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Willoughby Co.
E.A. Willoughby Carriage & Sleigh Works, 1893-1897; Rome, New York; Utica Carriage Co. 1893-1897; Willoughby’s Utica Carriage Co. 1897-1898; Willoughby-Owen Co., 1898-1903; Willoughby Company, 1903-1938; Utica, New York
Associated Builders
R.M. Bingham & Co. 1858-1893; Bingham Harness Co. 1893-1917; Rome, New York

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The Remington Automobile & Motor Co. dates from 1899 when it was founded as the Ilion Motor and Vehicle Co., by Philo E. Remington (b.1869-d.1937), the wealthy grandson of Eliphalet Remington, founder of the world-renowned Remington Arms Co. of Ilion, New York. The factory was to be located in Ilion, New York, but financing fell through so Utica Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a move to relocate the firm to Utica. On August 3, 1900 the Ilion Motor and Vehicle Company was reorganized as the Remington Automobile & Motor Company with an authorization to issue $250,000 in capital stock.

Remington's board agreed to relocate its manufacturing plant from Ilion to the City of Utica after George I. Dana, president of the Utica Chamber of Commerce, provided them with a suitable property and helped raise $30,000 through a subscription of Remington stock. Local suppliers included Willoughby-Owen Company (bodies) and Weston-Mott (wheels and axles) and the firm and its assets relocated to a vacant 3-story factory on First Street, in downtown Utica.

The most famous purchaser of a Remington automobile was Charles Stewart Mott, the November 27, 1901 Horseless Age reporting:

"The Remington Automobile and Motor Manufacturing Company of Utica, N. Y., are getting out a 12 horse power tonneau for C. S. Mott, of the Weston-Mott Company, same place."

Although the Utica Historical Society claims Charles Stewart Mott was the producer of the Remington automobile, Mott's biography, Foundation for Living: The Story of Charles Stewart Mott and Flint indicates that other than possibly owning a few shares of its stock, he had no controlling interest in the firm, rather he simply owned a few Remington Automobiles:

"In September, 1901, Mott bought his first automobile, a Remington. He still has the original invoice on the letterhead of the Remington Automobile and Motor Company of Utica:


"Sept 10 '01, Remington Automobile & Motor Company, Sold to Mr. C. S. Mott, Weston Mott Co., Utica, N.Y.

"Terms NET: One Remington motor complete with dynamo, batteries, carburretter, muffler, etc $175.00; One Style "C" body complete $75.00; One water and gasoline tank $9.50; Tools, pump, oil-can, bell $3.25; One pair "Baby Square" lamps, No charge; One transmission gear, special price $50.00; One set foot levers, rods, etc. complete $6.50; One radiator complete with attachments $10.00; Ironing body for motor and to gear $10.00; Labor on complete job, at cost $25.00; (Other parts furnished by C. S. Mott) TOTAL $364.25 PAID, Sept. 26, 1901

"Remington Automobile & Motor Co., L. Malcolm Graham Treas."

Mott drove his Remington in a ‘Horseless Carriage Run’ in 1902. He was a charter member and first president of the Automobile Club of Utica, and was one of the founders of the American Automobile Association in Chicago. On September 4, 1902, Mott traded in his first Remington, being credited not only with the full amount of the original purchase price, but also receiving an additional allowance of $135 for "running gear, steering levers, wheels, tires, and compensating gear" which he had furnished for that first car. The net difference he paid for his new "special 1903 Remington" on September 4, 1902, was $140.75.

Unfortunately Mott may have been the only purchaser, and the firm was soon out of business as reported by the November 21, 1902 issue of the New York Times:


“Proceedings in involuntary bankruptcy were commenced yesterday against the Remington Automobile Company of Utica, N.Y. The manufactory has been shut down several weeks, it is said that the bankruptcy proceedings are taken as a first step toward reorganization.”

William H. Owen saw the failure as an opportunity, offering up his services to the firm’s directors. The February 25, 1903 issue of The Horseless Age reported on Owen’s next action:

“The fixtures of the Remington Automobile and Motor Company, Utica, N.Y., were sold on February 11, by L.N. Southworth, trustee in bankruptcy, and were purchased with the exception of two automobiles and a few other things by John B. Wild and W.H. Owen stockholders, representing the reorganized company which is to carry on the business. The amount realized was from $10,000 to $11,000. The two automobiles went to George Spaulding who paid $175 for one and $30 for the other.”

The March 4, 1903 issue of the Horseless Age announced the formal organization of Owen’s new business venture:

“The Remington Automobile and Motor Company [sic]*, Utica, N.Y., has been incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. The incorporators are Philo E. Remington, Ilion and O.S. Foster and W.H. Owen, Utica, and the following are the directors for the first year; J.B. Wild, O.S. Foster, W.H. Owen, L.M. Graham, A.E. Omens, Charles Xardell, and A.J. Baechle. J.B. Wild will be president and W.H. Owen, business manager.”

(*should be Remington Motor Vehicle Company.)

The June 3, 1903 issue of the Horseless Age announced that: “Ten machines are on the way.”

Perhaps they were on their way, but few made it to customers, although the August 28, 1903 Utica Observer reported that a 14 h.p. 2-stroke 2-cyl. Remington tonneau had been sold to Barron G. Collier. The Manhattan millionaire also happened to be a business partner of William H. Owen’s brother-in-law, Charles A. Fish.

The September 28, 1903 Utica Observer-Dispatch details the sale of a Remington-equipped auto yacht:

“The Remington Motor Vehicle Co. of Utica has sold to Bert Grant of Clayton a 22-foot launch fitted with a Remington six-horsepower engine. These launches are very popular on the St. Lawrence.”

Unfortunately few other Remingtons made it into customer’s hands and production ceased early in 1904. The May 26, 1904 Utica Herald-Dispatch declared that:

“The stockholders in the Remington Motor Vehicle Company have decided not to endeavor to continue the business and negotiations for the sale of the property to a New York firm are pending.”

