Clayton & Lambert Mfg. Co. - 1882-1915 - Ypsilanti, Michigan - 1915-1970 - Detroit, Michigan


Body building from 1915-1929

In 1915 Clayton & Lambert established a metal stamping division for the manufacture of automotive parts. During World War I, they produced powder time fuses, truck cabs and large quantities of torches and firepots for all US services.

After the war, panel stamping resumed and as business was good they decided to hire the famous Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, to design a new plant to be located in the Conner Corridor nearby Hudson Motor Co., who was their main Detroit customer. The new Kahn-designed metal stamping plant, located along Devine St., W of Conner Ave., was erected in 1925 and was purchased by Hudson in 1929 to build the first all-steel bodies for Hudson's new 1930 Essex Coach.

The new Hudson plant produced hoods, fenders, body panels and die assemblies for the Hudson and Essex's safer, more durable all-metal cars. The plant was sold by American Motors Corp. in 1958 to Cadillac who continued to produce body stampings there until 1983.


In Ypsilanti, Michigan, in the year 1882, three young and aggressive brothers named Lambert started a pioneering venture - the manufacturing and sale of gasoline burning blow torches. Mechanics found the intense portable heat of these torches useful and time saving in the soldering of pipes, etc. As word spread about these new handy devices and the demand for them grew, the business flourished.

In 1887, a patented firepot for melting lead was added to the torch line. Its inventor, a Mr. Clayton, was taken into the partnership. Growth continued and in the year 1891, Clayton and Lambert Mfg. Co. filed Articles of Association with the state of Michigan.

By 1899, demand for the Company's products had increased beyond its productive capacity. A larger manufacturing facility was needed. Detroit was becoming the center of manufacturing for that section of the country and offered many advantages. A site with railroad facilities was purchased and a suitable plant was built. At this time, this location was in the center of a growing automotive industry, with neighbors like Ford, GM and Cadillac.

The torch and firepot business continued to grow and prosper with distribution throughout United States and Canada.

In 1915 the Company established a metal stamping division for the manufacture of automotive parts. During the World War I, the Company produced powder time fuses, truck cabs and large quantities of torches and firepots for all US services.

After the war times were good and business was booming. The metal stamping plant was sold to Hudson Motor Car Company. Clayton & Lambert now headed by Charles F. Lambert moved in to a new factory in 1929.

During the depression years, Clayton & Lambert managed to keep its torch and firepot business intact and continued search for additional business. At the start of World War II, a shortage of brass made it necessary to make cartridge cases out of steel and Clayton & Lambert was awarded a Navy contract to produce these at their plant in Detroit and at a new plant in Ashland, Kentucky. After the war the Navy decided to keep the production facilities for future need and purchased the Detroit plant.

Clayton & Lambert now decided to move their headquarters to Louisville, Kentucky and purchased an existing company, Hoffman Gas and Electric Water Heater Co. Subsequently, the torch production was moved from Detroit to the new facilities in Louisville, KY. Another company, Lamneck Company of Middletown, Ohio was also acquired.

During the Korean War, Clayton & Lambert produced millions of steel cases for Army and Navy requirements. At the Government's request they also designed a special flat tank torch that could fit in a Government tool kit.

In 1956, Clayton & Lambert purchased a six acre site at Buckner, Kentucky and started to build a new factory which was ready in 1957. The production of blow torches and firepots was moved to this new factory in 1961.

The production of gasoline torches and firepots was discontinued in 1970 because they had almost become extinct due to the use of plastics.



For more information please read:

A Few Leading Carriage Centers - The Hub, October 1897

Biographies of Prominent Carriage Draftsmen - Carriage Monthly, April 1904

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

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

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

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

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland


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