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North Carolina’s Forgotten Car Maker, Corbitt Of Henderson

Photo: Telegram.

By The Raleigh Telegram

GREENSBORO – Most people in North Carolina are aware that the Wright Brothers took their famous first flight on the coast, but many may not know that one of the first car manufacturers in the country started right here in Tar Heel state in the 1800′s.

According to the Corbitt Preservation Association, in 1899, Richard J. Corbitt was making buggies in Henderson in Vance County, North Carolina but just a few years later he was making cars.  In 1905, his first car rolled off the line and although it was described as more of a “motor buggy,” a new car manufacturer was born.

Similar to Thomasbuilt bus company in High Point, the company decided to specialize.  The Corbitt Company went on to focus on heavy trucks including the state’s first school bus, trucks used by the US Army in World War I and World War II, long haul trucks, yard trucks, and many more heavy trucks.  The vehicles had a good reputation for longevity and quality and were good looking trucks overall.

According to the preservation society, one was even used to haul Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose airplane, which at the time was the largest load ever hauled in the United States.

Sadly, in the 1950′s, with his son no longer living, Mr. Corbitt sold the his manufacturing facilities to an investment firm which sold the assets of the company.   Although some parts were still sold afterwards and a few chassis sold from the factory, the company’s 50 plus year run was over.

At the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market in Greensboro at the Antique Truck Show, there were several Corbitt trucks on display including some as far back as the 1920′s and throughout the 1940′s and 1950′s.  The trucks are uniquely designed and stand apart from the other vehicles there at the event. 

The unique collection of Corbitt vehicles that were on display at the show are owned by Donald and Ann Smith of Greensboro who own Donald A. Smith Trucking Company. ::

Article Posted: Monday, November 5th, 2012.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was edited to correctly state that Corbitt was located in Henderson, NC not Hendersonville, NC.  We apologize for the error.

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One Response to North Carolina’s Forgotten Car Maker, Corbitt Of Henderson

  1. Car Lover

    November 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    This story is awesome and I had never heard of this company before.Thanks so much for the great photos and history.