Joseph William Moon (68), founder of the Moon Motor Car Company, died

Tuesday 11th February 1919

Joseph William Moon (68), founder of the Moon Motor Car Company, died. Unlike most of his industry contemporaries, Moon didn’t bother building a horseless carriage. He instead went straight into building automobiles, coming out with the Moon Model A touring car in 1906, with most components produced in his St. Louis factory other than its purchased Rutenber engine, a practice that would gradually change in coming years. The next year, Moon produced a completely new model, the Model C, with a four-cylinder engine that boasted full-pressure lubrication and an overhead camshaft, plus a smart-looking aluminum body on a dropped frame. Priced at $3,500, it wasn’t cheap, but its innovations led quickly to solid sales. The car’s chief designer was Louis Mooers, ex of Peerless.
The company’s adopted motto was “The Ideal American Car,” and while Moon may have admired more august makes such as Peerless, he was practical enough to realize that lower-priced cars would grow the company. The newer Moons cost as little as $1,500, but were regarded as finely built cars, with demountable rims on detachable wheels, Lockheed hydraulic brakes (circa 1924) and beginning in 1913, six-cylinder power. The adoption of a square-edged radiator shell that strongly resembled Rolls-Royce’s similar component likely wasn’t coincidental. For more than 10 years, from 1916 forward, Moons were uniformly six-cylinder cars.
Alas, the founder didn’t live long enough to see it. Joseph Moon died in 1919 at age 69; his remains are interred at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. Control of the automobile company passed to Moon’s son-in-law, Stewart MacDonald. He oversaw the most prosperous era in Moon’s history, in which more than 7,500 cars were built annually during 1924 and 1925. Among them was another new car, powered by a Continental straight-eight, which was called the Diana. Despite lofty reviews, the Diana was plagued with reliability problems and was discontinued by 1928. Its replacement was the Aerotype 6-72, and sales dropped by more than half. MacDonald’s response was to jettison the Moon name entirely. Beginning in 1929, the firm introduced a new car called the Windsor White Prince, named in honor of the British royal household, which immediately drew complaints from Merrie Olde. Ironically, the Windsors exported to Britain were immediately rebadged as Moons. Bleeding cash, Moon shut its doors in 1930; Ruxtons were built in its plant for a short time.

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