory follows:

"Geo. Smith Plumbing and Auto Metal Co., Inc. 531 WORTHINGTON ST. SPRINGFIELD, MASS. Telephone Phone 2215"

By 1916 the firm’s plumbing business was discontinued and all of its efforts were concentrated on automobile coachwork and refinishing. One advertisement lists Michael H. Smith as president and manager, and George Smith, secretary and treasurer although the 1916 Springfield Directory lists Jeremiah J. Moynahan as president.

The June 2, 1917 issue of Domestic Engineering reported on a gas explosion at the firm’s Worthington St. facility:

“One man was killed and another seriously injured in a fire at the plant of the George Smith Plumbing and Automobile Metal Co., at Springfield on May 24th. The fire, for which two alarms were sounded, is believed to have been due to a gas explosion and caused several thousand dollars damage. The loss is covered by insurance.”

The presumed fallout over the explosion caused a parting of the ways between Moynahan and the Smith brothers, with the former creating a competing firm, the Vehicle Metal Works, with a pair of former Smith employees (Peter W. White & Peter Rivers), their listing in the 1918 Springfield Directory follows:

“The Vehicle Metal Works, automobile body builders and repairers; 265-267 Summer St.; Peter White; Peter Rivers; Jeremiah J. Moynahan (treasurer).”

Peter W. White (b. 1878 in Canada, emigrated in 1892, his wife Euphemia) was previously a foreman at the Auto Metal Co. and Peter A. Rivers (b. in 1880 in Quebec, his wife named Laura), was a skilled carpenter.

1918 and 1920 Springfield Directories list Jeremiah J. Moynahan as:

“Treasurer, The Vehicle Metal Works, automobile body builders and repairers; 265-267 Summer St.”

Although the firm remained in business into the mind-thirties as ‘repairers and builders of automobile bodies’ I could locate no further details as to who their customers were and if they worked with any automobile manufacturers.

A 1920 issue of Industry Week reported that the Smith brothers had founded a new firm to manufacture closed automobile bodies:

“SPRINGFIELD, MASS.— The Auto Metal Body Corp. has been incorporated to make automobile bodies with $300,000 capital by George Smith, Michael H. Smith and E. M. Smith.”

The firm’s listing in the Chilton directory follows:

“AUTO METAL BODY CORP. (Closed auto bodies) Gen. Offices, Springfield, Mass.”

The December 22, 1921 issue of The Automobile mentions that the firm was producing bodies for Hupmobile:

“Auto Metal Body Corp., Springfield. Mass., is operating its plant at full capacity to fill rush orders for bodies for Hupmobile cars.”

The February 1922 issue of Motor Record corroborates the preceding news item as follows:

“Auto Metal Body Corp., Springfield, Mass., is operating its plant at full capacity to fill rush orders for bodies for Hupmobile cars.”

Increased sales of the 1922 Hupmobile from an initial estimate of 10,000 to an actual 20,000 caused a shortfall in the supply of closed bodies which were normally supplied by H&M Body Corp., the firm’s captive body builder. Demand far exceeded the Milwaukee factory’s capacity so outside suppliers were sought out, with the Auto Metal Body Corp. awarded a contract to supply closed bodies on an as need basis.

The Men of Industry column in the January 5, 1922 issue of The Automobile briefly mentions the firm in a review of Springfield’s auto body builders:

“Springfield Body Works Planning for Expansion

“SPRINGFIELD, MASS., Jan. 3-Production of automobile bodies has entered upon a period of expansion in this district.

“The Auto Metal Body Corp., building Hupmobile bodies, plans an early enlargement of its plant.

“The All-Metals Co. is negotiating for a building in which to engage in the systematic manufacture of bodies.

“Springfield Coach Works has bought the land and buildings on which its factory is located, and in the near future will erect a structure specially adapted to its needs.

“Smith-Springfield Body Corp. is being operated at its full capacity of 250 employees. This concern is getting an increased number of orders for bodies for foreign cars, a trade lately revived after being interrupted by the war.”

Another body building enterprise formed to help fill the Hupp Motor Co. contract by the Smith brothers, the All-Metal Co., 337 Worthington St., Springfield, was headed by Michael H. Smith, Adolph G. Miller and Walter H. McCarthy. It’s listing in the 1923 Springfield Directory follows:

“All-Metal Co., 690 Worthington St.”

The founding of the firm was also mentioned in a concurrent issue of Iron Trade Review:

"SPRINGFIELD, MASS.— All Metal Co., Inc., has been organized by Adolph G. Miller, Michael H. Smith and Walter H. McCarthy."

The 1923 Springfield Directory lists a second address for Auto Metal Body Corp., Columbia Terrace, which was located adjacent to the main line of the Boston and Albany Railroad (B.&A.R.R.):

“Auto Metal Body Corp., Auto Body Builders, 521 Worthington branch Columbia Ter.”

A 1923 issue of American Machinist mentions a contract with Checker Cab although further details are lacking:

“The Auto Metal Body Corp., Springfield, Mass., has taken a contract to produce bodies for the Checker Cab Co., New York and Chicago.”

With the exception of Rolls-Royce of America, automobile manufacturing in and around Springfield ceased in the second half of the 1920s and the city’s numerous automobile body builders either went out of business or became automobile refinishing and collision facilities. Moynahan’s Vehicle Metal Works enjoyed some success in the field although the Smith brothers withdrew from the automobile body business entirely. Later Springfield directories list Michael H. Smith as proprietor of the Union Casket Hardware Co., 32 Hampden St., Springfield and George A. Smith as proprietor of the Springfield 'auto laundry'.

© 2012 Mark Theobald -







Bill Cuthbert – The Hupmobile Story; From Beginning To End, pub. 2004

James Eaton Tower (Editor) - Springfield Present and Prospective, pub. 1905

Western New England Magazine Vol 3, No. 1, January, 1913 issue

Keith Marvin - Arthur Lee Holman - The Cars of 1923

Jason Goodwin - Otis: Giving Rise to the Modern City

William Richard Cutter - Encyclopedia of Massachusetts; Vol. 12, pub. 1921

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

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