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Budd Company legal documents

Creation: 1926-1965
Accession: 2557


The collection consists of a small group of legal documents of the Budd Company and its related firms preserved by a former employee. Also included are the papers of Budd Company's British and German affiliates, property leases, and agreements.


  • Creation: 1926-1965



1.25 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Edward Gowen Budd, Sr. (1870-1946) founded the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company in Philadelphia on July 22, 1912 for the purpose of making pressed-steel auto parts. Its main plant was located on Hunting Park Avenue in North Philadelphia. Budd also created two joint ventures in 1926 for the purpose of marketing its technology and products to European car makers, The Pressed Steel Company of Great Britain Limited and Ambi-Budd Presswerk G.m.b.H. in Germany. A third company, Budd International Corporation (1930-1943) held the Budd interest in these two companies and handled all foreign licensing. Between 1932 and 1982, Budd was also a major manufacturer of railroad passenger cars and subway cars using stainless steel and its "Shotweld" process. During World War II, it built a number of large stainless-steel cargo planes at a government-funded plant on Red Lion Road in Northeast Philadelphia. Red Lion was converted to railroad car manufacture after the war.

The Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company and its subsidiary Budd Wheel Company merged to form the Budd Company on June 11, 1946. After the retirement of Edward G. Budd, Jr., his successor move the company headquarters from Philadelphia to Troy, Michigan, to be closer to the auto makers. It had also moved into making plastic auto parts, as the manufacturers reduced vehicle weight for greater efficiency. In April 1978, Budd became a subsidiary of the German steelmaker Thyssen AG. Thyssen restructured the auto-parts side of the business and sold the poorly-performing railcar business to Bombardier, Inc. of Canada in 1987. The Red Lion site was redeveloped in the 1990s, and Budd ended its long presence in Philadelphia by closing the Hunting Park Avenue plant in 2002.

Scope and Content

This collection of Budd Company documents was acquired from the family of a former employee as an adjunct to a collection of photographs. The bulk of the collection consists of leases, which permit tracking the shifting locations of the company's sales offices, the location of its shipping pier on the Delaware River, and a few details of the Hunting Park plant. Agreements include one with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for road-testing its first Rail Diesel Car (RDC) demonstrator in 1949, with the Reading Company for switching its plants, and with the State of New Jersey for furnishing blanks to be made into license plates by inmates of the state prison. Very incomplete papers from a lawsuit by a small stockholder against the company and its directors charge malfeasance in the issuing of shares and options to the directors during the 1946 reorganization and public stock offering.

The most interesting part of the collection concerns its German joint venture Ambi-Budd Presswerk G.m.b.H. It addition to the firms organization papers and original contracts, there is a file, tantalizingly incomplete, describing negotiations to increase the capital of the firm and to exercise a purchase option on its plant site, which was on leased land, in the year before World War II began. Depression-wracked Budd was leery of pumping more capital, especially British hard currency, into Germany, while the German partners were equally determined to get it by any means. To complicate matters, the owner of the plant site, a Frau Mueller, was Jewish and desperate to get out of Germany with a minimum of money to live on, while the German partners were clearly eager to grab Jewish property for a song before further crackdowns made even such deals illegal. It is also not clear if Budd realized the plant was being used for German military production, and interesting to note that both sides were projecting installment payments running from 1942 to 1946. Unfortunately, the files tell nothing of the ultimate fate of Frau Mueller, but the Nazi government eventually expropriated Budd's interest. However, Paul Pleiss, a party in the negotiations, did manage to smuggle the design secrets of the Ambi-built fuel can used by the panzers out of Germany later in 1939.

Related Material

Budd Company historical files (Accession 2411), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Additional Description

Separated Material

Publications were transferred to the Public Collections Department and can be found in Hagley's online catalog. Contact the Published Collections Department for details.

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Budd Company legal documents
Christopher T. Baer
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA