Category: Vintage Automobiles


In 1892, brothers Franz Graf , Heinrich Graf and Karl Graf opened a bicycle repair shop in Vienna. Soon they expanded in to manufacture of bicycles.

Sometime between 1895 & 1898 , they developed a car  with a single cylinder De-Dion Bouton engine fitted in the front of the car , driving the front axle. Probably this was the worlds first front-wheel drive car.

The first Graf car

Only one car was made of this design.
The Graf brothers continued to experiment with cars and in 1904 formed the company Graf & Stift along with an automobile dealer , Wilhelm Stift. They made cars under the Spitz brand name.
In 1907 , they terminated the Spitz brand name and started manufacturing cars under the Graf & Stift brand name.
A 1907 Graf & Stift car
One of most famous car was the 1911 Graf & Stift in which  Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914. He was the heir to the Austrian throne and this incidence started the first world war.
The 1911 car of Archduke Franz Ferdinand  –
Graf & Stift manufactured Luxury cars apart from expanding in to buses and tram bodies. A 1936 Graf & Stift SP8 model, called the “Rolls-Royce of Austria” –
In 1971 , Graf & Stift was taken over by Osterreichische Automobil Fabriks AG to become OAF-Graf & Stift AG. In the same year OAF-Graf & Stift became the subsidiary of MAN AG.
In 2001 , the Graf & Stift name was dropped when MAN AG re-organized , to become MAN Sonderfahzeuge AG. In a further re-organization in 2004 , the company is known as MAN Osterreich AG.
A Graf & Stift bus –
The Graf & Stift Logo
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Vaclav Laurin (1865 – 1930) , a mechanic  and Vaclav Klement (1868 – 1938) , a bookseller , founded the Laurin & Klement Company in 1895. Laurin & Klement Company started as a bicycle repair shop and soon expanded in to manufacture of bicycles. The Laurin & Klement bicycles were sold under the Slavia brand name.

In 1899, Laurin & Klement started manufacturing motorcycles and quadricycles. In 1905 , they introduced the first Motor car – Laurin & Klement Voiturette Type A.

A 1905 Laurin & Klement

Laurin & Klement won many races including the Prinz-Heinrich race.
A 1925 Laurin & Klement 110 car

In 1925, in order to face the increased competition , the Laurin & Klement Company was merged with Skoda Works – an industrial giant. Till about 1928, the cars were branded as Laurin & Klement – Skoda and then the Laurin & Klement name was dropped.

Recently , in 2012, the Laurin & Klement name has reappeared in some Skoda models as L&K special edition.

The Laurin & Klement logo –

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In 1890, Henry Martyn Leland (1843 – 1932) along with Robert A Faulconer and Charles Norton founded the Leland, Faulconer and Norton company and was involved in the manufacture of precision machinery and measuring equipment. After the exit of Charles Norton in 1894 , the company name changed to Leland and Faulconer Manufacturing company.
In 1901 , L&F manufacturing company was one of the major supplier of  engines and transmissions to Oldsmobile plant for the curved dash Oldsmobile car.
In 1902 , the Henry Ford Company was dissolved and Henry Leland was called in to assess the worth of the machinery so that they can be disposed off. Henry Leland, instead,  convinced them to continue in the automobile manufacturing business and renamed the company as Cadillac Automobile Company. The name Cadillac was from the 17th century French explorer, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe , Sieur de Cadillac who founded the city of Detroit.
Leland fitted his single cylinder engine on to the chassis left over by Henry Ford and the first Cadillac was rolled out in 1902. The car resembled Ford Model A in every respect except the engine.

A 1902 Cadillac –

Cadillac quickly gained acceptance due to its reliability and precision build. A 1903 Cadillac

In 1905 , L&F Company was merged and the company was renamed as Cadillac Motor Car Company. In 1909, William Durant integrated Cadillac Motor Car Company in to the General Motor Company, along with Buick Motor Company and many other smaller automobile companies. Cadillac became a separate brand in General Motors.
Cadillac was pioneer in interchangeability of parts which laid the foundation for  mass production in the automobile industry.
Cadillac was known for many innovations , the well known being the introduction of electric starters in 1911. The introduction of the electric starter single handedly killed the burgeoning EV market of those times.  A 1911 Cadillac Model 30 with electric starter –
Some of the major innovations being safety glass(1915), multi-colour body paints(1925), Synhcromesh transmissions(1928)  to name a few.

