Historic Detroit

Hupp Motor Car Co.

They were serious cars with a silly name.

Robert “Bobby” Hupp had worked at Olds Motor Works and Ford Motor Co., and decided to try his hand at running a car company of his own.

When the first Hupmobile debuted in 1909, Henry Ford was said to have told a friend, “I recall looking at Bobby Hupp’s roadster … and wondering whether we could ever build as good a small car for as little money.”

Hupmobiles developed a reputation not just for being cheap, but also rugged and reliable. The Hupp 20 Runabout was chosen as Detroit’s first police cars. But just two years later, in 1911, Hupp quit the company for unknown reasons. He tried starting several other car companies, but they all quickly failed.

The automaker continued without him, but bad management led it to file for bankruptcy in 1940.

The automaker moved into this plant on East Milwaukee at Mt. Elliott, the company’s third home, in March 1912. Architect E.R. Dunlap and the firm Smith Hinchman & Grylls designed a number of additions.

After a series of new owners, including a sugar company, it was demolished in 1981 to make way for General Motors’ Poletown Plant.