Nashville Car – A Unique History
The Nashville car has a rich and storied history. We look upon it very fondly as we have served the wonderful city of Nashville for nearly 30 years. As the leader in Nashville dealerships we’d like to share with you a bit of Nashville automobile history and give you insight into our city. At our dealership we believe in over-delivering value to our customers and that’s why we enjoy this history and want to share it with you.
Just about 100 years ago, the Nashville car was born and you can still see the buildings near downtown Nashville just off of I-65. While the buildings look like your run-of-the-mill industrial buildings, they once housed an automobile manufacturing company called Marathon Motor Works. The buildings were originally built in the early 1880s and were first known as The Phoenix Cotton Mill.
During the end of the 1800s, there was a company experiencing great growth in Jackson Tennessee called Southern Engine and Boiler Works. While this company had not quite yet brought about Nashville’s first vehicle, they had become very large and by 1904 were actually the largest manufacturer of gasoline engines and boilers in the country.
By 1910 The Phoenix Cotton Mill was no longer in business and the buildings which housed the operation were sitting vacant. Southern Engine and Boiler Works, on the other hand, decided to expand on the success of their company by starting to produce their very own automobile. The seeds of the Nashville car were now being sown. Going by the name of Southern, approximately 600 vehicles were produced by the company by 1910.
The rapid rise and success of the Southern Engine and Boiler Works coupled with their new automobile line caught the eye of a Nashville business person named Augustus Robinson. Mr. Robinson sensed opportunity and after gathering some investors, purchased the automobile sector of Southern Engine and Boiler Works. He brought the automobile line home to Nashville and set up shop in the vacated building once used by The Phoenix Cotton Mill.
The Nashville automobile was beginning to take its roots. One stumbling block in its way was its name. The vehicles had originally been manufactured under the name Southern. This, however, was the same name used by another automobile manufacturer so the car needed a new name. Using the 1904 Olympics as inspiration the name of Marathon was used and the Nashville car was officially born.
Before the move to Nashville, the Southern/Marathon company manufactured two different models of the vehicle. But upon the arrival of 1911 the company offered 5 models. Then, by 2013 they again increased to 12 models. The Marathon Motor Company was off to a flying start and their vehicles were highly rated by the public. They eventually had dealers in all major U.S. cities and were pumping out approximately 200 cars on a monthly basis. The Marathon was not only born, but enjoying its debut.
Unfortunately, its success was relatively short lived. While the Nashville car was selling strong the finances and management of the company were in disarray. The company had seen multiple presidents in just four years and had also made some poor financial and internal decisions. Finally, by 1914 Marathon shut down production and the first Nashville car came to a halt. Although Marathon vehicles had great potential it just wasn’t to be. It is believed that there are only 8 remaining Marathon automobiles in the world today.
The origins of the Nashville car had been laid and the automobile industry would continue to play a role in dealerships in Nashville TN. Today, the automobile industry still plays a very prominent role in the Nashville economy and automobile manufacturing is actually the 10th largest industry in the state of Tennessee.
At Tom Bannen we are proud to be part of a history that is over 100 years old. Nashville’s first automobile has unique origins and today it thrives in the city and the surrounding areas. It’s also because of the cars we sell that we have become connected to so many of you in the community. For 30 years we have served Nashville, Rivergate, and all of Tennessee and we will continue to do so.
It is also because of our unmatched service that not only have we been awarded such honors as GM’s Mark of Excellence award for four consecutive years, but it’s also what compels us to share unique information such as the history of the Nashville Car. As you explore our Rivergate dealership website you will find tips to purchasing vehicles, in depth financing information, and top quality vehicles at excellent prices.
We invite you to not only chat with us online, but come visit us. You will find that our service is friendly and courteous. Just take a look at what some of our customers have had to say about their Nashville dealers experience with us by reading our customer testimonials. We hope you enjoyed the story of the Nashville car and look forward to serving you!