Boricov-Morrisey Traction Company

The All-American Tractor, Truck, and Industrial Manufacturer.

Founded in the rural plains of Iowa, existing more on paper than in reality, the duo of Oswald Boricov and Chester Morissey staked their claim in a small workshop in the nation’s heartland. Although filled with crafty experience and technical knowhow, BMTC struggled in its first years. With poor access to materials, tools, or often internal heating for the shop, the company exclusively sold 1-cylinder two-stroke motorcycles for farmers and the leisurely city dweller. For a while, the company seemingly went nowhere.

Despite the sleepless nights, filled between with periods of homelessness and destitution, the team would have their day soon. The company in a bout of poor sales, and the world moving without them, Boricov began traveling abroad searching for the light of salvation for BMTC. Happening on a county fair while in Illinois, one piece of machinery caught his eye. A relatively humble, yet strong automobile with a flat woodplank bed and an exposed engine compartment. This smoke-choking vehicle, while slow on the start, carried and pulled a variety of loads with ease. Tent kits, sacks of corn and oats, flywheels, water tanks, anything the fair hosted it hauled without a drop of sweat.

Captivated at first sight, Boricov made an expedient voyage back home to Iowa to bring Morrisey the make-or-break idea for BMTC’s future. The duo got to work, Boricov drawing, scrapping, and redesigning a chassis and suspension system strong enough to withstand its loads, and Morrisey working day and night designing and modeling an engine capable of running and applying its torque. It took months, through a frigid winter and a hiatus of pneumonia, but the first prototype unveiled itself in the following spring, taking to the muddy roads of the Midwest with force.

The BMTC 1, otherwise known as “The Teamster,” was an incredible victory for BMTC. Powered by the Morrisey 1.9L Inline-4, it supplied the torque to haul both the hefty truck, but also multiple hundred kilograms of cargo on distances unmatched by many petrol tractors of the time. Its 2-Speed transmission permitted an incredible range of torque and power, able to tow full-load trailers and to achieve speeds of up to 39 MPH.


With its overnight success in the previous decade, BMTC diversified and expanded like a plague, from dealerships in Des Moines and Sioux Falls to its motorworks and car production in Sioux City. From here, the company’s staff exploded from a small duo to 108 employees across their dealerships and manufacturing lines. The Teamster line soon gave way to the BMTC Tonnage, a more refined design and line dedicated to catering to a growing production truck market. As well as this, lines of oil-powered and petrol-powered excavators and tractors were built with cooperation with other local and regional factories in Iowa and Illinois. Despite their diversity, the Morrisey 1.9’s were the king of their market, found in BMTC trucks to locally produced racing automobiles for the Midwest circuits.

In this time, BMTC began official sponsorships of these tuned car races to get its engines and hardware publicized. This went as far as Oswald Boricov himself designing and personally racing the “Lakota Bullet,” a steel racecar featuring a completely custom BMTC Inline-6, named in Boricov’s inky handwriting “The Ghost!” This led to a new era of production and culture surrounding non-leisure vehicles, as well as a rising practicality for light trucks to the common consumer and for commercial bulk-buyers.

(1926 BMTC Tonnage, featuring a BMTC Hercules Inline-6, displacing at approximately 2.5L)


Although BMTC proved its skill and craft, it too fell victim to the plight of all instant successes: catastrophe. On a humid night in June 1927, Oswald Boricov and the Lakota Bullet fatally and tragically crashed at hour three of a five-hour endurance race in Watertown, South Dakota. While the initial loss of control and crash did not kill Boricov, it severely damaged its oil filtration and cooling system, spraying Boricov in searing-hot motor oil which soon caught fire before crews could rescue him. The company was devastated by the death, with his marketing and engineering team soon falling into disarray. With most of investor’s confidence placed in both Morrisey and Boricov, many began to withdraw as the leadership remained open.

If this did not sting enough, a market crash in 1929 only further twisted the blade in the company’s side. Employees had to be laid off, the Tonnage line was to be abandoned, all efforts had to be consolidated to petrol tractors which only barely kept the company afloat. Despite a brief revival when contracted by the Franklin Administration and ensuing production of standardized military vehicles and engines throughout the Second World War, BMTC was on a steep downhill slope. By the end of 1947, the company was mere decimals from bankrupcy.


