Lone Star Motor Company, San Antonio, TX

The Lone Star Motor Truck and Tractor Association was established in 1919 in San Antonio, Texas. The company promoted itself and its products, mainly automobiles but with some trucks and trailers as well, as a full fledged Texas based manufacturer but the reality is they "badge-engineered" vehicles built in Virginia as their own, a fairly common practice in those days. The Trying to establish the exact details about Lone Star Motor is not easy. The company's own information is often less than truthful and the several reference books that mention the short lived company often fail to agree even on the name of the company, the years it existed and what products it sold. To make matter even more confusing several Texan car companies took the name Lone Star and there were several Piedmonts into the bargain. What is presented here are the facts that everyone does seem to agree on and a brief description of the main areas of confusion.
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
The Piedmont Motor Car Company in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded in 1917, manufactured vehicles using parts made by other manufacturers, to a design made by an external designer. the 4 cylinder engines, for example, were made by Lycoming. The cars were sold under several names, including Piedmont, Lone Star, Bush and Alsace. The cars themselves were described as being the product of Piedmont but, apart from the bodywork, most of the parts came from other suppliers. The chassis, the engines, the transmissions, the fenders and the wheels were all shipped to Lynchburg. And the bodywork itself was "derived" from the Hudson of that era. And even the bodywork came from another company until Piedmont's own shops took over the work.
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
There were two main models, one with a 20 HP four cylinder engine built by Lycoming riding on a 116 inch wheelbase and the other with a 40 HP six cylinder made by Continental on a 122 inch wheel base. Both had three speed transmissions and rode on 32 inch wheels. The 4 weighed 2,450 lbs., was capable of 45 MPH and sold for $1,485.00. The 6 weighed 2,875 lbs., could make it to 55 MPH and cost $1,945.00. The cars had almost identical bodies, except for the radiators and engine covers. Both could carry five people quite comfortably.
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
Cars sold by Bush were mail order only. People paid up front, their money was sent to Piedmont and a car with the appropriate badge was sent out. Piedmont never employed more than 100 people and was only capable of making five cars a day, Over the course of its existence it maybe managed to make 1,500 vehicles a year, possibly up to 7,500 cars and just 300 1 1/2 ton trucks. Its attempts to make tractors did not work out. Most Piedmonts ended up being badged Alsace and shipped abroad. many of these had right hand drive. Several commentators note that the company denied its own local dealerships sufficient vehicles in its attempts to fulfill its foreign orders.
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
 
The only known Lone Star automobile, a 1919 4.30 open tourer
Lone Star automobile, with California top and gray leather seats. It was made for the wife of the owner of the company, Mr. H.C. Feldman
The Lone Star operation was different again. This was a full fledged attempt to give the appearance that the cars were indeed being made in San Antonio but, in fact, even the handsome badges came from Virginia. The operation began in 1919 at a property located at 515 Roosevelt, San Antonio. Some reference books give the date as 1917 but this is probably not correct. Some also note a Lone Star car company in El Paso but it is most likely this was a short lived off shoot of the San Antonio company. The exact location of the down town show room is not known but it was most likely in the downtown area. Several other addresses can be found for the company in the 1921-22 city directory, including one on Duval and another on Crosley but these do not appear to be showrooms and may simply be contact addresses for the various directors.
Lone Star catalog image
 
San Antonio Lone Star automobile dealership interior
Lone Star Motor company advert
Advert for a Lone Star 1 1/2 ton truck. Lone Star was marketed as the product of a San Antonio, but was actually built in Lynchburg, Virginia
The key difference between Lone Stars and other Piedmont products seems to be the decision to sell permanent hardtop roofs on some cars. While most would have been sold as open four door terrors the option of a hard top was made available for an additional $250.00. The benefits were many. The hard top was quieter and significantly improved the fitting and function of side curtains in inclement weather. The hardtop required a different wind shield, to support the extra weight, but they seem to have tried to keep the raked angle of the tourer as much as possible.
Corner stone of the Lone Star warehouse on Roosevelt Avenue, San Antonio
Fort Worth telephone directory advert
Lone Star Truck and Tractor Association demonstration, possibly at the San Antonio International Fair
Lone Star Motor Company stock certificate
Piedmonts / Lone Stars were not low price cars. They cost well over three times what you had to pay for a Ford or a Chevrolet. It seems the company was ill prepared for the economic downturn of the early twenties. When Piedmont declared bankruptcy in October of 1922 it was found to have incredibly high inventories of all the components needed for the cars but, obviously, insufficient customers to bring in the revenue to make assembling them worthwhile. While both Bush and Alsace also sold cars built by other companies, Lone Star was out on a limb and was obliged to close.
1917 Piedmont open tourer
 
1917 Piedmont open tourer
 
Piedmont Motor Company emblem
It was most likely that that no Lone Star vehicle still survived. However, following an article about Lone Stars in the San Antonio Express News by local historian Paula Allen, a lovingly restored example came to light on the Texas coast. It is a four cylinder open tourer, probably the most popular "Piedmont" product. It still has the standard dark green body and black fenders as advertised by the company. Not only that but rumors of a Lone Star truck owned by a Houston lumber company are floating around. As unique as the Lone Star is, as one of the very last surviving Piedmont built cars, the company only ever made three hundred trucks, so, if the truck does exist, it would be even more of a find, a "San Antonio" truck, over 80 years before Toyota.
Piedmont 4.30 Brochure Images
Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30

Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 4.30
 
Piedmont 6-40 Brochure Images
Brochure image of Piedmont 6-40
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 6-40
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 6-40
 
Brochure image of Piedmont 6-40
Beauty Top, also known as the "Californian Top," Brochure Images
Brochure image of the "Beauty Top," a permanent hard top. Also known as the "Californian Top," these roofs could not fold down. They made less noise than a canvas top and provided a better structure for hanging side curtains.
 
Brochure image of the "Beauty Top," a permanent hard top. Also known as the "Californian Top," these roofs could not fold down. They made less noise than a canvas top and provided a beer structure for hanging side curtains.

 

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