Sunday, March 31, 2013

CLEMENT BAYARD - Bicycles to aircrafts

In 1896 , Gustave Adolphe Clement (1855 - 1928) along with Charles Chetwynd Talbot and Harry Lawson (Daimler , England) acquired the Gladiator Cycle Company and renamed it as Clement , Gladiator & Humber (France) Ltd. They were in to manufacture of bicycles. Bicycles were sold under the Clement-Garrad brand. In 1897, with the collapse of the Lawson empire, the company was renamed as Clement Gladiator cycles.

Clement Gladiator experimented with motorisation and were one of the few manufacturer to bring out motorised bicycles and tricycles. The first Clement-Gladiator motorcar was introduced in 1902.

In 1903, the company was split to two branches - Clement-Talbot in Britain  and Clement-Bayard in France. The Bayard name was in recognition of Chevalier Pierre Terrali , Seigneurde Bayard, the savior of the city of Mezierres where the Clement Bayard factory stood.

Some of the Clement Bayard Cars -

A 1908 Clement Bayard 

A 1912 Clement Bayard -

A 1913 Clement Bayard -

In 1908 Clement Bayard went on to manufacture aero-planes. In 1909, the French Government allowed Aldolphe Clement to use the name Bayard and thus he was officially known as Adolphe Clement- Bayard.

In 1922, Clement Bayard was taken over by Citroen.

Clement Bayard Logo -

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GRAF & STIFT - and the First World War

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 subsidary of MAN AG.

In 2001 , the Graf & Stift name was dropped when MAN AG re-oragnised , to become MAN Sonderfahzeuge AG. In a fuhrer re-organisation in 2004 , the company is known as MAN Osterreich AG.

A Graf & Stift bus -

The Graf & Stift Logo -

Sunday, March 24, 2013

LAURIN & KLEMENT - Forerunner of Skoda

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.

The Laurin & Klement logo -


Sunday, March 17, 2013

CADILLAC - Precision and Luxury

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 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. 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 2103 CTS -

Cadillac Logo -

The 1906 logo with 7-point crown and Cadillac ducks -

Current Logo -

Saturday, March 16, 2013

BUICK - Forerunner of General Motors

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 -