Some of the most famous models were – La Salle , Sixty Special and CTS

A 1928 La Salle

A 1939 Sixty Special

A 2013 CTS

Cadillac Logo –

The 1906 logo with 7-point crown and Cadillac ducks

Current Logo –

David Dunbar Buick (1865 – 1924), Scottish by origin, was interested in developing internal combustion engines for boats and later for automobiles. In  1899, he founded the Buick Auto Vim and Power Company to design and manufacture engines. In 1902, the company was in financial trouble forcing David Buick to take help from the Briscoe brothers – Frank and Benjamin Briscoe leading to the formation of Buick Manufacturing Company in 1902.

Seeing not much progress towards manufacturing , the Briscoe brothers sold off their holdings to James Whiting of  Flint Wagon Works and a new company Buick Motor Company was formed in 1903. David Buick along with Chief Engineer Walter Lorenzo Marr were credited with developing the first Over-head valve engine as against the side valve engines of that era.

The first production car Buick Model B was seen in 1904 –

In 1904, James Whiting brought in William Crapo Durant to manage the business at the Buick Motor Company. Being a top notch salesman as well as businessman , the Buick Motor Company flourished under the leadership of William Durant.

 A 1907 Buick Model G

In 1908 , William Durant thought about bringing most of the major automobile manufacturers under one company and attempted to integrate Ford Motor Company , Olds Motor Works, Maxwell -Briscoe Motor Company  and REO, He almost succeeded in creating a company named International Motors but for Ford and REO walking out in the last moment. In spite of Ford & REO walking out, William Durant created  General Motors Company with Buick Motor Company , Old Motor Works, Cadillac Motor Company and a plethora of small automobile companies and component suppliers. Thus was born General Motors out of Buick Motor Company. Later Buick became a brand of General Motors and survives till date.

In the early 30s , the ancestral coat of arms of its founder , David Buick,  was introduced in to the logo of Buick. In the early 60s the “Trishield” logo appeared, to depict the 3 major Buick cars of that time – the LeSabre, Invicta and the Electra

A 1960 LeSabre

A 1959 Electra

A 1961 Invicta

Buick was well know for Engines and exterior styling. One of the famous engine design was popularly known as the “Nailhead” engine . Nailhead engine was a V8 engine with vertical overhead valves, resulting in a long stem and a small valve head. A “Nailhead” V8 Engine –

On Exterior styling , Buick brought in many new concepts including the Waterfall front grille, Sweepspear side chrome trims, VentiPort on the fenders, delta tail fins etc.

Buick brand still survives – one of the latest model, a 2013 Buick LaCrosse

The Buick Logo –

Josef Werndl (1831 – 1889) was an Austrian gunsmith and he took over his father’s business of making small arms and weapons. In 1864 he, along with his brother Franz Werndl , formed Josef Und Franz Werndl & Company to manufacture rifles and small arms for the Austrian Army. The Werndl rifle of 1867 was famous for its function and quality.

In 1894, they expanded in to manufacture of bicycles. The bicycles were sold under the “Steyr” brand name, named after the Austrian town where they were located.

In 1915 , Josef Und Franz Werndl & Co expanded in to development and manufacture of automobiles. They employed the famous automotive engineer  Hans Ledwinka, who quit Nesselsdorfer (Tatra) to join them in designing a new car. The first car , Type II 12/40 HP was launched in 1920. In 1924 , the company was renamed as Steyr-Werke AG.

 A 1925 Steyr Type V car –

Conflict with Steyr management on small car Vs luxury car debate made Hans Ledwinka to quit and rejoin Nesselsdorfer, now Tatra.

In 1929 , Steyr recruited Ferdinand Porsche from DaimlerBenz. However, recession made survival difficult and the company was in trouble. This made Porsche to leave and create his own company as we know today.

In 1934, Steyr merged with Austro-DaimlerPuchwerke to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Steyr-Daimler-Puch was one of the largest automobile groups and were present in many fields – trucks, tractors, automobiles, motorcycles and mopeds.

Some of the most famous cars were the 1936 Steyr 50 , commonly known as “Baby” Steyr and 1939 Steyr 220

During the war , Steyr was involved in military production and,  being under Third Reich, used slaves from concentration camps as labour.

In 1967 , they introduced a versatile 4×4 vehicle named Haflinger

Steyr was also manufacturing automobiles under license from Opel, FIAT and Mercedes Benz.

