1919 Napoleon Truck

Fuller three speed selective sliding gear, annular ball bearings
This was the only vehicle ever manufactured in Traverse City. Lured from Napoleon, Ohio, the Napoleon Motors Company came to Traverse City in 1917. The company set up production in its new plant on the Boardman River, on the south side of 8th street. The company manufactured touring cars until 1919, when the first truck was produced. The company soon announced that it would manufacture trucks only from that point forward. By 1920, the company was putting out five trucks a day, on frames from Traverse City Iron Works. The Napoleon truck was produced until 1923, when the effects of the postwar depression halted production and the company went bankrupt.

The Napoleon truck received its reliable and durable reputation due to the strong reinforcements and engine build. Double reinforcements at each of the frame cross member braces made the truck extraordinarily strong and unusually stiff. This successful design was to prevent sagging due to overloading. The cast en bloc build engine, now considered obsolescent, was created by pouring liquid iron into a mold to then solidify, creating major components of the engine, such as the cylinder head and block, instead of created the pieces separately and assembling them later.

This 1919 Napoleon truck was owned by Dennis Kuhn of Buckley, Michigan, and is the only intact example known to exist. The truck itself has been completely rebuilt and restored: the 35 horsepower Gray engine was rebuilt by Carl Kreiser of Buckley. Kreiser also rebuilt the transmission and steering which had been destroyed by nesting mice. The body was built by retired woodworker Vern Hewer, also of Buckley, based on measurements taken from an original body.