THE VOORHEES ERA, 1936 - 1952
Beginning his career under BMTC in 1921, Roger Ismael Voorhees became one of the most prized designers in the company’s generational history. Overseeing the concept, design, and sale of the 1925-27 Tonnage line, he earned a seat on the Board by the summer of 1928. His role on the Board was critical in keeping the company from total financial collapse, issuing orders for a layoff of a third of employees and dedicating all resources to tractor production and the death of the Tonnage and light pickup line entirely.

(1938 BMTC Runner, a reliable and affordable masterpiece from Voorhees in the midst of the Depression. Like many of his designs from his administration, fuel accessibility and reliability were first and foremost. The Runner pictured here ran 84 RON.)

Thanks to his incredible commandeering of the BMTC crisis, the Board elected him as chairman in 1936 with the grace of the retiring Morrisey. From this point onward, Voorhees made a mission to transform the model of BMTC immediately. This involved a focus on mass-produced, consumer family cars with small engines and large passenger and cargo capacity. Birthed from this came the BMTC Runner, debuting in 1938 on the streets of Des Moines and the eastern Midwest before rolling out nationally in an effort to recoup the company’s employment.

Soon to follow, the Second World War offered a grand opportunity for a great rehiring program and expansion of production with minimal interest on Federal and private loans. BMTC provided thousands of reliable engines and heavy-duty steel machine parts to the Allied war effort starting in Spring 1942. This, accompanied with three years of Runner sales, provided enough cushion to save the company from selling its assets or worse, total bankruptcy.


With payouts still trickling in, as well as licensing and hardware still in his grasp, Voorhees dedicated the post-war years to revitalizing the Boricov-era production lines with a fresh coat of paint. Veteran stipends were spent on the 1945 BMTC Runner’s, a more practical version of the Depression familymobile, running on regular leaded gasoline, a higher compression Chariot I4, and a more comfortable suspension system moving away from solid axles.

Drawing on dry reserves and scraping by on pocket change, Voorhees soon delivered the saving grace of the BMTC production line. The 1949 BMTC Beaver, otherwise known as “Four-Eyes” by critics and fans alike, took the market by storm. Powered by a war-production 4.3L V8 Beaver and riding on delightfully dampened solid axle springs, the '49 Beaver was the go-to for the rural worker. Farmers and loggers, city maintenance and hotshots alike, the unique four-eyed orange-blaze pickup dragged BMTC from the Depression to the golden age in 9-seconds flat.


1949 BMTC Beaver featuring a steel-frame snow plow, a piece included by BMTC on deluxe packages including an oil hydraulic system powered by the V8 Beaver, oftentimes including jacks and plumbing for water or fuel tanks on the bed for special orders.


Nice vintage trucks here

It’s a reference to its use of four headlights (two on each side, stacked vertically). Also, I’m sure the optional snow plow is the result of creative 3D fixture use - most likely a wing fixture set up to provide zero downforce.

Following the retirement of Voorhees in 1952, another phase of rebranding and restructuring began to take shape with the widening consumer base of the 1950s. With operations expanding from factories in Duluth and Green Bay and sales from Coast to Coast and into Canada, the BMTC Board and new chairman Robert Gaul sought the family consumer and premium utility market with force.

(1954 BMTC Oregon, powered by the new Pioneer 2.4L I6, it represented a new era of standard and utility. Despite operating on a reliable lead-fuel engine and featuring a modern observatory with a six-pane sunroof, it failed at being a long-lasting competitor against many existing models from family-trusted brands.)

Although riddled with hype and high hopes, the BMTC Oregon line proved underwhelming. Despite its failure to revitalize the retiring Runner series, the company’s league of utility vehicles achieved growing success with new and diversified Beaver models. Among this, Robert Gaul also signed on government contracts to produce enhanced development on gas turbine powerplants for its aircraft. This led to a phase, albeit incredibly brief, of experimentation in this field of turbine-powered ground vehicles reminiscent of the M3 Stuart. Most notably this appeared in the BMTC Ute Concept 1956, a quirky pickup capable of fifth-wheel coupling and an absurd chrome finish for a utility vehicle. Despite developmental progress, its turbine concepts failed to meet many of its piston standards (and notoriously noise requirements).

