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Gray-Dort 17

Model Year: 1921

Location of Manufacture: Chatham, Ontario

Based in Chatham, Ontario, William Gray & Sons Company Ltd. began making carriages in 1855. By the mid-1900s, aware of the increasing popularity of motorized vehicles, Gray & Sons began manufacturing car bodies for the Walkerville, Ontario plant which was assembling the Ford Model T. In 1915, William’s son, Robert Gray purchased the Canadian rights to manufacture the Dort – an American car produced in Flint, Michigan by the Dort Motor Co. The Gray-Dort Motor Company was formed that same year and the company released two vehicles in its first year of operation – a roadster and a touring car.

Gray-Dort was able to benefit from the strong reputation of the Gray & Sons carriages, and from an already established network of dealers which spanned the country. Committed clients with the means to purchase a car acquired Gray-Dorts, knowing that the company had a long-standing reputation for reliability and quality.

While the Gray-Dort was assembled at the Chatham factory, the company was vulnerable because of its dependence upon engineering support and parts from its American partner. In 1923, when ill health caused Dort President, J. Dallas Dort, to leave the car business, Gray-Dort was unable to find a replacement partner to provide both parts and expertise. By 1924, sales had dropped significantly and by 1925, the Chatham factory had closed its doors. In its ten years of operation, some 26,000 Gray-Dorts had been manufactured.