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Weller Bros.
Weller Brothers, 1922-1970s; Memphis, Tennessee
 
Associated Builders
 
     

Weller Brothers was one of Memphis' "small 4 (Weller Bros., Barnette/Barnett, Comet/Pinner, and Memphis/Economy Coach)" professional car producers that flourished there in the 1940s-1960s.

In 1922, brothers George (1904-1978) and Harold (1906-1983) Weller had started to rebuild and refinish automobile bodies in the back yard of their Memphis home. Their good work and fine reputation soon enabled them to move into a much larger shop located in the heart of downtown Memphis at 1150 Madison Ave.

By the mid-1930s they were converting a small number of regular-wheelbase Chevrolet Dodge and Ford sedan deliveries and panel vans for use as ambulances and funeral service vehicles. One large order for Chevrolet Civil Defense ambulances was fulfilled during 1939. They also converted vans for tradesmen and made a number of multi-passenger transport vehicles for local governments and Civil Defense agencies during WWII.

Postwar Wellers continued to be built using sedan deliveries with one interesting 4-in-1 coach offered in 1947 and 1948. Built using a standard wheelbase Chevrolet Stylemaster 1508 sedan delivery, the "4-Purpose" coach could be used as a child's hearse, ambulance, flower car or first-call utility vehicle. It was equipped with a Hy-tex leatherette interior, linoleum floor, a  folding attendant's seat and Plexiglas windows.

For 1948 Weller Brothers offered a new line of Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford professional cars built using a drastically lengthened chassis. Available as either a landau or a limousine-style funeral car or ambulance, they offered a low-priced alternative to the major manufacturers Cadillac-based vehicles. Standard 2-dr fastback sedans were chopped in half just behind the driver's door and a custom-built 36" extension was inserted between the split, a construction method that continues through to this century in the stretch limousine industry.  The insert contained a forward-hinged door that spanned the entire length of the door and matched the styling of the stock vehicle.

A 1949 advertisement stated "You furnish the unit and we do the conversion - any make of car". The Wellers built a very attractive 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Landau Hearse using a standard wheelbase Cosmopolitan four door sedan. The tail was extended another 10"-12" and the roof raised by about 6". 

Advertising for Weller's long-wheelbase conversions vanished in the mid-1950s, but  the company continued to offer their high-roof station wagon conversions into the 1960s. Most of their vehicles were built on Chevrolet and Ford chassis, but they also converted a few Chrysler Corp. products, most notably a small number of standard-wheelbase Dodge military ambulances built in the late 1950s.

They also advertised invalid van conversions and outfitted quite a number of automobiles for use by disabled veterans. By the early 1970s the Weller Brothers had come full circle, from a body shop to a specialty builder and back to a small body shop.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

 

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Pictures
 
   
 
   
 
References

The Professional Car - Issue #47, Spring 1988.

Walter M.P. McCall & Roger D. White  - Weller Brothers of Memphis

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

   
 
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