Lost Marques

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Lost Marques
The Motor tricycle designed and built by Carl Benz took to the road for the first time in 1886, and the four-wheeled horseless carriage of Gottlieb Daimler followed in 1887. Those dates are generally accepted as being birthdays of the automobile., The motor car has come a long way from those pioneer days. Born in a small backyard workshop, it quickly matured to series production, soon to surpass modest artisan dimensions and to enter the of big business. The trend towards bigger and financially more powerful companies was evident almost from the begining, in order to obtain production and price advantages resulting from the so-called 'economies of scale'.

The motor industries rapid development has always created a tough competitive climate. Its history is an endless round of tales recounting victories and defeats, stories of famous and lesser names forced to give up the fight against overwhelmingly large, or more aggressive companies. The tales too were of names disappearing through liquidation, or as the consequence of mergers when new management sacrificed old-established marques for reasons of rationalisation, condemning them to oblivion.

Even to this day, there has been a merciless fight for survival between the various groups and companies. The year 1980 went down in automotive history as the year when Japan passed the U.S. motor industry into the lead of the 'Production Grand Prix'. For allmost three-quarters of a century, ever since the Americans replaced France as the leading automobile producer in 1906, most people had come to accept the USA as the world's premier car builder.

It was Professor Krish Bhaskar from England's East Anglia University who foresaw a market decline in Europe, North America, and Japan by the mid-eighties. In view of that, and the huge costs of developing the next car generation with more economical engines and fuel-saving bodies he considered an annual prooduction figure of two to three million units the absolute minimum for any corporation with the ambition to remain in the Major League on a world-wide basis. Professor Bhaskar predicted that only seven or eight corporations would make it to the end of the decade, naming General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, PSA (Peugeot-Citroen- Talbot), VW-Audi, Renault and Fiat as likely survivors. Thankfully he was wrong, and smaller marques continue in production, albiet with difficulty.

Of the two 'automotive fathers', Gottlieb Daimler undoubtedly made the greater contribution towards the development of the motor car. His 'high-speed' four-stroke engine of 900 rpm maximum was the first genuinely suitable for the task. A French entrepreneur, Maitre Edouard Sarazin, showed great interest in the Daimler engine, and he bought the licence for France, only to die soon afterwards. His widow then married one Emile Levassor, and set in motion the start of the French motor industry. The licence agreement between Daimler and Levassor proved very profitable for both parties, as Panhard & Levassor started to build motor cars with V2 Daimler engines in 1891, soon to achieve production figures much higher than Daimler in Germany.

Peugeot, and later Mors, also used Daimler engines. The French welcomed the automobile with much greater enthusiasm than did initially the Germans, business was booming, and it was in France that motor car production first moved from workshop construction to industrial dimensions. Undoubtedly, the French motor industry dominated worldwide until 1906, and the European scene at least until the Kaiser War. Gottlieb Daimler's interests were not, however, limited to Germany and France. In 1896 the last residues of the Red Flag Act - the four mph (6.7 km/h) speed limit was abolished in Britain. Formerly, that act even stipulated that a man with a red flag had to precede any horseless carriage on the road, in order to warn man and animal of impending dangers. In that memorable year, the Daimler Motor Syndicate was set up in Coventry. Harry J. Lawson, an English industrialist, and Gottlieb Daimler were directors of the company which produced Daimler V2 engines and built very solid copies of the French Panhard & Levassor car.

The Coventry Daimler



The Coventry Daimler, as it was then called to distinguish it from the German-built Cannstatt Daimler, soon accquired a first-class reputation and a distinnguished client, King Edward VII. The German connection did not last very long, and as early as 1910 the British Daimler company became part of the Birmingham Small Arms Group (BSA). Just before the turn of the century, serious contacts were established by Gottlieb Daimler with Austro-Hungary, and the colourful figure of Emil Jellinek, Austrian Consul in Nice, entered the scene. He sugggested the construction of a much faster Daimler of more sporting character. Gotttlieb Daimler's closest collaborator, Willhelm Maybach, carried out the design work, whilst Jellinek not only contributed the idea and the money, but also the name of his daughter: Mercedes had arrived!

The Austrian connection led to the acquisiition of a share in the engineering works of Fischer, Bierenz & Co., of Wiener Neuustadt, near Vienna. It was soon renamed Osterreichische Daimler Motoren Gesellsschaft and run by Gottlieb Daimler's son Paul. When the latter was recalled to Gerrmany, a certain Ferdinand Porsche was apppointed Technical Director. Porsche had made his name with Jakob Lohner, both coachbuilders to the Austrian Imperial Court. There, Porsche had built several revolutionary cars, some with mixed elecctric drive. Lohner became Austria's fore-most manufacturer of military aircraft durring the First World War and built Lohner motor scooters in the 'fifties, but never again a motor car after Porsche left. Ferdinand Porsche's contributions toward the development of the motor car are too well documented throughout thie Unique Cars and Parts site, so to avoid repetition, let it be said that he soon became chief execuutive of Austro-Daimler. In a rather more humble position, a young Croat worked for Austro-Daimler at the same time, just before the Kaiser War. His name was Josip Broz, later to become famous as Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia.

The collapse and disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the sad ecoonomic conditions of the inter-war years made themselves felt at Austro-Daimler. The great depression forced a merger of the Austrian motor industry under the name of Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG., which spelt 'out' for Austro-Daimler as a marque name ... until a clever Chinese marketing strategist working for Steyr-Daimler-Puch's Ameriican subsidiary in the 'seventies used that traditional name to launch a luxury bicycle on the U .S. market. He clearly saw that the marque name 'Puch' would not be quite appropriate for an up-market product in view of the unfortunate phonetic affinity of push bike and Puch bike!

France at the Zenith



We left the Societe Anonyme des An6ens Etablissements Panhard & Levassor at the time they began to use the Daimler patents. In 1881 the company launched a very moddern front-engined car design, the 'systeme Panhard', which meant a great step forrward in the development of the motor car and really marked a complete breakaway from the early horse less carriage. Large sales and racing successes made Panhard and Levassor the leading make not only in France, but Europe, at about the turn of the century. However, the company remained ahead of the competition a slowly but surely its leading position was eroded. After the Second World War, the company produced nothing more than a small front wheel drive saloon with an aircooled twin engine. Those small Panhards scored many Le Mans index wins, but their commercial success remained so modest that the company was soon taken over by Citroen and the once-famous name of Panhard was quietly phased out.

The First V8



The main competitors in that era of French dominance around the turn of the century were Peugeot and de Dion Bouton. The latter company company built complete cars that sold well all over the world as well as its own engines which were often sold to foreign car producers for use in locally design chassis. The de Dion Bouton company built the first V8 engine in automotive history. In the 'twenties, the company fell behind competitors, and the last de Dion Bouton V8, left the works in 1930. The old Count Albert de Dion died in 1946, an only a rear axle design survived as a reminder of that great motoring pioneer.

Another major French marque of the era was Darracq. In 1904 a Darracq car wrote motoring history by setting up a new World Land land Speed record. The company looked across the frontiers quite successfully. Opel built Darracq cars under licence (the Opel-Darracq models), and Darracq Italiana was set up, first in Naples, later moving to Milan. That subsidiary ran into difficulties in 1910, changed owners and soon afterwards its name, to become Anonim barda Fabbrica Automobili, shortened to ALFA, and not much later became Alfa-Romeo! The French parent company, Darracq in France, was later taken over by Lago-Talbot which thrived in the 'thirties and enjoyed a period of great sporting success just after the Second World War, before it had to take refuge under Simca's umbrella in 1958.

Simca was a relatively young enterprise with Fiat participation, assembling models in France, and later elaborating on basic Fiat designs. In the 'fifties Simca chased the French Ford factory where bigger V8-engined cars of semi-American character were built. When Chrysler decided to tackle the European market Simca was taken over to become the prize possession of Chrysler-Europe. Another reason for its acquisition was that it had a foothold in the promising Spanish market through its subsidiary, Barreiros.

