Golden West Motors

(AWD Truck Manufacturers, history, logo, PADRES DEL AUTO)

Golden West Motors In addition to FWD and Jeffery/Nash, by the beginning of World War I there were only a few manufacturers in the field of four-wheel-drive vehicles. Around the turn of the century there had been only three notable patents awarded for four-wheel driveto Gustave Hoffman in England during 1901, and in the U.S. to William Bard in 1904 (in addition to the third being Zachow-Besserdich at FWD).
As World War I ignited in Europe, among the competitors building four-wheel-drive vehicles were Couple-Gear, C.T., Duplex, Morton, Nevada, Walter and Ware. To be more specific, C.T. (which stood for commercial truck at one point) only built battery-powered trucks. Morton, the predecessor of Hurlburt, lasted only until 1916, and its biggest customer was the Russian government. Hurlburt lasted until 1927 but did not build 4 ? 4s. Nevada built trucks under license from Four Wheel Traction Automobile Company, which became Kato. All were defunct by 1913. Couple-Gear built battery-powered as well as gasoline-electric hybrid trucks and buses before World War I.
By that time, the Four-Wheel-Drive Wagon Company, the American Motor Truck Company, Cunningham Engineering Company, Aultman & Company, the Four Traction Automobile Company (Kato) and the Cleveland Motor Truck Manufacturing Company had each tried their hand at building 4 ? 4s and had not succeeded. One out-of-the-ordinary exception was Golden West Motors of Sacramento, California. In addition to being a vehicle manufacturer on the West Coast, among only a very few at the time, the company was founded by an inventive engineer named Edward Robinson and several wealthy investors. However, they could not agree on the companys direction or proper management. Robinson had obtained four patents by 1914, including one for four-wheel steering.
At the time of the genesis of Golden West Motors in 1913, Sacramento and vicinity were growing rapidly. Nearby Stockton was also developing as an industrial deep-sea port city via canal to San Francisco. Sampson had started to build farm equipment, including tractors in Stockton, and Holt of Caterpillar fame also had its origins there, along with Best of crawler tractor fame in nearby San Leandro.
In 1911, Sacramento, which adjoins San Joaquin County where Stockton is located, annexed land to triple its area. Another basis for industry had been created by the Southern Pacific Railroad, which had established a large maintenance and repair facility along with its depot at Sacramentos Old Town.
The first two Golden West trucks were both four-wheel drive and four-wheel steer. They were both powered by a Continental engine mounted on a subframe. The transfer case included Whitney silent chains, another innovation. All in all, Golden West Motors was a golden goose for Sacramento and its new industry. Cross-country tests were undertaken for 7,500 miles and a truck polo match was organized in front of the capitol for publicity. However, due to stockholders discontent and much wrangling among the key play ers, by 1916 the company was now called Robinson. That year the 8th Artillery Regiment in Honolulu, Hawaii, bought 36 four-wheel-drive trucks, but they were all built by FWD in distant Wisconsin. A group of Sacramento businessmen associated with the Globe Iron Works began negotiating with the federal government to assemble the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny airplane. This did come to fruition and Mather Field opened just outside Sacramento city limits as a flight training center. But because of further internal strife at Golden West, the company faded away, missing an enormous opportunity whether or not they would contribute to the military needs of the U.S. Army during World War I. There was also much need for this type of vehicle in the enormous California Central Valley agricultural fields.
The Golden West four-wheel-drive was well engineered and the four-wheel-steering feature was great for open terrain, but very problematic when in the city next to a building, curb, tree or other object, as the vehicles aft turned inward, colliding with any adjoining obstacle. The next iteration of the company, named Big Four, abandoned fourwheel steering, but it was too late and the entire enterprise completely faded out soon after the war.
"Albert Mroz. American Military Vehicles of World. Books."

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