Category: cars


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 –

The history of Studebakers can be traced back to the 1700s when three German brothers emigrated to the US. John Studebaker (1799 – 1877), son of one of the Studebaker brothers was involved in the business of blacksmith and metal working. He ran his business on the philosophy “always give more than you promise” and in the process ran in to debt.

John Studebaker had five sons (pictured above) – Henry (1826-1895) , Clement (1831-1901) , John Mohler (1833-1917), Peter Everst (1836-1897), Jacob Franklin (1844-1887) and were the pioneers of Studebaker Corporation as we know today.

In 1858 , Henry Studebaker and Clement Studebaker formed the company H and C Studebaker to manufacture wagon components  and later on wagons. John Mohler Studebaker was in the business of making wheel barrows and parts.

In 1868 , John Mohler joined the wagon making business and Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company was formed. Studebaker became largest and finest manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons.

A Studebaker Wagon –

Studebaker flourished in the wagon business aided by war and supplies to the war machinery.

In 1891 , Frederick Fish , son-in-law of John Mohler joined the business and was urging the Studebaker brothers to move towards horseless carriages. In 1897 , Studebaker Automobiles was created to manufacture and sell horseless carriages. As the Studebakers considered gasoline and steam engines as noisy, they decided to manufacture electric automobiles. In 1902 , Studebaker introduced the first electric automobile. The second electric automobile was purchased by Thomas Edison

Frederick Fish continued to look for opportunities to enter the gasoline automobile and, in 1904, entered in to agreement with Garford Automobile company to supply engines and Chassis on which Studebaker will build the carriage and sell it through their distribution network. These cars were known as Studebaker-Garford

Garford company could not keep up with the demand and coupled with labour problems were unable meet the requirements of Studebaker. Frederick Fish was looking for an alternative and in 1909 entered in to an agreement with E-M-F company to supply engines and chassis to Studebaker. Garford was discontinued. A Studebaker-EMF car –

E-M-F cars were notoriously unreliable and was known to have major mechanical problems in transmission and clutch and was jokingly known as “Every Morning Fix-it”. E-M-F company also ran in to financial problems and it gave an opportunity for Studebaker to acquire the company . In 1911 , Studebaker Automobiles acquired E-M-F Company and renamed as Studebaker Corporation and then on all cars were branded as Studebaker. After that Studebaker sent out mechanics to all owner’s of Studebaker-EMF 20 cars and replaced defective parts , probably the first recall.

Studebaker was one of the major suppliers of automobiles and military equipment during the WWI.

In 1937 , Studebaker corporation planted 5000 pine trees in their factory in such a shape to spell the company name. Even today these tress can be seen from satellite pictures. Link to Studebaker trees.

 

Some of the famous an well known Studebaker Automobiles –

1927 Studebaker Erskine

1939 Studebaker Champion

1950 Studebaker “Bullet Nose”

1953 Studebaker Starliner

1963 Studebaker Avanti

In 1954 Studebaker was acquired by Packard Corporation and in 1956 , the company was renamed as Studebaker-Packard Corporation. In spite of this the company was losing money in view competition from Ford and General Motors. In 1962, the Packard name was dropped and reverted back to the earlier name Studebaker Corporation.

Studebaker corporation could not keep up with the competition and finally was closed in 1966.

The evolution of the Studebaker logo over the years –

HORCH – Listen

August Horch (1868 – 1951), a German Engineer, was employed in the Engine factory of Karl Benz. In 1899, he quit Benz and started his own company and named it A.Horch & Cie. The first automobile made in 1901 was a 2 cylinder , 4.5 HP car –

In this car , Horch had a “shock-free” engine design – it was claimed that a 5 cent coin, standing on its side, will not fall when the engine is idling. He was also the first to introduce Aluminum alloy for the engine crankcase and transmission housings.

In 1904 Horch introduced  4 cylinder cars and in 1908  6 cylinder cars –

Horch recognized the importance of racing and was actively involved in various racing event , winning many. A 1908 Horch racer –

In 1909 August Horch quit the company after a tussle with the board of directors. After quitting A. Horch & Cie, August Horch created another company  called Audi, the latin translation of Horch – meaning “Listen”

Horch continued to manufacture luxury cars with bigger engines. In 1923, Paul Daimler designed a 8 cylinder engine for Horch.

A 1938 Horch –

In 1928, Horch was acquired by another company called DKW. In 1932 , 4 companies got together and formed the Auto Union comprising of Horch, Audi, DKW & Wanderer.