In Britain, Chrysler took over the Group which had originated from a merger of Hillman, Humber, and Sunbeam-Talbot in the early 'thirties, and to which was later added Singer, Coventry manufacturer light and sports cars. Yet the late 'seventies brought tremendous difficulties for the Chrysler Corporation which led the American giant to the brink disaster. In order to survive in America, European subsidiaries had to be sold. They were taken over by the PSA Group, behind which abbreviation we find the old established name of Peugeot

The tradiiral French make which had started by using Daimler engines well before the turn he century, had remained a rather conservative company without any signs of excessive entrepreneureal aggressiveness. Then suddenly its policy changed. When Citroen ran into difficulties during the first oil crisis, just after its brief unconsummated marriage with Fiat (which was soon annulled), Peugeot took command of Citroen. Peugeot's next step was an ambitious engine project, a joint venture with Renault and Volvo, then followed the surprising Chrysler deal which made headlines all around the world.

France's Scorched Earth Policy Following World War 2



PSA acted quickly and with determination. The nominal integration of rather heterogenous Chrysler-Europe programme followed with lightning speed. The old marque name of Talbot was dug up found to be the ideal common denominator, having traditional roots both in Rootes and Simca history, and sounding equally well in French and in English. A remarkable story of a renowned name's resurrection in the days of automotive shotgun weddings!

And what happened to the numerous French luxury car builders that survived the Second World War? Names like Hotchkiss, Salmson, Delage, Delahaye, Bugatti? Post-war French fiscal policy penalizing large engines and causing very high petrol prices, very effectively drove them all out of business by the early 'fifties. It was like a scorched earth policy. Thus, apart from the rous PSA Group, only the solitary Regie Renault remained in France. Founded around the turn of the century, it was natonalized in 1945 following collabora-charges with Hitler's Germany. The fact that Renault had remained solitary indicated a particular problem to be found amongst nationalized car producers. In an era where it became imperative to establish links across national borders, nalization prevented just that. The problem also existed for British Leyland and Alfa Romeo. Sadly, it was BL that never made the distance.

America's Break-Through



The United States neither invented the automobile, nor welcomed it with open arms at infancy. The first statistical data on car production date from 1902. In that year, 314 automobiles were built in the US, whilst France produced 23,000! But it is the unparalleled talent of Americans to translate new inventions and technologies into industrial use. Four years later, America passed France into the lead of the worldwide 'Production Grand Prix', building 58,000 units.
 
Then two events occured in 1908 that were to be of lasting significance in the progress of automobile history. Henry Ford introduced his Model T to a market which hitherto had only seen costly toys for the super rich. 'Basic Motoring' had arrrived, the simple, rugged mass-produced car at an unprecedented low price opened the door to new dimensions. The American farmer discovered the automobile. Not content with one major event, 1908 also saw the formation of General Motors by William C. Durant, then President of the Buick Motor Company. Long term, that second event proved to be of equal importance as the launch of Ford's Model T, although short term the impact was infinitely smaller. Durant had the vision of annual production figures exceeding one milllion units, and he clearly saw the necessity to form a truly vast corporation with the requisite financial power. That, he felt, could be achieved only through a merger of the majority of motor manufacturers.

By 1910 he was able to bring together Buick, Olds (later Oldsmobile), Oakland (later Pontiac), Cadillac, and seven other compaanies within the framework of General Motors. Each one of the four great makes was to retain its identity and to work as a division of the corporation with a considerable degree of autonomy. Later, the Chevrolet Company, created by the Swiss racing driver Louis Chevrolet, joined General Motors to become the most important diviision of the Group, with the assigned task of competing head-on with the market leader, Ford, in the low price field.

A sophisticated marketing concept assigned each make certain dimensions and price brackets, so that a young owner of a Chevrolet could remain faithful to General Motors as he climbed up the ladder to accquire larger and more expensive automoobiles. So from the cheapest 'Chevy' to the most expensive Cadiliac, GM offered a car for every purse, making it very difficult for the competition to tempt customers away. The system went so far that in 1927 an addiitional marque, La Salle, was invented to close the only remaining gap, between Buick and Cadillac. The move may have been too much, however, and La Salle quietly disappeared from the arena when war production stopped and made way for car production in 1945.

Planned Obsolesscence



The General Motors system was suppleemented by the strategy of the annual model change which resulted in 'planned obsolesscence'. Also, GM recognized the eminen t importance of the used car market at a very early stage, and paid great attention to the quality and quantity of its dealer force. It is hard to visualize two systems more different than those competing for first place in the American market, Ford and General Motors. The self-made man and autocrat (Henry Ford) had built a vast empire mainly as the result of the Model T's success and his advanced production methods. His company was centrally organized, owned by the Ford family, and was proud to be able to 'not go public' but it finally happpened in 1947. Ford policy promoted mass motorization, low price, model stability, and led the Ford Motor Company to the forefront, as the premier car producer of America, and the whole world.

All the power and influence of men like Pierre S. Dupont and J. P. Morgan with their Wall Street roots, and the sophistication of the General Motors Corporation's strategy was of no avail. Ford could not be successfully challenged, at least not for the time being. Certainly not before a signifiicant change occurred in the American market place. Until 1908, America was a class market, with the automobile a toy for the well-to-do. With the advent of the Model T, it changed to a mass market, where the cheap product took the lead and left the competition far behind. In the mid-'twenties, however, changes took place that Henry Ford quite obviously had not foreseen, explaining why he so rigidly adhered to his old and proven concept.

Suddenly, the Model T ceased to be attractive. Basic motoring arrived at its saturation point, for now all the farmers owned their own Model T's. America's car park had grown so large that an important used car market emerged quite naturally by the mid-Thirties. And the used car was the most serious competitor to the new car of the 'basic motoring' concept. The ageing Model T Ford was simply being overtaken by techniical developments and the march of time. Whilst Henry Ford appears to have stood aside with a certain lack of comprehension as to why the bottom fell out the Model T market, General Motors moved into the fast lane to overtake Ford and become autoomobile producer No. 1. The Ford Motor Company, however, was still strong enough to overcome its 1927 crisis by its own means, and it was successfully able to challenge GM's production lead in three isolated years, but by and large, a new pattern had emerged which remained for roughly half a century: America's industry meant the Big Three, General Motors - Ford - Chrysler, strictly in that order.

Today, America's automobile industry finds itself in a most precarious situation. It has clung to the huge 'full-sized' car with its vast 'gas-guzzling' V8 engine far too long, refusing to read the writing on the wall. It has refrained too long from seriously developing and promoting more compact and economic cars; all their previous efforts in that direction have been at best half-hearted. The situation opened the door first to the Europeans, then to the Japanese, and the once tiny 'small car niche' quickly become a breach amounting to one quarter of car sales in the U .S. market! Under the impact of the energy shortage, very expensive rethinking was inevitable. U .S. legislation forced the industry to invest vast sums of capital to conform first with safety regulations, then with anti-pollution requirements, and later with the need to drastically conserve energy. It wrought havoc with the finances of the automobile industry.

Since the market for full-sized American cars dramatically collapsed, it was becoming even more difficult to finance the requisite investments of really horrendous dimensions. Once again, the effect of economies of scale became apparant, greatly favouring the Big Ones. In 1979, General Motors produced roughly five million cars in the United States and still managed to make a small profit. The Ford Motor Company suffered very considerable financial losses with a production of two million units, whilst Chrysler's production figure fell below the one million mark, and without government guarantees, the commpany would have clearly gone to the wall. For over half a century the world had become used to GM's five divisions holding an unassailable lead, with the Ford Motor Company (including its two upmarket makes, Mercury and Lincoln), as the powerful No. 2 contender. Chrysler pursued a concept not unlike that of General Motors, incorporating four makes, Plymouth, Dodge, De Soto as well as Chrysler itself.

