REO Speedwagon Badge

Badge from an REO Speed Wagon Fire Truck


A REO Speed-Wagon, from a 1917 advertisement

REO Speedwagon Fire Truck

An REO Speed Wagon Fire Truck at Jack Daniel's Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee. It was this particular type of the vehicle that gave name to the rock band REO Speedwagon.

Reo Speed Wagon Truck 1939

REO Speed Wagon Truck 1939

The REO Speed Wagon (alternately Reo Speedwagon) was a light motor truck manufactured by REO Motor Car Company. It was an ancestor of the pickup truck.

First introduced in 1915, production continued through at least 1953[1] and led to REO being one of the better known manufacturers of commercial vehicles prior to World War II. Although the basic design and styling of the chassis remained consistent, the Speed Wagon was manufactured in a variety of configurations (pickup and panel truck, passenger bus) to serve as delivery, tow, dump, and fire trucks as well as hearses and ambulances. Other manufacturers[2] provided refits for adapting the Speed Wagon for specialized purposes.[3][4] The Speed Wagon used REO's "Gold Crown" series of engines and was well regarded for power, durability, and quality.[5]

While REO produced some wagons based on its automobile chassis (the Model H) starting in 1908 and had organized a division to produce trucks in 1910 with success, the Speed Wagon's introduction in 1915 was a significant step and a sales success. The company was soon offering a variety of Speed Wagon models with many options and by 1925 had produced 125,000.[6]

After years of roughly equal car and truck emphasis, REO shifted its focus completely to trucks, ending automobile production in 1936. Production for the civilian market was suspended during World War II, resuming in 1947.

The rock and roll band REO Speedwagon took its name from this vehicle. Founding band member Neal Doughty recalls seeing the name written on the board in his History of Transportation class at the University of Illinois and later suggesting it to his band mates.[7][8]

Models Edit

  • 1915 model featured 1-ton weight, four-cylinder engine, three speed transmission and aimed to be faster than the 10-15 mph average speed of contemporary trucks.[9]
  • 1917 model featured 3.25-ton weight and canvas top and sides and cost $1125.[10]
  • 1925 model featured six-cylinder engine
  • 1929 model featured REO's "Gold Crown" 268 cubic inch, 67 horsepower, six-cylinder engine.[3]
  • 1933 Model BN [9] featured REO's six-cylinder "Gold Crown" engine and combination of parts from the companies Flying Cloud and Royale luxury cars. It a rare, relatively fast panel delivery truck with wooden body.


James & Son(s), transport company (or haulier), used REO Speed Wagon lorries (trucks) to collect grain from brewers in London to deliver to farms outside London. The grain was used as cattle-feed. James & Son(s) is still in operation.James and son are grain merchants and now operate in New Zealand and Australia as well as the U.K ,The Trucks they used had wooden cabs and came in 2 sizes

In the late 1940s, to mid-1950s Neaves Baby Foods of Fordingbridge in Hampshire ran two large Reo Speedwagons for delivery and collection purposes. Travelling on a regular basis to Avonmouth Docks and Silvertown in London. Besided this they provided daily transport in and around the New Forest. The vehicles were easy to spot as they were both painted bright blue and crimson. Neaves eventually closed and the whereabouts of the vehicles, if they still exist, are unknown.

The Postville Fire Department in Postville Iowa has a fully functioning 1926 REO Speed Wagon on their fleet.

During the 1930s, 1940's and into the 1950s, REO Speed Wagon had UK spare part and service facility on the Great West Road (A4) , 50 metres east of the Ealing Road intersection. Upon REO's re-location to premises in Staines, Middlesex, the factory unit was occupied by the Beecham group and the building was distinguished by a neon Lucozade sign.

See alsoEdit


  1. In 1936 REO abandoned the manufacture of automobiles to concentrate on trucks.
  2. "Standard Body for Reo Chassis", Bus Transportation 1(12): 655. December, Retrieved on <time class="dtstart" datetime="22 March 2011">22 March 2011</time>. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "1929 REO Speed Wagon Camper". Woodland Family Automobile Collection. Estrella WarBirds Museum. Retrieved on 22 March 2011.
  4. 1915 police patrol wagon "Departments Police History". City of Bloomington, Illinois. Retrieved on 22 March 2011.
  5. LIPTRAP, JIM. "REO Motor Car Company". Retrieved on 22 March 2011.
  6. Senefsky, Bill (May 2009), "REO Speedwagon - The World's First Pickup", Diesel Power, 
  7. "Review of LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PLEASE WELCOME…". Film Threat. Retrieved on 23 March 2011.
  8. Allen Verbrugge and Jody Sowell (2002). Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Welcome…. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. "1933 Reo Speedwagon Model BN". howstuffworks. Retrieved on 22 March 2011.
  10. "REO Speed Wagon (The Vehicle)". Timebinder. Retrieved on 22 March 2011.

External linksEdit

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at REO Speed Wagon. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.