First introduced in 1915, production continued through at least 1953 and made REO (Ransom Eli Olds) one of the better known manufacturers of commercial vehicles prior to World War II. Although the basic design and styling of the chassis remained consistent, the Speed Wagon was manufactured in a variety of configurations (pickup and panel truck, passenger bus) to serve as delivery, tow, dump, and fire trucks as well as hearses and ambulances. Other manufacturers provided refits for adapting the Speed Wagon for specialized purposes.The Speed Wagon used REO's "Gold Crown" series of engines and was well regarded for power, durability, and quality.
While REO produced some wagons based on its automobile chassis (the Model H) starting in 1908 and had organized a division to produce trucks in 1910 with success, the Speed Wagon's introduction in 1915 was a significant step and a sales success. The company was soon offering a variety of Speed Wagon models with many options and by 1925 had produced 125,000 units