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Schutte Body Co.
Charles Schutte Body Company; Schutte Body Corporation, 1910-1926; Lancaster, Pennsylvania
 
Associated Builders
Schutte-Blue Ribbon Body Corp., 1926; Bridgeport, Connecticut
     

The Charles Shutte Body Company was a small commercial body builder founded in 1910 that turned to custom work later in the decade. They are best remembered for their conservative closed bodies whose interiors were trimmed in rococo-style carved wood and flowered upholstery.

Little is known of the firm’s early years, but in 1918 Schutte built a roadster body for the prototype Argonne automobile and is though to have bodied some of the 24 cars produced by the firm in 1919 and 1920. Although they are not recorded as an Auto Salon exhibitor, they did have an advertisement in the 1920 New York Auto Salon catalog, “Coach Builders Specializing in Open Type Bodywork for Any Chassis.” Schutte also distributed their own line of disc wheels, and much of their custom coachwork was pictured with them.

In addition to their bus and commercial body work they manufactured small series of taxicab bodies for regional cab operators during the mid twenties. They were also a production body builder for the Duesenberg Model A (small runs of sedans and coupes) and an issue of Aerial Age Weekly dated June 13, 1921 indicates that Schutte built or modified a few aircraft bodies on Curtiss JN-4 Jennys and other small rotary-powered airframes. 

In 1922 Schutte built an outrageous dual cowl tourer for placement on an extra-long 156" wheelbase Pierce-Arrow chassis. The car featured checkerboard running boards, an altimeter and an onboard supply of running ice water.

Schutte is known to have bodied a Rolls-Royce Phantom II (chassis #127XJ) as well as a saloon body for a 6˝ liter Bentley. A small number of Cadillac, Franklin, Marmon, Oldsmobile and Packard chassis were also bodied. Cadillac archivist Yann Saunders lists a 1925 6-passenger touring car and a 1926 limousine that featured a faux Rolls-Royce style grill and Springfield barrel headlamps that helped disguise the cars true identity.

In the summer of 1926, representatives of the Schutte Body Corp. a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, auto body builder entered into negotiations with Blue Ribbon’s directors. Charles E. Schutte, the firm’s owner, hoped to purchase Blue Ribbon’s entire Bridgeport operation, renaming it the Schutte-Blue Ribbon Body Corp. Blue Ribbon’s board

Four minority stockholders in the Schutte Body Co stopped the takeover when they discovered that the Schutte-Blue Ribbon Body Co. planned on closing the Lancaster plant following the takeover. Fearing a loss of their $200,000 investment, they strongly objected to the winding up of the affairs of the Schutte Body Co. and the transfer of its assets to the new company, and through their counsel they petitioned the Pennsylvania Dept of Banking who arrested both Schutte and his treasurer, George Fritsch for stock fraud.

Apparently the Shuette Body Corporation’s permit to sell stock in Pennsylvania was revoked the previous year due to a previous sale of the firm’s shares through misrepresentation. Consequently the current sale of stock to finance the Shutte-Blue Ribbon Body Corp. was in clear violation of Pennsylvania statutes.

In commenting on the merger from the viewpoint of the Blue Ribbon Body Company, its attorney William H. O’Hara said. “When the Schutte Blue Ribbon Body Company was organized we were asked to sell, named our price which was accepted, and the matter would have been settled sometime ago had not a few of the small stockholders of the Schutte Body Company been dissatisfied with the plan to close the plant in Lancaster.”

Whether Schutte & Company were guilty of the charges, adverse publicity doomed the takeover and within a few short months Schutte was out of business. 

Following the demise of his body-building enterprise, Schutte continued to work in the automotive field and held a number of patents related to automotive bodies.

Charles E. Schutte and his Schutte Body Company are sometimes confused with Robert Schuette, an early Rolls-Royce Distributor in Manhattan that was bought out by Rolls-Royce in 1925-26 at the same time the automaker purchased Brewster & Co. The two last names are spelled differently and the men are totally unrelated.

© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

Information concerning the Charles E. Schutte Body Co. is minimal at best. Lancaster resident William Rothermel recently announced that he is completing a book on the firm which should be available in late-2006.

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References

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

   
 
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