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Carmm Body Co., Carmm Convertible Body Co.
Carmm Body Co., Carmm Convertible Body Co.; 1917-1920; New York, New York (aka Carrm Body Co., Carrm Convertible Body Co.)
Associated Firms
American Motors Inc., Amco, Saxon

The Carmm Convertible Body Co. was a short-lived firm formed to exploit the patents of an Argentinian-born tailor turned inventor named Bazel Eli Carrm. Its officers were also involved in the Amco automobile, an assembled car manufactured by the American Holding Co. / American Motors Inc., (100 Broad St., New York, New York ) for export only between 1919 and 1922. 

Other than the prototype, of which several photographs exist, it is unknown if any further examples were completed, although the design was reported to have been licensed for use on the Amco and Saxon automobiles. 

Surviving records spell his name several different ways, with Bazel E. Carrm being the most consistent (95% of the time). His patents are all in that name as are most of his directory listings. However, one census lists him as Basil E. Carmm, the magazine articles announcing the debut of his convertible body, all state it was being offered by the Carmm Convertible Body Co. of New York City. All the magazine articles were clearly taken from the same press release so a possibility exists that 'Carmm' was a typo. Once the pictures were published it was too late to change it, so the firm adopted the misspelled name as their moniker. We shall likley never know.

Bazel Eli Carrm was born on January 1, 1881 in Buenos Aires, Argentina (one source says Alexandria, Egypt). Apprenticed to a tailor upon reaching his majority, he emigrated to the United States in 1902, according to US Census and immigration records held in Grayson County, Texas.

Carrm moved to Chicago, Illinois, marrying Nellie Rankin (age 21) on October 31, 1904. The tailor moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he opened up his own shop, his listing in the 1909-1910 St Louis, Missouri directory being:

“Bazel E. Carrm, B.E. Carrm & Co., tailors, 1021 N. Grand Ave. r.632 Union Blvd.”

He remained in St Louis into 1916 at which time he applied for his first US Patent:

Convertible Trunk - US1285935 - ‎Filed Jun 26, 1916 - ‎Issued Nov 26, 1918 to Bazel E. Carrm, St Louis, Mo.

The patent didn't mention any automotive uses for the trunk and within the year Carrm had relocated to Manhattan where he’s listed in the 1918 New York City Directory as follows:

“Basil E. Carrm, r. 301 W116th St.”

Shortly thereafter he also applied for several more patents, all relating to transformable automobile bodies, the first of which was assigned to American Motors Inc., the manufacturer of the Amco automobile:

Automobile Body - US1299426 - ‎Filed Apr 20, 1917 - ‎Issued Apr 8, 1919 to Bazel E. Carrm assigned to American Motors Inc.

Convertible Automobile Body - US1405486 - ‎Filed Jan 4, 1918 - ‎Issued Feb 7, 1922 to Bazel E. Carrm

Convertible Vehicle Body - US1426153 - ‎Filed Feb 26, 1918 - ‎Issued Aug 15, 1922 to Bazel E. Carrm

Carrm's WWI draft registration card, dated Sept. 17, 1918 gives the following information:

“Bazel E. Carmm, Inventor. Employer, Bazel E. Carmm, 1926 Broadway, NYC, NY. Nearest relative, Helen Carmm, 228 W 114 St, NY, NY.”

The formation of the Carmm Convertible Body Co. was announced to the automotive trades via 4 photographs and a press release that were sent out in June of 1917, the first appearing in the June 9, 1917 issue of Automobile Topics:


“American Motors, Inc., to Market New Body—Other Manufacturers to Be. Licensed—Applicable to Any Chassis Built, Little or Big.

“So varied are the demands made upon the carrying capacity of the average automobile that the owner rarely is quite satisfied with the body, whether it be of the roadster or touring type.

“However, everyone ought to be satisfied with the new type of body that is to be placed on the market by the American Motors, Inc., New York, for it is convertible from a two-passenger to a five or seven-passenger. Not only that, but it does not look in the least like a convertible body. It has the appearance of a true roadster, or of a true touring car, as the case may be, and when fully opened there is an abundance of room.

“Not only has the American Motors, Inc., made plans for the production of bodies on a large scale, but it purposes to license manufacturers to produce bodies for their own chassis. It is stated that the Carmm convertible body can be adapted to any chassis now on the market, from the smallest to the largest, and that the cost of manufacture is no greater than in a single purpose body of equal quality. Carmm bodies, in sample form, already have attracted much interest in the streets of New York, and they are expected to appear in commercial form on 1918 cars.

