Roy Dikeman Chapin (23 February 1880 - February 10, 1936) was an American industrialist and automaker. He also served as the United States Secretary of Commerce from August 8, 1932 to March 3, 1933.
Chapin was born in 1880 in Lansing, Michigan and married Inez Tiedeman in 1914. The couple had six children, Roy Jr., Joan, John, Sara, Daniel, and Marian. Their son, Roy D. Chapin Jr., would also pursue a career with Hudson, eventually leading American Motors Corporation.
Chapin headed the consortium of businessmen and engineers that founded the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1908. The company was named for Detroit merchant J.L. Hudson, who provided the majority of capital for the operation's start-up.
In addition to his corporate interests, Chapin spearheaded the drive to build the Lincoln Highway, along with Henry B. Joy of Packard Motors. While Chapin viewed a system of professionally designed and built roadways as the greatest way to grow the automobile industry, he also saw the modern roadways movement as a way to secure long range strength for the United States as a nation.
Chapin returned to Hudson in March, 1933. His final three years were spent trying to save the company from the effects of the Great Depression. He died in 1936.
In 1954, Hudson was acquired by Nash Kelvinator in a friendly merger. The resulting company, American Motors Corporation, survived until it was acquired by Chrysler in the mid-1980s. Chapin's son, Roy D. Chapin Jr., served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Motors Corporation and led AMC to the acquisition of Kaiser Jeep Corporation in 1970.
More information: Roy D. Chapin, The Man Behind the Hudson Motor Car Company, John Cuthbert Long.
More information: 447 Lake Shore Road Chapin House photos:
- Digital Collections
- Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
- Search Catalog
- Roy Chapin
More: Heritage Magazine - April 1986, pg. 75
Roy D. Chapin was a founder and original stockholder of the Hudson Motor Company, which merged with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954 to become the American Motor Company. Roy D. Chapin Jr. was president of the company from 1967 to 1977. William R. Chapin became vice president of international marketing. Before founding the Hudson Motor Company, Roy. D. Chapin worked at Oldsmobile. In 1901, Chapin drove an Oldsmobile from Detroit to New York, covering the distance in 7 and half days, at an average of 14 mph.