Best-known today as the production body
builder of the short-lived 1919-1921 Skelton automobile, the Mueck
Automobile Body Co. later gained prominence as a specialist in the
resotration of antique automobiles.
The firm was founded by Frank J. Mueck, an
who was born in 1880. The St Louis Chamber of Commerce lists Frank J.
a member starting in 1913, although the firm wasn’t incorporated until
1917, the recent incorporations column of the August 11, 1917 issue of
Automobile Topics reporting:
"The Mueck Automobile Body
Louis. To manufacture vehicle bodies of all kinds. Capital $3,000.
Incorporators: Frank J. Mueck, J. Hoeppel and William
The firm’s factory was located on the
western end of the
city of St Louis at 4325-4329 Papin St. which is located adjacent to US
near the Tower Grove Ave. overpass.
Frank J. Mueck served as
president; William Hoeppel
(aka Happel), vice-president and Charles W. Hoeppel (Happel)
Business was such that the firm increased
their capital to
$40,000 as reported in the October 6, 1919 issue of Lumber
"St. Louis— Mueck Auto Body Co.
capital from $3,000 to $40,000."
The 'Body Builders' column of the December
1919 issue of The
Automotive Manufacturer reported on the details:
"Mueck Auto Body Co., St. Louis, for the
third time in
three years, has found it necessary to enlarge Its plant. A steadily
demand for special bodies for passenger cars has influenced the company
erect an addition to its plant, two stories high, on a plot 55 x 75 ft.
the company s recent work has been the building of bodies for the new
car to be produced by the St. Louis Car Co. in that city."
The passenger car the article referred to
was the 1920-1921
Skelton, an mid-priced touring car produced by the St. Louis Car Co.
wealthy Okmulgee, Oklahoma millionaire, Dr. L. Sherman Skelton
Skelton had been a practicing Indiana
physician until he
moved to Oklahoma for his health in 1893 and started investing in the
oil and gas industry. The investment paid off, and he subsequently
into the glass, brick and cement business.
In the middle-teens Skelton became
interested in the
automobile business and made a number of investments in the retail
were managed by W.A. Chapman, a former Dort executive. A similar
was made in San Francisco where J.W. Frawley fronted a Skelton-backed
group, the Leach-Frawley, and Frawley Motor Co. which were
at 1417 Van Ness Ave.
Skelton provided the financing for the Los
Leach Motor Car Co. a small producer of bespoke touring cars founded by
Leach in 1916.
In 1917 the Leach Motor Car Co. bought out
the English Motor
Car Company, the Los Angeles King distributor, and soon afterwards
Liberty and Premier automobiles to the Skelton stable. Skelton liked
Premier so much that in 1919 he purchased a controlling interest in the
In late 1919 Skelton introduced his own
Skelton, which was designed by Reed & Glaser of Indianapolis and
under contract by the St. Louis Car Co. in the firm’s Baden St. (#5)
using coachwork supplied by Mueck. Production ended soon after Skelton
away in 1921 leaving the St. Louis Car Company $2 million in the hole.
In 1923 Frank J. Mueck received US Patent
number 1459740 for
a vehicle body which is pictured herein. (US Pat. 1459740 - Filed Sep
- Issued Jun 26, 1923)
In 1925 - Mueck Auto Body Co. received
a US trademark
for 'The Mueco System' and 'Mueco Auto Body Finish'. The system and
were likely modeled after the recently introduced DuPont system.
The following classified ad appeared in a
1935 St Louis
"WRECKED AUTOS REBUILT A COMPLETE SERVICE
REPAIRING PAINTING & TRIMMING UPHOLSTERING SEAT COVERS GLASS
(Safety & Plate) MUECK AUTO BODY CO. 4329 W. Papin (Cor.
The Friday May 10, 1940 issue of the St.
Monitor included the following testimonial:
"MUECK AUTO BODY - Over 25 Years of
in Body and Fender Repairing
"This well-known firm of skilled body
repairers is located at 4329 W. Papin in St. Louis, and long ago gained
patronage of our people by means of their superior work in body and
fender repairing, painting, top recovering,
upholstering, and wreck
"We are pleased to recommend their Service
to all St.
