Visitors to the Wabaunsee County Historical Society Museum in Alma, Kansas enjoy seeing this 1923 Reo Fire Truck on display in the museum annex building. The truck was built by the Reo Motor Car Company of Lansing, Michigan, built on a Reo Speedwagon chassis. The Speedwagon was the Reo’s early entry into the light truck market.
The Reo Motor Car Company was founded by Ransom E. Olds who had created the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, later known as Oldsmobile, in 1897. Olds left the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1905, immediately establishing the REO Motor Car Company that same year. Reo became a pioneer in light truck manufacturing.
Reo produced about 20,000 light trucks a year during the 1920s. The company began to struggle in the 1930s, a situation assuaged somewhat by the company’s construction of trucks for the military during World War II. In the post-war years, the company experienced more financial difficulties and declared bankruptcy, selling its automobile line, while the Reo truck business was acquired by White Motor Company. White merged REO with Diamond T Trucks and continued to manufacture Diamond-Reo trucks until 1975 when the company declared bankruptcy, and its assets were sold.