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The Marathon Automobile Was Made in Tennessee Capital

Our State Capital is known for many things. I suppose one of the most important of Nashville’s claims to fame other than being capital of Tennessee is the production and distribution of Country and Bluegrass music and other music as well. Consequently, that city is known as Music City USA. It is known for its iconic Country Music Hall of Fame as well as Music Row and many other events or places of interest.
Nashville is also a city with cultural emphasis. It is the location of a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon of Athens, Greece. The Nashville Parthenon also houses a replica of the huge statue of Athena as well as Nashville’s art museum, which includes 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists. The Parthenon is open to the public.
I am fascinated by the amount and variety of automobiles that have been produced in the United States. When I think of car manufacturing, what usually comes to my mind are the big auto producing cities such as Detroit, Michigan; South Bend, Indiana; and others. There were of course many cars built in a number of cities across America. But until recently I discovered that Nashville was once a site of automobile manufacturing. The factory was located in downtown Nashville. On the site is an historical sign that reads: “The Marathon motor car was manufactured here 1914-1918 by Southern Motor Works (later called Marathon). Four models, all touring cars, were powered by engines of 4 cylinders, 30/35 hp & 6’s of 50 hp, with wheelbases from 9’8” to 12’ 5”. The plant closed operations in 1914 due to financial difficulties but continued a parts & service business until 1918.”
On a trip to Nashville a few years ago, I took in several sights. I saw several of the country music stars’ homes, the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium, the Opryland Hotel and other attractions, but I was unaware that Nashville was the site of a car manufacturer.
The car, known as the Marathon, boasted an electric starter and that was rare in those days. The Marathon came fully equipped for $1475 for the Touring Car and $1400 for the Roadster. That was a lot of money at that time.
Much of what we take for granted when buying a car today was extra charge in the early days of automobiles. For instance, electric starters, tops and bumpers were once extras. Marathon Motor Works was relocated from Jackson, Tennessee to Nashville in 1914. The Marathon was a successful car and was much sought after by the public. There were many dealers in major cities of the U. S.