The Last Marmon


The Last Marmon Story...

The Last Marmon by Donald Hollinger from the March 2006 issue of Highway News and Good News.

The Marmon Motor Company began in 1904. They were known in the early years for their top-of-the-line automobiles. They were the first to feature rearview mirrors among other things. Some luxury models had V-8, V-12, and V-16 engines. And a Marmon took first place in the 1911 Indianapolis 500.

However, like many other auto companies, the Depression took its toll and Marmon discontinued production of their quality automobiles. But it did not all end there for Marmon; during World War II they built many specialized vehicles, such as half trucks.

The company was sold in 1963 and began to build road trucks. Only cabovers were build until 1970. Then for many years, you could choose either conventional cab or a cabover.

The final chapter of the Marmon Company was written on February 5, 1997, when the last Marmon rolled out of the factory in Garland, Texas. And “by the grace of God” Ken Matuszak was able to purchase that last Marmon. Ken, from McKinney, TX, needed a new truck because his old one was running him in the ground financially. He was set on a Marmon because of the 1975 model he had owned many years ago gave him such good service. He tried for six months and worked with five dealers to buy a Marmon, but he kept receiving the same story: Marmon was not taking any more orders.

One dealer finally suggested to Ken that since he made a run near Garland each week, why not stop at the Marmon factory and see what would happen. At that time, Ken’s wife, Carol, was going on runs with him, and they soon found themselves sitting in the front office of the Marmon Company with the secretary to the CEO and a corporate executive. They admitted to Ken and Carol that Marmon would indeed soon close its doors.

“When we told them what we were after, they told us the two new trucks sitting out front were for sale,” Ken said. The trucks, however did not meet Ken’s specifications. “If I am spending over a hundred thousand dollars for a truck, I want it my way,” Ken admitted.

Ken and Carol asked if there were any other choices. The secretary told them there was indeed one more available, still in the paint shop. Ken says, “We asked if we could see the truck, just to say we saw the last Marmon being built. Soon, two men in hard hats and goggles came and led us out to the paint room where they were putting the wipers and air cleaner back on.” Because the truck was very close to Ken’s specs, they inquired about its status. He was told that the dealer who originally ordered it had cancelled the order since Marmon was closing. They were told they would need to go through a dealer to purchase the truck. Ken called the dealer he was working with and made a deal to trade in his current truck.

Since the financing had already been worked our, before the day was over Ken and Carol owned the new Marmon. Ken says, “That ‘s why soon after we got the truck I put on the front, ‘By the Grace of GOD.’ It was by the grace of God that we were able to purchase it. If we hadn’t been at the factory that day it never would have happened.”

Ken says the Marmon has been a great truck and he gives it credit for getting him on track financially. “I believe the Lord was testing my faith through the whole ordeal, and He brought me through. I didn’t realize how much attention the truck would get. I soon got calls from major truck magazines and felt honored to be featured on the cover of three of them. It also drew lots of attention at various truck shows, the news media and television. Bette Garber (a truck photographer) gave me three or four pages in her latest book. I again feel honored by it all.”

Since Marmon parts are hard to find, Ken decided to start a parts business for Marmons. He buys used Marmons that are being parted out and buys stock from former dealers and Marmon vendors. And to keep the Marmon name alive and well, for the last five years Ken has organized an annual Marmon Meet. According to Ken, it has turned into more of a reunion of Marmon owners from all over the United States. For information about this event go to

The proud owners of the very last Marmon truck assembled on the factory line is Ken & Carol Matuszak.