Dorris Motor Car Company

The Dorris Motor Car Company was founded by George Preston Dorris and H. Benjamin Krenning in 1906. Dorris had just left the St. Louis Motor Carriage Company.

The company took over the original St. Louis Motor Carriage Company plant on Vandeventer and began production there. The first vehicles, the Model A, used a new overhead-valve four-cylinder engine coupled with his innovative float-feed carburetor. These vehicles reflected Dorris's design philosophy, summed up in the company motto: "Built up to a standard, not down to a price."

By 1907 the company had outgrown the small Vandeventer factory and moved to a much larger factory at 22-28 South Sarah in St. Louis. In 1909, the company added a third floor to the factory. And by 1912, demand was strong enough the company built the first purpose-built automotive factory west of the Mississippi across the street from the Sarah factory on Laclede.

By March 1911, Dorris had put several thousand miles on a prototype 1,500 pound delivery wagon and was also testing a three-ton truck with a cab-over-engine design. A six cylinder engine became available in 1915 with an advertised horsepower rating of 80. During WWI, Dorris produced parts for the Mark VIII tank and several vehicles were shipped to Europe to help in the war effort.

Dorris Motor Car Company has paid large dividends from 1905 to 1916, but started to lose money in 1917. That year, the company expanded its capital stock to $1,000,000 and company President, H.B. Krenning stepped aside but kept his stock in the company.

Bert R. Parrott founded Astra Motors Corporation in 1919. When he learned that Dorris Motor Car company was available for purchase, he formed a $3 million holding company, Dorris Motors Corporation, to buy out and merge Astra Motors and Dorris. Dorris Motor Car Company's investors agreed to a buyout at $50 per share. Parrott was unable to sell enough stock to complete the buyout.

In 1923 a merger between Dorris, Haynes and Winton companies was proposed. Haynes and Winton directors agreed to the merger, but Dorris stockholders blocked the transaction. Later that year, Krenning demanded his original investment and deferred dividends, totaling $115,000. After a court challenge, the company was put for auction to pay this demand. Krenning then bid $115,000 in the auction and was the winning bidder.

Krenning formed a new company, Dorris Motors Incorporated, with himself as president and Dorris as vice president. The new company focussed on bus and truck manufacturing, although automobiles made from left over parts were available through 1926. The new venture was not a success and the company declared bankruptcy in December of 1926.