“The Carmm body, named for its inventor, who is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, though now an American citizen, is exceedingly simple in construction and, what is even more important, is simple in operation. It can be converted, either way, in about two minutes. -The forward part, to the back of the front seat, is of conventional construction. The conversion is all confined to the rear end. The rear doors, hinged at the front, swing both ways, in and out. The entire rear sear structure—seat proper and its outside bodywork—swings on trunnions at the forward lower edge. The transformation is so complete that the practical effect is to make two cars grow where only one grew before.”

The second appeared in the June 25, 1917 issue of The Automobile Journal:

“Body Conversions For 1918

“American Motors Marketing Coach Which Folds and Unfolds as Roadster or Touring Car

“Of the hundreds o£ body innovations introduced in the past few years, none has attracted the widespread attention that is being claimed by the new Carmm convertible body, which is being marketed by the American Motors, Inc., makers of the American Six.

“This body, an invention of a native of Buenos Aires, can be converted in two minutes time into either a neat runabout or roadster type, or a touring body with seating capacity for seven passengers. The conversion is simple and does not require any extraordinary apparatus or fixtures that distort the lines of the body, which is of the full stream line type, and when set in either type has nothing to distinguish it from the regular bodies except the individual steps in place of a running board.”

The third appeared in the June 1917 issue of the Accessory and Garage Journal:

“Roadster Within Touring Car

“Carmm Body, A Convertible Device, Forerunner of 1918 Vogue in Automobile Coachwork

“The American Motors Inc makers of the American Six will market the new Carmm convertible body. This body invented by a native of Buenos Aires of the name which it bears is convertible into either a roadster five-passenger or seven-passenger body in a few minutes

“The convertible arrangement is all confined behind the front seats, which are of standard design. When folded the car is a true roadster type and when opened up it has the appearance of a touring car.

“The makers claim that the construction is so safe and simple that it can be manipulated by a child. it can be made to fit any chassis from a Ford to an extreme wheelbase. There is nothing odd about its appearance, and, when folded into the different sizes it affords the same comfort and convenience for the occupants as standard bodies.

“When in roadster form a simple adjustment releases the rear end of the body so that it can be instantly dropped back, forming the tonneau for a five or seven-passenger body. The doors are folded compactly into the seats and can be opened either in or out.

“The American Motors, Inc., plans to produce the bodies on a large scale, and it is also intended to grant the privilege to manufacturers to build under the Carmm patents.”

Several months later the announcement was published in the October 1, 1917 issue of Motor West:

“Carmm Body Changes Roadster to Touring Car

“The Carmm convertible body will be an optional equipment on more than one leading car when next year's models are placed on the market. A change from a two-passenger roadster model to a five or seven-passenger touring car in two minutes can be made in two minutes with the Carmm body, an operation which is easy for a child. The new body, of a revolutionary type, is the invention of a native of Buenos Aires, named Carmm, who has become an American citizen, It is controlled by the American Motors Co., Inc., New York City. The body mechanically is fool-proof and has not a single intricate mechanical detail. Adjusted for two passengers, it also permits ample room in the tonneau for an extra passenger. A simple adjustment releases the rear end of the body, so it is dropped back, forming the tonneau. The doors fold compactly into the seats and can be opened in or out. When the body is used as a roadster the doors are enclosed with the two folding seats in the tonneau. There is no appearance of bulkiness when the body is adjusted for two passengers, although when opened for seven passengers it has a surprising amount of comfortable room in the tonneau. The Carmm convertible body can be built to fit any chassis from a Ford to the highest priced models of longest wheelbase. There is no freakishness in the lines of the body adjusted for two passengers or when converted into a capacious and comfortable seven-passenger car. roomy enough to accommodate a whole family. Plans have been made by the American Motors. Inc., to produce the bodies on a large scale and orders have been placed by several manufacturers for deliveries in time for the first appearance of the 1918 cars. Privilege will also be granted to manufacturers to build under Carmm patents.”

The firm - exhibiting the the Carmm Universal Auto Body - was listed as an upcoming exhibitor at the 1918 National Auto Show, which was held at New York's Grand Central Palace.  The also were listed as an exhibitor at the 1919 New York Automobile Salon, the
February 2, 1919 edition of the Syracuse Herald reporting:

“In the 69th Regiment Armory (Twenty Sixth St & Lexington Ave) are shown several Liberty Motors and a wide variety of body designs, the following companies exhibiting: Carmm Body Company, Blue Ribbon Body Company, Brooks-Ostruk Company and Holbrook Company.”

