Fageol

The company was founded in 1916 to manufacture motor trucks, farm tractors and automobiles in Oakland, California by the Fageol Brothers Frank and William. Just the year before controversial ex-UnitarianMinister Bradford Leavitt and inventor Rolle B Fageol had displayed a “trackless train” at the 1915 San Francisco Panama Pacific Expo. Promoted as the Fageol Auto train the unit featured a Fageol tractor pulling four passenger wagons at almost ground level for safety. (This until is believed to have been the motivation for the 1920’s low slung Safety Coach). Fageol went on to produce two luxury automobiles before WWI interrupted the supply of the Hall-Scott six cylinder engine which was diverted to the war effort for aircraft.  

Fageol produced two luxury automobiles, but production was halted when the supply of Hall-Scott SOHC six-cylinder engines was diverted to build airplanes for the World War I war effort. Fageol went into tractor production after the war. The first one was was sold as a Hamilton model because it had been designed by Rush Hamilton of Healdsville, California. Fageol modified it to make it more compatible with the needs of the West Coast. Hamilton Tractor Company had invented the concept of grouser drive wheels for his tractor  which came with an articulated two wheeled sulky to which wagons or  plows could be attached. The Fageol version was designed by a team led by Horatio Smith with the cooperation of Hamilton who had joined the firm in 1916. In later years when the same concept was used by Fordson tractors the wheels were called “Hamilton Wheels”. In 1923 Fageol sold the tractor business the Great Western Motors Company of San Jose. 

Fageol went on to become the first company in the USA to build a bus from the ground up in 1921. The bus was built lower to the ground for passenger ease with entry and exit and had a wider track to stop it overturning when cornering. It was called the ‘Safety Coach’ . Likewise, Fageol trucks were well built and well received in the industry primarily because of the dual range, mid-mounted transmission which allowed for a wide range of gearing to suit slow speeds, heavy hauling, light loadings and highway running. Fageols  were easily identified by the large number ‘7’ painted on the front of the radiator core.

The Fageol brothers left the company in 1927 to form the Twin Coach Company in Kent, Ohio and fageol was managed by L.H. Bill. It went into receivership and was re-organized under the name Fageol Truck and Coach. by the companies bankers. During this time Fageol played a key roole in the development of the Freightliner truck marquee following a partnership with Consolidated Freightways. In 1938 Fageol was purchased by Al  and by 1939 the first Peterbilt truck was produced in the Fageol tradition of building the best possible product.

In Australia the South Australian Railways (SAR) operated a fleet of Fageol buses converted into railcars. These were initially operated on the SAR 3foot 6 inch narrow gauge Port Lincoln Division, however some were transferred to the South East Division branch line to Kingston, South Australia, prior to the line's conversion to 5foot 3inch broad gauge. The last railcar was ceased operation in 1961.