Dorris Motors Corporation
|Founder||George Preston Dorris and John L. French|
|Owner||George Preston Dorris|
The Dorris Motor Car Company was founded by George Preston Dorris in 1906. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Dorris had built an experimental gasoline car circa 1896–1897 in his family's bicycle shop. He relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, where he joined with John L. French to found the St. Louis Motor Company. Dorris served as chief engineer.
When French relocated to Peoria, Illinois, in 1905, Dorris quit the firm and founded the Dorris Motor Car Company soon after. With his departure, French and the St. Louis Motor Carriage Company quickly foundered.
Dorris is credited with developing and patenting the float carburetor, an innovation that was used for decades. For much of the Dorris production life the slogan was "Built up to a standard, not down to a price."
The company took over the original St. Louis Motor Company plant and began production there. The first vehicle had a four-cylinder engine with 101-inch (2,600 mm) wheel-base, which took the New York Automobile Show by storm in January 1906. Over time, Dorris' cars became more powerful, graduating from a four to six-cylinder engine, and increasing nearly 30 inches (760 mm) in the wheelbase. The engines were of the OHV design, unusual at the time. The price tag of these cars was nearly $7,000.
In 1909, Guy Herring Hall Sr. and his brother, George Hall, drove a Dorris across Missouri, setting a record time of 33 hours.
Prior to World War I truck production began. In 1917, the capital stock expanded by $700,000 to $1,000,000, enabling expansion of the company. Company president, H.B. Krenning stepped aside "because of needed rest" and W.R. Colcord assumed his duties.
1923 signalled the last full year of production for Dorris Motors. Production fell to a standstill, although the 'practically hand-built' Dorris cars were built to special order until 1926 when the company went bankrupt.