Oakland Motor Car Company


Oakland Plant, 1934

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Written by Bill Bowman

In 1893, Edward M. Murphy established the Pontiac Buggy Company in Pontiac, Michigan and produced horse drawn carriages thru 1906.

As it became clear that motorcar sales were surpassing carriages, Murphy incorporated the Oakland Motor Car Company in 1907, an offshoot of his Pontiac Buggy Company. Murphy is said to have chosen the name Oakland for his car venture, located in the Oakland County of Michigan, city of Pontiac, because cross-town rival Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works already was making a high-wheel motor wagon under the Pontiac name.

In 1908, the Oakland Motor Car Company and the Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works merged together under the Oakland Motor Car Company. Later in 1908, the first Oaklands went to market. The first Oaklands used an unusual Alanson Brush designed two cylinder vertical engine, which rotated counterclockwise. This type of engine was common in French cars but not popular with American engineers. The engines worked fine, but the cars did not sell well.

In 1909, Murphy sold 50% interest in the Oakland Motor Car Company to William Durant. The Oakland found itself as a charter member of Durant’s newly formed General Motors empire.

In 1909, Oakland introduced new engines, new body styles and new models, which greatly increased sales, but unexpectedly during the summer of 1909, Murphy died and a few months later General Motors purchased full control of Oakland Motor Car Company.

The Oakland brand was produced thru 1931 by the Oakland Motors Division of General Motors, but in 1932 the Oakland name was dropped and the Oakland Motor Division became Pontiac Motor Car Company.

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