The small independent American manufacturers that survived the depression exxperienced a short period of prosperity in the sellers market of the immediate post-war years. Their technical and aesthetic contributions to the development of the Ameriican automobile were more important than their modest market share, and certainly proportionally greater than those of the Big Three which continued to mass-produce very orthodox cars. The moment the situation reverted to a buyers market, however, the small companies came under heavy pressure once again. Nash and Hudson had to merge to form the American Motors Corrporation. Newcomers to the car business, Kaiser-Frazer, fared worse and soon had to discontinue car production. Much sadder was the fate of the proud prestige make, Packard, that had built cars to a very high technical standard. In severe financial difficulties Packard merged with Studebaker, a company of outstanding styling achievement.

Unfortunately, two beggars can only pity each other; help can come to them only from a rich man, who sadly failed to apppear. Thus Studebaker-Packard went out of business. The car manufacturers of the smaller Euroopean countries were forced to give up much sooner than the small companies in the vast American market. The once thriving Belgian motor industry was certainly bigger than that of ltaly in 1904, achieving its prooduction record of 12,000 cars in 1906. It has long ceased to exist, and there are only asssembly plants of foreign multis in the counntry. Forgotten are names like Minerva, F. N., and Metallurgique. Of the more than thirty makes once built in Switzerland, only Saurer and Berna were able to conduct an orderly withdrawal into the more speciaalized field of heavy commercial vehicles. The last private car built in Switzerland was the Martini (1934); excluding of course the brave Peter Monteverdi, of Basel, who had the courage to start to hand-build luxury cars in extremely limited numbers.

The Italian Motor Industry



The Italian motor industry had developed in a way very much different from all others. Car construction started rather late, and the Fiat Company immediately established the extremely dominant position which it still holds today. The dominance left only marginal areas - sports and luxury cars - for the competition. Of the glorious names of the early days, the saddest losses have been the disappearance of Itala and Isotta Fraschini. Another elite make, Alfa Romeo, managed to survive as a nationalized industry. Having drastically changed its model range to more accessible price brackets, it has in fact become a large series producer. However, the political necessity to industrially develop Southern Italy imposed the burden of setting up the Alfasud factory which never managed to operate profitably.

Fiat's international importance was based on long-established preparedness to negotiate participations and co-operative agreements of various natures and with great flexibility. In earlier times, NSU-Fiat, and Austro-Fiat come to mind, later came Simca and SEAT (Spain), and there were important subsidiaries in Argentina and Brazil. Comprehensive co-operation packages existed with a number of East European countries, which led to the production of Fiat models and derivatives in the Communist Bloc. More than half the cars produced in the Soviet Union were Shiguli (Lada) from Togliattigrad, based on the Fiat 124 and built in a giant plant set up by Fiat for the Soviet government. In Poland, Pomo built Polski-Fiats; in Yugoslavia, locally built Fiats were called Zastava. Thus, the Comecon countries plus Yugoslavia built more than one million Fiat-based cars per annum, about as much as Fiat's indigenous production in Italy.

Developments in Germany took an entirely different course. Between the wars, the Americans were able to obtain a very dominant position. Adam Opel AG., then market leader in Germany, was bought up by General Motors in 1929, and Ford set up a large factory in Cologne. Sensing the American challenge, DKW; Wanderer, Audi, and Horch came together to form the Auto-Union Group. It was to provide a complete model range, from the cheap two-stroke DKW up to the luxurious Horch limousines, competing with the Americans in the mass market and with the prestige make of Mercedes-Benz (Daimler and Benz had merged in 1926!) at the top of the line.

For almost a decade, Auto-Union and Mercedes-Benz duelled in the classic Grand Prix races to enhance their own prestige as well as that of Germany, writing the most exhilarating chapter in racing history. After the Second World War, Auto-Union bore the full brunt of defeat and the partition of Germany. The Chemnitz, Zwickau, and Zschopau works in Saxony found themselves in the Soviet zone of occupation. Those factories were, of course, nationalized and production soon centred around the small two and three-cylindered IF A cars, which so closely resembled DKWs. For a fleeting moment there were plans to build a luxurious East German Horch Sachsenring. In the Dixi factory at Fisennach, which had belonged to BMW - where some years before, Austin Sevens had been built under licence - the beautiful BMW 327 was revived under the new name EMW. But in the long run, all those East German nationalized factories amalgamatted and production concentrated on Trabant and Wartburg models with two-stroke engines of unmistakable DKW origin!

In view of those losses, Auto-Union was able only to re-emerge on the German marrket in 1949. The Ingoldstadt works in West Germany started production of the front wheel drive two-stroke DKW, all other marque names remaining dormant. Gone were the days when Auto-Union had aspiirations of becoming Germany's premier motor manufacturer, that position was firmly held by the then new giant, Volkswagen. At the beginning of the 'sixties, Daimler-Benz acquired a dominating share of Auto-Union, where two-stroke engine limitationsin a new era of greater prosperity were understood. The target was a quality sub-Mercedes dimensions. Thus, a front wheel drive car with a new advanced four stroke engine was developed and the traditional name Audi resurrected.

At that point it is appropriate to cast a backward glance to the pioneer days of motoring. August Horch had worked for Carl Benz in Mannheim from 1896 till 1899, then set up his own company in Cologne. August & Co. soon moved to Zwickau, but differences of opinion with his business partners soon arose. August Horch quit the Company and immediately set up a new venture the same city. However, a court injunction prevented him from further use of his family name. He may have been a difficult business partner, but he certainly was a motoring engineer and full of ideas. His family name Horch means 'listen!' in English, or 'audi' in Latin, and classical education still counted for something in the Kaisers Germany!

Availability of the new Audi greatly interested Volkswagen, where the good old Beetle was becoming rather long in the tooth. A deal was struck between Wolfsburg and Untertiirkheim in 1964/65, and control of Auto-Union passed into the hands of VW. To stop the 'beetle gap', however, yet another take-over was necessary in 1970. The NSU Company not only controlled the patent rights for the Wankel rotary engine, but also had a medium-sized saloon ready for production. The company was amalgamated with Audi, to VW's Audi-NSU Division, and the NSU car was built and marketed under the name Volkswagen K 70.

Not aII motor manufacturers were prospering continuously during the boom years of German recovery. Two car producers of considerable repute were on the verge of bankruptcy by 1960. The Borgward Group of Bremen which also built Goliath and Lloyd cars was soon to be liquidated, Borgward's contribution to basic motoring in an post-war years, in the shape of the minicar, is almost forgotten today. BMW of Munich, on the other hand, did not give up the fight for survival. The immense loyalties amongst dealers as well as customers in Bavaria and all over the world formed the base for a remarkable recovery.

With new capital, new management, and soon a new model range, BMW managed an astounding come-back. Thus, the German motor industry has became condensed into one giant group, VW-Audi, three specialist car builders (Daimler-Benz, BMW, and the small but famous Porsche Company), plus the GM and Ford subsidiaries with extensive production ties in Germany. England was the country of the steam engine and the railway. As early as 1831 there were efforts to set up a network of roadbound steam omnibus lines. That proved abortive as the Red Flag Act gave such an enormous speed advantage to the railway. Although the man with the red flag was no longer required after 1878, the four mph speed limit remained effective until 1896. Such points must be borne in mind when analyzing the question of why the motor car and the internal combustion engine were rather late in conquering the British Isles.

Dr Frederick William Lanchester built the first British motor car in 1895, but he and his brother George did not start regular car production until 1900. Previously, Dr Lannchester had been active in the field of aviation. He was brilliant yet perhaps somewhat eccentric, never copying an idea from another design, and never being copied by anybody else. There was a Lanchester car with disc brakes in 1902, and Dr Lanchester was ahead of his time in many other ways. The company bearing his name was soon linked with Daimler under the BSA bannner, and Lanchester cars continued to be built until 1957.

