Marmon was an automobile brand name manufactured by Nordyke Marmon & Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, from 1902 through 1933, and a brand of Texas-made premium trucks from 1963 through 1997. In the corporate sphere, the name currently survives through the Marmon Group of Chicago, Illinois, and Marmon Motor Co. of Denton, Texas.
Marmon's parent company was founded in 1851 manufacturing flour grinding mill equipment, and branching out into other machinery through the late 19th century. Small limited production of experimental automobiles began in 1902, with an air-cooled V-twin engine. An air-cooled V4 followed the next year, with pioneering V6 and V8 engines tried over the next few years before more conventional straight engine designs were settled upon. Marmons soon gained a reputation as a reliable, speedy upscale car.
The 1913 Model 48 was a left-hand steering tourer with a cast aluminum body and electric headlights and horn, as well as electric courtesy lights for the dash and doors. It used a 573 in3 (9382 cc) (4½×6-inch, 114×152 mm) T-head straight-6 engine of between 48 and 80 hp (36 and 60 kW) with dual-plug ignition and electric starter. It had a 145 in (3683 mm) wheelbase (long for the era) and 36×4½-inch (91×11.4 cm) front/37×5-inch (94×12.7 cm) rear wheels (which would interchange front and rear) and full-elliptic front and ¾-elliptic springs ch fanfare. Like most cars of the era, it came complete with a tool kit; in Marmon's case, it offered jack, power tire pump, chassis oiler, tire patch kit, and trouble light. The 48 came in a variety of models: two-, four-, five-, or seven-passenger tourers at US$5000, seven-passenger limousine at US$6250, seven-passenger landaulette at US$6350, and seven-passenger Berlin limousine at US$6450. (By contrast, a Colt Runabout US$1500, an Enger 40 US$2000, and American's base model was US$4250.)
The 1916 Model 34 used an aluminum straight-6, and used aluminum in the body and chassis to reduce overall weight to just 3295 lb (1495 kg). A Model 34 was driven coast to coast as a publicity stunt, beating Erwin "Cannonball" Baker's record to much fanfare.
New models were introduced for 1924, replacing the long-lived Model 34, but the company was facing financial trouble, and in 1926 was reorganized as the Marmon Motor Car Co.
In 1929, Marmon introduced an under-$1,000 straight-8 car, the Roosevelt, but the stock market crash of 1929 made the company's problems worse. Howard Marmon had begun working on the world's first V16 engine in 1927, but was unable to complete the production Sixteen until 1931. By that time, Cadillac had already introduced their V-16, designed by ex-Marmon engineer Owen Nacker. Peerless, too, was developing a V16 with help from an ex-Marmon engineer, James Bohannon.
The Marmon Sixteen was produced for just three years, with 400 examples made. The engine displaced 491 in³ (8.0 L) and produced 200 hp (149 kW). It was an all-aluminum design with steel cylinder liners and a 45° bank angle.
Marmon discontinued automobile production in 1933, the worst year of the Great Depression.
While the Marmon Company discontinued auto production, they continued to manufacture components for other auto manufacturers and manufactured trucks. When the Great Depression drastically reduced the luxury car market, the Marmon Car Company joined forces with Colonel Arthur Herrington, an ex-military engineer involved in the design of all-wheel drive vehicles. The new company was called Marmon-Herrington.
Marmon-Herrington got off to a successful start by procuring contracts for military aircraft refueling trucks, 4x4 chassis for towing light weaponry, commercial aircraft refueling trucks, and an order from the Iraqi Pipeline Company for what were the largest trucks ever built at the time. In addition to large commercial and military vehicles, company leaders recognized a growing market for moderately priced all-wheel drive vehicles.
This gave birth to the Marmon-Herrington Ford. The installation of all-wheel drive to commercial truck chassis is the primary focus of the Marmon-Herrington Company today.
In the early 1960s, Marmon-Herrington was purchased by the Pritzker family and became a member of an association of companies which eventually adopted the name The Marmon Group.
For the 1993 Indianapolis 500, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of The Marmon Group of companies, Eric Bachelart drove a tribute to the Marmon Wasp, actually a year old Lola with Buick power, which was uncompetitive and failed to qualify. After qualifications ended, the sponsorship was transferred to the car of John Andretti, who was driving for A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Andretti started 23rd and briefly led before eventually finishing tenth.
In 1963 , after Marmon-Herrington ceased truck production, a new company, Marmon Motor Co. of Denton, Texas, revived the Marmon brand to build and sell truck designs that Marmon-Herrington had been planning. These Marmons were premium trucks aimed at the owner operator, and were the epitome of a Texan truck.
The Marmon was always a low-production hand made truck sometimes dubbed the Rolls-Royce of trucks. An overcrowded American truck industry and the lack of a nationwide sales network spelled the end of the Marmon trucks in the USA. The last Marmon was made in 1997, and the production facilities in Garland, Texas, were taken over by International’s Paystar division.
In 1996 an attempt to revive Marmon trucks in Australia had been attempted using the Max Marmon name. It seems that only a few units were ever built and sold.
Interview: Lee Marmon and poet Joy Harjo discuss Marmon's new book of photographs entitled, "The Pueblo Imagination: Landscape and Memory in the Photography of Lee Marmon"
Oct 17, 2003; TONY COX Tavis Smiley (NPR) 10-17-2003 Interview: Lee Marmon and poet Joy Harjo discuss Marmon's new book of...