‘Shifting Gears’ exhibit opens in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS ‘ Ten outstanding and rare examples of early motoring that trace the history of cars made in St. Louis are now on display inside the Missouri AL Dyke.jpgHistorical Museum. The exhibit, “Shifting Gears: The Automobile Industry in St. Louis, 1890-1930,” opened on Oct. 15. 

The oldest car on display is a horseless carriage made around 1900 by the St. Louis Gasoline Motor Co., in business for only three years when it closed production in 1900. Next oldest is a Dyke kit car, circa 1902, offered through A.L. Dyke’s  mail catalog. Dyke was the pioneer in establishing the car parts-by-mail system.

Two vehicles on display were manufactured by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. founded by John L. French and George P. Dorris. The company claimed SL cars.jpgto be the first successful motorcar company west of the Mississippi River. A red 1906 Success highwheeler is believed to be the only surviving car that sold new at the first St. Louis Automobile Show in 1907.

A 1916 Chevrolet Four-Ninety three-door touring car, built in 1915, represents the Russell Gardner family’s entry into car production after having achieved fame with the Banner Buggy Co., the world’s largest exclusive producer of buggies.

Only a handful of innovative and provocative McQuay-Norris Streamliners were made in the early 1930s, and one is included in the display.

Supplementing the specially selected cars are a series of unique displays on driving regulations, roads and highways, local automotive pioneers, racing, automotive fashions and the world’s first service station built purely for selling gas.

The exhibit was seven years in the making and will run through April 1. More details are available from the Missouri Historical Society.

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