The English are, of course, great individualists, and that very fact permitted a vast number of small British car manufacturers to survive independently much longer than their counterparts in America or in continental Europe. The belated trend towards concentration is one of the main causes of the difficulties the British motor industry would experience through the 1970's and 1980's. A minor early wave of mergers was touched off by the great depression under the influence of the shining General Motors example. Bentley was taken over by Rolls-Royce in 1931, and a year later the Rootes Group was formed through a merger of Hillman, Humber, and Sunbeam-Talbot. Soon afterwards, Lord Nuffield (formerly Mr William Morris) created the Nuffield Group consisting of Morris, MG, Wolseley, Riley, and S.U. Carburetters. Nuffield's most serious competitor was Herbert Austin, the two rivals together accounting for 60 per cent of British car production in the thirties.

The Americans, however, made serious inroads into the British market when Ford set up a big factory in Britain, and General Motors developed Vauxhall, which they had taken over as early as 1925. The post-war boom made Britain the world's largest car exporter, a situation that may well have blanketed some of the strucctural weaknesses of its industry. Not until 1952 did the two main British volume car-producers, Austin and Nuffield, join hands to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC) yet retaining separate identities and dealer networks in Britain. The brilliant Anglo-Greek chief engineer Alec Issigonis designed some revolutionary small cars, particularly the Mini, but the financial strength of BMC always remained somewhat restricted.

The Leyland Company would become the largest producer of commercial vehicles in Britain, they returning to private car production by taking over Standard-Triumph in 1961. A year later, Assoociated Commercial Vehicles was added to the Leyland Group, and in 1967 Lord Stokes was able to take over the Rover Company. When the British Motor Corpooration, which had merged with Jaguar (which included Daimler and Guy Motors) to form British Motor Holdings, was beset by very serious financial troubles, Lord Stokes with his good Labour Party connections appeared to be just the man to carry out the government concept of a strong and unified British motor industry.

The result was the 1968 merger of Leyland and BMH to form British Leyland. The much publiicized and truly colossal difficulties to effecctively integrate such a vast and heterogenous collection of companies without adequate financial resources led to nationalisation in 1975. Frequent top management changes resulted in a series of different organisational concepts (essentially centralisation versus de-centralisation), and the lack of modern volume car models increased the company's problems to the point of collapse.

The necessary renewal of the model range could not be carried out at the requisite speed without resorting to co-operation with an outside partner. Enter Honda - and Japan thus gained its first bridgehead in a major industrial country of the European Community. Other Japanese companies followed, building or assembling cars in the heartland of Europe, the way they had done in Taiwan, the Philippines, South Africa, Latin America and of course here at home in Australia.

Further Reading: Lost Marques (USA Site)
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Alvis TA14
 
Adler
ADLER, of course, is German for 'eagle', a bird long associated with the Fatherland's Imperial aspirations. The Adler car, however, was seldom ambitious; rather it epitomised stolid Teutonic worth, being of sound 'bread and butter' design through most of its 40-year life, though showing unexpected vigour near the end. More>>
Allard
 
Allard (USA Edition)
For an all too brief period in the late forties and early fifties the name of AlIard was one of the most revered of all motor manufacturers. The company's road cars were some of the most popular among wealthy enthusiasts, especially in the USA. The racing versions were more than competitive on the track and the company's founder, Sydney Allard, was one of Britain's leading competition drivers, winning the British Hill-climb Championship in 1949 and the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952. More>>
Alpine
 
Alpine (USA Edition)
After World War 2 France suffered more than most from a depressed economy, and with a car taxation system which penalised cars with engines over 2.8 liters the great French quality marques like Delage, Delahaye, Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza and Hotchkiss either failed to survive the war or lasted for only a short while afterwards. from these extraordinarily humble beginnings rose two marques which were to give France some semblance of respect in world motor racing: the DB eventually became the Matra, which won the World Championship for Jackie Stewart in 1969, and the Alpine turned into the Alpine-Renault which competed in the rally world with so amazing success. More>>
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Alvis TA14
 
Alvis
Coventry, England. Home of many great Marques, but one lesser known (particularly for many Australian’s) is the Alvis. The companies initial success was due in no small part to one G.P.H. de Freville, responsible for the importation to Britain of DFP cars before W.O. Bentley took on that concession. Not only did Freville design the engine for the very first Alvis car, the 10/30 of 1920, but he also invented the marque name Alvis. We have found several sources that contest the name carried no more significance than that it rolled nicely off the tongue! More>>
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Amilcar
 
Amilcar
The first Amilcar followed the Model T Ford, and another similarity was to be found in the so-called constant-level splash lubrication. There was no oil pump fitted to this early engine; the flywheel dipped into a sump and lifted the lubricant up to a cup, from which it ran by gravity to the main bearings and big-end troughs. The clutch ran in oil and was of the multi-plate pattern, coupled to a unit gearbox of sliding-pinion type, giving three speeds. More>>
Armstrong Siddeley
 
Armstrong Siddeley (USA Edition)
John Davenport Siddeley was one of the early advocates of the pneumatic tire for motor vehicles. By the turn of the century he had become managing director of the Clipper Pneumatic Tyre Company, of Aston Cross, Birmingham, whose products were claimed to be 'Best for all forms of Automobile Cycles or Carriages.' To prove their worth, Siddeley had a set of his tires fitted to a Parisian Daimler, which competed in the 1900 Thousand Miles' Trial: and apart from a handful of punctures caused by the appalling road surfaces en route, the tires proved reliable. More>>
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Austin A30
 
Austin
If Herbert Austin had followed his father's wishes, he would have become either an indifferent architect or a competent railway engineer. As it was, he followed his own inclination and became one of the major forces in the establishment of the British motor industry. He was born on 8 November 1866, the son of a poor Buckinghamshire farmer. Shortly after Herbert's birth the family fortunes took a turn for the better, for his father, Giles, was appointed farm bailiff on Earl Fitzwilliam's Wentworth Estate in Yorkshire, where Giles's brother was architect. More>>
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Avions Voisin
 
Avions Voisin
It was almost inevitable that Voisin should become an engineer - his father Georges Voisin, was a graduate of the Paris Arts et Metiers school who had become a metal founder, and was himself the son of an engineer. But Georges was an irresponsible character, unlucky in business and more often than not on the sause, who committed suicide when the boy was six, and Gabriel and his brother Charles were brought up by their mother in the household of her father, who worked as an engineer in a gas works. More>>
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Baker Electric Car
 
Baker
At the turn of the last century, electric vehicles were becoming very popular. And the Baker Motor Vehicle Co, of Cleveland, Ohio were one of the best of the breed, even going so far as to supply an electric-powered Brougham to the King of Siam. The body and running gear were finished in ivory, the folding top was of specially enamelled white leather, and the dashboard and wings were covered in white patent leather, the side panels and the front being emblazoned in silver with the royal crest. More>>
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Bean Fourteen
 
Bean
With the coming of the motor age, A. Harper, Sons & Bean Ltd had built up a considerable business in stamped, forged and cast components, while, during the war, they concentrated on shell manufacture. Their 1919 plans for motor manufacture included an initial output of 50,000 cars - 20,000 more than the capability of the English branch of the Ford Motor Company, who were, at that time, Britain's largest manufacturer. More>>
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Bentley 3 Litre
 
Bentley
W.O. Bentley would join the motor trade in London where he would import French DFP cars. His first design achievement was to produce light weight aluminium pistons for the 12/40 model, allowing the engine to rev much faster, and in turn develop more power. He then went on to become one of the key designers aircraft rotary engines working with the British government during the 1914-1918 war. More>>
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Bianchi
 
Bianchi
The Autobianchi company once produced over 200,000 cars a year and was Italy's third biggest car manufacturer. But when Autobianchi was at its peak, few would have known about the company's humble beginnings. Bianchi was founded by Edoardo Bianchi, the son of the proprietor of a large grocery firm, who opened his own Milan workshop at the age of twenty, in 1885, and started to manufacture bicycles of English pattern, which were an immediate success. By 1890, he had acquired an established reputation for his products which were well known for successes in road and track races in Italy and abroad. More>>
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Bollée
 
