Hidden History: Willoughby Company, Part 3

The End of Utica's Auto Industry Connection

UTICA - Edsel Ford gave Willoughby a contract to provide bodies for Lincoln. Lincoln was trying to break the ranks of the monochrome approach to American autos and bring some color to the roadways.

The demand was so great that Willoughby had to farm out some of the work to a painter on Bleecker Street. Albert Tescione ran a paint shop in a building that later became the original home of the Carbone dealerships and still stands today.

The Willoughby artistry now expanded beyond the craftsmanship of its carriages and included mixing and application of paint on those auto bodies.

In the mid-to-late-'30s, Lincoln followed the nation's change in preference from all-out luxury to sport and speed.

Willoughby saw its orders decline. They were producing Lincoln limos and town cars in lots that often didn't exceed ten. Toward the end, it was making fewer than 50 bodies a year.

The Willoughby family tried to sell the business, but when it became apparent that there were no takers, Francis Willoughby sold the company off, piece by piece.

On February 1st, 1939, the day before Willoughby's public liquidation sale, a blizzard hit the Mohawk Valley. Many potential buyers from out of the area never made it to the auction.

Even the auctioneer was delayed....but it wasn't enough to delay the end of the auto-making industry in Utica.

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