Ransom Eli Olds was undoubtedly one of the pioneering leaders of the American automobile industry. Olds was hugely successful in selling his Curved Dash Oldsmobile, but when he resisted dropping it in favor of a more modern, expensive automobile he was forced out of his own company. No longer able to use his name for a car of his design, he used his initials instead. Thus Reo was established and built fine, reliable, moderately priced cars until 1931 when the company introduced the Royale. Despite the poor economic times Reo felt he could compete with Chrysler and Packard in this luxury field. The Reo Royale was a tour de force in virtually all respects and even though the company was losing money, over six million dollars were set aside for its development, with the hopes of appealing to a new market.
The Royale featured one-step lever-action chassis lubrication, thermostatically controlled radiator shutters, large 15-inch hydraulic brakes and a nine bearing 358 cubic inch straight eight engine. In addition, the Royale benefited from a vacuum-controlled clutch for automatic-like driving. A top speed of 90 miles per hour was guaranteed and at a cost in excess of $3,000 it exceeded most everyone’s expectations as it delivered style, technical innovation and individuality in a crowded luxury motor car market.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Reo Royale was one of the first automobiles to be wind tunnel tested. With the attractive coachwork designed by the great Amos Northup of the Murray Corporation, it was also beautifully aerodynamic as its flowing lines and extensive exterior detail gave it an appearance all its own.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.
125hp, 358 cu. in. straight eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission with vacuum-controlled clutch, four-wheel leaf spring suspension, lever action chassis lubrication, Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 135".