Fuller Automobiles Once Manufactured in Nebraska

Angus Automobile Company factory in Angus, Nebraska. An early automobile, said to be the “the 14th car completed,” is parked just outside. NSHS RG3463-5

Pioneer automobile maker Charles M. Fuller Jr. (1874-1940) built his first car in 1898 at the age of twenty-four in Angus, Nuckolls County, Nebraska. Today the town is gone. But for several years in the 1910s it was the home of the Angus Automobile Company, employing forty craftsmen who produced more than six hundred cars during its short life.

Fuller left the small town of Angus in 1902 to work for the St. Louis Motor Company and later the Buckeye Manufacturing Company of Anderson, Indiana, where he was instrumental in building the Lambert car. He returned to Nebraska with a Lambert and convinced investors that he could build a better car. He organized the Angus Automobile Company with a capitalization of $50,000, and on February 16, 1907, production of the Fuller automobile began.

The building behind this early Fuller car could be the Angus Automobile Company factory. NSHS RG3463-34

The Omaha Bee said on July 28, 1907: “This enterprise is all the more to be admired, as the factory is located in a small town . . . practically off the main line of railroad communications, but those back of the enterprise are substantial men.” Fuller was described as “an old-time expert in automobile building.”

There were four models of the Fuller car. The best seller was a five-seater Model A touring car that sold for the comparatively high price of $2,500. A roadster with the same specifications as the touring car was also available. A runabout Model C was also featured. The Fuller car used only genuine leather for its upholstery, had sixteen to eighteen coats of paint, and the best engine then available.

Unfortunately, the success of the Fuller car was brief. In 1908 a demonstration was held at the Nuckolls County Fair in which a Fuller completed two laps of the fairgrounds racetrack in sixty seconds, averaging sixty miles per hour. The performance was so exceptional that a group of Omaha businessmen offered to buy the Angus Automobile Company. Charles Fuller wanted to accept the offer, but the other stockholders did not. The resulting dispute resulted in Fuller’s decision to sever all ties with the company. Without his inventive ability and drive, the business soon folded.

Fuller, who received a number of patents for automotive design innovations, moved on to other ventures. In 1915 he relocated to southern California, where he continued to design machines, including tractors and a device to mine desert gold without the use of water.

Want to read more about products made in Nebraska? Visit an online exhibit at the Nebraska State Historical Society website. We invite you to become a member of the NSHS and receive Nebraska History magazine, four issues yearly. Selected articles from past issues are posted online at the NSHS website. – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications

 

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