Can someone give me some historical background on the O.J. Beaudette body works of Pontiac, Michigan? My '16 was made by Beaudette and I would like to know a little about the company. Also, were all Ford bodies outsourced to similar suppliers the entire T run?
Beaudette was the most common supplier of Model T bodies in the brass era. The OJ Beaudette works was located in Pontiac, Michigan. Google is your friend, there is a lot to read.
Ford phased out outside body makers for most body styles later in T production, but closed bodies continued to be supplied by other companies.
Thanks, Royce, for the informtaion on Beaudette! It's just nice to know more about what you have.
My 21 low cowl Touring has a B stamped in the upper center of the rear heel kick panel. Were other years built by Beaudette always stamped in the same place?
Beaudette was purchased by Fisher Body Company about 1922 since Ford by that time was finally getting rid of all outside suppliers for bodies. At that event OJ Beaudette and his son both retired. Ford hated not being in control of his suppliers. Oliver Joseph Beaudette was a well respected genuinely nice man. He donated tons of time and money to Pontiac Michigan and there are historical markers in Pontiac bearing his name and achievements. A major park is named after him. He built roads in Pontiac at his company's expense. There is ample evidence that his employee's loved him. They called him the "chief" and each morning his employees would greet him and he was ask "how many are we going to build today?" and they rewarded him for his thoughts and efforts. His factory burned to the ground several times in the early years yet local business men and towns folks flocked to him to buy stock and loan him money to rebuild. Mr. Beaudette was deeply troubled after one of the fires resulted in fatalities. Some say he never could forgive himself for that. Unlike Ford OJB did not hold a large portion of the stock in his company and kept control of it primarily upon the strength of his managerial ability and the strength of his character. I spoke with his grandson and met his grand daughter. Bruce McCalley (R.I.P.) and I had lunch with her and they are nice people. The fortune was lost during the depression and now they are just plain folks probably not much different than OJ. She was a delightful lady. OK more than you wanted to know but I think if he were alive we would all know him very well here.
Neat background; thank you for sharing it. My '16 touring has a Beaudette body.
I recently attempted to locate Beaudette historical documentation beyond the Coachbilt write-up, but was astonished to find nothing. Interesting how this enormous early coach and auto body enterprise had lasted as long as it did, and that there is not so much as a surviving example of the their corporate letterhead. As per Coachbilt, Beaudette produced bodies for other marques besides Ford, leading me to assume that this manufacturer would have issued sales literature, service bulletins, etc....again nothing like this was found to exist. As ground-breaking body technology was being developed at Beaudette, I have to believe there would have been countless photographs that chronicalled these efforts.
Wouldn't Mr. Beaudette's Granddaughter have a "Beaudette body" ?
Yes, that of her grandpa, buried out back...
Often when one company buys out another the company doing the purchasing doesn't place a high value on the company history it has acquired. It instead tends to value its own history more and they rarely merge the purchased company history into their own other than saying something like "On mm/dd/yy the O.J. Beaudette company was purchased..."
If you went to Pontiac and looked around you might be surprised as to what is there. I don't know if they have a historical society but they too may have more pictures and info. The OJB company occupied more than 2 city blocks at one time and was the main supplier of bodies to Ford after their last fire prior to 1911.
Punch in Cobina Beaudette on www.wikipedia.org . She had quite a career I didn't know about at the time I was swapping emails with her about ten years ago.
I am in contact with her son and daughter, having given her daughter and granddaughter a ride in the ol' brass picup in 2001. They didn't seem to mind that it didn't have a Beaudette body.
"Often when one company buys out another the company doing the purchasing doesn't place a high value on the company history it has acquired."
Much as Fisher had no records of the Beaudette Body Company, likewise GM has no records of the Fisher Body Co. from the time before GM acquired Fisher in the 20's. I called the GM Archives Dept. in an effort to find info on the Fisher-built Coupelet bodies, but the only info of that sort which exists is in the Benson Research Center. And since the Coupelet bodies were outsourced from Fisher, Benson doesn't have much info on them.
I went to work for one of the old line manufacturing companies when I was 22 y/o. The company was in its 5th location but still had one copy of everything and everything the company had ever done, including every letter written.
