In 1916, Harleigh Holmes patented his designs for front-wheel and four-wheel drive systems and founded Holmes Motor Co. in Littleton, Colo., to build four-wheel-drive trucks. In April 1921, following a heavy snowstorm, Holmes rescued a man from Creek Canyon with one of his four-wheel-drive trucks.
That same year, Holmes’s company became Plains Motor Corp. and relocated to Denver. By the summer of 1921, the company began offering a four-wheel-drive conversion for Fords trucks. N.S. Clark of Vancouver, Canada ordered 500 Holmes systems and purchased Canadian patent rights to them.
In 1922, miners Alfred E. and George Coleman purchased 51 percent of Plains Motor Corp. Holmes moved the plant back to Littleton where the Colemans bought a creamery building and turned it into a factory. By 1925, Coleman Motors Corp. was formed in Littleton. The company survived through the 1980s, using the name American Coleman Co. in its later years.
About three weeks ago, Buck Kamphausen of Monterey Auction Co. (www.rmauctions.com) asked me to meet him in Colorado so we could visit Donald N. Chew, of Brighton, who is a Board Member of the American Truck Historical Society (www.aths.org). Chew is an expert on Marmon-Herrington trucks and Coleman trucks. He has collected more history about Coleman than possibly anyone else. Chew is also collaborating with Craig H. Trout, of Virginia, capture the history of this unique company more accurately than ever before.
Chew and Trout have both done impressive work on documenting Coleman history and now Kamphausen hopes to bring their research and other history together in the form of a book about Coleman. Kamphausen grew up in Littleton and his heart is still in the beautiful Colorado city. He would also like to see Coleman trucks housed in a museum in the city. Kamphausen owns several Coleman trucks and is on the search for more of them. We even went looking for a Coleman bus on the last night I was there, but we did not find it. Stay tuned for a separate blog on what we did find in the park where a bus was supposed to be.
If you know of any Coleman trucks or Coleman truck history, please get in touch with me at Gunnellj@TDS.net or through Old Cars Weekly.