Anderson Auto History(765) 641-2442 or Contact Us
The discovery of natural gas in East Central Indiana in the 1880's led to an rapid industrial expansion of Anderson and its surrounding communities. Most of the factories that located here did not stay long, but they left Anderson with a qualified, skilled labor force. It was with this work force and its dreamers" that Anderson would become a pioneer city in the manufacture of automobiles.
Between 1898 and 1920, 22 different automobiles were manufactured in Anderson. Most of the factories were short-lived, but the group included at least one popular car and an authentic auto industry pioneer.
John Lambert and his invention
For many years, history books have credited the Duryea Brothers with producing America's first automobile in 1892. However, it has since been proven that in 1891, John Lambert--a very successful and prosperous businessman in Ohio City, Ohio--successfully tested and drove a three-wheeled, surrey-topped, gasoline-powered runabout of his own design. Despite the mechanical success, the car was a marketing failure. Priced at $550, not a single party was vaguely interested. Lambert decided a market for his creation would not develop.
Undaunted, he turned his attention to the manufacture of stationary gasoline engines. He selected Anderson as the site for his Buckeye Manufacturing Company. During this time, he devised the friction transmission that would be the feature of all his cars. He made an unsuccessful attempt to buy out a model called the Buckeye, in Anderson, in 1895.
Lambert's first marketing success was a model called the Union, released in 1902. In 1906, he produced the first of a very successful line called the Lambert. In addition to cars, Lambert produced auto fire engines, trucks, gasoline engines and Steel-hoof farm tractors.
The Buckeye Manufacturing Company produced the Lambert automobile through 1917, with maximum production from 1907-1910 when the firm built an average of 2,000 cars a year.
Manufacturers of the popular Nyberg automobile came in the middle of Anderson's auto boom.
Henry Nyberg of Chicago saw an opportunity in the Anderson area and decided to buy the Rider Lewis plant. As with all the industry, the manufacture of a Nyberg was very labor intensive. The cars were literally made by hand, and the Nyberg employees took great pride in their output. The company turned out the first finished car on March 30, 1911.
Operations ceases in 1914. Later the company was sold to A. C. Barley of Streator, Illinois.
The arrival in 1908 of the DeTamble automobile company was the result of a community effort. To encourage outside industry to relocate to Anderson, a booster movement was initiated. Funds for the effort were secured from the sale of 1,200 vacant lots for $300 each. With this money, the city was able to offer cash bonus incentives to factory owners. A committee was formed to implement the search.
The committee was excited about the prospect of a new company from Indianapolis. Edward DeTamble said his factory, which had previously manufactured gasoline motors for automobile arburetors and speed-changing transmission machinery, would hire 600 employees upon his move to Anderson.
The booster committee voted to draw up a contract and secure deeds for the DeTamble factory site in the southeast section of Anderson at 1200 E. 32nd St. The company was to receive a bonus of $50,000 to construct an immense facility.
The DeTamble Company operated in Anderson from 1908 through 1912.
The Anderson Carriage Company was a buggy manufacturer renowned throughout the west and central states. In 1908, the firm announced that it would be developing a new line of motorized vehicles fashioned after a buggy from top to bed but with heavy wheels made of soft cushion tires. Three of their new buggies were soon on the market; two for rural use and one for city. These sold for $500, $550 and $650.
In 1909, the company moved into two new quarters; one to develop automobile vehicles and the other a showroom, located at Twenty-fifth and Walton Streets.
Anderson Carriage Company decided to sell the operation to E. L. Anderson of Union City, Indiana for $17,000 cash.
Anderson's Automobile Age--the complete list
Between 1898 and 1920, the following companies all built automobiles in Anderson: