Established in Warnemünde, Germany by Ernst Heinkel in 1922 for the production of airplanes, at the time being restricted in what it could manufacture by the Treaty of Versailles. Heinkel managed to obtain the services of 3 leading aeronautical engineers, Heinrich Hertel and brothers Siegfried and Walter Günter. Jointly developing the Heinkel He 70 Blitz airliner for Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1932, their first effort would break several air speed records.
Spurred on by its success, the twin engined He 111 Doppel-Blitz would soon follow. Heinkel was selected by the rapidly expanding Luftwaffe to adapt the He 70 and He 111 for military use as bombers, the latter becoming the mainstay of later German bombing campaigns. The company would go on to develop the He 177, the largest bomber to join the Luftwaffe arsenal, although it was never deployed in significant numbers. For a time Heinkel courted the Reich Aviation Ministry (RLM) with fighter plane designs, however those from rival manufacturer Messerschmitt were chosen.
The He 219 night-fighter was produced, but in very limited numbers, it remaining a victim to the political machinations of the Ministry. In 1941 the company was merged with engine manufacturer Hirth, allowing the newly formed Heinkel-Hirth to manufacture an end-to-end product incorporating their own engines. The company would be involved with pioneering efforts in jet aircraft manufacture, having their He 280 developed to operational prototype stage, only to have the RLM again favor Messerschmitt with their iteration the Me 262.
For accuracy’s sake we should mention that the Heinkel He 162 jet aircraft did manage to get airborne before the war was over. At wars end Heinkel was prohibited from manufacturing aircraft, instead turning to the manufacture of bicycles and motor scooters as a means of providing work for thousands.
In 1954 Ernst Heinkel himself would design the now highly collectable 3-wheeler, following the success of the Messerschmitt KR 175 and the Isetta. After only 4 years of production the design was sold to Dundalk engineering in the Irish republic, it later undergoing some mechanical improvements and being sold as a Trojan. As for Heinkel, the company would return to building aircraft , this time F-104 Starfighters for the West German Luftwaffe.
In 1965 the company was absorbed by Vereinigte Flugtetechnische Werke (VFW), they in turn absorbed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in 1980. Heinkel’s foray into car manufacture was brief, and made under adverse conditions, which is what makes them so highly prized today.
Founded as the Auto Machinery company by William Hillman in Coventry for the manufacture of bicycles, he enlisted the help of John Kemp Starley (who would go on to found Rover) to help get the fledgling operation off the ground. Such was the demand for bicycles at that time that Starley would soon leave to set up his own business, while Hillman’s company would go from strength to strength, soon making him a millionaire. It was almost inevitable that Hillman would join so many other cycle manufacturers into the world of automobile manufacture.
The 1907 Hillman-Coatalen (named after the designer), featured a powerful for the time 24 horsepower engine. Confident that it would quickly garner race track success, the car was entered into that year’s Tourist Trophy. It would crash, but not before it had put in a stellar performance that had not gone unnoticed. Coatealen would leave Hillman and join Singer, his departure leaving a vacuum in the design area, and subsequent Hillman’s were much more staid than the original iteration.
In 1913 came the 9 horsepower, which would survive the war and continue to be a top seller well into the 1920’s. In 1926 Hillman released the 14 horsepower, then in 1928 Hillman unveiled the incredibly expensive 2.6 litre Straight Eight model; new from the ground up, it was unashamedly built to appeal to the well heeled.
Production problems would delay the release by a year, and the timing couldn’t have been more wrong, the depression years being just around the corner. Rootes came to the rescue in 1928, and in the ensuing years their designs started to influence Hillman. The Wizard appeared in 1929 and was available with either a 2.1 or 2.8 litre engine, then 1932 saw the introduction of the Minx, the first in a long line of models that was to last until 1970.
Set up during World War 2 to manufacture motor vehicles for the burgeoning Indian middle-classes. As part of the British Empire, it was inevitable that ambitious industrialists based in India would look back to the homeland to provide the manufacturing technology and facilities.
Successfully established, the company's first product was the Landmaster, which entered production in 1942. Essentially an Indian-built version of the original Morris Oxford, it marked the beginning of a long-lasting and fruitful relationship between Morris Motors and Hindustan.
Founded by British immigrant James Alexander Holden in 1852 as a leather works and saddler, by 1910 the company would be trimming motor vehicles and, in 1914, they manufactured their first one-off car body fitted to an imported Lancia chassis. The company would go from strength to strength when, in 1917, the Australian government placed an embargo on fully assembled vehicles. Became the exclusive GM body builder in 1924, and was subsequently acquired by GM in 1931 during the depression. Sir Laurence Hartnett was sent to Australia from the US with a view to making it profitable, or closing it down. Holding the Australian work ethos in high regard, he was able to increase production and efficiency, and court the Australian government with the idea of building an entirely Australian car.
Assisted by the Commonwealth Bank, Hartnett and Jack Horn made a pitch to the Detroit headquarters for the …”Manufacture of Complete Motor-Cars in Australia”. The resultant 48/215 would go on sale in 1948, and the name Holden would be indelibly etched into the Australian motoring landscape for all time.
Lacking from the Holden lineup since the introduction of the Commodore was a high-performance iteration, something with real driver appeal. In a stroke of genius, GM approached race legend Peter Brock to help construct high performance, exhilarating vehicles reminiscent of the days of the Monaro. Starting out as a very small concern, it would quickly garner a reputation for creating high quality and extremely well sorted high end Commodores, all which remain to this day highly prized and extremely collectable.
Naturally enough few ever referred to them as HDT Commodores, rather they would only ever be "Brock Commodores". From the moment you sat behind the wheel you knew you were in something special, but perhaps that was because the Momo steering wheel featured the King of the Mountains stenciled signature. Together with partner John Harvey (then Special Vehicles Department Manager), the company would go from strength to strength, even entering a couple of VK HDT’s in the LeMans 24-hour race. Our advise is, if you are lucky enough to own one, keep it.
Holden Special Vehicles is a joint operation between the Tom Walkinshaw Racing Group (TWR), who own 75%, and GMH . Following the formula established by HDT under the leadership of Peter Brock, HSV use models from the Commodore and Statesman range to produce high performance, and highly desirable versions. The emphasis has always been on performance modifications, but with each new model Commodore HSV has included greater body kit and interior change to uniquely identify them from the more run-of-the-mill iterations.
Through clever marketing, HSV enjoys an image that evokes excitement, and has continued to push the boundaries with concept and one off vehicles. Customer loyalty to the brand is unsurpassed, with turnover of vehicles low and resale prices high. The logo is an amalgamation of the Holden logo (the lion) and a Racing Driver, which highlights the profile HSV has with the Australian Touring Car Championship through the Holden Racing Team (HRT).
The world's largest motorcycle manufacturer did not make its first car until 1963, and even then it owed much of its mechanical underpinnings to the two wheeled variety. Founded by Soichiro Honda, one of nine children from a poor family, he was a gifted engineer and astute businessman. Apprenticed in a car repair shop, got his first chance to actually drive a car during the Toyko earthquake of 1923, then ferrying people and supplies around the devastated city.
Dabbled with racing cars, but his big break came after World War 2 when he realised that few could afford a car, and so turned his attention to the manufacture of ex-military two-stoke engines fitted to bicycles. Manufactured their first motorcycle, the Dream, in 1949, which was fitted with a four-stoke engine. Launched the chain driven 500 sports car in 1963, subsequent iterations becoming more conventional, and more popular.
One of the pioneering British automobile manufacturers. Started out making bicycles in 1867, amoung them the Pennington 3-wheeler. Released their own single cylinder car in 1899, then experimented with front wheel drive and shaft-driven DeDion powered cars. Took control of truck manufacturer Commer in 1926 and Hillman two years later. Introduced the larger 6 cylinder Humbers in 1930, but was taken over by the Rootes Group in 1932.
The wonderful unitary constructed 4 cylinder Hawk was released in 1957, alongside the similarly bodied 6 cylinder Super Snipe. The Humber identity was lost during the 1960's as the cars became re-badged Hillman's. When Chrysler took control of Rootes they allowed the marque to fade into obscurity.
Like many of its competitors, the Hurtu Company was producing bicycles and sewing before manufacturing its first car in 1896. Fitted with either a proprietary de Dion or Aster four cylinder engine of around 14 hp, the company specialised in light cars. They were manufactured in France until 1929.