Bollée
In the esoteric craft of bell-founding, the name of Bollée of Le Mans is one of great renown. Yet the Bollée whose technical skills in this sphere were probably most famous is almost certainly better known for his achievements in pioneering the self-propelled road vehicle, a field in which his two sons were at least his equal. Arnedee Bollée senior was born in 1844; in 1867 he visited the Paris World Exhibition and saw for the first time the new Michaux velocipede and steam omnibuses. This inspired him to develop a 'fast private carriage' and, in 1871, he established a workshop within the family foundry. More>>
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Borgward Isabella
 
Borgward
After the war, Borgward got back into their stride earlier than most German car makers and announced the Hansa 1500 at the 1949 Geneva Show. This was an advanced and attractive car with all enveloping bodywork, which was powered. by a four-cylinder, ohv engine giving 52 bhp and a top speed of 75 mph. More>>
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British Leyland Morris Marina
 
British Leyland
The growth and demise of British Leyland is studded with births, deaths and marriages. Major decisions were made or influenced by single, strong-willed individuals who had shaped the destiny of its various branches. However, it was not just as a result of growing pains that British Leyland was formed. The coming together of the various companies operating within the British motor industry was also brought about by enormous political and economic pressures which forced many concerns to merge with others in their own interests, to be taken over by more powerful and aggressive firms, or to go to the wall in times of economic stress. More>>
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Bugatti 57SC
 
Bugatti
There was a time when Bugatti were arguably one of the most famous sports-car manufacturers in the world. The cars were aesthetically magnificent, if sometimes technically backward, and all were the work of Ettore Bugatti himself. It is interesting to note that Bugatti would only ever manufacture 4 cylinder and straight-8 engines, never tempted to enter the middle ground and manufacture a 6 cylinder. More>>
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Calthorpe
 
Calthorpe
At the turn of the 20th century G. W. Hands was running the Minstrel & Rea Cycle Works in Barn Street, Birmingham. The Minstrel and Rea cycles were quality products which were usually sold direct to dealers who put their own emblems on them. In 1904, Hands formed the Calthorpe Motor Company and introduced his first motor car, the 10 hp model with a four-cylinder Fafnir power unit and shaft-drive. By the end of 1906, this had grown up into a 12/14hp costing 300 guineas in touring-car form. Alongside this, Hands was marketing a 28/40 hp four-cylinder model at twice the price. More>>
Chaigneau-Brasier
 
Chaigneau-Brasier (USA Edition)
It was in 1897 that Georges Richard began building cars at Ivry-Port (Seine). His first offering was a blatant copy of the contemporary Benz, with a single-cylinder engine with exposed crankshaft and two-speed belt drive. Those that drove them were quickly made aware of the possibilities for disaster built into the low-speed vehicle, with its ineffectual spoon brakes, chain-and-sprocket steering and high-geared top speed, which could cause the car to run out of control on down-grades. More>>
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Chenard and Walcker
 
Chenard and Walcker
IN THE MID 1890s, rich young motorists of a sporting inclination wanted to career along the roads at the helm of that fascinating and dangerous device, the motor tricycle. Though the De Dion-Bouton was the archetypal tricycle, others - Renaux, Ariel, Cudell - also followed this trend. So, too, did a French mechanic named Chenard, who built his first tricycle in 1895 and sold it to an Englishman for so much money that he was encouraged to start production. More>>
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Chevron
 
Chevron
THE CHEVRON CAR COMPANY was started in 1965 by Derek Bennett, a racing driver who had already spent many years building various types of racing car. He began in 1961 on the English speedway tracks, building midget racing cars for the oval speed ways, but then turned to pure track racing by building specials for the 750 and 1172 formulae. More>>
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Cisitalia
 
Cisitalia
Like Gordini and ERA, the Cisitalia was based on a popular small-car engine - in this case the 1100 cc Fiat unit. The marque's creator, Piero Dusio, had built a prototype Cisitalia sports car in 1939, but the war prevented production until 1946, when Dusio used his war-earned fortune to establish the marque at the Corso Peschiera works in Turin. .Both sports and racing cars were made, the racers being single-seaters of advanced concept with space frames and independent front suspension. More>>
Cord
 
Cord (USA Edition)
It was not until 1929 that a model line bearing Cord's own name appeared. On paper, at least, the new Cord L-29 looked a worthy running mate for the super-luxury Duesenberg Model J introduced only a few months before. For one thing, it was the first American front-wheel-drive car to reach serious production status. Moreover, the Cord had been designed by one of the few Americans to have experience of front-wheel- drive technology, Carl Van Ranst, who had worked with Harry Miller, builder of the fast FWD racing cars that had dominated the Indianapolis 500 since 1926. More>>
Crosley
 
Crosley (USA Edition)
Although the Hotshot was an ugly little car, it was popular with the post-war American sporting motorists, and the cornering would assure disbelievers just how good the car really was. With 24,871 cars sold, Crosley's best year was 1948. Sales began to slip in 1949, and adding the Crosley Hotshot and a combination farm tractor-Jeep-like vehicle called the Farm-O-Road in 1950, could not stop the decline. More>>
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Crossley
 
Crossley
Long before the name of Crossley of Manchester appeared on a motor car, the company was famous for its gas engines. Little known today is the fact that it was the Crossley brothers that were the first engineers in Britain to build four-stroke internal combustion units, under licence from Otto & Langen of Deutz in the early 1860s. The Crossley brothers engineering reputation was so high that, when the motor agents Charles Jarrott and William Letts were looking for a company to produce a quality British car that they could sell alongside imported Oldsmobiles and De Dietrichs, Crossley was their natural choice. More>>
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Cunningham C2R
 
Cunningham
To say Briggs Cunningham was an enigma would be an understatement. Born in 1907, Cunningham was a natural athlete excelling in everything from bobsledding to golf and yachting – and in this latter sport he even pulled off victory in the America’s Cup. After World War II, Cunningham began racing and tinkering with sports cars, once putting a Buick engine in a Mercedes! He even went street racing with his uncle in a Dodge tourer powered by a Hispano-Suiza airplane engine. Telling the story of Cunningham is not so much talking of cars, but talking of the man. More>>
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DAF
 
DAF
ALTHOUGH a very late starter in the field of volume car production for the European market, the DAF company (later to be controlled by Volvo), had been active in many fields of transportation since it was set up in the early 1920s by the Van Doorne brothers. With money borrowed from a Dutch businessman, the two brothers originally concentrated on the field of semi-trailer production, bringing out a new, light unit which received a very ready acceptance from the rapidly expanding, yet still fairly embryonic, European road-haulage industry. More>>
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Darracq
 
Darracq
ALEXANDRE DARRACQ was, it was said, an engineer 'by temperament if not by qualification'. Born in 1855, he worked first in an arsenal, then at the Hurtu factory, manufacturing sewing machines. However, although a machine of Darracq's design won him a gold medal at the 1889 Paris exhibition, his natural instincts were those of a sharp financier rather than a mechanic. He was soon enjoying the bicycle boom, making cycles in a workshop in the Place de la Nation. More>>
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DAF
 
De Tomaso
De Tomaso was a native Argentinean who had moved to Italy where he had the opportunity to work for the Maserati brothers at their OSCA factory. There he watched and became increasingly impressed by the sports racing Cooper of the late 1950s. Convinced of the virtues of the mid-engined configuration, he left Maserati and set up his own workshop to build race cars. More>>
De Dietrich and Lorraine-De Dietrich
 