Charles motorists. The large plant, which is owned by Mr. Mueck, is
well equipped in both
appliances and skilled mechanics for the care and repair of all styles
and sizes of motor
"Mr. Mueck has had over 25 years of
experience in this
specialized field, starting when the automotive industry was in its
infancy by building
special bodies which
were shipped to all parts of the world. His long years of experience in
this field enable him to handle your job
at a reasonable cost whether it is large or small.
"In these days of real efficiency no one
apprentice or an unknown firm to experiment with their job, but are
seeking the advice of an
experienced specialists. This firm has long been known as the leading
repair specialist in
this locality and
the charges are no more than you would pay to a smaller firm who does
not have the
equipment and the
"There is no longer any excuse to drive'
dented fenders or smashed-up bodies when we have the capable work of
Mueck Auto Body Co., at
our service. We
find pleasure in paying this compliment to this organization and we are
refer all readers to their outstanding services. They will appreciate
business and gladly give free estimates on any custom work or repair
After the Second World War Fred J. Musck
retired and control
of the firm passed to George A. Buerke, the eldest son of Mueck’s step
daughter, Elizabeth M. Buerke. Fred J. Mueck was the second husband of
(b. 1871 in Germany) who had a daughter, Elizabeth, during her first
The 1920 US Census lists 29-yo Elizabeth as a member of the Mueck
Genealogy for the Buerke’s follows:
George A Buerke (b.1897-d.1969). Spouse:
Gertrude M. Buerke
(b.1898). (Daughter) Ruth E. Buerke (b. March 23, 1920-d.December 24,
Frank Charles Buerke (b. 1929-d.1988)
An article by M.J. Mitchell in a 1960 issue
of Autobody and
the Reconditioned Car highlighted the firm’s successful antique
“Antique Car Field Don't Overlook
It, Says St.
Louis Body Shop.
“Body shop operators who are complaining
competition, minimal profits, and other troubles may find a welcome
setting up special services for antique car rebuilding and repairing,
to George A. Buerke of Mueck Auto Body Company, St. Louis,
One of the oldest and largest such shops in St. Louis, established in
the Mueck organization is in the unique position of having
body repairs, upholstery, top work, and paint on such "classy cars"
when they were new everyday automobiles. In fact, some of the
scrapbooks in Mr.
Buerke's offices show the shop filled with automobiles of vintages
would gladden the eyes of the usual antique car collector today. Such
experience going back 50 years, carries a lot of weight with the
collector who is invariably 'afraid to let the machine get out of my
hands.' During the past two years, there has been a steady parade of
classics into the Mueck shops in midtown St. Louis, many of them for a
operation, but still more for multiple operations which include almost
service which the Mueck shop provides. Typically, in the past few
shop has handled body and top repairs on a 1913 Cadillac limousine,
touring car, a 1911 Model T, Fardall and a St. Louis, an automobile
built in St.
Louis at the turn of the century.
“In numerous instances, classic car owners
transported the car direct to the Mueck shop after locating it in a
junk dealer's yard or sale and commissioned the body shop to restore it
throughout. This includes scraping down of all metal, leading in badly
parts, putting on a new paint job, upholstering the interior,
tops, replacing glass, etc. Because of the completeness of the shop,
the Mueck concern
can ??? practically any operation, with the possible exception of
of original parts and a few ??? of dash board instrumentation, etc.
average classic car collector is more interest in producing a handsome,
eye-catching automobile than in the cost, profits in this field can be
an elderly Cadillac, for example, the bill ran to more than $900, with
A 1971 industry listing shows
Frank Buerke, president,
Mueck Auto Body Co., 8131 Dale Ave., Richmond Heights, Missouri. The
location was located a block south of US 40/I-64 in the suburb of
Heights, approximately 6 miles west of their old Papin St. facility.
Frank Buerke passed away in 1988 and control
of the firm was
transferred to his older sister Ruth. Listings for the firm disappear
the same time, and Ruth E. Buerke passed away in 2008.
© 2012 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com