It was all stored in one of the outer buildings, unheated but dry. In the building were also old brown paper layout drawings done in pencil and linen drawings of the company first machines with the drawings actually being done by the Founder. Nobody paid it much mind. When the departments were moving things around and needed ‘local’ space they just decided what was not needed and never needed and sent it to the ‘ice house’.
Then the company went from family run to publicly listed…then for a decade or so it was swapped around like old socks among the early conglamerates…and then some MBA from Harvard got the helm of the local company and instituted a records management system to be administered by HR. What was in the ‘ice house’ became fair game dumpster diving within about a month because HR decided they needed some real estate to actually be the records management part!
I actually did the dumpster dive during lunch one day…came up with a complete set of ink on linen drawings for the Founder first machine design that launched the company. I still have them…having offered them back to the company when years/decades later I became the Executive Vice President, but the CEO said ‘nah…no need for history to be lurking around’. (Gee, he was a Harvard MBA also…maybe it was the Cambridge water?)
Anyway, we redid the offices from top to bottom shortly after that and I had a real Winslow Homer hanging on my office wall…had been the Founders hanging in his office years earlier when I was just a kid…(The Founder and Henry F. DuPont were the same age, moved in similar circles, and used the same art broker)...I talked to the CEO about having it reframed to match the new décor….he snarled…”Why the **** would you want a picture of a sinking ship on your office wall!” Guess where it is today? Folks visiting the house just have to always ask...'is it real?'
Yes, there are folks who don’t care at all about the past, or legacy, or heritage. That’s a shame because I bet most of those same idyuts try to impress their own missus and neighbors by socializing at museums and the like. They just don’t get the segue!
Even our friends Ford did an omm-pah, and just may have done many others. When they closed original Lousiville, they just walked out and locked the door! Sold the place as-is, as-was to Mead Paper. The then Chief Engineer of Mead is to this day still a friend and associate and he shares that they had inherited Ford drawings…still in the flat file cabinets…they also had drawings for all of the Louisville designed special tooling…they had the Ford testing gear drawings…and he adds that while he was back in Dayton pondering his navel as to whether to ask Ford about them or whether to just bury them local with Mead stuff…it all apparently had gathered legs by the contractors redoing the building for Mead Paper and there was nothing left to worry about so he didn't.
These stories leave open the opportunity that somewhere, someone in Pontiac Michigan just may have a dusty box of things...you just never know. As a point, the researcher Myers for some things Ford such as 5 dollar day...he found holes in what was in the now BFM...he found the contradictions in the BFM...and he came up with an idea before there was even Ancestry.com. He went and found grand-children, and other progeny, living in the Dearborn area and ask them if they had Journal day books from their ancestor as back in the day, a diary was a common thing for both guys and gals if they could write! He went onto find lots of these journals/diaries tucked in drawers...read them all cover to cover...and felt he now have a true story sans BS and 'the power of the scribe to change actual history'.
For someone really looking to find answers to something like this...take an ad in the local paper...offer to actually go to Pontiac for a vacation to take oral histories...get the word out you are coming to the locals...and my guess is that 'something' new just might be added to the equation.
Unfortunate indeed...I'm sure I'm not the first T casualty who has tried to crack this nut. When I was a kid I bought a tired 1930 Pontiac Touring. I contacted GM and they sent me at least some 20 photocopies of the 1930 Pontiac bodies being made in jigs and on table tops...Wow. Had a 29 Buick #26 Coupe, and a club loaded me up with as many photos of that body being built and upholstered. Like you said John, someone else's rich history of days gone by, simply wasn't a priority to some corporation buying up a defunct firm's outdated assets.
Know what...that's what I like about this hobby...total anachronism. This tired junk may not mean anything to someone 50 years from now, but it's relevant to us...hell, we may all need clinical help.
Thank you for the information on Beaudette bodies , I have a 1915 Beaudette body originally owned by Frank B Clymer relative of Floyd I guess .I have never been able to trace any information on him any info would be appreciated.
My question is I bought the car as an unrestored project so had not been messed with, and it does not have the reinforcing rivet behind the front seats, but it does have what can only be described as a threaded rod just at the ends stud under the front lip edge of the rear seat mounted just above the hinge ,and you see a nut on the outsides of the body ,which you can really see just looks like its been there a very long time, not the most pretty of designs would this have been original Beaudette design or possibly Clymer influenced .
The threaded rod sounds like some kind of repair.