De Dietrich and Lorraine-De Dietrich (USA Edition)
They called it the Societe Lorraine des Anciens Etablissements de Dietrich & Cie: and the Etablissements really were anciens, for the company had been founded as long ago as 1684 by Jean de Dietrich. By the time it became interested in motor-manufacture in the 1890s, the company was mainly concerned with the production of railway rolling stock. It was still under family control, though the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 had left their two manufacturing plants, at Luneville (Lorraine) and Niederbronn (Alsace), in two different countries. More>>
De Dion Bouton
 
De Dion Bouton (USA Edition)
De Tomaso was a native Argentinean who had moved to Italy where he had the opportunity to work for the Maserati brothers at their OSCA factory. There he watched and became increasingly impressed by the sports racing Cooper of the late 1950s. Convinced of the virtues of the mid-engined configuration, he left Maserati and set up his own workshop to build race cars. More>>
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Delage
 
Delage
Louis Delage was an engineer who started the company that bore his name in 1905. The cars the firm built soon earned themselves a solid reputation, based on racing cars and elegant luxury models of unquestionable technical excellence. Unfortunately, such quality was not cheap to achieve, and Delage met severe financial difficulties in the thirties. In 1935, the company was taken over by Delahaye, who injected vital new blood and allowed Delage to continue production of its own products using Delahaye components wherever possible. More>>
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Delahaye 235
 
Delahaye
Today Delahaye is not only a lost marque, it could also be described as a forgotten one. Ask someone to name the lost French marques of last century and they will invariably mention better known competitors of Delahaye, such as Lorraine, Delage and of course the wonderful Bugatti. The war had not been kind to the marque, but many blamed the crippling post war taxation for the demise of this and other “Grandes Routieres”. While the West did everything to re-establish West German manufacture, it would seem they turned their collective backs on those from their own backyards, we won’t call it a war crime, but at the very least it was a great tradgedy. More>>
Delaunay-Belleville
 

Delaunay-Belleville (USA Edition)
Most new cars were launched with a certain amount of doubt as to whether or not they will succeed, but when Delaunay-Belleville of Saint-Denis announced their first motor car at the 1904 Paris Salon, the motoring press received it with an almost unprecedented enthusiasm. Designer of the new cars was Marius Barbarou, formerly with Clement and Benz who, at the age of 28, was now given the task of creating a range of vehicles suited to the exacting requirements of a select clientele who demanded absolute comfort combined with elegance and mechanical perfection. More>>
Dennis Automobiles
 

Dennis (USA Edition)
The brothers John and Raymond Dennis began building bicycles in 1895, using the branches of an old pear tree behind their shop in Guildford, Surrey, as an assembly line. They must have been well made, those Speed King bicycles, for the mighty Rover company took out a licence to copy some of the design features on their own products. More>>
Derby and Vernon Derby
 
Derby and Vernon-Derby (USA Edition)
Although the Derby was a French car, it was built under British control and with British capital, a somewhat unusual thing in those days. However, there was nothing unusual about the marque's origins, the company having been founded at Courbevoie, Seine, in 1921, just one of the dozens of tiny cyclecar makers which were struggling for a share of the post-war market. More>>
De Soto
 
De Soto (USA Edition)
In 1928 Walter Chrysler was riding high. After only four short years of manufacturing, he had risen to third place in the American motor industry, and he was ready to break into a new sector of the market. A new 3.2-liter, side-valve six was designed to compete in a lower price range than the Chrysler, selling under the marque name of De Soto. In general appearance, the De Soto resembled the contemporary Chryslers; its 21.6 hp engine was mounted on rubber insulators to reduce vibration, and had full force-feed lubrication. More>>
De Tomaso
 
De Tomaso (USA Edition)
De Tomaso was a native Argentinean who had moved to Italy where he had the opportunity to work for the Maserati brothers at their OSCA factory. There he watched and became increasingly impressed by the sports racing Cooper of the late 1950s. Convinced of the virtues of the mid-engined configuration, he left Maserati and set up his own workshop to build race cars. More>>
Doriot Flandrin Parant
 
DFP - Doriot Flandrin Parant (USA Edition)
Doriot was one of Peugeot's principal racing drivers during the 1890s, with several modest successes to his name. It is even recorded that he followed the 1891 Paris-Brest cycle race in a Peugeot. Doriot went into partnership with a Monsieur Flandrin in 1906, building single-cylinder, shaft-drive voiturettes of no special merit, at Courbevoie, Seine; shortly after this, a Monsieur Parant became a partner in the company. As the name Doriot-Flandrin-Parant was too cumbersome for general use, the cars became known as DFP. More>>
Diatto
 
Diatto (USA Edition)
We wouldn't blame you for never having heard of car makers such as Mason, Maxwell, Perry and Castro. And you probably have not heard of Diatto, formerly of Turin. Diatto was a railway engineering and iron-founding concern which entered the motor industry sometime between 1904 and 1907, building Clement-Bayards under licence. The company started out with high hopes: it had a six-model range consisting of 8 hp and 10 hp twins, and 12, 20, 35 and 50 hp fours. More>>
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DKW F12
 
DKW - Deutsche Kraftfarzeug Werke
For over three decades, DKW was a leading name in the development of the small, efficient saloon car, pioneering mass production of both front-wheel drive and the two-stroke car engine. Not for nothing did the marque's adherents nickname it 'Das Kleine Wunder' - the little wonder - although the initials really stood for Deutsche Kraftfarzeug Werke. DKW began life as a motor-cycle manufacturer in the early twenties but, in 1928, it was decided to enter car manufacturing, even though the motor-cycle business was flourishing. More>>
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Duesenberg
 
Duesenberg
The beautifully built and styled Duesenberg may have been owned by screen greats Clark Gable and Gary Cooper, but was never able to make serious inroads into car manufacture. The company was founded by Fred Duesenberg; born in Germany in 1876 Fred immigrated to North America and started his first business building bicycles. More>>
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Dunkley
 
Dunkley
In a world almost devoid of cars, it is easy to understand why motorists of the mid 1890's were not highly critical of the mechanical contraptions being presented as alternatives to the horse and buggy. Mechanical monstrosities like the Pennington Torpedo were accepted without demur, and it had to be a pretty unusual car for the motoring press to notice that it had any shortcomings. More>>
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Duryea
 
Duryea
There will probably always be arguments about who built the very first American car. One thing is for certain however: the first company set up in America to manufacture cars for sale to the public was organised by the Duryea brothers, Charles and Frank. Though the precise details were clouded in later years by Charles's mendaciousness, which led to a quarrel between the two, it seems that Charles was the dreamer and Frank the doer; Charles had the ideas and Frank had to make them work. More>>
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Edsel
 
Edsel
Exactly why Edsel failed, and failed so dramatically, remains a point of conjecture to this day. The reasons put forward include poor workmanship, radical but unpopular styling, poor marketing, poor corporate support from within Ford, and most of all a poorly researched pricing structure. But there is a more simple explanation that many believe to be more accurate, that the Edsel was simply too big for the time – as other manufacturers made their cars more compact the Edsel harked back to the early 1950’s era of bigger is best. It wasn’t. More>>
Elva
 
Elva (USA Edition)
It wasn't long wafter World War 2 that Frank Nichols opened a garage in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, where he specialised in sporting machinery. He had a short competition career himself but then decided to go into car manu- facture. His first car-called the CSM Special, after his garage, Chapman Sports Motors-was a Ford Ten-engined two-seater. It showed some promise, so Nichols decided to form a separate company to build sports-racing cars. This was called Elva Engineering, the name Elva being a contraction of the French 'elle va' - she goes. The first Elva was produced in 1955, a smart two-seater with all-enveloping aluminum body- work. More>>
Enfield Autocar
 
Enfield Autocar (USA Edition)
By 1904 Royal Enfield were building motor cars: initially a range of two models was marketed, both built on orthodox lines. The 6 hp two-seater had a De Dion single-cylinder engine and was, claimed the makers, specially constructed for heavy work and hilly districts; its specification included a three-speed gearbox and 'three brakes'. Prices started from £175. The 10 hp, which cost £300 (£325 with leather upholstery and 'Modele Riche' finish), was a twin-cylinder four-seater with a honeycomb radiator augmented by a water tank on the dashboard. More>>
Excelsior
 