The firm’s assets were sold off to the Black Diamond Automobile Co. of Geneva, New York. The July 8, 1904 Elmira Gazette reporting:

“The Black Diamond Automobile Company of Geneva has purchased of John B. Wild of Utica, the plant of the Remington Automobile Company, Broad street, corner of Niagara, In Utica, and it is understood that the Geneva Company will move its plant to town soon.

“In operation again

“It is understood that the Buckmobile Company in Sunset avenue, Utica, has given an option on its plant and business to the Black Diamond Company and it is possible that the Geneva Company, which is capitalized at half a million dollars, will buy out the Buckmobile Company and transfer it to the Remington plant.

“The Remington plant has been idle for about three months. After the Remington Automobile & Motor Co. was forced into bankruptcy the plant was sold by the trustee to Mr. Wild. Mr. Wild then transferred the plant to the Remington Motor Vehicle Company, which later transferred it back to Mr. Wild who has now sold it to the Geneva Company.”

Although his career as an automobile manufacturer had come to an end, William H. Owen’s next career was in mobile advertising. According to the October 19, 1925 Utica Daily Press his career took off in 1906 when he was appointed executor of his brother-in-law’s estate:

“Charles A. Fish, a brother-in-law of Mr. Owen, died in 1906. He had been for many years engaged in streetcar advertising with headquarters in Albany and an office in New York… Through Mr. Fish's partner, Barron G. Collier, Mr. Owen became largely interested in the business and for many years he was president of the Empire State Advertising Company. Later this company became the Street Railways Advertising Company of which Mr. Collier is president and Mr. Owen vice-president.”

Philo E. Remington went on to front three more auto-related enterprises. The first was the Remington Standard Motor Company (1910-1912) of Charleston, West Virginia and Farmingdale, Long Island. The second was the Remington Motor Co., (1913-15), a Rahway, New Jersey–based firm that produced a sophisticated Remington cyclecar in 1914 that was equipped with a 107 cu. in. 4-cylinder engine, shaft drive, and a Hollister pre-selective automatic transmission. In 1915, a larger 116-in wheelbase model debuted powered by a V-8 engine. It was reported in the trade that Philo E. Remington designed the cars himself. His final automotive firm was the American Sleeve-Valve Motor Co., whose organization was announced in the May 15, 1917 issue of Horseless Age. As with most of his enterprises, little information was forthcoming and manufacture is doubted.

Back at Willoughby, the firm’s chief designer, Ernest M. Galle (b.1866-d.1918), was busy designing, engineering and overseeing the construction of the firm’s automobile bodies. Galle was an old world coachbuilder, who worked for Hoercher & Co., Hamburg, Germany, as chief designer before immigrating to the United States in 1890. He quickly found work as a designer and superintendent with a number of Manhattan and Brooklyn coachbuilders who included Brewster, Henry Killam & Co, and J. Curley. Following the 1892 death of John D. Gribbon, chief instructor at New York City’s Technical School for Carriage Drafting, Galle filled in until Andrew F. Johnson was hired. He was subsequently hired as chief designer at Willoughby’s Rome, New York carriage manufactory and moved to Utica when Willoughby took over the Utica Carriage Works, remaining with them until his death in 1918.

Galle’s biography was published in the April, 1904 issue of the Carriage Monthly:

“E.M. Galle, designer and superintendent with the Willoughby Co., Utica, N.Y. was born in Dresden Germany and learned his trade with his father who was an artistic coach builder. He was next engaged with Hoercher & Co., Hamburg, Germany, as chief designer there organizing a drafting class and conducting it four years. After that he came to the United States and entered the employ of Brewster & Co. He was next engaged by R.M. Bingham & Co. as assistant draftsman Mr. Galle received the first prize for the best design of brougham draft offered by the CBNA at the Chicago convention, 1890. He subsequently filled the position of designer and superintendent with Henry Killam & Co., Brewster & Co. and J. Curley, Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1892 he was appointed instructor in chief to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Prof. John D. Gribbon in the Technical School for Carriage Drafting and retained this position until the appointment of Andrew F. Johnson, the present incumbent. Mr. Galle's life has been a busy one and he is among the most advanced carriage designers.”

The April 1904 issue of the Carriage Monthly provided a short biography of the Willoughby Co.:

"Supplementary to an article on "Custom Builders of Fine Carriages," elsewhere published in this issue, details of which reached us after that article was prepared, may be given a reference to the Willoughby Co., Utica. N. Y. The founder of the house, E. A. Willoughby, began with R. M. Bingham & Co., Rome, N. Y., in 1883, became general superintendent until 1891, bought out that plant in 1893 and ran it until its destruction by fire in 1897; came to Utica in 1898 and formed a stock company, the Willoughby-Owen Co.; in a reorganization in 1903. Mr. Owen retired and the present Willoughby Co. were established with E. A. Willoughby, president; F. T. Proctor, vice-president; Joseph Rudd, secretary and treasurer. Directors, F. J. Maynard, T. R. Proctor, Henry Miller, H. I. Johnson and John A. Roberts, with E. M. Galle, superintendent. The output comprises opera 'buses, broughams, cabriolets, park phaetons and sleighs; capital, $60,000 preferred and $100,000 common stock."

The January 21, 1905 issue of the Automobile reported on Willoughby’s display at the 1905 New York Auto Show. As it was their first showing, the Willoughby display was relegated to the ‘Exhibition Hall’ which was a nice name for the dimly lit basement of Madison Square Garden:

“A landaulet body in black, without chassis, built by the Willoughby Carriage Company, is also shown.”

The June 26, 1905 issue of the Utica Herald-Dispatch provided details on a Willoughby commercial body that was built on the chassis of the Geneva, N.Y.-built Black Diamond chassis:

“A trim looking automobile delivery wagon, built for John A. Roberts & Co., made its appearance on the streets yesterday and attracted considerable attention. If found satisfactory, it will be placed in service at once by the company.

“The car is the product of the Black Diamond Automobile Company, and the body part was built by the Willoughby Company of this city.

“It is the intention of John A. Roberts & Co. to use the car for delivering outside of the city—In New York Mills, Whitesboro, Frankfort, Ilion, Mohawk, Deerfield and other nearby places. The firm has another car under contract work for delivery work in the city.”

