St Louis Motor Carriage Company

St. Louis Motor Carriage Company was a manufacturer of automobiles at 1211–13 North Vandeventer Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri founded by George Preston Dorris and John French in 1898, with French taking charge of marketing and Dorris heading engineering and production. Preceded by a few hand-built automobiles, St. Louis Motor Carriage was the first of many St. Louis automakers and produced automobiles from 1899 to 1906.


The first vehicles were copies of a design Dorris created in Nashville and sold in 1899. In 1900, St. Louis launched a new single-cylindar vehicle. Also in 1900, John French drove the St. Louis on the first automobile trip between St. Louis and Chicago. In 1901 he was one of only three drivers to finish in a New York-to-Buffalo race. After that success French spent the summer in Boston successfully selling 65 vehicles there.

In 1902 French collided with a streetcar in Pittsburg demonstrating a vehicle, injuring himself. He returned to St. Louis, then in the spring of 1903, he drove to Florida, stopping in Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta along the way. He died in Florida in May of 1903 from the injuries sustained in the Pittsburg crash.

The 1904 St. Louis line included runabout and touring car models. Both could be equipped with a tonneau, with seating for up to five passengers. The runabout sold for US$1200 and used a 9 hp engine. The touring car was priced at US$1,500. It used a flat-mounted, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine, situated amidships of the car, producing 10 hp. A two-speed transmission was fitted, and the angle iron-framed car weighed 1650 lb.

John French's father, Jesse French moved the company to Peoria, Illinois in 1905 and renamed the company St. Louis Motor Car Company. Dorris started his own car company, the Dorris Motor Car Co. in the former St Louis Motor Carriage plant in 1906.