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The thing that made America great is the fact that it is truly the "Land of Opportunity," and the story of the automaker Russell E. Gardner is certainly proof that this is indeed true. Gardner was from Tennessee, and he left his home state in 1879 looking for new fortune in St. Louis. As the story goes, he left dead broke, but over the next thirty years he used his vision and business acumen become a multimillionaire who was the biggest producer of Chevrolet automobiles in the region.

In spite of their privilege as the children of a millionaire, Gardner's sons joined the Navy to serve in WWI, and he worked out a deal with General Motors, who purchased his interests in the Chevy facility. At the conclusion of the war, he reconvened with his sons Russell and Fred, and they started their own automaking concern: The Gardner Motor Company. Their initial offering was a 4-cylinder mid-priced model that was released in 1920.

The company did well at first, and sales steadily rose. They gained traction with the production of just under 4,000 cars in 1921 and by 1925 they were prepared to deliver up to 40,000 units annually. However, an economic downturn loomed over the horizon, and Gardner cars became a losing proposition for stockholders by 1928. The last Gardner automobile, a funeral model, was produced in 1932.

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