E.M. Galle won acclaim for the firm when he was awarded first prize in a design contest as reported in the November 1, 1905 issue of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal:

“First prize in the Geo. N. Pierce Co.’s body design contest has been awarded to The Willoughby Co. of Utica, N.Y. on designs by E.M. Galle, superintendent of the company. The judges were an artist and two practical carriage men, one from Quinby & Co. and the other from the Brewster Co.”

From 1897-1908 Willoughby’s official address was 86 Genesee St., Utica, a four-story brick structure popularly known as the ‘Checkered Block’ which was located on the northwest corner of Liberty and Genesee streets. While the factory was located about 3 miles to the east, Willoughby used the Genesee St. store front as a carriage showroom, and the upper floors for the storage of sleighs and carriages. The building was sold in 1908, becoming the new home of the Kempf Bros. Music House, Utica’s favorite piano, ‘talking machine’ and sheet-music retailer who used the building into the Depression.

The April 1908 issue of The Hub listed the firm’s board of directors which included Henry W. Millar, the president of the Savage Arms Co., which was a huge armament and rifle manufacturer located across the street from the Willoughby plant:


“The stockholders of the Willoughby Carriage Company, of Utica, N. Y., held their annual meeting recently and elected the following directors: Thomas R. Proctor, S.T. Proctor, J.F. Maynard, H.R. Johnson, Joseph Rudd, John I. Roberts, E.A. Willoughby and E.M. Galle.”

The July 2, 1908 Utica Daily Press carried an advertisement announcing that a dozen unsold touring-car bodies were to be auctioned off at the factory:

“AUCTION SALE OF AUTOMOBILE BODIES—Notice is hereby given that I shall expose for sale at public auction on the 14th day of July, 1908, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, at the factory of Willoughby Company, at the corner of Dwyer avenue and Turner street, in the city of Utica, N.Y., on account of whom it may concern, twelve seven-passenger touring, automobile bodies built by Willoughby Company. The bodies are all completed except last coat of finishing varnish, and trimmed with hand buffed leather, mahogany heel board, brass coat rail, special improved lock and catch, and ironed for tops, and can be seen at any time at the factory. PIERCE D. CONDON, Auction.”

After his graduation from Hamilton College in 1909, Willoughby's son Francis Daniel (aka Fritz) Willoughby (b.1887-1955) was first apprenticed to several competitors and upon his return took over the plant, eventually assuming the presidency upon the death of his father in 1913.  The next year, Willoughby secured an order from Studebaker for more than 1,000 bodies – its largest order ever and its first million dollar contract. To make the order, the company had to rent outside space and double its workforce from 150 to 300 employees. In 1914, a skilled laborer’s hourly wage ranged from 50 cents to 85 cents an hour, putting Willoughby’s weekly payroll at over $10,000 per week.

The following display ad is from the March 27, 1909 issue of the Utica Herald-Dispatch:


“Are Willoughby Carriages known and appreciated? The past week's sales have answered that question emphatically. Immediately following our announcement of the discontinuance of our store at 86 Genesee street, and cut-price sale of the entire stock, the sales have been tremendous. The remainder must go as decisively. Take advantage of this opportunity to purchase a Willoughby Carriage or Sleigh at a fraction of its real worth. Look through the following list. You will see a vehicle you want and you will see it is a remarkable value at the price we are now asking.

“Every Vehicle Numbered and Lowest Cash Price Marked in Plain Figures

“Robes, Trunks, Bags, Suit Cases, All to Be Closed Out at Reduced Prices. Willoughby Co., #86 Genesee St.”

From 1909 through 1930, 86 Genesee St. was leased by the Kempf Bros. Music House after which it was used by E.E. DeLester & Co., dealers in household appliances.

April 20, 1909 Utica Herald Dispatch:

“Wilbur R. Van Auken and Clarence M. Van Auken of Utica to Myron W. Van Auken of the same city, the premises of the Utica Carriage company.”

The 1910 US Census reveals that the Willoughby's (both Edward, Francis & their respective families) continued to live in Rome, New York at 713 N. Washington St.

January 13, 1912 Automobile Topics:

Utica Dealers in Trade Association.

At a meeting of dealers in automobiles and accessories, held in the Chamber of Commerce rooms in Utica on January 3, an organization was formed under the title of the Utica Auto Trades Association. The purpose of this organization is the betterment of the automobile trade and the promotion of shows in Utica. The following officers were elected: President, H. D. Gouse; vice-president, A. A. Ledermann; secretary, W. F. Carroll; treasurer, A. H. Westcott."

Willoughby joined Utica’s leading garagemen and automobile dealers in the establishment of the Utica Automobile Trades Association which was announced in the February 1912 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal:

“UTICA (N.Y.) Dealers Organize:

“The Utica Automobile Trades Association, whose purpose is the betterment of the automobile trade in that city, was formed recently at a meeting of dealers in automobiles and supplies at the Chamber of Commerce rooms in Utica on January 3, and the following officers were chosen: President, H.D. Gouse; Vice President, A.A. Ledermann; Secretary, W.F. Carroll; Treasurer, A.H. Westcott.  The meeting was called to order by H.D. Gouse and after a brief discussion the following were elected directors: F.P. Miller, A.A. Ledermann, A.H. Westcott, H.D. Gouse, W.F. Carroll, C.H. Childs* and E.A. Willoughby.”

(*Charles H. Childs, the founder of Chas. H. Childs & Company, another well-known Utica carriage builder, was by then engaged in the full time sale of automobiles.)

The 1912 NY State Industrial Directory lists Willoughby under ‘carriages and auto bodies’ with 34 male employees. Although they are not normally considered to be a ‘commercial’ body builder, occasional bus and delivery vehicle bodies are known to have been produced as evidenced by the September 21, 1913 issue of the Utica Herald-Dispatch:


“Hotel Utica disposes of Old and Heavy Affair and Will have Lighter One.

“The Hotel Utica is to have a new and much less cumbersome ‘bus to transfer its guests between railroad stations and the hotel. The large motor bus that has been in operation since the opening of the hotel has been disposed of and is now making daily trips between Herkimer and Newport. The new and lighter bus for the hotel will be ready about the first of October and in the meantime the guests of the hotel will be conveyed to and from stations by taxicabs.

