Alphabetical Index|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z


quicklinks|buses|cars|customs|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

F.A. Ames Co.
F.A. Ames Company, 1911-1941; Ames Body Corporation, 1915-1922; Owensboro, Kentucky
Associated Firms
Carriage Woodstock Co., 1891-1911; Ames Motor Car Co., 1911-1915

Frederick A. Ames (sometimes spelled Frederic) was born in 1865 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to an Akron, Ohio carriage builder. In answer to an advertisement looking for a carriage repairman, he relocated to Owensborough in 1887 at the age of 21 and in 1891 established the Carriage Woodstock Co. on the southeast corner of Third and St. Elizabeth Sts. William G. Ames followed his brother to Owensborough but passed away in 1891, just before the firm achieved its great success.

By 1893, the year that Owensborough shortened its name to the present spelling of Owensboro, Ames was producing 5,000 carriages a year with a staff of 60 to 75.

By 1904 Ames’ Carriage Woodstock Company was a thriving buggy manufacturing business with two separate Owensboro factories. The firm employed 250 workers, with peak output of 125 buggies daily, some of them destined for Germany, South Africa, the West Indies, and parts of Latin America. Ames Buggy manufactured forty specific types and styles of passenger vehicles, many with silver and gold trim.

In 1908 the firm was listed in various automotive trade directories as the

“Carriage Woodstock Co. - Owensboro. Ky., Mfrs. wood and metallic bodies.”

In 1909 the Carriage Woodstock Company broke ground for a two-story 80’ x 160’ addition to its plant which was to be used for the manufacture of the Ames Automobile. The Ames was introduced in the fall of 1909 and was offered with just one chassis, one engine and two body styles.

In 1908 leveraged resources gained from Vincent Bendix’ recent purchase of the Triumph Motor Car Company in Chicago enabled him to begin production of his Duplex and Bendix in Logansport, Indiana. 7,000 cars were reportedly produced before the firm failed in 1910.

After the failure Bendix sold new Cadillacs in Chicago and was appointed the Southern sales manager for the Haynes Motor Car Co. During the same time he developed the idea for the Bendix electric starter drive and while awaiting approval on the patents he attended the 1910 Chicago Automobile Show where he became interested in the just-introduced Ames Automobile. Bendix propositioned Ames for a chance to develop the new car, and shortly thereafter he was put in charge of its development and manufacture.

During 1911 Ames reorganized the Carriage Woodstock Company into the F.A. Ames Co. Soon afterwards two additional Ames-controlled firms were organized, the Ames Motor Car Co. and the Ames Body Corporation. The first would manufacture the Ames Automobile, the second would produce coachwork in-the-white for the F.A. Ames Co.

A 1911 Owensboro fire destroyed Ames sheet-iron loading warehouse, but did not interfere with vehicle production.

Under Bendix’ direction the 1912 Ames Automobile line expanded into three wheelbases and three engines, but when he left in 1913 the automobile returned to its one-chassis/one-engine lineup. While working for Ames, Bendix became friends with Herbert Sharlock, Ames director of sales and when he formed Bendix, Sharlock left Ownesboro to work for Bendix.

The Ames gained a little publicity after a Texas automobile dealer ordered a lot of 50 after a test drive, proclaiming the Ames as the “best $1,500 car” in the entire country. The last models were called Kentucky Thoroughbred, which The Automobile found appropriate:

“The car lives up to its nickname. . . by its smooth lines, clean running board and general racy appearance.”

Development of the vehicle floundered after Bendix left the firm and production of the Ames motorcar ended in 1915. Between 1910 and 1915 approximately 2700 Ames were manufactured.

Although the Ames automobile proved to be a failure, the other divisions of Ames’ Owensboro empire were doing nicely.

A 1916 issue of Automotive Industries announced:

“The F.A. Ames Co. of Owensboro, Ky., have some new detachable tops for Ford roadsters and touring cars. These are of a cloth material construction, arranged so that the doors not only hinge nicely but the attachment of the body is very rigid and there is a good fit between body and top and windshield, preventing any air or water from leaking in. The roadster type weighs about 100 lb. net and sells for $60, while the touring car type weighs 150 lb., and sells for $97.50.”

A 2-page ad for the Ames-bilt Cloverleaf Body appeared in a 1916 issue of Motor.

From 1915 through 1925, the Ames Body Corporation produced replacement bodies for the Model T Ford. There were six body styles. 10,000 bodies of each style were reported to have been made. During the same period Ames manufactured a frame extension marketed as the Ames-Truk that converted a stock Ford Model T into a 1-ton truck. Early Ames Speedster bodies can be easily identified by their hoods which featured distinctive round louvered vent hole covers, similar to those found on cast iron stoves and Weber grills.

