Shelby Cycle Co. was back in the business of producing bicycles by 1945, although steel and rubber were still in short supply. To fill orders more quickly, the most popular models were mass produced to establish stock that could be shipped on demand.
With stock in warehouses, the company signed contracts with nationally known outlets such as Western Auto Stores, Gamble Stores, Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Spiegel, Gimbels and others.
With increased costs and dwindling profits, as well as the retirement of Leon Smith, the decision was made in 1953 to sell the company to a group of mid-west investors, including Bert Gamble, owner of Gamble Stores. The Shelby plant would continue to operate under a working agreement with the Cleveland Welding Company, a subsidiary of the American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF).
In September, the cycle company offices were moved to the Shelby Mutual building and the factory was moved to the company’s building on Whitney Avenue, so AMF pinspotters could be made at the factory. By year’s end, pressured by increasing competition from foreign imports, the Shelby plant was closed and operations were moved to Cleveland. About 100 local workers were laid off. Cleveland Welding continued to make bicycles under the Shelby name.
In 1955, AMF moved the operation from Cleveland to their new $1.25 million factory in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nineteen freight cars were used to move all the machinery. In less than 10 years, the name Shelby was no longer used.
© Christina Yetzer Drain