Template:List of Jordan Motor Car Company ModelsThe Jordan Motor Car Company was founded in 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio by Edward S. "Ned" Jordan, a former advertising executive from Thomas B. Jeffery Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The factory produced cars until 1931 using parts from other manufacturers. Jordan cars were noted more for attractive styling than for advanced engineering, and not surprisingly, the company's advertising was often more original than the cars themselves. Said Jordan, “Cars are too dull and drab.” He reasoned that since people dressed smartly, they were willing to drive “smart looking cars” as well.
Jordan Motor Car established its plant east of downtown Cleveland at 1070 East 152nd Street along the Nickle Plate Railroad tracks. The location not only provided an excellent location for shipping the finished cars, but also provided Jordan with ready access to our of area suppliers. The plant was built in two stages; the first 30,000 square foot building was begun on April 5, 1916 and finished some seven weeks later, while the second addition was completed within months of the first structure..
Parts for the Jordan were obtained by outside vendors. The cars were powered by Continental engines, used Timken axles, Bijur starters and Bosch ignitions. According to Ned Jordan's biographer, James Lackey, the source of early Jordan bodies was somewhat a mystery. While Jordan had the capacity to paint the automobile bodies and attach them to the chassis and outfit the passenger compartment, the facility lacked the ability to fabricate the bodies themselves. Later production bodies were shipped from a variety of manufacturers in Ohio and Massachusetts.
In their first year of production (1916), Jordan sold over one thousand vehicles. While most automobile producers relied on the fast drying Japan Black lacquer which cured in a matter of hours, Jordan automobiles were available in no less than three colors of red - "Apache Red", "Mercedes Red" and Savage Red" as well as "Ocean Sand Gray", "Venetian Green", "Egyptian Bronze" and "Chinese Blue". Black was also available. The most flamboyant of color schemes was four-passenger Sport model which could be ordered in "Submarine Gray", with khaki top and orange wheels.
Details given the cars were unusually advanced for an independently made assembled car. For example, Jordan's bypassed the placing the gasoline filler at the cowl of the car, and located it to the rear of the vehicle. In its place was one of the first ventilation systems of its type. Jordan also went to all-steel construction in the mid 1920s, some ten before Buick and eight before Chrysler introduced the Airflow models.
Jordan was also one of the first automakers to christen its model types with unique, evocative names such as the Sport Marine, Tomboy, and Playboy. In 1920, the company issued the Friendly Three coupe, with the slogan "Seats two, three if they're friendly”.
Jordan used the emerging suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights as back drops for his advertising photographs, setting the cars in front of the mansions of Overlook and South Park Drives.
Appearing in the June, 1923 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, the ad promoted the Jordan Playboy, in art by Fred Cole, driven by a cloche hat wearing flapper hunkered down behind the wheel in abstract fashion, racing a cowboy and the clouds.
- "SOMEWHERE west of Laramie there's a bronco-busting girl who knows what I’m talking about.
- "She can tell what a sassy pony, that’s a cross between greased lighting and the place where it hits, can do with eleven hundred pounds of steel and action when he's going high, wide and handsome.
- "The truth is-the Playboy was built for her.
- "Built for the lass whose, face is brown with the sun when the day is done of revel and romp and race.
- "She loves the cross of the wild and the tame.
- "There's a savor of links about that car-of laughter and lilt and light-a hint of old loves-and saddle and quirt. It’s a brawny thing - yet a graceful thing for the sweep o' the Avenue.
- "Step into the Playboy when the hour grows dull with things gone dead and stale.
- "Then start for the land of real living with the spirit of the lass who rides, lean and rangy, into the red horizon of a Wyoming twilight."
While other Jordan ads contained the same winsome prose, one in particular had an unseen outcome. Jordan's "Port of Missing Men" which also appeared in the Saturday Evening Post (1920) featured Jordan's musings on restless man, and those places where they travel to when they needed to get away. The ad featured art work showing a Jordan Playboy in front of a cottage in winter by the sea, with a young boy walking by, looking up to the second story window aglow red from within. "We regret that our recent advertisement has offended your high moral sense... perhaps had we placed lights in the downstairs windows as well, the suggestive implications would have been minimized" wrote Jordan to the editor of the Post.
In 1927 the firm introduced its only significant misstep, the Jordan Little Custom, a luxury compact. Not only did consumers ignore the car, but its financial drain on the company was a leading factor in the takeover by bankers of JMC, leaving Ned Jordan as the company’s titular head. Both Jordan and his wife began divesting their interests in the company in 1928.
The company survived the Stock Market Crash of 1929, but with intense competition among the many US automakers then extant, and personal problems besetting 'Ned' Jordan, the company ceased production in 1931.
The true production of total Jordan cars is unclear. Some sources list the total amount as high as over 100,000 units, while other sources list the production as low as 30,000 units.
- Howley, Tim. Ned Jordan: The spell he wove. Automotobile Quarterly. Second Quarter, 1975.
- Kimes, Beverly R., Editor. Clark, Henry A. (1996). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1945. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-428-4
- Lackey, James H. (2005). The Jordan Automobile. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1667-X