Ames Body produced both carriage and automobiles bodies for their parent firm, the F.A. Ames Co. Ames purchased rough lumber from various Daviess County sawmills then dried it in their massive kilns prior to shipping it to their dimension and planning mill. Once assembled and ironed, bodies in-the-white were delivered across town to the massive F.A. Ames Co. plant for finishing and trimming. F.A. Ames continued to produce buggies, carriages and spring wagons into the early twenties.

Circa 1922 Ames Brochure:

“People like the dependability and the economy of the Ford, yet at the same time a great many want - provided they can get it at a reasonable figure-individuality, roominess, distinctiveness and added comfort!

“Ames Closed Bodies Do This and a Great Deal More

“Our dealers report that about 70% of their closed body sales are on new Ford chassis, and with our complete line and our new low prices this field is enlarging daily and offers exceptional opportunities for a clean, satisfactory and profitable business that repeats.

“We know of a number of cases where our dealers have sold the same customer three and four Ames equipped Fords during the last eight years. Sales of three and four to one family within a short time after the first sale to a member of the family are by no means rare.

“Ames Bodies Satisfy and Repeat

“Ames Sport Bodies for Fords at all times appeal to the young fellow who wants something snappy, something that by its very lines denotes speed.

"Dealers have always used them most advantageously to convert their trade-ins into cash quickly, and there is no more profitable or surer way to dispose of used Fords whose bodies have seen better days.

“As we concentrate the efforts of two large plants on the production of these Quality Bodies for Fords, our prices are very low, and a careful reading of our specifications will convince you that we are giving maximum value for the money!

“Established in 1881, Ames of Owensboro has established a reputation for high quality coach work, and as the present line is the result of nearly ten years of undisputed leadership in manufacturing Special Pas­senger Bodies for Fords we offer each and every model as the latest and best in its respective class.

“All Ames Bodies are built of the best material, only 20-gauge full finished automobile body sheet steel is used, and our inspection during and after manufac­turing is most rigid. They fit perfectly on Model- T Ford chassis, though on account of the different sizes of radiators used we urge you to mention the year of the car's production.

“A trial order will convince you and will prove to you conclusively that it pays handsomely to sell Ames Bodies.

“We Are Anxious To Serve You!

“The F.A. Ames Company, Incorporated, Owensboro, Kentucky”

The following is taken from a brochure for the Ames Model 814 Racer Body:

“With this superb Ames Racer Body and a Ford Chas­sis, you will have a car that anyone would be proud to own and drive.

“This is a wonderfully popular Ames Body - this Model 814 Racer. It is one of the most popular Models we have ever built, in all our years of building fine bodies for Automobiles. It is a special favorite with red-blooded men-the young men who set the pace in every community-the young men who like snap, style and speed-and a car that is different.

“Body trimmed and painted New York Red, striped in silver; hood painted same color as body. It may be mounted with or without Fenders. It looks good either way.


“This Model 814 consists of the following equipment:

“Hood; Radiator Shell; Floorboards; Wedge block for lowering steering column; Radiator extension filler pipe; gas line extension; and all necessary attachments for mounting.

“Upholstering - The upholstering of the seat cushions and back slip covers is of Muleskin, that looks good and wears well.

“Gas Tank - Provision has been made for carrying the standard Ford tank, round or oval, on a raised plat­form that insures a positive gas feed on steepest in­clines. All bolts in place ready for mounting.

“Tire Carrier - Brackets are, secured to the rear end for strapping on spare tire or wheel.

Body Dimensions

in inches

Length over all (Ford wheel base 100 inches)


Length of Hood


Length of Cowl


Height of Cowl

22 1/2

From Dash to Back Seat


From Cowl to Back Seat


Width of Cowl


Seat Cushions

16 x 18

Height of Seat Back


Net Weight

130 lbs.

Crated Weight

220 lbs.

“Special Equipment (Furnished as Extras)

“Windshield - Double panel ventilating type, 14 inches high, tilted. Includes body brackets and rein­forcing irons. The underneath side of the metal panel­ing of cowl is marked according to templates to locate accurately the bolt holes for the windshield body brackets.

“Trunk - Finished in fine, durable baked enamel. Equipped with two suit-case catches and Yale Lock. Cover is deep and comes down well over the box mak­ing it essentially water tight.”

1922 Price List:

“Model 814 Racer - Includes hood; radiator shell; radiator extension filler pipe; gas line extension; block for lowering steering column; and neces­sary attachments for mounting. Finished in Ames Red, striped in silver - $49.00

“Double Panel Windshield for Model 814­ - Includes body brackets and reinforcing irons - $12.00

“Trunk - For Model 814. Finished in fine, durable baked enamel. Equipped with two suitcase catches and Yale lock. Cover is deep and comes well down over the box making it essentially water tight - $ 6.00”

A reported 30,000 vehicles were manufactured by the firm in 1922, their banner year. Unfortunately Ames suffered a simultaneous nervous breakdown and spent a number of months in a Battle Creek, Michigan Sanitarium. He returned to his business activities but experienced a second breakdown in 1923, remaining hospitalized for a longer period. Frederic A. Ames passed away in 1925 at the age of 60.