Excelsior (USA Edition)
The Excelsior company had been founded in Brussels in 1901; the initial products were unremarkable light cars fitted with proprietary engines - in 1905 one, two and four-cylinder Aster power units were available. In 1907, however, Arthur de Coninck, an engineer, took over the factory and, before long, Excelsior was producing his Type Adex, a side-valve six-cylinder model. Around this time, too, Excelsior acquired the factory of the moribund Belgica car company. More>>
FN
 
FN (USA Edition)
In the early days of motoring, Belgium boasted several respected manufacturers like Minerva, Imperia, Excelsior, Metallurgique and FN, but one by one they fell by the wayside, leaving the market wide open or foreign firms. The small home market and appalling pave roads were great deterrents for Belgian manufacturers, as they were obliged to build very dull, strong cars which could also be exported to countries already used to sophisticated cars. They invariably proved to be failures. More>>
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Facel Vega
 
Facel Vega
Jean Daninos entered the motor industry when several French manufacturers who required bodies for specialised cars came to Facel for this work to be done. Facel built bodies for the Dyna Panhard, the Simca Sport coupe and the Ford Comete and, in so doing, gained a good deal of expertise both in body building and design, as the company assisted with design work on some of the bodies. More>>
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Fairthorpe
 
Fairthorpe
Fairthorpe was founded by Air Vice-Marshal Donald Bennett CB CBE DSO, ex Air Officer Commanding the Pathfinder force of RAF Bomber Command from where he earned the name of 'Pathfinder' Bennett. The first car that was built at the company's Chalfont St Peter home was the Atom coupe, a glassfibre two to four-seater with Standard-Triumph running-gear and a choice of BSA 250, 350 or 650 cc motor-cycle engine mounted at the rear of the car. More>>
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Farman
 
Farman
The name Farman is most associated with the military aeroplanes of the First World War and the commercial aircraft used on long-distance routes between the two World Wars. Although these machines were manufactured in France the three Farman brothers, Henry, Maurice and Richard (Dick), were of English, parentage. Henry was born in Cambrai in 1874 and Maurice in Paris in 1877. More>>
Franklin
 
Franklin (USA Edition)
Franklin cars were always individual – they had characteristics unlike any other car built in America – and for a time they managed to maintain that independence. The Franklin was perhaps the most unorthodox car to be successfully marketed in the United States; every Franklin ever built was air-cooled, most had full-elliptic suspension and most had wooden chassis frames. More>>
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Frazer Nash
 
Frazer Nash
Archie Frazer Nash and partner Ron Godfrey capitalized on the popularity of the cycle-car by manufacturing a machine known simply as the “GN”, which had a twin-cylinder engine in a very rudimentary chassis frame. But what made the GN unique was the use of a chain drive rather than shaft drive. More>>
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Gilbern
 
Gilbern
Gilbern has the distinction of being the only motor manufacturer that has ever made complete cars in Wales. The company came into being when a German ex-prisoner of war, Bernard Frieze, began working for a company which specialised in the use of glassfibre. He decided to build himself a car using glassfibre bodywork and, when this special was finished, it caught the attention of Giles Smith, who ran a butchery business in Llantwit Fardre near Pontypridd, Glamorgan. More>>
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Glas
 
Glas
Glas decided to ignore the three-wheeler market and go for a really small car, the Goggomobil, which first appeared in 1955. This tiny two-door saloon was only 9 feet 6 inches long and featured swing-axle suspension front and rear, tiny 10 inch wheels, rack-and-pinion steering and drum brakes on all wheels. The engine was mounted at the rear of the car, the first unit offered being a twin-cylinder, two-stroke engine mounted transversely in the car. More>>
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Gobron-Brillie
 
Gobron-Brillie
Like all the cars to leave the company's works at 13, quai de Boulougne, Boulougne-sur-Seine, near Paris, the Gobron-Brillie racer had an opposed-piston engine of distinctive design. The Gobron-Brillie engine usually had its cylinders cast in pairs, with the two lower pistons acting on a common crank throw; at 180 degrees - to this were two secondary throws linked by long, thin connecting rods to a crosshead above the cylinders. More>>
Gordon Keeble
 
Gordon Keeble (USA Edition)
Many new car manufacturers sprang up in the euphoric days of the late 1950s and early 1960s when demand always seemed to outstrip supply and the public would buy almost anything on wheels. It was into such an atmosphere that the Gordon-Keeble was born, but the company planned not to attack the mass market but to go for the well-entrenched specialist manufacturers like Bristol, Jensen and AC. That they failed, but failed gallantly, is one of the tragedies of motoring history. More>>
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Graf und Stift
 
Graf und Stift
If you were asked to name a car that was part of a significant historical event, what would you nominate? Arguably in living history would be Lincoln, and the assassination of John F Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963. But there is another make that trumps that by far, as it bore witness to the trigger that would start the war to end all wars (if only it were true). That car was the Austrian Gräf und Stift. More>>
Graham Paige
 
Graham Paige (USA Edition)
In 1927 the Graham brothers returned to motor manufacture by acquiring the Paige-Detroit Motor Company, which had originally been founded in 1908 to produce a somewhat eccentric two-seater roadster with a three-cylinder two-stroke engine. Two years later, conventionality prevailed, and a four-cylinder, four-stroke model replaced the earlier design. The car's name was simplified to Paige in 1911. More>>
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Grahame White
 
Grahame White
The aircraft industry had a bad time immediately after the Armistice of 1918, orders for military aeroplanes having been cut drastically but civilian air services having scarcely begun. To combat this slump, some companies turned to motor manufacturing. Sopwith's newly-formed Hawker Engineerring Co Ltd, with some of the war's best fighters (the Sopwith Pup and Camel) behind it, went in for car bodies, making these for the Brooklands ACs and for the 200-Mile Race Talbot-Darracqs as well as for the less successful Hawker motorcycles. More>>
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Guy Motors
 
Guy Motors
Sydney S. Guy was, by training, a steam man - which during the Edwardian era was not all that unusual. Guy learned his trade with the Bellis & Morcom steam-engineering company. In the early days of motoring, he transferred his allegiance to internal combustion, joining Humber; he later moved to Sunbeam in Wolverhampton, becoming Works Manager under Louis Coatalen. More>>
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GWK
 
GWK
Grice, Wood and Keiller were responsible for manufacturing one of the most successful friction-driven cars in motoring history: the GWK, whose proud boast was' 'a gear for every gradient'. The GWK used a Coventry-Simplex engine, rear-mounted. Its friction-drive transmission was inspired by the mechanism of an optical grinding machine. The drive system involved the engine, which was mounted across the chassis, turning a disc on which a wheel could be moved from the periphery to the centre. More>>
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Hampton
 
Hampton
In its 21 year lifespan, the Hampton company was reformed no less than seven times. Originally established as motor dealers at Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire (in the UK, hence the name), Hampton built their first car in 1912, in a factory at Lifford Mills near Birmingham. This was the four-cylinder 12/14, with a swept volume of 1726cc, assembled from imported components. More>>
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Hanomag
 
Hanomag
The Hanomag company dates back to 1835 when Georg Egestorff founded a company called Eisen-Giesserei und Maschinenfabrik Hannover in Hanover-Linden, Germany, to build small steam engines. In 1846 they built their first locomotive for the Hannover State Railways. The companies first road vehicle, a steam truck, was manufactured in 1905. Private cars did not appear for another nineteen years but, when the little Hanomag 2/10 PS two-seater made its bow in 1924, it was exactly the car for Germany's economic climate at that time. More>>
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Hansa
 
