The beginnings of the ReVere Motor Car Corporation lie with engineer and racer Adolph Monsen. From 1908 to 1916, Monsen worked for a number of automotive firms. He left Chicago in 1916 for Logansport to start his own company..
In the previous months he had met Newton VanZandt, who was the vice president of the Hobart-Cable Piano Company at the time. It was agreed that VanZandt would handle the financial side while Monsen took care of the engineering and building of the cars. VanZandt was president of the company with James Henderson serving as vice president, C.H. Wilson as treasurer, and W.A. Cooling as secretary.
Whether it was VanZandt or Monsen who decided on the name ReVere is debatable. However, it is certain that the car was named in honor of the patriot, Paul Revere. The spelling started out the same as the patriot’s name, but was later changed to include a capital “V” within the spelling.
The plant was located at 417 First Street (left). On August 25, 1917, the first bare chassis toured the streets of Logansport. After a trip around the city, the car was taken to Chicago and on to Racine, Wisc., where it was fitted with body panels.
By 1919, the first of the production cars was on its way and stock began to rise. Three styles were produced in the ReVere line during 1919. They were the two-seat Roadster, four passenger sport, and a six passenger touring car. Advertisements referred to the ReVere as “America’s Incomparable Car.” With the price tag that was attached, it should have been. Without the advantage of a production line, this hand made car cost several times more than a Ford Model-T. The base price for a ReVere was $3,850. It was a high price for the time, but the car was one of the finest on the road. The Dusenberg and Monsen engines with which the cars were equipped were capable of running 85 miles per hour. In fact, a ReVere was in the 1921 Indianapolis 500. Eddie Hearne finished 111 laps before having to retire.
Innovations included an all aluminum body, bullet headlights, the first modern hubcaps, and an unusual double steering wheel. Most ReVeres made before 1922 were custom made according to the customer’s desire. The most famous ReVere customer was King Alfonso XIII of Spain who ordered a Sport Victoria in 1919 for $7,800.
The story behind the ReVere also involves its financial troubles. The first signs of trouble surfaced in 1920. Much to the delight of Logansport businessmen, Newton VanZandt informed them of an eastern syndicate that was to order 12,000 vehicles over the next five years. Those orders were never filled. In December of 1920, three Chicago firms claimed they hadn’t been paid and tried to force ReVere into bankruptcy. When assets were shown to be greater than debts, the suit was dropped. Almost immediately, another petition was filed on Jan. 26, 1921. It was at this time that the Citizens Loan and trust Company of Logansport was appointed receiver of the corporation.
The focus of the ReVere’s problems was repeatedly aimed toward Newton VanZandt. He left for the east coast and started a new car company named Richelieu and sold several hundred Richelieu cars in New York during 1921. It was quickly discovered that several ReVere cars were being loaded onto trains in Logansport at night with destinations to the east coast. These ReVere’s were being passed off as VanZandt’s Richelieu automobile.
With VanZandt apparently stealing money and automobiles, the future of the company was bleak. ReVere was again in court in October of 1922 when the Cass Circuit Court declared the ReVere Motor Car Corporation bankrupt. The factory was padlocked and sold to the ReVere Stockholders Association for $52,000. The company was re-incorporated in February 1923 under the name of ReVere Motors Company. Unfortunately the financial trouble frightened away investors. ReVere finally closed its doors for good in January 1926.
As for VanZandt, he died in New York City under suspicious circumstances in 1923. Adolph Monsen, the creator of “America’s Incomparable Car,” continued to live in Logansport for many years after the closing of the factory. As of the year 2007, there are only five ReVere autos known to be in existence. One of them is owned and maintained by the Cass County Historical Society, purchased with the generous contributions of the citizens of Cass County.