Jordan Motor Car Company

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Jordan Motor Car Company
Industry Automotive
Fate Defunct
Founded 1916
Founders Edward S. Jordan
Defunct 1931
Headquarters Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Number of locations 1 plant
Products Automobiles

The Jordan Motor Car Company was founded in 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio by Edward S. "Ned" Jordan, a former advertising executive from Thomas B. Jeffery Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The factory produced what were known as "assembled cars" until 1931, using components from other manufacturers. Jordan cars were noted more for attractive styling than for advanced engineering, although they did bring their share of innovations to the marketplace. Not surprisingly, the company's advertising was often more original than the cars themselves. Said Jordan, “Cars are too dull and drab.” He reasoned that since people dressed smartly, they were willing to drive “smart looking cars” as well.

Establishment in Cleveland[edit]

Jordan Motor Car established its plant east of downtown Cleveland at 1070 East 152nd Street along the Nickel Plate Railroad tracks. The location not only provided an excellent location for shipping the finished cars, but also provided Jordan with ready access to out of area suppliers. The plant was built in two stages; the first 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) building was begun on April 5, 1916 and finished some seven weeks later, while the second addition was completed within months of the first structure. In their first year of production (1916), Jordan sold over one thousand vehicles.

Manufacturing Methods[edit]

A 1928 Jordan Sedan prior to restoration work

Jordan parts were obtained from outside vendors. The cars were powered by Continental engines, used Timken axles, Bijur starters, and Bosch ignitions. According to Ned Jordan's biographer, James Lackey, the source of early Jordan bodies was somewhat a mystery. While Jordan had the capacity to paint the automobile bodies and attach them to the chassis and outfit the passenger compartment, the facility was unable to fabricate the bodies themselves. Later production bodies were shipped from a variety of manufacturers in Ohio and Massachusetts. They were fabricated from aluminum.[1]

While most automobile producers limited themselves to a single color combination, and Ford relied exclusively on the fast-drying Japan Black lacquer which cured in a matter of hours, Jordan automobiles were available in no less than three colors of red - "Apache Red", "Mercedes Red", and "Savage Red"- as well as "Ocean Sand Gray", "Venetian Green", "Briarcliff Green",[2] "Egyptian Bronze", "Liberty Blue",[2] and "Chinese Blue". Black was also available. The most flamboyant of color schemes was on the four-passenger Sport model which could be ordered in "Submarine Gray", with khaki top and orange wheels.

Details given the cars were unusually advanced for an independently made assembled car. For example, Jordans boasted one of the first cowl fresh air ventilation systems. Jordan also went to all-steel construction in the mid-1920s, some ten years before Buick, and eight years before Chrysler introduced the advanced Airflow models.

Jordan marketing[edit]

Jordan was also one of the first automakers to christen its model types with unique, evocative names such as the Sport Marine (with "fashionably low" 32×4-inch {81×10 cm} wheels, it was "essentially a woman's car"),[2] Tomboy, and Playboy. In 1920, the company issued the Friendly Three coupe, with the slogan "Seats two, three if they're friendly”.

Jordan used the emerging suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights as backdrops for his advertising photographs, setting the cars in front of the mansions of Overlook and South Park Drives.

Appearing in the June, 1923 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, the ad promoted the Jordan Playboy, in art by Fred Cole, driven by a cloche hat wearing flapper hunkered down behind the wheel in abstract fashion, racing a cowboy and the clouds.

"Somewhere West of Laramie" advertisement for the Jordan Playboy

:

While other Jordan ads contained the same winsome prose, one in particular had an unseen outcome. Jordan's "Port of Missing Men", which also appeared in the Saturday Evening Post (1920), featured Jordan's musings on restless man, and those places where they travel to when they needed to get away. The ad featured art work showing a Jordan Playboy in front of a cottage in winter by the sea, with a young boy walking by, looking up to the second story window aglow red from within.

Jordan wrote to the editor of the Post:

Final years[edit]

JordanSedan1928.jpg

In 1927, the firm introduced its only significant misstep, the Little Custom, a luxury compact. Not only did consumers ignore the car, but its financial drain on the company was a leading factor in the takeover by bankers of JMC, leaving Ned Jordan as the company’s titular head. Both Jordan and his wife began divesting their interests in the company in 1928.

The company survived the Stock Market Crash of 1929, but with intense competition among the many US automakers then extant, and personal problems besetting 'Ned' Jordan, the company ceased production in 1931.

The true total production of Jordan cars is unclear. Some sources list the total amount as high as over 100,000 units, while other sources list the production as low as 30,000.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Clymer, Floyd. Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925 (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.163.
  2. ^ a b c Clymer, p.163.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Howley, Tim. "Ned Jordan: The spell he wove". Automotobile Quarterly. Second Quarter, 1975.
  • Kimes, Beverly R., Editor. Clark, Henry A. (1996). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1945. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-428-4. 
  • Lackey, James H. (2005). The Jordan Automobile. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1667-X. 

External links[edit]