“The chassis for the new ‘bus has arrived from the White factory and the Willoughby Company of this city is busily engaged on the body of the new car. It is to be smaller than the old car and much handsomer, finished in light blue and silver, with the name ‘Hotel Utica’ appearing on the sides of the car.”

By that time Edward A. Willoughby had been seriously ill for two months, and on November 8, 1913, passed away, leaving his son, Francis, in charge of the firm. The December 17, 1913 issue of the Horseless Age announced his passing to the trade:

"Edward A. Willoughby, president of the Willoughby Co., Utica. N. Y., recently died in that city.”

The January 1914 issue of Carriage Monthly included a short biography as well:

"The Late Edward A. Willoughby

"The death, in November, of Edward A. Willoughby, president of the Willoughby Company, Utica, N. Y., removed from that community one of her foremost citizens and from the carriage industry one of its most prominent men.

"Edward A. Willoughby was born on a farm in Newport, Herkimer County, N. Y., October 30, 1847. He was educated at the district school, nearest the old homestead and at the high schools in Newport.

"After several years of experience in country store work, and as general manager of the R. M. Bingham Co., vehicle builders at Rome, N. Y., Mr. Willoughby went to Utica to take charge of the affairs of the Utica Carriage Company, which at that time was in the hands of a receiver, and fifteen months later he bought out the entire business of this company, which had an excellent manufacturing plant in East Utica. William H. Owen was associated with him about four years, and then Mr. Willoughby bought out his partner, and in 1902 a new corporation under the title of The Willoughby Company was organized to manufacture carriages, sleighs and automobile bodies.

"On January 17, 1883, Mr. Willoughby was married to Mary A. Bingham, Rome, N. Y., who survives with a son and daughter, Francis Daniel Willoughby and Miss Ernestine B. Willoughby.

"Mr. Willoughby was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Rome, and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Utica. He belonged to the Royal Arcanum and the Fort Schuyler Club. In politics be was a Republican, and though often solicited, he was never a candidate for any political office. He leaves two sisters, Mrs. Thomas Irwin and Mrs. Irving Adams, Poland, N. Y. He was a man of integrity, pleasing address and fine character, and as the head of his concern was instrumental in making a splendid reputation for excellence in its output of carriages, sleighs, and later automobile bodies."

Additional details of Willoughby’s working life were included in his obituary notice in the November 9, 1913, Utica Daily Press:

“As the head of Willoughby company he had made the firm name a synonym for excellence in the construction of carriages sleighs and of later years, automobile bodies, the product of his factory being widely distributed. Mr. Willoughby was a man of pleasing address and fine character, one whom his friends were proud to know and whose memory will be cherished by them. For he was a good citizen in every sense of the term, whose death is a loss to Utica. Mr. Willoughby acquired a very enviable reputation for the excellence of design in the output of his factory. Although not himself a designer, he had the faculty of being able to originate a design and giving the idea such shape that a draughtsman could complete the technical details. This ability, together with his accurate judgment of the worth of materials used in his business, combined to make the Willoughby name a mark of excellence on any vehicle.”

The November 10, 1913 Utica Herald Dispatch gave a much more detailed account of his life:


“Ill Three Months, But Was in Improved Condition When Relapse Came

“The death of Edward A. Willoughby, of 114 Park avenue removed one of Utica’s best known businessmen, the head of the Willoughby Company. He had been ill a short three months, but of late his condition had shown improvement and his friends were hoping for his ultimate recovery. A sudden relapse on Saturday evening caused his death unexpectedly.

“Edward A. Willoughby was born on a farm in Newport, Herkimer county, October 30, 1847. He was educated at the district school nearest the old homestead and at the high schools in Newport and Poland. When a lad of 15, a cousin, Ira Trask, owned and conducted what was known as the Fish Pond Hotel, just below Trenton Falls which was famous in its day for trout suppers, and many Uticans were entertained there, Mr. Trask devoted himself to catching the fish and had young Willoughby there during four summers to take charge of the house and the entertainment of the guests.

“Later Willoughby hired out as a clerk to the Poland union store. He remained four years. When the Westernville union store was organized by a stock company, Thomas Tinley and Mr. Willoughby were put in charge, the latter remaining a year.

“Later he went to Rome as head clerk of the A.M. Jackson Company dry goods store, and was there for four years. Then Mr. Willoughby and John R. Edwards of Rome bought out the store of I.T. Miner & Co., dry goods, in Rome, and conducted it very successfully for eight years. Mr. Willoughby sold out to Mr. Edwards and went with his father-in-law, R.M. Bingham, as general manager and foreman of the R.M. Bingham Company, which at that time made carriages, sleighs, harness, trunks, etc., doing a large manufacturing and jobbing business. Mr. Willoughby remained with it from 1883 until its failure in 1891. John R. Edwards was appointed as receiver and Mr. Willoughby was retained to close out the business and later at the receiver’s sale he purchased it. He restricted its field of operations to the manufacture of carriages and sleighs and conducted that business until he was burned out four years later.

“Mr. Willoughby then came to Utica to take charge of the affairs of the affairs of the Utica Carriage Company, which at the time was in the hands of a receiver, and 15 months later he bought out the entire business of this company, which had an excellent manufacturing plant in East Utica. William H. Owen was associated with him about four years, and them Mr. Willoughby bought out his partner and in 1901 a new corporation under the title of the Willoughby Company was organized to manufacture carriages, sleighs and automobile bodies.

“On January 17, 1883, Mr. Willoughby was married to Mary A. Bingham of Rome, who survives with a son and daughter, Francis Daniel Willoughby and Miss Ernestine Willoughby. Mr. Willoughby was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Rome and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Utica. He belonged to the Royal Arcanum and the Fort Schuyler Club. In politics he was a Republican, and though often asked, he was never a candidate for any political office. He leaves two sisters, Mrs. Thomas Irwin and Mrs. Irving Adams of Poland. HE was a man of integrity, pleasing address and fine character, and as the head of his concern was instrumental in making a reputation for excellence in its output of carriages, sleighs and later automobile bodies.”

