Commerce Motor Car Co. - 1911-1923 - Detroit, Michigan - 1923-1926 - Ypsilanti, Michigan - 1927-1932 owned by Relay Motors Corp. - Lima, Ohio


(funeral car introduced in 1925)

The first Commerce was a 1/2-ton panel delivery powered by a 4-cylinder L-head engine of 16.9 hp with right-hand steering and single chain final drive. For 1913 steering was changed to left-hand, and the engine was a 4-cylinder Northway, in 1914, 800 of these delivery trucks, also made in open express and canopy form, were made with the first three years' production. Capacity went up to 3/4-ton in 1914 and a 1-tonner was added for 1917. This had the same engine as the smaller model, but final drive was by internal gears in place of the 3/4-tonner's bevel drive. By 1922 Continental engines were used, in trucks from 3/4 to 2 1/2 tons, and a 10-passenger charabanc which was an elongated touring car with a fixed top. Claimed to be 'the wonder of motordom' it cost $2350 and could travel at 40 mph easily. Force-feed lubrication and worm drive came on all the 1924 models, and for 1925 four bus chassis from 18 to 28 passengers joined the range, together with a powermatic special lumber truck, dump truck, oil truck and funeral car.

For 1926 Commerce trucks underwent major changes in specifications and styling. 6-cylinder engines, still Continentals, were featured, with 3-speed transmission in place of 4, and semi-floating spiral bevel rear axle. Early in 1927 Relay Motors of Wabash, Indiana bought Commerce and moved truck manufacture into the plant of Service Motors which it had also bought, and later into the plant of another purchase, Garford Truck Co of Lima, Ohio. Under Relay management Commerce trucks were re-engineered again, returning to worm drive. They were now basically the same as the new Relay trucks in eight models from 1 to 4 tons, using 6-cylinder Buda engines, 4-wheel hydraulic brakes and the same sheet metal. Com­merce, Garford and Service trucks were now identical ex­cept for the nameplates. Of the four makes in the Relay group Commerce fared the worst, with only 65 trucks re­gistered for 1928, and a microscopic 16 for 1929. At the bottom of the Depression Relay was forced into receiver­ship, resulting in the suspension of Commerce and Service production, though they continued Relay and Garford for a little longer.


    For more information please read:

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Carriage Museum of America - Horse-Drawn Funeral Vehicles: 19th Century Funerals

Carriage Museum of America -  Horse Drawn - Military, Civilian, Veterinary - Ambulances

Gunter-Michael Koch - Bestattungswagen im Wandel der Zeit

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The Story of the Limousine

Richard J. Conjalka - Classic American Limousines: 1955 Through 2000 Photo Archive

Richard J. Conjalka - Stretch Limousines 1928-2001 Photo Archive

Thomas A. McPherson - Eureka: The Eureka Company : a complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Superior: The complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Flxible: The Complete History

Thomas A. McPherson - Miller-Meteor: The Complete History

Hearses - Automobile Quarterly Vol 36 No 3

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

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

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Ed Strauss & Karen Strauss - The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses

Donald F. Wood - American Buses

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Susan Meikle Mandell - A Historical Survey of Transit Buses in the United States

David Jacobs - American Buses, Greyhound, Trailways and Urban Transportation

William A. Luke & Linda L. Metler - Highway Buses of the 20th Century: A Photo Gallery 

William A. Luke & Brian Grams - Buses of Motorcoach Industries 1932-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Greyhound Buses 1914-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Prevost Buses 1924-2002 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Flxible Intercity Buses 1924-1970 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Buses of ACF Photo Archive (including ACF-Brill & CCF-Brill)

William A. Luke - Trailways Buses 1936-2001 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Fageol & Twin Coach Buses 1922-1956 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Trolley Buses: 1913 Through 2001 Photo Archive

Harvey Eckart - Mack Buses: 1900 Through 1960 Photo Archive

Brian Grams & Andrew Gold - GM Intercity Coaches 1944-1980 Photo Archive

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

John McKane - Flxible Transit Buses: 1953 Through 1995 Photo Archive

Bill Vossler - Cars, Trucks and Buses Made by Tractor Companies

Lyndon W Rowe - Municipal buses of the 1960s

Edward S. Kaminsky - American Car & Foundry Company 1899-1999

Dylan Frautschi - Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots and Post Houses


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