A Mercedes-Benz G Wagon named Puch G

Starting early 1990s , Steyr-Daimler-Puch started selling the individual business of Trucks, Buses, Mopeds , Tractors to various companies and was concentrating on automobile business only

In 1998 , Magna International took majority shares in Steyr-Daimler-Puch and by 2001 it was fully acquired by Magna , renamed as Magna Steyr. Magna Steyr , now deals with Vehicle Engineering and contract manufacturing.

Steyr Logo –


AUSTRO-DAIMLER

In 1890 , Josef Eduard Bierenz was appointed by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft as the Austrian retailer of Daimler engines and later automobiles. In 1899 , Josef Eduard Bierenz along with his friend Eduard Fischer (in pic) formed the company. Osterreichische Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft Bierenz, Fischer & Co (Austrian Daimler Motors Partnership Company Bierenz, Fischer & Co)

One of the earliest Austro-Daimler truck of 1901, used for transporting ice –

A 1901 Austro-Daimler car –

In 1902, Paul Daimler , Son of Gottileb Daimler joined Austro-Daimler as the Engineering Director and was involved in designing and manufacture of new cars and engines. In 1905, he developed the world’s first armored 4×4 car for the Austrian Army.

 

In 1905, Paul Daimler left for the parent company – Daimler of Germany. His position as taken by the legendary Ferdinand Porsche who joined from Lohner. Ferdinand Porsche concentrated on racing as , according to him, racing is the best way to build reliability as well as brand.

In 1906 the company was renamed as Austro-Daimler and in 1910, Austro-Daimler became independent as DMG sold all its shares.

Porsche concentrated on racing and participated in the Prinz Heinrich Grand Prix, winning the top three positions with a Austro-Daimler race car.

The Prince Henry Race car

A 1932 , Austro Daimler ADR

 

In 1928 , amid financial troubles, Austro-Daimler was merged with Puch and named Austro-Daimler-Puchwerke.

In 1934, Austro-Daimler-Puchwerke was taken over by Steyr and became Steyr-Daimler-Puch and the Austro-Daimler brand slowly disappeared.

The Austro-Daimler Logos –

Johann Puch (1862 – 1914) was an inventor and mechanic from Austria. He moved to Graz and in 1891 started manufacturing bicycles.  In 1898 he founded and named his company Erste Steiemarkische Fahrrad Fabriks AG , meaning “First Styrian Bicycle Co.” Puch bicycles were sold across Europe.

Puch was experimenting with Automobiles and expanded in to Motorcycle in 1901 and cars by 1904. One of the earliest cars was a 1900 Puch Voiturette

Image result for 1900 Puch Voiturette -

A 1919 Puch Alpenwagen

During the war, Puch was manufacturing military vehicles and cars for the Austro-Hungarian army and the Royal family. After the war, Puch was not in good financial health and in 1923 bankers had sent one Engineer Giovanni Marcellino to the Puch factory to wind up its operations. Marcellino , instead of winding up the operations , settled down and started work on improving a split-single cylinder, 2-stroke engine design. Marcellino made a very successful  design of this Split-single cylinder engine and went on to win the German grand prix with a supercharged , split-single Puch.

By 1928 , Puch merged with Austro-Daimler and was renamed as Austro-Daimler-Puchwerke.  However , another merger in 1934 with Steyr AG created the Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG as we know today.

Cars, Trucks and motor cycles were continued to be manufactured under Puch and Steyr-Puch names.

One of the famous motorcycle was the Puch 250 SGS fitted with split-single cylinder , 2-stroke engine released in 1953. These motorcycles were exported to USA and sold as “twingle“. The SGS 250 production continued till 1970.

Puch also manufactured cars and one the well known small car was the Steyr-Puch 500 of 1957 –

Building on the military vehicle experience of the world wars, Puch was manufacturing many types of military and off-road vehicles . The most famous and the well known vehicle across the world was the Steyr-Puch Pinzguarer . This vehicle was in production from 1970 till the late 90s.

Puch was most famous for its small 2-wheeler range – mopeds. The most famous was the Puch Maxi launched in 1970. Close to 2 million of these units were sold across the world from 1970 onward.

In India , the Puch mopeds were manufactured by Hero Motors as Hero Puch from 1988 till 2003.

In 1987 , the motorcycle division of Steyr-Daimler-Puch was sold to Piaggio.

The Puch and the Steyr-Puch logos –

 

 

Col. Albert Augustus Pope (1843 – 1909) founded the Pope Manufacturing Company in 1878 to manufacture and sell bicycles. His bicycles were branded as Columbia and one of the first bicycle was the Columbia High-wheeler.