Following the passing of his father, Francis D. Willoughby took over the day-to day operation of the plant under the watchful eye of Ernest M. Galle, the firm’s designer and superintendent.

Although Willoughby built one-off custom and commercial bodies for local customers on an as-needed basis, the bulk of their business was manufacturing small lots of production bodies for the nation’s auto makers. To obtain those orders, 1/12 scale (1” to the foot) line drawings were made based on dimensions supplied by the chassis manufacturer and features seen on their competition’s products at the previous year’s New York and Paris Salons.

Once approved, a full size body draft was completed and a sample body built, typically in time for the New York Salon or Auto Show. The pricing and final details were decided upon after the body had been shown to the public or manufacturer’s representative.

Willoughby car bodies were made of hard ash reinforced with forged iron. The outside was made of sheet aluminum from the beltline down. The windshield pillars, rear quarters and door frames were made of aluminum castings. The interiors were luxurious with fine upholstering featuring tufted cushions made of exceptionally soft, comfortable padding.

Typical dimensions inside a Willoughby Town Car were somewhat roomier than their competition. Rear seats were typically sixteen inches from the floor to the top of the bottom cushion, and the roof 39-41 inches above it. Upon entering the passenger compartment, owners sunk back into the deep comfortable cushions and relaxed in com­fort.

Interiors included deep, thickly padded seats with diamond-tufted pleats, stuffed with foam, horse-hair, or down. Thickly-padded arm-rests could either be removed or folded into the seat-back, some rear seats had large down-filled pillows as well.

Most interiors were trimmed with leather piping or coach lace. Fine English broadcloth lined the ceiling, although exposed beam roofs were included on some coupes and formal body styles. Matching arm-slings were mounted just behind the rear door openings and cigarette and vanity cases were built into the rear quarters which sometimes included Lalique flower vases and sconces. Silk curtains covered the wooden window surrounds which were grain-matched to the center dividers included hidden jump-seats, vanities and mini-bars and windows had silk draperies for privacy. Most door panels had leather pockets covered with broadcloth and surrounded by broad lace or wood trim.

Willoughby’s reputation was so great that even Studebaker, the nation’s oldest wagon builder, sublet its enclosed vehicle bodies to Willoughby, placing an order with the firm for more than 1,000 bodies in 1914. To produce the reportedly $1 million contract, Willoughby doubled its workforce from 150 to 300 employees, and rented out space in an adjacent factory to complete the order. Galle required more help in the design department and enlisted the services of Martin Regitko (b. Nov. 1889-d. Dec. 1981) as drafting assistant and construction supervisor. Regitko eventually became Willoughby’s chief designer, remaining with the firm until the very end after which he went to work for Edsel Ford as Eugene T. Gregoire’s assistant.

An example of a Willoughby-bodied Studebaker from this period (a Studebaker Model ED-6 3-door, 7- passenger limo) can be found at the Northeast Classic Car Museum in Norwich, New York. Willoughby exhibited a Studebaker Coupe at the 1916 Utica Auto Show, the February 29, 1916 Utica Daily Press reporting (with a few erroneous statements):

“The Willoughby Company is exhibiting a Studebaker coupe. The Willoughby Company makes bodies for many of the automobile manufacturers, making practically all of the Studebaker bodies today. The Willoughby Company is one of the oldest automobile body building company in the country today. The company made the bodies for the old electric cabs which were in use about 14 years ago. The Willoughby Company made bodies for the Locomobile, Studebaker, Pierce-Arrow, Peerless and other companies when they first started and before they made their own. William Coaling, F.D. Willoughby and E.M. Galle will represent the company at the show.”

Willoughby’s chief designer, superintendent and recently–elected vice-president, Ernest M. Galle, passed away a few months prior to the official start of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The January 13, 1918 issue of the Utica Sunday Tribune carried the following obituary:

“Ernest M. Galle – A Noted Designer

“Man Known Throughout the United States As An Authority on Vehicle Design Died To-day.

“Ernest M. Galle, one of the best known automobile and carriage body designers in this country, passed away at St. Lukes Hospital at 11 o'clock Thursday after an illness of 10 week's duration. The cause of death was pleurisy. Mr. Galle resided at 1134 Webster avenue, and was very well known in this city, where his death will be sincerely regretted.

“Ernest M. Galle was born in Dresden, Germany, April 22, 1866. The male members of his family had been designers of coaches and carriages for generations, and so the profession that he later took up came to him naturally. He was educated in the universities of Berlin and Vienna and came to this country about 30 years ago. He was at first employed by R.M. Bingham of Rome, and later accepted a position as designer with the J.B. Brewster Company of New York City and New Haven. He was also an instructor in a school of designing and carriage building in New York City for several years. He came to Utica in 1897 and became associated with E.A. Willoughby when Mr. Willoughby took over the Utica Carriage Company's plant.

“In 1903, when the Willoughby Company was organized, Mr. Galle was made designer and superintendent, was a director of the company, and a year ago was elected to the vice presidency of that concern. He was married March 31, 1904, to Isabel McKinley in St George's Church, and she survives him, with an adopted son, Ernest Tajma, and a brother, Herman of this city. The father and mother of the deceased and several brothers and Germany, also survive.

“Mr. Galle had a national reputation as a designer and was skilled in the construction of all kinds of vehicles. He was well known and liked by engineers of many automobile plants, and was very highly esteemed by all with whom he came in contact in a business or social way. His integrity and conscientiousness won him a host of friends who will mourn his loss sincerely.”

Details of the funeral services were included in the following day’s (January 14, 1918) Utica Herald-Dispatch:


“Funeral of Noted Designer Held from his Home this Afternoon

“The funeral of Ernest M. Galle was held from his home, 1134 Webster avenue, at 2 o'clock this afternoon. The services were conducted by the Rev. Otto von Bueren, pastor of Zion's Evangelical Lutheran Church. The attendance of friends was large and a profusion of floral tributes marked the high esteem in which the deceased was held. Among the floral offerings was a broken column, ‘Gate a Jar’ and a ‘Broken Wheel’ from the employees of the Willoughby Company, a plaque of roses and violets from the Locomobile Company of America, a standing cross from the directors of the Willoughby Company and a large wreath of roses from Francis Willoughby. Members of the Willoughby Company attended the funeral in a body and during the time of the funeral the Willoughby Company was closed. The bearers were Anthony Adrian, Edward Adams, George Hisjen, Otto Safersorm, Martin Reckelka and Ernest Schiller. The remains were placed in the receiving vault in Forest Hill Cemetery.”

