The Brown Auto Company

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The Brown Auto Company At the Brown Auto Company, the two partners divided the operational responsibilities. Robert performed the duties of the primary salesman and the chief mechanic whereas his brother, Harry, more commonly called Skin, ran the office. The Ford Motor Company shipped each Model T, colloquially nicknamed the Tin Lizzie, into Bradley on the Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Railroad only partially assembled. Since the body, frame, engine, wheels, doors, and windows, each came as parts; the brothers completed the assembly on the rail siding before driving them to the garage.

The Brown Auto Company, which used Bradley’s Fourth of July parade to advertise their product, on at least one occasion, obtained assistance from
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Mr. Carson preferred to own a car in which he could negotiate his entire driveway without shifting. Robert in the Model T, with its planetary transmission, a predecessor of the modern automatic transmission, won the contest and Robert made a sale for the Brown Auto Company.

In addition to being affordable, the Model T’s ease of operation garnered unyielding customer loyalty. The driver controlled the Model T with foot pedals and car’s innovative transmission handled the shifting of gears. When a Model T owner switched to an automobile from another manufacturer or when he upgraded to Ford’s Model A, the driver needed to learn how to shift gears with a hand lever. One farmer bought Brown Auto Company’s last two Model T cars in order to postpone the inevitable change. 12 The Ford Motor Company quit manufacturing its venerable Model T and replaced it with the Model A in 1927.13

Robert and Bessie’s children periodically worked at the Ford garage performing menial tasks. Their son, Bob, changed the oil and greased the cars.14 The little kids, Teck and Vern, each earned a nickel for cleaning Uncle Skin’s office. When they cleaned the garage, which required considerable effort, they received two quarters. Since none of the roads in and around Bradley had asphalt surfaces, dust and gravel entered the garage with every car brought in for maintenance or repair. After sweeping the garage floor, the girls needed to use a shovel for a dustpan.
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