1909: The Launch of an Automobile Enterprise in Alabama

October 27, 1909

The Great Southern Automobile Company was established in Birmingham, Alabama, with local banker Eugene F. Enslen serving as its president. This new company manufactured automobiles at a plant in the nearby city of Ensley. 

Starting in 1912, the Great Southern Automobile Company maintained a salesroom in the landmark Empire Building in downtown Birmingham. The vehicles manufactured by the company included the Model 30, which was available as both a two-seater roadster and five-seater touring car; and the Model 50, a seven-seater touring car. (The above image depicts the two-seater version of the Model 30.)

The Great Southern Automobile Company was not around very long. After suffering several financial setbacks, it shut down altogether in 1917. While existing for only a relatively brief amount of time, the company earned one major distinction by making its debut at a time when the production of American automobiles was still largely restricted to those states in the midwest  and northeast regions. With its headquarters in Alabama, the Great Southern Automobile Company bucked those geographic trends by becoming not only one of the few automobile manufacturers based elsewhere in the country at the time but also the first to set up shop specifically in the central south region. 

“South Taking to Automobile Making,” read the headline in a piece in The Automobile magazine announcing the company’s establishment and pioneering location. The Power Wagon journal, when reporting on this new company, asserted that “it is more than likely that the making of automobiles will be an important part of the industries of that great part of the country in the near future.” 

The Great Southern Automobile Company did indeed pave the way for other automobile manufacturers in that region. The year after the company’s demise, for example, the Preston Motor Car Company — which would achieve widespread fame during the 1920s with its Premocar — likewise established operations in Birmingham.  

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Great Southern Automobile Company, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Southern_Automobile_Company

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