Further details of Galle’s career were included in the March, 1918 issue of the Hub:

“Death of E.M. Galle

“E.M. Galle, vice-president of The Willoughby Company, Utica, N.Y., died after a short illness at his residence in that city early in February. Mr. Galle was at one time draftsman with Brewster & Co., New York. He received the first prize for the best brougham design offered by the CBNA at the Chicago convention in 1890. Subsequently, he was in the employ of several of the best coach builders in America including Henry Killam & Co. and Brewster & Co. In 1892 he was appointed instructor in the New York Technical School for Carriage Draftsmen and retained this position until the appointment of Prof. A.F. Johnson, the present instructor. For the last 15 years Mr. Galle had been identified with The Willoughby Company.”

The onset of War brought the number of new body orders to a standstill, and Willoughby turned to refinishing work to keep its employees busy. The following transcription is taken from a March 6, 1918 display ad in the Utica Daily Press:

"Automobile Coachwork

"Willoughby Co. Coach Builders, Utica N.Y.

"Dwyer Ave and Turner St. Phone 579

"To the department of body repairing and automobile repainting are brought all the benefits of long experience and the efforts of skilled artisans. Unequaled facilities in construction and metal panel work offer remedies for all kinds of mishaps causing damage to the Motor car body. In painting, the finest grades of paints and imported varnishes and the most painstaking labor are the reasons for our quality — the best.

"Charges for our work are reasonable, and are based on labor and material expenditures that arc made as economical as possible. A well-knot organization ensures every customer of prompt attention, courteous service, and deliveries in accordance with any promised schedule.

"Estimates Furnished In Advance"

Willoughby’s body superintendent, John Motycka (b.1872 in Bohemia or present-day Austria) found a job with Willoughby soon after his 1901 emigration. He’s pictured to the left next to a speedster body he constructed for his son’s Model T speedster sometime around 1920.

March 17, 1920 Utica Observer Dispatch:


“Owned and Occupied by the Willoughby Company — Contained Mudguards, Chains and Gears

“Several pieces of fire apparatus were called out at 6:08 a.m. to-day by reason of two alarms for the same fire, a blaze located in a one-story wooden building near the Willoughby Company’s plant on Dwyer avenue, and occupied by the concern as a storehouse. A telegraph alarm was received from box 86 and that was followed three minutes later by telephone alarm. The firemen found it necessary to use two water lines on the blaze, and before the fire was out the roof and front side of the building was pretty badly damaged. The building contained a quantity of auto mudguards, gears and chains, which were somewhat damaged by smoke, fire and water.”

By that time Willoughby was busy once again as the post-war popularity of the closed automobile body found the nation’s automakers unprepared and scrambling to meet the demand. As Willoughby’s reputation was built upon their expertise in that area, a number of large orders suddenly materialized necessitating the construction of an addition, its construction announced in the May 13, 1920 issue of Iron Age:

“The Willoughby Co., Dwyer Avenue and Turner Street, Utica, N.Y., manufacturer of automobile bodies, has plans prepared for a four story addition, 75 x 150 ft., cost about $50,000.”

New equipment and construction of the addition required a recapitalization which was publicly announced in the ‘Capital Increases’ column of the June 29, 1921 New York Times:

"Willoughby Co., Utica, $160,000 to $600,000."

Apparently the sale of the $440,000 worth of new stock failed to materialize, as the directors elected to lease an abandoned pipe foundry which was located in the same block as the Willoughby plant in lieu of building a new plant. At that time the firm’s directors included: “F. T. Proctor, J.P. Maynard, Charles B, Mason, Joseph P. Donavon, John H. Johnson, Grace E. Donavon, Delia C. Willoughby and Francis D. Willoughby.”

Unlike Boston, New York City, and Chicago, a small city like Utica, New York couldn’t support a full-time be-spoke automobile body builder, so the Willoughby Co. depended upon automobile manufacturers for its lively hood. Although orders of 5 to 10 bodies were welcome, they preferred larger runs where economies of scale resulted in considerably higher profits. Once in a while an order for 50-100 pieces might be received, but high volume commissions were the exception, not the rule. During this period Willoughby specialized in building small runs of closed bodies for Cadillac, Cole, Franklin, Locomobile, Marmon, Packard, Studebaker and Wills Sainte Claire, a typical order being from 10-20 pcs.

They also had a large standing order with Rolls-Royce of America Inc., the Springfield, Massachusetts-based firm that produced officially licensed left-hand-drive Rolls-Royces for the American market from 1919 through 1931. Willoughby was one of the few select coachbuilders that were commissioned to build bodies 'in the white' (untrimmed and unpainted) for the Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work program which ended in 1926. From 1920-1926 Willoughby produced 372 bodies for the Springfield Silver Ghost and 43 for the Springfield Phantom I.

Willoughby also built a number of town car and limousine bodies for the Marmon 34, and later 74 and 75 Series, some Marmon catalogs identified Willoughby as the builder, others just stated the bodies were “custom built”. In their 1985 ‘The Marmon Heritage’, George and Stacey Hanley state:

“Nordyke & Marmon purchased their closed car bodies from outside sources during the Third Era until the opening of the new Marmon body plant. When the 1921 Marmons were introduced in August, 1920, two coupe and two sedan body styles were offered. The previous practice of prefixing all closed car bodies with an ‘8’ prefix and serial numbering closed cars in build sequence was replaced by specific prefixes… the open car practice of long standing.

“The ‘purchased’ (from Willoughby) coupe and (7-pass) sedan bodies were assigned the ‘9’ and ‘10’ prefixes; ‘N & M Co. bodies’ were assigned the ‘15’ and ‘16’ respectively. The N & M coupe weighed 3,986 pounds versus the Willoughby coupe at 4,875 pounds; the N & M Co. sedan weighed 4,385 pounds, the Willoughby 5,275, or about 900 pounds more in each case…. The Rubay and Willoughby limousines were assigned ‘11’ and ‘13’; their town cars ‘12’ and ‘14’. Only the Rubay limousine and town car were carried in 1923-1924; there were no other vendors bodies.”

