Seeing the possibilities that the auto industry had to offer, A. L. Dyke established the first automobile supply business, as well as supply catalog, in the country in 1899. With the industry still in its infancy, Dyke was without actual parts and supplies to sell at first, but developed an arrangement with the St. Louis Motor Carriage Company to sell parts made in their factory under the Dyke name. With extensive advertising in automobile magazines and trade journals, The St. Louis Automobile Supply & Parts Co. prospered quickly, offering tools, parts, supplies, and clothing for the everyday motorist.
Dyke also became a pioneer in the kit car business, supplying all the components, blueprints, and working drawings for people who wanted to build their own cars priced between $600 and $1,000. Between 1899 and 1907, Dyke offered three complete cars for sale, as well as a variety of books on the subject of automobile repair and maintenance.
"All Dyked Up"
A. L. Dyke’s auto supply store was located on Locust Avenue on Automobile Row in St. Louis. On entering the store, visitors were greeted with a life-size mannequin dressed in a touring robe, cap, and goggles. Legend has it that A. L. Dyke coined the phrase “all Dyked up” to describe someone fashionably dressed for the rigors of the road. The expression later changed to “all decked out.”
Accessories, Education, Books
With the success of his catalog business, and with the help of his good friend George P. Dorris, A. L. Dyke decided to author several books on the subject of automobile maintenance and repair. The first book, Diseases of a Gasoline Automobile and How to Cure Them, was published in 1903, followed by Dr. Dyke’s Anatomy of the Automobile, and in 1909, Dyke’s Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia. Dyke also developed a 24-lesson mail-order correspondence course with a series of mechanical working models for people interested in learning automotive engineering at home.
A. L. Dyke began his auto business by offering kit cars with a variety of different engines and bodies for sale in his catalogs. His success with kit cars inspired him to create the St. Louis Electric Automobile Company in 1899. The first car offered was an electric vehicle in either a stanhope or runabout style called both the Dyke and the St. Louis. Dyke sold St. Louis Electric to Scott Automobile Company in 1901. Later, Dyke tried his hand at automobile sales again, when in 1904 he offered a $2,500 four-cylinder touring car called a Dyke-Britton. His last attempt was in 1907 with the D.L.G., a two-seater runabout. His car business, however, was never as successful as his catalog business.