Random E. Olds bet millions on his 1932 REO Flying Cloud 6 cylinder series to save the day for the REO Motor Car Company. After 1928 when they sold 29,000 units, the Great Depression began eating away at REO’s production numbers. By 1932 they needed something to spark sales once again. REO made a high quality car at a very affordable cost. Unfortunately, times were so hard that their efforts could not save the company.
This week, Carroll Street Auto in Manchester, New Hampshire has a real treat for classic car buyers. They are offering a 1932 REO Flying Cloud 6-21 Sport Sedan in concours condition. They tell us this car has won the AACA Grand National Senior Award 16 times. I don’t think we have ever run into a concours car that stayed competitive for that long. Restored in the late 1990’s, it comes in Dark Navy Blue mirror finish lacquer paint. It features dual mount spares, Navy Blue color keyed true spoke wheels mounted on wide white wall tires, museum quality chrome plating, storage trunk and dual side mirrors. The grey Mohair upholstery is clean and looks fresh. The restored wood graining on the dashboard and interior door frames complements the restored instruments and gauges.
Carroll Street Auto tells us that the heater, wiring and original door hardware has been beautifully restored. Follow this link to their ad page to see dozens of detailed photos. This unique Body by Fisher has perfect body lines with proper alignment to all of the car’s body panels. They note no flaws or paint issues.
The “6-21” referred to the 6 cylinder engine and 121-inch wheelbase. The engine would have been a 268 ci six cylinder L-head power plant. The ads back then said you would get “superlative performance” and high quality for a reasonable price. This one comes with a rebuilt motor, transmissin and rear end. It was done when they performed a “no expense spared, frame-off restoration.” They say it is in the finest condition of any Model 6-21 you will find.
A 1932 REO Flying Cloud 6-21 Sport Sedan such as this one would have cost $1,110. (An old advertisement we ran into says the 6-21 was offered at the lowest price in Flying Cloud history.)
REO’s were some of the handsome-est looking cars of their day. And they came with high quality features. The REO Fying Cloud was the first car to use Lockheed’s new hydraulic internal expanding brake system. By 1932 they were known for their V-type radiator, silent second gear and full pressure engine lubrication.
The original Flying Clouds were designed by stylist Fabio Segardi. REO claimed the 1932 Flying Cloud would have better aerodynamic qualities because of the shorter and rounder roof forehead and trimmed corners. The V-shaped radiator grille and the flared front fenders added to the aero qualities. In the 1932 brochure they claimed its aerodynamic qualities would increase gas mileage and reduce the cost of owning a car.
You can tell this 1932 REO Flying Cloud was well cared for over the past 20 years since the completion of the restoration. Only 1,700 miles were driven, mostly for the 16 national events. It remains one of the finest examples in the world. And Carroll Street Auto says it must be seen to really be appreciated. They say it comes with a complete owner history, tools, jack assembly, engine crank and service manuals. It was recently tuned up and serviced. An electric fuel pump was added for reliability.
Since REO only sold 3,900 cars in 1932, it goes down in history as a failed effort. Although Random E. Olds and his namesake company would not profit from their efforts, they did build some great cars in 1932. This example is a precious reminder that quailty lives on, well past the times that create it.