Some early 1920s Wills Sainte Claire town cars identified as "by LeBaron" in their catalogs were designed by LeBaron, but built by Willoughby, who later ended up designing a few as well. The Willoughby town car design was one of the first to eliminate the belt molding through the rear doors, an idea later copied by others.

Willoughby also produced small numbers of attractive coupe and sedan bodies for the Cole chassis which featured unusual hexagon-shaped windows in the rear quarters. The local Cole distributor placed the following display ad in the December 31, 1921 Utica Morning Herald:

“Announcing the New Cole-Coupe Brougham

“Through the courtesy of the Willoughby Company we are able to show in our salesroom this week only the latest Body Creation for COLE.

“This car is to be exhibited by the Willoughby Company at the Body Builders' Show in New York; January 9-15 inclusive at the 12th Regiment Armory.

“This type is a new comer in the Cole line, which was designed by the Willoughby Company, and it will win instant popularity.

“The new car is noteworthy because of its companionableness for the small intimate group; The front seats are individual chairs and one at the driver's right tilts to provide very ample entrance space through the wide doorway for the occupants of the rear seat. It is roomy, yet compact and cozy. It will accommodate five conveniently.

“The new 8-90 Coupe Brougham is a smart conception utterly new in design. It is pleasingly unconventional and finds a place of delightful distinction in the field of closed cars.

“T.N.C.Motor Sales Co., Fine Motor Cars, 465 Genesee Street, Utica – phone 5755.”

The above advertisement likely spawned the following article which was published in the January 4, 1922 Utica Morning Telegram:


“One of the Largest Body Companies Is Located in Utica

“The Willoughby Company of Utica builds Cole Aero-Eight bodies. Most Uticans do not know that one of the largest automobile body companies is located in Utica. In connection with the special showing of the Cole-Aero-Eight with a Willoughby four-passenger body at the T.N.C. Motors Sales Company, 465 Genesee Street. It will be interesting for residents of Utica to know that one of the largest motor car body builders in the United States is located in Utica.

“The Willoughby Company holds large contracts with several of the big motor car companies of the United States and they make a specialty of high-grade custom built bodies. The particular type that the Willoughby Company is showing at the T.N.C. Motor Sales Company is a new four-passenger Brougham Coupe. The car is painted a beautiful golden brown and is equipped with nickel radiator, headlights, bumpers, wire wheels, etc. This new body was created by Mr. E.M. Diver - the body engineer at the Willoughby Company who for years has been associated with the Cole Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, Ind., and who has had a wide experience in motor car engineering. Mr. Diver was the first engineer in the United States to design the square cornered effect which is prevalent in the country today. The car is a compact four-passenger couple which has been created for the small individual group and with comfortable seating arrangement for a front seat passenger. The Upholstery is a worsted basket weave which is individual and matches the finish.

“The doors are 32 inches wide and the idea is carried out to make the passageway to the rear seat accessible. The hardware is the new Louise design exclusive in this model. The rear seat is 46 inches wide and is comfortable for three passengers if necessary. It would be well to stop in and look over this car and see what is being built in Utica.”

An article in the July 9, 1922 Utica Observer-Dispatch provided their readers with a tour of the firm’s Dwyer Ave plant:

“Closed Bodies For Autos – That is Another Variety of Utica Product.

“Visit To Willoughby Plant Reveals Hidden Construction Details.

“Sunday Visit To Willoughby – 2 Col.

“Closed Bodies For Automobiles – that is another variety of product manufactured in Utica. And the chances are that this product will steadily increase in use, according to Francis D. Willoughby, president of the Willoughby Company, a concern which made some of the first auto bodies produced in this country.

“On a wall down at the Willoughby plant at Turner street and Dwyer avenue hangs a frame containing blueprints of the early type of automobiles—the hansom cab type, whose driver was perched high at the rear, and other antiquated styles, wonders of accomplishment in their day.

“In that day of transition, the automobile had not resolved itself into any established style. It has been only through years of development that a basic principle has become generally adapted, and in the Willoughby plant, to-day one finds workmen busy on enclosed bodies, so elaborate in their construction and details that further development or improvement seems hardly possible.

“To mention one small detail: 

“When an automobile is out in a driving rainstorm, what becomes of the water that soaks in between the panels and the glass windows which may be raised and lowered by turning a convenient handle?

“How many persons who own closed cars are aware that away down inside of the body wall is a small gutter or groove cut in the bottom brace which carries the water to a drain hole at the center.

In passing through the woodworking department, Mr. Willoughby called the visiting newpaperman’s attention to a piece of carved and cut wood about two feet long and a foot wide, which looked like a possible cut-out puzzle. This was a section of the inside construction of a door with many jogs and openings to fit the window raising device, the door handle and other appliances.

“An enclosed automobile body is indeed a mass of hidden detail. The skeletons of the cars are built of sturdy upland ash timbers of carefully chosen quality, reinforced by wrought iron braces over which is laid the aluminum surface which shines like a mirror under 18 coats of paint with varnish finish. These bodies are veritable Pullmans, not only in grandeur, but in strength – for in their strength lies one of their greatest advantages. It means a big measure of safety if you ever get into a bad crash.

“And near the spot where workmen are assembling the frames stands a huge presentation board on which is attached a blueprint drawing - the plans of the particular car under construction – drawn to actual size – and a car body is, perhaps, all of 10 feet in length. There is something less than 100 plant workers at the Willoughby plant at present – three hundred when running to capacity. Complete work in all branches is done there – machine woodworking, hand cabinet making, joinery, sheet aluminum metal work, blacksmithing and forging, painting, upholstering, trimming, and final assembling and wiring. There is a great variety of materials in a closed auto body.

“The paint shop on the top floor was particularly warm, for, although it was hot outdoors, the windows were closed and the steam was on in the effort to eliminate humidity, which would delay the drying of the painted bodies. Once accustomed to the atmosphere of the big room, however, it was not all discomforting.