(1957 BMTC Olympian, powered by the same-name Olympian 5.4L V8 with the first implementation of Direct Overhead cams. Featuring a 5-Speed manual transmission with 4x4 capability, as well as an incredibly steep first gear, its towing power was rather unmatched by many of its peers. Its initial release was a marketing success, labeled as a “Highway Utility” with a top speed of 90 MPH and radial tires. However, due to initial costs and a handful of fatal accidents resulting from frame collapse, the Olympian line lost much of its silvery tones in favor of standard paint coats and a removal of its twin sunroof.)


HITTING IT BIG, 1956 - 1960
With unremarkable sales and prestige surrounding the frontiers of station wagons and high-quality utility vehicles, BMTC yearned for something to fill the niche left by the Runner series in the decade prior. Coming to the Runner’s rescue from the development park in Sioux City, IA premiered a rather unremarkable 5-seat family car. Despite its unrevolutionary appearance and running off a revised Chariot 2.5L A1 Inline-4, Robert Gaul and the BMTC Board saw potential in the concept.

Receiving the greenlight to begin production modeling, the vehicle received a much-needed makeover. Its basic exterior received a simple chrome trim, with the interior receiving plenty of love with adjustable seats and integrated back supports and leather/cloth finish. With months of effort and plenty of quality-of-life additions, the first production model began sales in 1956 with immense success across the board. Incredibly affordable for the average family, the mileage for cross-country trips, and the passenger-cargo space for the national taxicab, it needed an apt name. Soon, Robert Gaul’s national debut of the model christened it: Roadhead, often marketed “Roadhead: Where all roads end, we go the extra mile.”

(1956 BMTC Roadhead, the initial model from the production line.)


RETURN OF THE TITAN, 1959 - 1963
BMTC rode a wave of success once more under the taillight glow of the Roadhead series. However, one success was not enough for the ambitious Robert Gaul. Lucky for him, prized engineer and designer Marcus Beckham and marketing madman Marshal DeFranco (of whom worked for BMTC since 1923) came forth with solutions for a fresh start with tried and true sales victories for the company.

By the dawn of the 1960s, BMTC completely renewed both its model in car manufacturing, as well as its diversity into the American heavy industry. This included massive industrial expansions to existing automotive sectors, as well as a tremendous funding boost to its aeronautical and aerospace division under Boricov Industries. In light of this expansion came the fruit of BMTC’s modernization campaign, diverting itself from its Great Depression and World War trends and hardware with new products for a new era.

(1960 BMTC Lakota, a heavy-duty pickup with the advancements of the decade to match. Powered by a tremendous 5.3L Beckham 8 V8 engine, producing a maximum 250 ft/lb of torque and a steep gearing arrangement with 4x4 packages available alongside the affordable release. The Lakota proved itself king of the cheap full-size class pickups in the United States for several years.)

(1961 BMTC Arabian, an incredibly cheap yet sturdy all-terrain SUV from the BMTC Motorworks in San Diego. Despite its sales pitches in the United States, the Arabian was in large part designed with the military in mind. Powered remarkably by the highway favorite Chariot I4 series, some 12,300 BMTC Arabian’s were sold across the tumultuous African continent throughout the 1960s, from Rhodesia to Libya. Easily serviceable, cheap to run, and a damn fun drive. The proud sponsor of beach days and savanna warfare since 1961.)


THE LATE-60s SLUMP, 1964 - 1969
Whilst Robert Gaul eventually withdrew his ambitions for BMTC, that too began to fail for the growing American auto titan. Leaded gasoline began to receive head from environmentalists and atmospheric scientists, and the company’s competitive edge soon waned with an aging Roadhead manufacturing line. This led to a period of stagnation for the automotive manufacturer, with Gaul buying investment into both extra industries and relying on government contracting through the company’s aeronautical and private engineering firms to keep it afloat.

Fact was, the company was not keeping up with the times. Gaul, in all of his adaptability, refused to change the company’s image from utilitarian to casual and family oriented; even moreso as the recent BMTC Lakota and Lakota Cattleman SUV made record sales in the utility markets. By late-1969, Robert Gaul set in for resignation for 1970.

