October 09, 2021


Southern Motor Works (1908-1910)
Jackson, Tennessee
Marathon Motor Works (1910-1914)
Nashville, Tennessee

This is a Marathon radiator emblem (c1912-1914)    mjs
Size: 76mm wide 38mm high   MM: Unknown (some Childs)

The Marathon began as a conventional 30/35 hp four-cylinder car produced in Jackson, Tennessee and offered in touring and roadster body styles in 1908 and 1909. The Southern Motor Works moved to Nashville in 1910 and became the Marathon Motor Works. The Marathon remained a four-cylinder car throughout but was offered in a variety of engine sizes, model designations and body styles over the next few years.

Everything seemed to be going well and the Marathon was outselling its competitors in the Nashville area with sales reaching about 200 cars a month by 1912. Marathon also built a range of trucks in sizes from 1/4-ton to 5-ton capacity in 1912 and 1913.

But all was not well. The company had been mismanaged and was bankrupt by the early summer of 1914. By the end of 1914, the Herff-Brooks Corporation, which had been set up in 1913 specifically to handle the national sales of the Marathon, took over and built a Marathon-like car of its own called the Herff-Brooks (see Herff-Brooks).


I cannot confirm whether the first Marathon cars built in 1908 carried an emblem but it is believed that by 1909 the Marathon did carry a large oval shaped radiator emblem displaying the "Marathon" name and depicting the Greek soldier Pheidippides running from Marathon to Athens.

This Marathon emblem can be seen on some original period photos, see examples shown below:

Marathon car showing large oval radiator emblem (date unknown) bwc

Marathon fire chief's car with large oval radiator emblem (1910) bwc

Marathon car with large emblem in Glidden Tour (1911)  dpl

Close-up showing large oval radiator emblem (1911)    dpl

This Marathon radiator emblem is more clearly seen on the following restored 1912 Marathon race car:

This is a restored Marathon race car (1912)   justcars

Close-up showing the radiator emblem (1912)  

This emblem is the brass, oval shaped Marathon radiator emblem shown below, which was originally painted black and (possibly) white. This Marathon radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a marathon radiator emblem (c1909-1912)   sam
Size: 150mm wide 74mm high    MM: Unknown

From about 1912, the Marathon radiator emblem was changed to a smaller oval emblem finished in blue and pink enamel, see example shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Marathon radiator emblem is very rare.

This is a Marathon radiator emblem (c1912-1914)    mjs
Size: 76mm wide 38mm high   MM: Unknown (some Childs)

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