When Ames suffered his first breakdown, R.S. Triplett was brought in to manage the firm’s affairs in his absence. Triplett married Ames’ niece, Marie, and assumed permanent control of the firm after Ames’ second breakdown. 

The Triplett’s were one of Owensboro’s leading families. Captain R.S. Triplett, Ames’ president, was a direct descendent of Robert Triplett, who in 1826 built Kentucky’s first railway in order to transport coal from his Bon Harbor Hills mine to the Ohio River.

In 1852 Robert Triplett’s son, Robert Samuels Triplett, established Owensboro’s second newspaper, the Owensboro Gazette with his brother-in-law, George Graham Vest, who would later serve as US Senator from Missouri, 1879-1903.

Robert Samuels Triplett, commonly known as R.S. Triplett, also established a general store in Owensboro, and with his brother, John H. Triplett, operated a steam-powered packet boat that ran along the Upper St. Francis River in Missouri. John would later captain the H.M. Sweetser, a large stern wheel steamer that ran along the Ohio River between Owensboro and Evansville, Indiana.

John H. Triplett’s three sons, John H. Triplett, Jr, Robert Samuels Triplett Jr. and George Vest Triplett helped organize the Owensboro, Falls of Rough and Green River Railroad. The R.S. Triplett that became president of the F.A. Ames Co. was named after his grandfather, Robert Samuels Triplett I.

At the time of his death Ames was a millionaire with vast real estate holdings in Owensboro and Atlanta, Georgia. His widow, the former Mary M. McMannon, passed away in 1933. Although the Ames had no children of their own, Mary’s niece Marie had been raised in their home as an adopted child, and inherited most of Ames’ fortune.

Under Triplett, Ames switched gears and began to manufacture upholstered living room furniture in addition to their automobile bodies, and by 1926 building furniture and children’s pony wagons was their only business. When the last full-sized vehicle body was completed in June of that year, Triplett estimated that over 300,000 buggies, carriages, spring wagons and automobile bodies had been built by Ames.

For a number of years Triplett ran Owensboro’s Frontier Village tourist attraction which included a museum, harness works, blacksmith shop, stables and race track.

Prior to his death, Frederick A. Ames was involved in Billy Durant’s Associated Bodies Corporation, a firm that was organized to build production bodies for Durant Motor’s new light commercial chassis which were sold under the Star, Durant and Rugby monikers between 1923 and 1931.

The June 1924 issue of The Motor Truck; the National Authority of Power Haulage (pp 36-37) announced the formation of the $1 million firm.

R. Frank Monroe, former president of the Monroe Body Company of Ludington, Michigan and the president of the Mengel Body Company of Louisville, Kentucky was elected president of Associated Bodies while D. Claude Harris, Mengel’s secretary-treasurer became its vice-president and treasurer. J.W. Sliger, another Mengel executive, was appointed general manager of the new firm.

Other investors included Ames, Walter L. Rowe, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Durant Motors, Winifred W. Murphy, secretary and treasurer of Durant Motors, J.S. Hunt, vice-president and general manager of the Hayes-Hunt Company and Syd. D. Camper, vice president of the Bankers Mortgage Company of Louisville. All of Associated Bodies directors were either former directors of Chevrolet, Durant Motors or the Mengel Body Co.

The article stated that the new firm had arranged to take over an existing factory located reasonably near Louisville that had a capacity to produce 100 commercial and 25 bus bodies per day. Very little information can be found after the 1924 announcement other than advertisements for the sale Associated Bodies stock, so it’s likely that the firm was just another one of Durant’s paper corporations.

In 1941 F.A. Ames Corp. filed for bankruptcy and most of its assets were purchased by the Whitehall Furniture Co. of Owensboro. The vacant F.A. Ames building was purchased by V. E. Anderson Windows and Doors in August of 1943.

The Ames Building at 401 W 3rd St. is the only structure left in Owensboro’s downtown business district that’s connected to the city’s once booming carriage industry.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

William Foster Hayes - Sixty Years Of Owensboro

Richard D. Ames - Ames is the Name: A Genealogy

F.A. Ames Company – Antique Automobile, July-August 1985

Henry W. Meyer - Memories of the Buggy Days

John E. Kleber - The Kentucky Encyclopedia

Arnold Harris Hord - Genealogy of the Triplett Family, the William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Oct., 1912)

Submit Pictures or Information

Original sources of information are given when available. Additional pictures, information and corrections are most welcome.

Click Here to submit pictures or information


quicklinks|buses|cars|customs|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

© 2004-2014, Inc.|books|disclaimer|index|privacy