American Motors Inc. (unrelated to the significantly later American Motors Corp.) a firm involved in the export trade, annoucned in the January 15, 1918 issue of Motor West that Saxon had purchased a license to use/manufacture the Carmm convertible body:

“Takes Over Saxon Export.

“Saxon cars for the export trade will be handled by the American Motors, Inc., of New York City. Instead of operating under its own name the American Motors, Inc., will be known as the Saxon Motor Car Corp., Export Department. J. J. Cavanaugh, formerly assistant export manager at the Saxon, will handle the factory detail of the export business. At the same time that the American Motors. Inc., took over the export end of the Saxon, it sold to the Saxon company a license to use the Carmm convertible body, the first to be granted.”

American Motors Inc.' also manufactured a touring car designed for the export trade exclusively. The claimed to have 41 foreign branches in Europe, and its designer, D.M. Eller stated he expected to produce 7000 to 8000 automobiles during 1920. Priced at $1400.00 f.o.b., the Amco was a four-door 5-passenger touring car, its slogan being “The car for any clime or climb”. It was equipped with a 19.6 h.p. 4-cylinder Herschell-Spillman 192.4 cu. in. engine and featured a 3-speed selective type transmission, 114 inch wheelbase, artillery type wheels, 31 inch x 4 inch wheels, leather interior and a one man top. A 1920 press release stated:

“Amco is the name of a new American made passenger car to be made by the American Motors, Inc., for export trade only. In other words, the Amco is a foreign car made in America but sold abroad only. The car is laid out to meet European requirements entirely, having right-hand drive. The car is to be an assembled proposition made up of parts prominent in the automotive world. The wheelbase is 114 in. but the springs are exceptionally long for such a short car, 76 per cent of the wheelbase being spring underlaid. Since the car is to be sold in a foreign market special attention has been given the design of the cooling system and it is claimed by the company that cooling surface is ample to take care of strenuous service in tropical climate. The Amco was designed by D. M. Eller and was fitted with a British body and either left or right hand steering could be had.”  Production was begun in Norwalk, CT, but soon moved to Stamford after merging with the Springfield Motors and Davenport Foundry located there. It went out of production in 1922.”

Clark & Kimes state Amco:

“Production was begun in Norwalk, CT, but soon moved to Stamford after merging with the Springfield Motors and Davenport Foundry located there. It went out of production in 1922.”

Carrm was listed in the 1920 NYC Directory as follows:

“Bazel Eli Carrm, v-pres., Am. Holding Co., 128 W 114 St.”

According to securities auctioneer R.M. Smythe & Co., the Carmm Convertible Body Company was later accused of fraudulently selling securities to the public. They uncovered no evidence that it had ever manufactured any cars or automobile bodies, stating the firm was“ordered to cease selling stock in July, 1923 by a court in Brooklyn, N.Y.”

Carrm applied for a fifth US patent in early 1925 while still living in New York City. This patent was not automotive related, being an apparatus for displaying fruit or other objects in an attractive or ornamental form.

“Display Apparatus - US1595449 - ‎Filed Jan 2, 1925 - ‎Issued Aug 10, 1926 to Bazel E. Carrm”

According to the 1930 US Census, Bazel Eli Carrm was back in Chicago with his wife Eva; son Alfredo (b.1909 in Missouri); and daughter Helen (b. 1911 Missouri). His occupation was inventor, own shop, immigrated in 1901.

The last bit of information I could locate on Mr. Carrm was his 1942 Draft Registration Card, which places him in New York City:

“Bazel Ela Carrm,b. Jan. 1, 1882 in Alexandria, Egypt, occupation inventor; 46 Charles St., NYC, NY”

© 2015 Mark Theobald for

Appendix One - Bazel E. Carrm US Patents:

Convertible Trunk - US1285935 - ‎Filed Jun 26, 1916 - ‎Issued Nov 26, 1918 to Bazel E. Carrm

Automobile Body - US1299426 - ‎Filed Apr 20, 1917 - ‎Issued Apr 8, 1919 to Bazel E. Carrm assigned to American Motors Inc.

Convertible Automobile Body - US1405486 - ‎Filed Jan 4, 1918 - ‎Issued Feb 7, 1922 to Bazel E. Carrm

Convertible Vehicle Body - US1426153 - ‎Filed Feb 26, 1918 - ‎Issued Aug 15, 1922 to Bazel E. Carrm

Display Apparatus - US1595449 - ‎Filed Jan 2, 1925 - ‎Issued Aug 10, 1926 to Bazel E. Carrm







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

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