REO Club Meet

by Wendell Bell

Many AACA members belong to other car clubs, some brand specific, and I wanted to share some news about the REO Club of America. Founded in 1973, the club held its Annual Meet in Texas for the first time last July.

There was good turnout of over 100 people who brought 23 REO automobiles to Kerrville ranging from a 1907 Model B two‐cylinder to a 1949 Speedwagon. The Model B came from nearby New Braunfels while the Speedwagon’s home is in Saskatchewan. In fact, the 1949 Speedwagon was driven to the meet!! Yes, it has a modern drive train and safety improvements, but who could quibble over recognizing the owner for longest distance driven, over 1,800 miles? In the same vein, the award for farthest distance trailered went to owners of a 1931 Royale from Alberta. The longest distance travelled award went to a couple from Maine. This is a dedicated bunch.

Road Relics member George Pierce brought his 1930 Flying Cloud up from San Antonio. Unfortunately, my 1929 Flying Cloud was not ready for this event, but I received lots of tips and encouragement to keep working on it. Like Road Relics, the REO Club is a great source for technical advice, parts, and general networking. Attendees came from far and wide, representing 19 states, 3 Canadian provinces, and 1 Mexican State. Currently, the REO Club has 663 members, 88% in the USA, 7% in Canada, and the rest scattered from Australia to Europe. The top 4 states by members are Michigan (71), Pennsylvania (50), New York (46), and California (45). Texas has 19 members.

Tour routes and destinations in the four‐day meet were similar to other Hill Country car events such as the 2019 Texas Tour: Luckenbach, LBJ Ranch, National Museum of the Pacific War, Atwell Classic Car Collection, James Avery Museum, Museum of Western Art, and Sweet Dreams Classic Cars.

The weather was every bit as hot as expected, so several regular attendees chose not to bring cars to the meet, and a number who did decided not to drive them long distances.

That said, it was a treat to watch a dozen or so REOs being ogled at a lunch stop in Luckenbach. There were no mishaps, and only one vehicle was disabled due to vapor lock. It was trailered back to Kerrville from the LBJ Ranch, demonstrating the wisdom of having a “vulture wagon” on tour.

In addition to the tour stops, there were afternoon technical sessions at the Inn of the Hills. Topics included rebuilding fuel pumps, tuning Schebler carburetors, rebuilding brakes using NAPA parts (if you know the part numbers), aiming headlights, and how to bring barn finds back to life.

All in all, the REO Meet was a huge success, largely due to the planning and other efforts of John and Virginia Phillips of McAllen. I know that I enjoyed it immensely and heard lots of positive comments from participants.

As a quick history refresher, Ransom Eli Olds founded the REO Motor Car Company in 1904 after leaving the Olds Motor Works Company (Oldsmobile) which he also founded. When he left Oldsmobile, he was precluded from using his name (Olds) for another auto company, so he chose to use his initials (REO). By the fall of 1904, the new company began producing its first vehicles. REO produced a variety of cars and trucks until 1936 when passenger car production ceased due to the effects of the depression. Through a series of mergers, REO trucks (under names like Diamond REO and REO Giant ‐‐ mostly as subsidiaries of White Motor Company) continued to be produced until the 1970s. The REO Club of America is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of these vehicles.