Mon - Fri 9:00am - 9:00pm
Sat 9:00am - 6:00pm
Sun 11:00am - 5:00pm
Mon - Fri 7:30am - 5:00pm
Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm
Sun closed
Mon - Fri 7:30am - 5:00pm
Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm
Sun closed
Mon - Sat 8:00am - 4:00pm
Sun closed

How the Three Musketeers moved from Studebaker to become the core of Chrysler Corporation

Back

How the Three Musketeers moved from Studebaker to become the core of Chrysler Corporation

How the Three Musketeers moved from Studebaker to become the core of Chrysler Corporation

Nicknames don't always live up to the hype - and other times they accurately relay a characteristic or principle of a person (or persons). In the case of Frederick Morell Zeder, Owen Ray Skelton, and Carl Breer, the affectionate nickname "The Three Musketeers" offers a positive notion of their success and collaborative might.

Sometimes referenced as being the nucleus for Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, two of the three were among twenty-five university graduates from the field of mechanical engineering that were invited to be part of a tow-year apprenticeship.

Zeder and Breer joined the team course in 1909 and quickly developed a strong friendship that would last a lifetime. Meanwhile, Skelton was working as a design engineer at the Packard Motor Company specifically focusing and refining his skillset as a transmission specialist.

In 1910 Zeder left Allis-Chalmers to take a position in Detroit at a power plant. This job required only a fraction of his time and he was able to reduce his position to consultation and join the E-M-F company with the responsibility of managing their engineering laboratory that developed car body designs. Just two years into the position E-M-F was acquired by the Studebaker brothers whose influence shifted the vision of the company to produce Studebaker automobiles.

At age 28, in 1914, he became their chief engineer.

How the Three Musketeers moved from Studebaker to become the core of Chrysler Corporation

Breer's personal history was much different - and well before he was hired to be a part of the Allis-Chalmers program was already building cars by himself, including the construction of a steam car that he finished at the age of just 18. Without formal education, much of Breer's professional career came about through the proof of his ingenuity and self-promotion - obtaining his first engineering job while on summer vacation away from high school. This powered him through to other positions and, in 1904 enabled him to enter a specialized program that led to an admittance to Stanford University in the field of advanced mechanical engineering by 1905.

Upon graduation he spent some time with Allis-Chalmers and in 1911 moves to the west coast to work for the Moreland Motor Truck Company followed by a position with the Home Electric Auto Works company of which he helped organize - but lost interest and sold his shares shortly after.

In 1916, Zeder sent him a letter asking him to come work at Studebaker in the research division.

Skelton had a more conventional background, coming into his first automotive job in 1905 with Pope-Toledo automobile factory in Toledo, Ohio. He applied his degree in mechanical engineering that he'd obtained from Ohio State University and was quickly recognized for his keen and calculating mind - moving on to Packard Motor Car Company where he gained even more experience in the field.

In 1914 through to 1916 Skelton was a ground-floor partner designing for Benham, a company that saw its share of complications and eventually failed to sell sufficiently to maintain their costs. Somehow, however, Studebaker had taken notice of the small company, specifically in the designs - at which point none other than Zeder offered Skelton a position in 1916 at Studebaker.

How the Three Musketeers moved from Studebaker to become the core of Chrysler Corporation

So it was that in 1916 these three innovative minds combined their skills and expertise to Studebaker - leading to the establishment, 5 years later in 1921 of the Zeder, Skelton and Breer Engineering (ZSB) group. The group is remembered for designing a ZSB six-cylinder engine with an updraft carburetor that would later be used on the luxury automobiles produced by Durant Motors - the Locomobile.

Not without some failings along the way, news of the group reached the ears of Walter P. Chrysler who was with Maxwell at the time - who, in 1923 organized a merger between Maxwell and Chalmers Motor Car Company (no relations to Allis-Chalmers) - and, as lucky as it may seem - ZSB Engineering. Consolidated in June that year, the company, originally operating under the name Maxwell-Chalmers would change to become the Chrysler Corporation in 1925.

So it was in this manner that the three genius engineers found their way into a company that has gone on to become one of the most successful automakers ever - earning, as it is, the recognition of being the Three Musketeers of the automotive world.

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Musketeers_(Studebaker_engineers)

https://www.allpar.com/corporate/bios/fred-zeder.html

https://www.allpar.com/corporate/bios/owen-skelton.html

https://www.allpar.com/corporate/bios/carl-breer.html

Categories: Uncategorised