Pope was an innovator and was credited with using ball bearings and hollow steel tubes in his bicycles. He bought Pierre Lallement’s patent and started manufacturing ‘true” bicycles.

In order to control the bicycle market, Pope bought almost all the patents related to bicycles and was manufacturing close to quarter million bicycles by 1900. Apart from that he was earning $10 per bicycle of other manufacturers as royalty.

In 1898 , to further strengthen his hold over the bicycle market , he bought more than 50 independent manufacturers and created the American Bicycle Company. He also acquired the Gormully patent from Thomas B Jeffery of Rambler.

As  gasoline engines were becoming popular, Pope expanded in to Motorcycles also. A 1914 Pope Motorcycle –

Pope began experimenting with Automobiles in 1896 and one of the first venture was with electric vehicles. Many prototypes were made and tested. In 1899 , Pope founded the Columbia Automobile Company along with Electric Vehicle Company to manufacture Electric vehicles under the Columbia brand.  Later in 1899 , due to differences in opinion between the two companies  Pope sold off his stake in Columbia Automobile Company to Electric vehicle Company.

After his exit from Columbia Automobile Company , Pope entered the Automobile business with a series of acquisitions starting 1903. He acquired many Automobile companies under his new company – Pope Automobiles.

  • Pope – Hartford
  • Pope – Robinson   (From Robinson Motor Vehicle Company)
  • Pope – Toledo
  • Pope – Tribune
  • Pope – Waverly  (From Crawford bicycle Company)

Some of the cars of Pope acquisition

A 1904 Pope – Hartford

A 1902 Pope – Robinson

A 1907 Pope – Toledo

A 1904 Pope – Tribune

A 1905 Pope – Waverly Electric

Due increasing competition and dropping prices , Pope Automobiles could not keep pace and was finally bankrupt and closed in 1915.

The Pope & Columbia Logo –

 

Thomas Humber (1841 – 1910) was a British Engineer interested in improving the bicycle designs of those times. Humber was credited with inventing the safety bicycle  with the pedal driving the rear wheel. Later on, he pioneered same size wheels and diamond-frame design in bicycles.

A Humber Bicycle –

In 1869,  Humber and Company was created to manufacture bicycles. In 1892, Thomas Humber sold off his rights to Henry Lawson of Daimler (England). As a logical step , Humber was experimenting with motorization. In 1896 , they introduced motorized bicycle fitted with Pennigton engine. A 1904 Humber motorcycle –

Humber continued to excel in the motorcycle and motorized tricycles. Parrallely they were experimenting with cars. In 1898 they introduced the first car and followed up with another in 1899 –

This was followed with a car in 1903 , called the Humbrette

During the war , Humber manufactured aircraft engines and continued to manufacture cars after the war.

In 1928 , Humber acquired Commer and in 1929 they acquired Hillman.  In 1932 , the Rootes group acquired Humber. Rootes group was taken over by Chrysler in 1964 and in 1978 Chrysler(Europe) sold off to Peugeot. After 1976, the Humber marque slowly disappeared.

Some of the famous and well know Humber cars – Humber Pullman and Humber Sceptre.

 


The Humber logos –

PACKARD – Luxury

James Ward Packard (1863 – 1928) bought a car from Winton and was not satisfied with its operation and approached Alexander Winton with some suggestions to improve the car. Winton rebuked him and told him to build his own car to incorporate all the suggestions.  James Packard along with his brother William Doud Packard(1861 – 1923) built the first car in 1899.

A 1899 Model A Packard-

 

In 1900, they formed the Ohio Automobile company to manufacture cars. In 1902 , they renamed the company as Packard Motor Car Company.

A 1902 Model F and a 1910 Packard Tourer

 

Packard was known for reliability and luxury and sold their cars in the price range of over $2000 when all others were selling cars below $1000 and thus was serving wealthy customers.

Packard was known for new inventions and innovations. Some of major and well know inventions are –

1913 – Introduced spiral bevel gear in the final drive making the cars silent

1923 – Introduced hypoid gears leading to lower floor levels

1940 – Introduced air conditioning

Packard was one of the top automobile manufacturer for long time before losing traction around the 1950s. Some of the well know models out of a large array of models are –

A 1920 Packard Twin and a 1947 Packard Clipper

In 1954 Packard was acquired by Studebaker corporation and in 1956 the company was renamed as Studebaker-Packard Corporation. By 1962, the Packard badge was dropped and the brand disappeared.

Packard Logo –