Hansa
Hansa started life in 1906 as the Hansa Automobil Gesellschaft, which built small cars powered by a single-cylinder De Dion engine under the name of HAG - taken from the initials of the company name. The Hansa concern gradually expanded and was soon abandoning the use of proprietary engines in favour of its own four-cylinder unit for the 6/14PS model. Over the years up to World War 1, Hansa improved its products and began to build bigger cars, powered by 2.5 and 3.8-litre overhead-valve engines and fitted with a variety of bodies. More>>
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Hillman
 
Hillman
It could be argued that Hillman never really demonstrated brilliance, but they did fulfill their design objectives. These sentiments are not ours, but from Car Magazine, who used words very similar to describe the company at the release of Hillman's then new Avenger model in the spring of 1970. Unique Cars and Parts do, however, agree - and think that the same definition could easily have been applied to the large majority of cars that left the Coventry factory. More>>
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Hispano Suiza
 
Hispano Suiza
Undeniably one of the most unique names of any car manufacturer, the once famous marque had its name derived from two countries - Spain, where it entered production in 1904, and Switzerland where its designer Marc Birkigt was born. The most famous models however were built in France, over in England Rolls Royce would licence the advanced mechanical 4 wheel braking system, and cars would be manufactured under licence by Skoda in Czechoslovakia. More>>
Horch
 
Horch (USA Edition)
Late in 1906 came the 31/60 six, virtually a 35/40 with two extra cylinders giving a swept volume of 8.7 liters. Clutch troubles eliminated an attempt to run a team of three 8-liter sixes in the 1907 Kaiserpreis race before the cars had even reached the eliminating trials. 'I must have been drunk to send them', Horch admitted frankly. More>>
Horstmann
 
Horstmann (USA Edition)
Shortly after its inception in 1914, the Horstmann light car was awarded a prize by the Junior Car Club for its novel design features and, although in the marque's later years some of the novelty had to be sacrificed to commercial expediency, the Horstmann nevertheless remained one of the more distinctive designs of its day right to the end of production. More>>
Hotchkiss
 
Hotchkiss (USA Edition)
The name of Hotchkiss was renowned long before the company began car production - the story beginning in 1867, when Benjamin Hotchkiss, a Connecticut businessman, arrived in France to set up an armaments factory. This was established in the 1870s at Saint-Denis, a manufacturing suburb, 6 kilometres to the north of Paris. More>>
Hudson
 
Hudson (USA Edition)
In June 1909, the Saturday Evening Post carried the first-ever advertisement for the new Hudson car and, on 3 July, the first example reached the end of the assembly line. It was called the Model 20, and conformed in every respect with the established US pattern for a low-to-medium-priced automobile in technical specification, appearance and body styles. Indeed, in retrospect, it may seem astonishing that so many engineers designed such similar products and yet were able to talk big business into backing them. More>>
Humber
 
Humber (USA Edition)
The Humber company always projected an image of quality and comfort for their products, which led inevitably to excess weight and consequently to lack of performance. Their one foray into the world of high performance was in 1914 when they spent £15,000 on a three-car team for the Tourist Trophy, run at the Isle of Man, and it would be fair to say that their effort was a dismal failure. More>>
Hupmobile
 
Hupmobile (USA Edition)
Robert Craig "Bobby" Hupp, born in 1861, was one of the pioneers of the mass-produced car in America, having helped Ransom Eli Olds develop the little Curved-Dash Oldsmobile, which was America's best-selling petrol car at the turn of the century. Hupp was a former employee of Oldsmobile and Ford, and founded the company with his brother Louis Gorham Hupp (1872 - 1961) in 1908. More>>
Imperia
 
Imperia (USA Edition)
Imperia were relatively late starters in the Belgian motor industry - they did not begin production until 1906; six years after Minerva, eight years after Metallurgique and nine years after Germain. Designed by the German Paul Henze, the Piedboeuf-Imperia range consisted of an 18 hp 3-liter, a 24/30 hp 4.9-liter and a 50/60 hp of 9.9 liters. Henze drove a Piedboeuf-Imperia in the 1907 Kaiserpreis, dropping out on the third lap. More>>
Innocenti
 
Innocenti (USA Edition)
Although in the immediate post-war period it was Ferdinando Innocenti's idea to produce cars, it was not until 1960 that the first cars bearing his name appeared on the market. The first two cars built by the Innocenti were the A40S and the Roadster, both of which were versions 'of the well known BMC A40 Farina of the same period. In the early days of Innocenti car production, the models produced arrived as 'knocked-down' vehicles which were then assembled locally by the company. Next came the Innocenti C sports car, which was really an Austin-Healey Sprite with a redesigned body. More>>
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Invicta 4.5 Litre
 
Invicta
When writing this series of feature articles for the Unique Cars and Parts “Lost Marques" section, invariably some stories will be long, while others will be perilously short. The story of Invicta falls into the latter category. In a short 20 year period both the depression and war would conspire against the company. More>>
Iso
 
Iso (USA Edition)
Iso was the creation of a family business run by Renzo Rivolta. The initial wealth came from the production of mopeds and other two-wheelers after World War 2, at a time when Italy was in urgent need of transport but could not afford four wheels. Rivolta saw that the demand for two wheels was only a transient thing and that future progress would depend on super-economy four-wheelers. More>>
Isotta Fraschini
 
Isotta Fraschini (USA Edition)
Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini (later joined by their brothers Stefano Isotta, and Oreste and Antonio Fraschini) got together in 1899 to import single-cylinder Renault voiturettes, Mors cars and Aster engines from France. Soon after the company was established, they brought in the parts to assemble in their Milan premises, and gradually more and more locally made components were incorporated until the product could be called an Isotta Fraschini. More>>
Itala
 
Itala (USA Edition)
When writing this series of feature articles for the Unique Cars and Parts “Lost Marques" section, invariably some stories will be long, while others will be perilously short. The story of Invicta falls into the latter category. In a short 20 year period both the depression and war would conspire against the company. More>>
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James Flood Body Builders
 
James Flood
Car enthusiasts the world over know about, or at least have heard of internationally famous names such as Hooper, Barker, H. J. Mulliner, Park Ward, Thrupp and Maberley, James Young, Le Baron, Pininfarina: each a one-time leader in the hand crafting of motor car bodies. Unfortunately few remember Australian builder James Flood. More>>
Jensen
 
Jenantaud (USA Edition)
Jeantaud's first successful electric car appeared in 1894, and was' described in La Nature the following January .. A neat two-seater carriage, it had a battery of accumulators weighing 450 kg mounted beneath the seat; the 4 hp motor, which could develop 1500 rpm, was in-unit with the rear axle which it drove through a double-reduction gearing. More>>
Jensen
 
Jensen (USA Edition)
The story of Jensen starts in 1934, when the brothers Alan and Richard formed Jensen Motors Limited. Alan Jensen, born 1906, and his brother Richard, born 1909, were drawn inexorably into an industry in which they were to make a name for themselves. They both displayed a talent for creativity, Richard being the more artistic of the pair, but Alan showing a flair for acquiring the basic discipline that was to serve them in such good stead over the years to come. More>>
Jowett
 
Jowett (USA Edition)
'THE LITTLE ENGINE WITH THE BIG PULL' is the slogan by which the Jowett car is best remembered. It is remarkable that this small manufacturer, from Yorkshire in the UK, managed to have only the one basic design in production for nearly half a century ... and was then able to turn its back on its former staid image and produce one of the more exciting family cars of the post World War 2 austerity era. More>>
Kaiser
 
Kaiser (USA Edition)
The 1946 Kaiser prototypes had all-round independent torsion-bar suspension and front-wheel drive, plus a distinctively slab-sided bodyshell. By the time the vehicle reached the market in 1947, though, it had become a mediocre car for middle America, with a totally conventional layout-front engine, rear-wheel drive-and styling by Howard 'Dutch' Darrin, which differed little from any of its contemporaries. The more expensive Frazer was distinguished only in the details of its specification: both cars were powered by 100 bhp side-valve six-cylinder engines. More>>
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