1905 Babcock logo.
H.H Babcock was a small regional carriage maker that made production bodies for a Dodge, Ford, Lincoln and Wills-Sainte Claire automobiles during the teens and twenties.
They also produced an assembled car called the Babcock in small numbers from 1909 to 1913. The introduction of the stamped metal body combined with their geographic isolation caused them to exit the coachbuilding business a couple of years prior to the start of the Depression.
Hermann A. Brunn worked at Babcock for a while prior to becoming supervisor of the New Haven Carriage Company. Brunn then went on to form Brunn & Company in 1908, which was one of the premiere American custom body builders of the 1920s and 1930s. Interestingly, a Babcock electric car was built in Buffalo, New York, but was unrelated to the Watertown firm.
After building increasing numbers of bodies for local Model T chassis, Babcock introduced six different styles of delivery van and depot hack bodies for Ford Model T and TT chassis that were marketed directly to Ford dealers. By September of 1915, they had received orders for over 1,000 examples.
During the United States' participation in World War I, the company devoted all its plant resources to the manufacture of ambulance bodies and army stretchers. In March of 1917 Babcock got an initial order for 500 (another source says 600) ambulance bodies for the war department’s Medical Corps.
After the war was over, Babcock formed a subsidiary, The Babcock Manufacturing Supply Company, devoted to painting, trimming and upholstering automobile bodies.
Babcock received a large order from the Ford Motor Company for a run of Model T sedans later in the year followed by an August 1919 order from Franklin for sedan bodies, an arrangement that would continue into the mid-1920s, when the Walker Body Company of Amesbury, Massachusetts took over all Franklin body production.
Two devastating fires ravaged the Babcock plants severely limiting their production capacity, the first in May of 1920, the second in January of 1921.
In October of 1923 Babcock secured an order from Wills Ste. Claire of Marysville, Michigan 250 7-passenger sedan bodies and 200 roadster bodies, with a stipulation that examples be ready for the New York Automobile Show in January.
In June of 1924, Lincoln placed an additional order with Babcock for 120 Sports Sedan bodies, and Wills Ste-Clair added several hundred more bodies to their standing order.
In 1925 the commercial division received a small order from the General Bakery Company for 50 delivery van bodies and a large one for 500 taxicab bodies from the Twenties Century Taxicab Association Inc.
Both Ford and Dodge also placed orders in 1925 for the commercial division’s new Suburban light truck body. Dodges initial order of 50 was completed by the beginning of 1926, and the Ford suburbans were produced on an as-needed basis.
At the time of its demise in July of 1926, Babcock owed $605,000 to over 250 creditors.
The firm was sold to C. Wesley Gamble, head of the newly organized H.H. Babcock Equipment Corporation, which was made up of the firm’s creditors.
Existing contracts were filled by July of 1928 and the doors closed forever on August 1st.
(source: Coachbuilt) ©2004 Mark Theobald - All rights reserved.
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