“The company has two complete plants in fact. The equipment and output at the Dwyer Avenue plant is practically duplicated in the shop located in a portion of the old Utica Pipe Foundry*. The woodworking shop to supply this plant is located in a third building.

“The Willoughby Company was founded in 1903 to succeed the Willoughby-Owen Company, which was formed by the late E.A. Willoughby, who bought out the old Utica Carriage Company, and who was the head of the present company at the time of his death in 1913.

“Fine carriages and coaches were made in the early days. Then with the introduction of the automobile came the company’s first work in filling special orders to meet the ideas of individual customers. With the growth of the business the company is now building bodies in quantity lots for several of the larger automobile concerns including the Marmon, Cole, Studebaker, the Rolls-Royce (American body), and some special work for Chandler, while up until last year, bodies also were built for the Locomobile Company, which has ceased to function.

“In many instances, the chassis is sent from the auto factory to the Willoughby plant, where, the body is mounted and the car is driven outs and sent to the dealer under its own power. These are termed ‘drive away’ orders. It takes about seven weeks to completely finish a closed body made in quantity, while individual orders take from 12 to 14 weeks.

“The maximum output of the plant in the much season has been five bodies a day, no more, for while the cars are made in quantity, the same ideals of construction are maintained as in the individual order.

“In discussing the future development of the automobile, Mr. Willoughby contended that the closed body is not only becoming more popular, but that the day is coming when., under certain conditions, a closed car may be sold almost as cheaply as an open one. He said the price differential may be eliminated, first; through greater use of closed cars, making possible the construction of larger number of the same type, with resultant decrease in cost; second, the adoption of standardized designs so stabilized that this year’s style will not be antiquated next year; third, less elaborate interior finish. Touching up on the latter point, Mr. Willoughby said that the interior of an open car is finished in comparatively simple manner, yet in the closed car, the effort is made to give the interior of the low-priced car the same elaborate appearance and finish as in the more expensive car, which swells the cost.

“The Willoughby Company is constantly seeking improvements in construction – details to make for convenience, comfort and style. At present an experiment is being made with a new vacuum stormproof and ventilating windshield, designed to prevent rains from settling upon the glass.”

*The Utica Pipe Foundry was located at the corner of Broad Street and Dwyer Ave, sharing the opposite corner of city block occupied by the Willoughby factory. Organized in 1889 by Charles Millar & Son (Charles Millar, H.W. Millar and Edward G. Wagner) the firm went bankrupt in 1913 and during the next decade and a half Willoughby used a portion of the Pipe Works as an auxiliary plant and storage facility.

The Willoughby Story is continued HERE

© 2012 Mark Theobald - with special thanks to Thomas M. Tryniski and Ed Fiore


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A Bibliography of the History and Life of Utica - Utica Manufacture and Industry: Willoughby Company pp187

Henry J. Cookinham - History of Oneida County, New York: from 1700 to the present time: pub. 1912

Hamilton Child - Gazetteer and Business Directory of Oneida County, pub. 1869

Charles H. Young and William A Quinn - Foundation For Living: The Story of Charles Stewart Mott and Flint, pub. 1963

Auction Scatters Valuable Equipment of Once Thriving Utica Industry – Utica Observer-Dispatch February 5, 1939

George A. Hardin & Frank H. Willard - History of Herkimer County, pub. 1893

Car Body Maker F.D. Willoughby Dies at Age 68 – Utica Daily Press August 15, 1955

Utica’s Latest Industry – Utica Daily Press, April 3, 1897 pp4

Interesting Plant – Utica Sunday Journal – Sept 17, 1899

Audrey Lewis - Memories of Willoughby Vivid for Some - Utica Observer Dispatch, March 4, 1989 ppC1

Michael Lamm - The Coachbuilders: Part XI: Willoughby Co. -  SIA #164, March/April 1998 pp 44-45

Martin Regitko - Willoughby – the Classic Car, Winter 1961 pp14-23

Hugo Pfau - Willoughby – Cars & Parts Oct 1971

Hugo Pfau - More On the Willoughby Company - Cars & Parts November 1973

James F. Bellamy - Cars Made In Upstate New York

Beverly Rae Kimes – Willoughby, Automobile Quarterly

Rome N.Y. - Our City and its People - pp165

Daniel Wager - Our County and Its People (Oneida County, NY) pub. 1896

Samuel W. Durant - History of Oneida County, New York, pub. 1878 

Roger Morrison - 1925 Rolls-Royce Springfield Silver Ghost Salamanca - Car Collector - August 1987 pp 28-35

Charles Darwin Bingham – The Bingham Genealogy, pub. 1917

Col. Theodore A. Bingham –Genealogy of the Bingham Family, pub. 1898

Donna Bingham Munger - The Bingham family in the United States, pub. 1996 

Annie Wittenmyer - History of the Woman's Temperance Crusade, pub. 1878

Marvin E. Arnold - Lincoln and Continental Classic Motorcars: The Early Years

Mark A. Patrick - Lincoln Motor Cars: 1920 through 1942 Photo Archive

Brooks T. Brierley - There is no mistaking a Pierce-Arrow, pub. 1986

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

Thomas E. Bonsall – Coachwork on Lincoln

Thomas E Bonsall - The Lincoln Story: the Postwar Years

Thomas E. Bonsall - Lincoln: Seventy Years Of Fine Car Heritage

Mrs. Wilfred C. Leland - Master of Precision: Henry M. Leland

Maurice Hendry - Lincoln: The Car of State

George Philip Hanley, Stacey Pankiw Hanley – The Marmon Heritage, pub, 1985

Oneida County NY Historical Society

Vintage Automobile Dealerships and Automobilia

Extended Auto Warranties
Are you paying too much? Make sure your auto warranty covers your entire vehicle.

Car Shows
State by State directory of car shows; includes new car shows and classic auto events.

Auto Buying Guide
Paying too much? Use this step by step guide to help get the best deal on your next car.

Car Books, Models & Diecasts
Your one stop shop for automotive books, models, die-casts & collectibles.


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