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Adolf Schneider 1896-1980s
Sharebolt Mfg. Co. (employee), 1915-1918; Frank De Rosa Co. (employee), 1918-1929; Brooklyn, New York; Locke & Co. (employee) , 1929-1930; New York, New York; National Auto Body Metal Works (aka A. Schneider’s Automobile Metal Works), 1930-1971; Bronx, New York; Robert J. Gassaway Inc. (employee) 1971-1980s; South Amboy, New Jersey.
Associated Builders
Sharebolt Mfg. Co., Frank De Rosa Co., Locke & Co.

Adolf Schneider was born in Toruń, Poland, in 1896 and in 1913 emigrated to the United States, joining his two  older sisters, who had preceded him, in Brooklyn where he found employment as a laborer in a sugar factory.

In 1915 he was hired as an apprentice at the Sharebolt Manufacturing Co., a small custom coachbuilder who constructed custom bodies for Brooklyn automobile dealers. In 1918 he went to work for Brooklyn coachbuilder Frank De Rosa, who specialized in the construction of motor coach bodies.

He married Anna (???), a New Yorker born to Polish/Prussian immigrants in 1894, and to the blessed union was born a son Oswald A. Schneider (b.1919).

1920 US Census lists him and his wife Anna living in Brooklyn, his occupation automobile blacksmith.

In 1929, Schneider went to work for Locke & Co., which had a factory in Manhattan. When Locke transferred their workforce to a new facility in Rochester, New York during 1930, he decided to stay put, establishing his own sheet metal business, National Auto Body Metal Works, near his home in the Bronx. In a 1986 interview Schneider stated his first major contract was creating fenders for the Manhattan Mercedes-Benz distributor.

The 1930 US Census* lists Adolf (34yo) - occupation metal work, auto bodies, and his wife Anna (35yo) living at 374 Overing St., Bronx, Assembly District 6, along with his son Oswald, (12 yo).

(*This record states both he and his parents were born in Russia, and Anna was born in New York to Russian immigrants - an error as both of their parents were Prussian, not Russian.)

His listing in the 1933 New York City directory:

“Adolf Schneider (Anna) Natl Auto Body Metal Wks., h. 1640 Overing St., Bronx.”

By that time Schneider and his four employees had begun producing fire apparatus fenders, compartment doors and roof assemblies for Mack Truck.

His entry in the 1940 US Census lists Adolf (43yo) - occupation salesman, auto parts co., and his wife Anna (45yo) living at 660 Clarence Ave., Bronx, Assembly District 6, along with his son Oswald, (21 yo).

Schneider’s business increased soon afterwards when Mack relocated their Fire Apparatus division to Long Island City in 1941, and for the next decade the firm was his largest customer.

During World War II, Schneider won a contract to construct flight simulator bodies (aka Link-Trainers) for the US military and after the war ended he constructed sheet metal assemblies and food service equipment for American Airlines, Pan American Airlines plus several smaller aviation companies.

Even after Mack relocated its Fire Apparatus manufacturing back to Allentown, Schneider continued to supply sheet metal components until 1971 when Mack sublet the construction of its fire apparatus bodies to KME, leaving Schneider without his largest client. 

Schneider subsequently closed up shop and accepted a position as a metal fabricator with New Jersey classic car restorer Robert J. Gassaway (Robert J. Gassaway Inc., 519 S. Main St., South Amboy, N.J.) remaining with the firm until Gassaway sold the business to Stephen Babinsky, a fellow Gassaway metalcrafter. Babinsky eventually reorganized the business as Automotive Restorations Inc. and relocated it to larger facilities in Lebanon, New Jersey where he remains in business today.

Schneider occasionally took on an automotive project, and he’s known today as the creator of an unusual custom-bodied 1930 Stutz Model MB stainless steel-topped coupe that he customized in 1938. He particularly liked Stutz’s early 30s chassis – which were available for pennies on the dollar during the mid-thirties - and constructed three Stutz-based customs for his own use – a single two-door 1931 Blackhawk-based sedan and two M-series coupes. All three were extensively ‘streamlined’ with Schneider constructing new fenders, coachwork and trim for all three vehicles.

The unrestored Blackhawk-based coupe – customized by Schneider in 1935 - was eventually acquired by Stutz collector A.K. Miller who sold it to White River Junction, Vermont collector, Jay Barrett, in 1978. Barrett resold the car in April of 1979 and its last known whereabouts were in Wisconsin where it awaited restoration, after which it disappeared.

The Stutz M-based Coupe that Schneider customized in 1938 was recently restored and offered for sale (at $175,000) by Mark Hyman at Hershey in the Fall of 2010. His description of the car follows:

“Built in 1938 on the long wheelbase MB chassis it incorporates a number of details including the roof skin and trim made of stainless steel a material with which Schneider worked in many projects for the government and Navy. The Stutz radiator is moved far forward to line up with the front of the tires and flanked by headlights and parking lights recessed in nacelles.

“The boattail rear deck encloses a huge trunk said to have been used by Schneider to deliver fire truck fenders doors and roof assemblies formed in his shop to the Mack fire equipment factory in Long Island City a long term customer.

“The dashboard continues Schneider’s use of stainless while the steering wheel appears to be cast aluminum. The smooth-sided body has no visible running boards but hidden ones extend automatically when the doors open.

“The Schneider Stutz’s workmanship and ingenuity are exceptional no doubt contributing to its acquisition in 1976 by Rudy Creteur former chief designer at Rollston and owner of its successor Rollson. In the mid-80s it was restored for Creteur’s daughter in the shop formerly owned by Bob Gassaway where Schneider had worked until his retirement - the work being done to the highest standards.”

The car was subsequently acquired by William T. Gacioch of Jupiter, Florida who exhibited the car at Key Largo's Ocean Reef Club’s 17th-annual Vintage Weekend, which was held the first weekend in December of 2011. Gacioch told a reporter that the extended body and trunk were "used to accommodate the prodigious luggage collection of Mrs. Schneider".

© 2013 Mark Theobald for







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

The California Highway Patrolman, Volume 50 pub. 1986

John B. Montville – Mack, pub. 1973

Harvey Eckart - Mack Fire Apparatus: A Pictorial History, pub.1990

Harvey Eckart - Mack Model L Fire Trucks, 1940 Through 1954: Photo Archive, pub. 1998

Harvey Eckart - Mack Model C Fire Truck: 1957 Through 1967, Photo Archive, pub. 2000

Harvey Eckart - Mack Fire Trucks: 1911-2005, pub. 2005

Mark Elias - Unique cars, boats and planes land at Key Largo vintage weekend, Autoweek, Dec. 6, 2011 issue
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