October 30, 2020

GOTFREDSON

Gotfredson & Joyce Corp. Ltd. (1920-1922)
Gotfredson Truck Corp. Ltd. (1923-1925)

Gotfredson Corp. Ltd. (1925-1932)

Walkerville, Ontario

Gotfredson Corp. (1923-1929)
Robert Gotfredson Truck Co. (1929-1948)
Detroit, Michigan


This is a Gotfredson hood side nameplate (1923-c1929)     mjs
Size: 254mm wide 70mm high    MM: None

Benjamin Gotfredson had developed a substantial business with his American Auto Trimming Company, which grew to be one of the largest companies in automobile trimming and painting with plants at Detroit in Michigan, Cleveland in Ohio and Walkerville in Ontario, Canada. He saw the need for trucking to support his own business of transporting auto bodies back and forth and so took an interest in building trucks.

The first Gotfredson trucks were designed and made in the Walkerville plant in Ontario, partly because there was a relatively large import duty on trucks built in the US, so it was cheaper to build trucks in Canada for the Canadian market. Together with Frank Joyce, Benjamin Gotfredson formed the Gotfredson & Joyce Corporation, Ltd. in April 1929 and the first G&J trucks appeared in the early summer of 1920 . 

The initial G&J trucks were 2-ton capacity with a 3-1/2-ton truck appearing in 1921 and a 1-ton Speed Truck appearing in 1922. Frank Joyce departed in the fall of 1922 and in early 1923 the Canadian company was reorganized as Gotfredson Truck Corporation, Ltd. The Canadian business was so successful, that it was decided to open the Gotfredson Truck Corporation with a plant in Detroit as an offspring of the Gotfredson Truck Corporation Ltd. The Canadian business offered a range of nine truck models from 3/4-ton to 6-ton capacity. The Detroit business offered five models from 1-ton to 5-tons capacity.

Gotfredson trucks were conventional assembled trucks, initially powered by four-cylinder Buda engines with four-speed Brown-Lipe transmission, Timken worm-drive and McCord radiators made in Walkerville. In an effort to diversify its product line, Gotfredson in Canada began production of a taxicab and a bus chassis in late 1924. In early 1927, The Commercial Car Journal reported on a Gotfredson line-up of twelve truck models. Other models added to the line included  a 2-ton Model 36 Speed Truck powered by a heavy duty six-cylinder Buda engine. A Model 30-C utility dump truck was also introduced in 1927.

From 1925 through 1928, Godfredson built chassis for Bickle Fire Engines Ltd. in Woodstock, Ontario, as a low cost alternative to the Ahrens-Fox chassis used for the Bickle premium units. 

Gotfredson advertising and publicity statements were always positive and emphasized increased demand for Gotfredson trucks. Journal articles in 1926 indicated sales of about 480 to 600 trucks produced annually but Gotfredson did not offer sales information. Even in 1928, Gotfredson was emphasizing its "leadership in the fine truck line". 

But, there were serious problems in the Gotfredson business, some arising from the acquisition of the ex-Harroun manufacturing plant in Wayne, Michigan and the creation of the Wayne Body Corporation to produce wooden bodies for motor vehicles and trucks, which was unsuccessful and costly. Also, truck sales began to decline. It was later shown that Gotfredson sales in America were down to 189 in 1929  and sales in Canada were also down from about 400 in 1927 to 113 in 1929. As a result, the Gotfredson Canadian business was bankrupt in February 1929, which also caused bankruptcy of the Detroit business.

The bankruptcy of the Godfreson business had no doubt been anticipated, because soon after, in April 1929, Benjamin Gotfredson's son Robert established the Robert Gotfredson Truck Company based in Detroit and production of Gotfredson trucks resumed, although on a much reduced basis, specializing mainly in custom-built units. The Depression no doubt impeded the Gotfredson recovery and Gotfredson truck sales in 1930 were only 78 units in America and 37 units in Canada. The Canadian business closed in 1932. 

Gotfredson became the Cummins Diesel dealer in Michigan in 1932 and was one of the first truck companies to use diesel power. Gotfredson stopped building their own truck cabs in 1936 and began using ready-made Yellow Truck & Coach (GMC) units. Gotfredson truck production ceased during the Second World War and resumed with production of unchanged 1940 models after the War. Some large units using 150 hp Cummins diesel engines were among the last to be built by Gotfredson in the late 1940's. All production ceased in 1948.

Emblems

The first Gotfredson & Joyce heavy trucks built in Walkerville, Ontario carried a painted rectangular cast metal G&J radiator emblem with rounded ends, which was screwed to the radiator tank top, see original photos shown below. It is likely that the radiator emblem was painted red, as this was the color subsequently used on Gotfredson truck emblems: 

This is a G&J 2-ton truck showing the radiator (1920)   flp


Close-up showing part of the radiator emblem (1920)

The 3-1/2-ton capacity G&J truck shown below appears to have a painted iron radiator to which the emblem is attached. This is in contrast to the polished aluminum radiators used on subsequent G&J and Gotfredson trucks, taxicabs and buses. The radiator emblem shown below may also have been painted red.