After the war,  Horch manufacturing facilities in East Germany were controlled by Russians and manufactured Sachsenring P240 cars and later on the infamous Russian Trabant cars. A 1956 Sachsenring –

In 1964, Auto Union was acquired by Volkswagen group and later renamed as Audi.

Horch Logo –

 

Alexandre Darracq (1855-1931) , a Frenchman , created Gladiator Cycle Company in 1891 and was very successful in the business. In 1896 , he sold the bicycle company and formed Automobiles Darracq et Cie. Initially Automobiles Darracq was involved in electric carriages, Millet motorcycles and Leon Bollee automobiles.  In 1900, Darracq built its first car and was the first to use pressed steel chasis and was one of the first cars to be manufactured using factory machine as compared to skilled labour.
A 1901 , 6.5 HP Darracq –
Alexandre Darracq expanded his geographical footprint by licensing his car designs.
In 1902, he licensed his design to Adam Opel of Germany who made cars branded as Opel-Darracq in Germany.
In 1905 , he formed A. Darracq and Company in Britain.
1906 , he licensed his design to a group of Italians and formed the company Societa Automobili Italiana Darracq (SAID) in Milan. This company did not do well and in 1909, a new company was formedAnonima Lombarda Fabbrica Autombili (A.L.F.A). This company flourished and was later taken over by Nicola Romeo which became Alfa Romeo.  A 1910, 24 HP A.L.F.A-
In 1907 , he licensed his design to Spain and formed Sociedad Anonima Espanola de Automiviles Darracq.
Darracq was heavily involved in racing and Darracq cars won many race events. Darracq was holding the land speed record in 1904 and 1905.Louis Chevrolet was one of the famous test drivers for Darracq. A Darracq racer –
Alexandre Darracq retired from business in 1913 and sold out his holdings to Britisher Owen Clegg who took charge of Automobiles Darracq. In 1919, Darracq acquired Talbot and in the next year Talbot-Darracq was merged with Sunbeam to form Sunbeam-Talbot- Darracq (STD)combine.
The STD combine collapsed in 1935 and was taken over by Rootes group. Rootes group went in to financial trouble in 1964 and was acquired by Chrysler Eurpoe. In 1978, Peugeot and Renault acquired the brands from Chrysler Europe.
The Darracq logo –

 

 

Alldays and Onions Pneumatic Engineering Company was formed in 1889 by the merger of  John C Onions Ltd and William Allday and Sons. These companies were involved in Engineering and blacksmith operations and were founded by John C Onions in 1650 and William Allday in 1720, respectively.

Alldays and Onions expanded in to manufacture of bicyles. In 1898 , Alldays and Onions manufactured their first car called the Traveller, even though it was not sold before 1903. An original 1900 Traveller –

By 1903 , Alldays and Onions were selling cars and also expanded in to Motorcycles. Motorcycles were sold under the Allday-Matchless name and was later renamed as Allon , so as not to confuse with another company by the similar name (Matchless). A 1903 Alldays and Onions Motorcycle –

Alldays and Onions manufactured and sold cars and Motorcycles and were known for their hill climbing ability. They expanded to trucks and tractors also.

In 1908, they acquired the Motor car division of Enfield Cycle Companycalled Enfield Autocar Co. Alldays and Onions brand and the Enfield Brand were kept separately and cars were sold under their own brand names. A 1907 and a 1914 Enfield car –

By 1919 , Alldays and Onions and Enfield Autocar Company were merged to form Enfield-Allday and from then on cars were made under the Enfield-Allday brand. A 1919 Enfield-Allday car –

The Allday and Onions logo –

Enfield – Alldays closed operations in 1925 and the Enfield brand was repurchased by Enfield Cycle Company.

