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Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage


Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

AUTO-BIOGRAPHY

Roamer: America's Smartest Car - Page 8

About mid-year, a group of Canadian businessmen bought the company, renaming it the Roamer Motor Car Co., Ltd., and moving incorporation and operations to Toronto, Ontario. The Barley and the Pennant, however, were still to be manufactured in Kalamazoo. While Wiggington was a proven manager, Barley's departure from the firm left it searching for ways to regain its footing. Roamer abandoned the Continental Six engines, replacing them with a Lycoming 8, priced the same. The Roamer 8-88 came in seven body styles — but sales were still sluggish.

Another blow came when Roamer was unable to continue with Duesenberg engines. In 1926, Deusenberg experienced slow sales and lacked the wherewithal to continue producing engines for Roamer. Despite the Roamer's poor sales performance, the firm expanded in 1926, opening an assembly plant in Los Angeles., California.

The Canadian interests did not last long. By 1927, Roamer was back in Kalamazoo with Barley as president. The March 13th edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports him saying that the company's focus was then on straight 8s. There were three Eight models, delineated by the horsepower each produced and ranging in price from $1985 to $3485. The 8-78, its newest model with the shortest wheelbase (124"), was available as a 2-passenger roadster, a 2-passenger coupe, and a 5-passenger brougham. The 8-80, with a 128" wheelbase, came as a 2-passenger coupe, 2-passenger roadster, 5-passenger sedan, or two-door, 5-passenger sedan. And by far the longest, most powerful 8 was the 8-88 with its 136" wheelbase, available as a 3-passenger sedan, 2-passenger roadster, or 5-passenger tourer. The 8s were still assembled cars with Barston or Jones transmission, Borg and Beck or Raybest clutch, and a Steward speedometer.

By this late date, 26% of Roamer's output was for the export market. In Shanghai alone, 41 of a thousand cars were Roamers. Despite the sales slowdown, Roamer debuted a new Six, 3/4 ton heavy duty truck at the 1927 New York Auto Show, said to be a great value. The following year, two-thirds of the Roamer production was in trucks — including a Model B 6-cylinder with 4000-pound capacity, a one-ton, two-ton, and four-ton six-cylinder, all with an armored front, cast iron radiator, and distinctive Roamer grill.

Roamer Truck.

Roamer Truck.


Even as the company turned out its 8s, though, and tried to market its new truck, it was selling off its older models, engines, parts and equipment. Despite all financial evidence to the contrary, investors continued to believe in Roamer's value. The April 27, 1928 edition of The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) reported that the Roamer Consolidated Corp. of Kalamazoo had been organized as a Delaware corporation and had been formed to take over the business of the Roamer motor car and several allied concerns.

Sales for the Roamers never recovered after 1924, and from 1927 onward only a handful of cars and trucks were produced each year. By 1929, even before the Wall Street crash, the Roamer was done for. Over the course of its history it had produced about twelve thousand cars.

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