(1969 BMTC Roadhead, often unfavorably named Boricov’s Lead Sled, the Ugly Duckling, or the Quirk-Job. The Roadhead originally operated on a lead gasoline Chariot I4, but later editions in 1970 ran off a specially made unleaded Chariot I4 or Series G I4 with Overhead cams. It underperformed in all categories except safety and cost.)

Despite Gaul’s failures to uphold BMTC throughout the decade, there was a significant product of the early 1960s. Rolling out of the motorworks in Atlanta, the BMTC Appalachia was the prize of a decade of underperformance and failed innovation. Operating on a custom, purpose-designed Wagoneer Inline-6 with Overhead cams displacing a small 2.2L, the Appalachia was the king of not just a minor small-midsize pickup class, but of the utility market as a whole.

With best-in-class torque, a healthy 60 horsepower, rigid solid axle springs, and advanced safety equipment, the Appalachia became a staple for those needing a family utility vehicle without needing the expensive, fuel inefficient drags of the Lakota or competitive models. Moreover, despite its usage of a new engine series, the Appalachia was remarkably reliable with its frame and engine. From farmers to city movers, album covers to magazine ads, the Appalachia was a cultural icon from the Bayou to the Yukon.

1 Like

CONNOR D. CLERKE, 1970 - 1978
Replacing Robert Gaul upon his resignation, the engineer-turned-businessman had remarkable plans for BMTC and its future. Facing a company stagnant, Clerke made the crucial decision of abandoning the Roadhead family of cars on the grounds of its “image permanently ruined by Gaul and his team’s decisions and styles.” From this, he emphasized a unification of utility and family, and began the marketing of a possible new station wagon rolling off the lines in the coming years. Alongside this, Clerke also expanded Boricov’s reach in other markets such as aeronautical production and investments to both banks and car insurance firms as a soft foundation to preserve company profits.

By far, though, Clerke’s largest decision was the company’s promise to upholding its standard of efficiency and power exclusively on unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel by 1973. This decision became even more popular by the Yom Kippur War, where foreign oil became harder to access and efficiency was paramount in purchase decisions.

(1971 BMTC Klondike, part of Clerke’s marriage of utility and practical family car. Operating on the Appalachian’s Wagoneer series, unleaded, and a 4-speed 4x4 drivetrain, the wagon became a healthy and profitable replacement to the undeveloped Roadhead series throughout the 1970s and resulting oil crisis.)

(1974 BMTC Phoenix, produced largely as a result of hiked oil prices and fears of a worsening inflation crisis following the dropping of the gold standard. The Phoenix ran off the 3-cylinder, inline DOHC with fuel injection for diesel fuel promptly called the Nano for its size (albeit it was 2.0L displacement). The engine had a remarkably flat torque curve at 100-110 ft/lbs, and a healthy 44 MPG average on a 10 gallon tank. Clerke’s marketing team emphasized this heavily, claiming it the safest compact car in the U.S. at the time and “Across America on $7.00!”)

1 Like

As the Carter Administration applied greater pressure to both environmental regulations and corporate law, BMTC was soon given an ultimatum by the Supreme Court to enforce downsizing, engage in more competitive behavior, and to reduce its influence on the aeronautical and maritime industries by selling its sectors in both industries, or complying to a U.S. plan of dissolution.

While Clerke avoided the ultimatum for a while, BMTC was soon brought to court on the grounds of violating anti-trust law for uncompetitive sales approaches and overscaled industrial influence. Clerke soon testified to the Supreme Court, but to little avail. In September 1977, Boricov General Industries Conglomerate was forcibly dissolved into its compliant child companies (Boricov Maritime, Boricov Aeronautical, Clerke General Engineering, and Sullivan Motorsport.)

This case, as well as Clerke’s treatment to company staff, soon led to his resignation in 1978 as both the best chairman for the BMTC brand, as well as its most controversial for his business practice built on Gaul’s foundation of upscaling and multi-market investment. Despite this, both Clerke and BMTC were still able to hold stock in the child companies of BGIC on the NYSE.