 

 

Thomas H White (1836 – 1914) was an inventor and pioneer of sewing machines which were sold under the New England Brand and later White brand. In 1858, Thomas White founded the White Manufacturing Company to manufacture and sell sewing machine and components. The company was renamed as White Sewing Machine Company in 1876. In 1894 , his son Rollin Henry White (1872 – 1962) joined the company and was interested in horseless carriages and automobiles.
In 1898 , he bought a Locomobile steam car and went about improving the reliability of its boiler. In 1898 he invented a flash boiler suitable for automobiles. The flash boiler had coiled water tubes and had the advantage of reducing the starting time of a steam car from the traditional 20+ min to less than 10 min. He had also used the compound steam engine with high pressure and low pressure cylinders. A condenser in the front recycled the exhausted steam back to the water tank as water, thus increasing the range.
Watch Jay Leno start and drive  a 1907, 30 hp White Steamer here.
In 1900, they made the first steam car with the flash boiler. Rollin white developed variants with his steam engine including trucks.  A 1900 White steam car and truck.
White entered in to racing and in 1905 , a White Racer named “Whistling Billy” set the land speed record of 74 mph. In 1906 the company was renamed as White Motor Car co.
White also had the reputation of being the first official Presidents Car in the USA. In 1909, President Taft made a White Model M his official state car. White is also credited with the first automobile to be used in wars for transport. The official state car – Model M –
By 1910,  realising the mass adoption of internal combustion engine, they moved to manufacture of Gasoline engine trucks. White trucks were famous for their quality and were in demand from all over the world including for military purposes.
White Motor Car Company consolidated its leadership in the truck segment by acquiring a lot of truck companies. In 1951 they acquired Sterling Motor Truck Company; in 1953 they acquired Autocar Company; in 1957 they acquired REO Car Company and in 1958 they acquiredDiamond T Motor Car company. In 1976 they merged Diamond T and REO to form the Diamond Reo Truck company.
White Motor Car company with all its subsidiaries were taken over byVolvo Trucks in 1981 and the brand slowly disappeared after that.
The logo of White –

 

 

John Brisben Walker (1847 – 1931), a magazine editor and Amzi Lorenzo Barber (1843 – 1909) , a road asphalting contractor formed the Locomobile Company to manufacture steam automobiles – the name Locomobile being derived out of Locomotive & Automobile.
In 1899, they bough the patent rights for a steam car from the Stanley brothers for $250,000, with only one car of that design made and 199 pending orders.  Shortly after formation of the company John Walker left Locomobile. From 1899 till about 1902, Locomobile made and sold about 4000 steam cars. A 1901 Locomobile steamer –
Locomobile steamers were the first automobiles to be used in a war , theBoer war between 1899 – 1902. They were used as generators and to carry search lights.
Locomobile steamers were highly unreliable and troublesome and in 1902, Locomobile company sold  the patents back to Stanley brothers for $20000 and shifted their concentration towards Internal Combustion engine automobiles.
Locomobile appointed Andrew L Riker to design and make a internal combustion  engine automobile and the first car was made in 1904. Locomobile company participated in racing and, in 1906, was the first American car to win the Vanderbilt cup. The 1906 Vanderbilt racer –
The most famous of Locomobile cars was the Model 48 –
Locomobile was taken over by Durant Motors in 1922 and continued to make cars under the Locomobile Brand name. Durant motors along with Locomobile closed operations in 1929. One of the last Locomobile cars , a 1928 Locomobile –
The Locomobile logo –

 

The Locomotive Act of 1865 , also known as the RED flag act , required –

1. Self-propelled vehicles to have a speed limit of 4 mph(6 Km/h) in country roads and 2 mph (3 Km/h) in city roads
2. It should have a crew of 3 – a driver, a stoker and flag man
3. The flag man need to carry a Red flag and walk 60 yards (55 m) ahead of the vehicle.
This effectively restricted the speed of the vehicle to the walking speed of the man carrying the Red flag. He has to warn the horse carriages about the self-propelled vehicle ahead and ensure that the driver stops the vehicle till the horse or the horse carriage passes by.
The amended Highway & Locomotive act of 1878 reduced the distance of the Red flag man to 20 yards but all the other conditions remained same.
Below is a depiction of the implementation of the red flag act –
These restrictive rules and regulations choked the development of the British Motor Industry , helped by the Railway and Horse carriage lobbies.
Finally , on 14 November 1896 , the new Locomotives on Highways Act 1896 was passed with the following changes and was applicable to vehicles less than 3 tons in weight.
1. Speed limit was increased to 14 mph (22 Km/h)
2. Was exempted from the 3 member crew as well as the Red flag
To celebrate this event, Harry Lawson of Daimler (England) and his friends organised for the London to Brighton “Emancipation” run. The London – Brighton run starts off with the symbolic tearing of the RED flag.  The London – Brighton run is being regularly conducted from 1927 till date.
The 1896 emancipation run –
By 1903, the speed limits were increased to 20 mph and later on the laws were repealed.