Marathon Motor Works

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Marathon Motor Works
Marathon Motor Works 1.jpg
Location1200–1310 and 1305 Clinton St., Nashville, Tennessee
NRHP reference No.95001482
Added to NRHPJanuary 4, 1996

Marathon Motor Works was an brass era automobile manufacturer based in Tennessee. Southern Engine and Boiler Works founded in 1889, which made industrial engines and boilers in Jackson, Tennessee, established the factory in 1907. From 1909 to 1914, the company manufactured the Marathon automobile in Nashville, Tennessee.[1]


Southern Engine and Boiler Works engineer, William Henry Collier, developed a gasoline engine and prototype automobile in 1906. Southern Engine built a few automobiles to Collier's design before expanding to a plant in Nashville. The Marathon Motor Works were established from a cotton mill complex.[1]

Southern Engine decided to engineer and build every part of its automobile in-house. The vehicles had been marketed as Southerns at first, but another firm was using that name. In 1910, Marathon Motor Works was created to produce the Marathon automobile, named out of the enthusiasm for things Greek which had grown out of the 1904 Olympics.[1] [2]

1909 saw a two-model lineup, roadster and touring car, powered by 35 HP 4-cylinder engines. Both were open bodies (tops were optional) and sold for about $1,500. By 1912 production reached 200 cars monthly.[2]

Marathons acquired a good reputation for quality and durability due to the factory controlling all parts, engineering and manufacturing.[2] Demand exceeded supply, but financial improprieties were alleged and receivership soon followed. H. H. Brooks, General Sales Manager, arranged for Marathon sales to be handled by the Herff Brothers in 1913. The Herff-Brooks Corporation purchased the Marathon machinery and moved production and many workers to Richmond, Indiana.

Museum and Building[edit]

On the National Register of Historic Places, the preserved building has a museum and shops. Although only nine Marathons are known to have survived, five of these are currently in the Marathon building's museum.[3]

In 2008, a mystery novel called The Marathon Murders was published by Nashville author Chester Campbell. Although the murder itself is fictional, the book uses the documented disagreements and possible dishonesty among the board and executives to provide a plausible motive.[4]

The Marathon Motor Works building houses an antique store called Antique Archaeology (the business at the center of the television series American Pickers).[5]


  1. ^ a b c Margaret Binnicker, "Marathon Motor Works," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.
  2. ^ a b c Kimes, Beverly Rae; Clark Jr., Henry Austin (1996). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942 (3rd ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-87341-428-9.
  3. ^ "Marathon Motor Works Museum acquires fifth of eight cars left in the world". 11 December 2019.
  4. ^ Campbell, Chester (2009-02-16). "Deciding how to commit murder". Mystery Mania. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  5. ^ "Antique Archaeology & American Pickers Store Locations".

External links[edit]