This is a G&J 3-1/2-ton truck (1921)     flp

Close-up showing the G&J radiator emblem (1921)

If you have photos of these G&J radiator emblems, please let me know, in order to update this post. These G&L radiator emblems are extremely rare.

Smaller lighter duty G&J trucks used a polished aluminum radiator with an oval shaped aluminum G&J emblem attached to the radiator tank top and most likely painted red, see photo shown below, possibly of a 1922 1-ton Speed Truck:

This appears to be a G&J Speed Truck (c1922)  windsorpubliclibrary

Close-up showing the G&J radiator emblem (c1922)

This G&J radiator emblem is a painted aluminum emblem pinned to the radiator, see example of an original unpainted G&J radiator emblem shown below. This G&J radiator emblem is very rare.

This is a G&J radiator emblem (1922)     mjs
Size: 150mm wide 90mm high     MM: Umknown

Following the Canadian reorganization to the Gotfredson Truck Corporation in 1923, Gotfredson trucks built in Canada carried a new painted radiator emblem and a painted cast metal radiator cap mascot, both displaying the letters "GTC", see examples shown below. This "GTC" radiator emblem is extremely rare.  

This is a GTC truck showing emblem & mascot (c1923) wheelsage

Close-up showing the radiator emblem & mascot (c1923)

If you have photos of the "GTC" radiator emblem shown above, please let me know, in order to update this post. 

The following photo shows the cast metal "GTC" radiator cap mascot:

This is a Gotfredson radiator cap GTC mascot (1923)  flickr

From 1923 in Detroit and from about 1925 in Walkerville, Gotfredson trucks and buses had the "Gotfredson" name cast into the aluminum radiator tank top over a red painted surround with a cast metal radiator cap mascot displaying the letter "G" also red painted, see the Gotfredson Trucks & Busses brochure cover page and original bus photo shown below:

Gotfredson brochure showing rad emblem & mascot (c1925) ms

Gotfredson bus with cast in rad emblem (c1923)  wheelsage

Gotfredson trucks also had red painted hubcaps and a red painted cast aluminum "Gotfredson" nameplate displayed on both sides of the hood and this became the standard emblem arrangement for Gotfredson trucks for several years. See examples shown below:


Gotfredson truck with cast in emblem & hood side nameplate (1925) dpl

Gotfredson Md 20B showing emblems & mascot (1927)  flickr

This shows the cast in radiator emblem and radiator cap mascot (c1924)  ms

This is a Gotfredson cast-in radiator emblem (1923-1929) flickr

This is a Gotfredson hood side nameplate (1923-1929)   mjs
Size: 254mm wide 70mm high   MM: None

The following is a Gotfredson hub cap from the same period:

This is a Gotfredson hub cap (c1923-1929)    dkc


The following is a Gotfredson-Bickle Fire Engine showing a "Gotfredson-Bickle" cast-in radiator emblem:  

This is a Gotfredson-Bickle fire engine (c1928)   flickr

This is a Gotfredson-Bickle cast-in emblem (1927) flickr

After the 1929 reorganization, the Robert Gotfredson Truck Company introduced a new radiator emblem and radiator cap mascot for its light-duty trucks, which were advertised as the "New Centaur. Master of competitors - Swift as a Thoroughbred - co-ordinated to serve beyond established limits...this is the Centaur; immediately identifying the new and greater Gotfredson"

The new Centaur displayed the "Gotfredson" name cast into the aluminum radiator tank top with an enamel centaur emblem below and a centaur radiator cap mascot above, see below:

Gotfredson Centaur radiator emblem and mascot (1929)  bruce singbeil

The two-piece, white, yellow, blue and black enamel Gotfredson radiator emblem, displaying a centaur about to throw a spear, is shown below. This Gotfredson radiator emblem is very rare.

This is a Gotfredson Centaur radiator emblem (1929-c1932)    mjs
Size: 63mm high 52mm wide    MM: Bastian Bros

Heavy-duty Gotfredson truck models continued to use the red painted, cast-in aluminum "Gotfredson" script radiator emblem as shown earlier above.

The following poor quality photo shows a Gotfredson Cummins Diesel tractor from the late 1930's but photographed in 1941. It is hardly visible but the vehicle carries a painted, pressed metal "Gotfredson Diesel" hood side nameplate.

This is a Gotfredson Diesel tractor (late 1930's)   robert galbrick

The following is a red painted Gotfredson emblem, which may be a steering wheel center emblem but I cannot confirm this:

This is a Gotfredson emblem (dates unknown)     mjs
Size: 51mm diameter    MM: None



 





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