All the Makes: Abarth to Austro-Daimler

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(1941 - 1971)

Founded by Carlo Abarth in 1941, the company commenced the manufacture of sports cars in 1949 and is best remembered for the 204 Berlinetta of 1950. Used a Fiat driveline, and was subsequently taken over by Fiat in 1971.



(1920 - 1929)

Pretty much a one-model manufacturer, the air-cooled ABC was the brainchild of engineer Granville Bradshaw. Those who have seen one may claim we are incorrect, but just as the Titanic had a 4th false funnel, so too the ABC featured a false radiator and filler cap (although the latter filler cap was used as a petrol filler). Best of the model was the 1925 Super Sports, with 1203cc two-cylinder engine.



(1904 - present)

Founded by John Weller and John Portwine in 1904, they began manufacturing basic commercial vehicles until the release of the 1908 AC Sociable. Experienced immense difficulty in the 1920's, including the founders leaving and being liquidated in 1929. Somehow managed to survive the next 30 years manufacturing a 3 wheeled invalid car, but the masterpieces were to come in the 1950's, with the release of the Ace and fearsome Ford V8 powered Cobra.

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(1905 - 1910)

The first Adams car was a single cylinder, selling well from 1905 to 1910. Went on to develop some twin-cylinder models, 5 four cylinder models and even an early (1908) V8 version. The rapid development of different models placed the company under extreme financial pressure, it foundering in 1910.


(1900 - 1939)

Famous for its range of typewriters and bicycles, used De Dion engines at first but soon began manufacture of its own engines. The V-Twin and four cylinder engined cars became very popular in Germany, Adler cars accounting for 1 in every 4 on the roads. By 1925 they had expanded the range to include a 6 cylinder model, then a very advanced 1.5 liter front-wheel-drive known as the Trumpf. Production ceased at the outbreak of war, only motorcycles being built thereafter until 1957.


(1909 - present)

Born from a factory built by Alexandre Darracq near Milan to build cars out of French supplied parts, the struggling concern being taken over by Anomima Lombardo Fabbrica Automobil in 1909. Quickly established itself as a major sports car manufacturer when Nicolà Romeo joined in 1915. Struggled with the high cost of sports car development through the 1930's and was taken over by the Italian government. Mussolini, seeking prestige through track success, would oversee the company take out 11 Mille Miglia wins through the remained of the 1930's.

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(1937 - 1960)

Founded by Sydney Allard, who before World War II had spent much of his time building highly powered sports cars using Ford V8 engines. Best known for the 1949 J2 which used a 3.2 liter Mercury derived engine, the company was not able to compete with the cheaper sports cars being manufactured by Jaguar, and from 1960 became the manufacturer of Shorrock supercharges.

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(1955 - 1994)

Strongly linked to Renault (as Ford was to AC and Fiat to Abarth), Alpine was founded by Jean Rodélé. The son of a Renault dealer, he would win the 750cc class of the Mille Miglia in a 4CV based race special. Reached its zenith in 1960 with the release of the awesome rear-engined A110. Went on to build several revisions, all successful , and control assumed by Renault in 1972. The final A610 was manufactured in 1994.


(1920 - 1967)

Founded by T.G. John in 1919, went on to manufacturer some of the highest quality sports cars in the first half of last century, most noteably the Speed 20 and Silver Eagle. For a time was competitor to Bentley, but struggled to re-gain past days of glory following World War II. The 1965 merger with Rover was the death knell.

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(1954 - 1988)

Formed from a merger between Nash and Hudson, using the Nash Rambler as its platform to regain market share. Followed with some suprisingly good models, such as the 1959 V8 Ambassador and sporty Javelin. Purchased Kaiser-Jeep in 1970, the Jeep becoming AMC's best seller for many years. Still no match for the Big 3, made a play for the compact car market with the Pacer, an oversized small car. Taken over by Chrysler in 1988, but they only wanted the Jeep.

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(1921 - 1939)

Began the manufacture of small sports cars featuring a 1 liter four cylinder side valve engine. Each successive model was faster and more elaborate, first moving to an overhead valve configuration, then straight six and eight cylinder iterations capable of over 120mph. Manufacture ceased at the outbreak of war, and never re-commenced.


(1961 - 1968)

Short lived German manufacturer that thought outside the square, manufacturing around 4500 of the rather odd amphibious vehicles. The majority (some 3700) were exported to the USA, the remainder being sold in Europe. The marque now has a strong following given the rather peculiar nature of the car, and of course its scarcity today.



(1919 - 1960)

Formed from the merger of Armstong-Whitworth and Siddeley-Deasy, their first car would remain in production for some 13 years. Concentrated on the manufacture of 6 cylinder cars from 1929 to World War II. Post war sales did were far from impressive, despite the beautiful lines of the Star Sapphire, and the parent company was merged with aircraft manufacturer Bristol in 1960.

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(1895 - 1929)

Car manufacturing pioneer responsible for the twin piston/single cylinder engine that powered the cars it manufactured from 1895 to 1906. Developed 50 electric cars for Edison in 1913, but the release of the Victory model in 1919 was a disaster. Joined with engine maker Aster in 1927 in an attempt to remain viable, but it was too little too late.
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An offshoot of Kia, responsible for the manufacture of 4x4 copies of the Jeep. For the European markets the car was named the Rocsta, but thankfully this unrefined dinosaur would not make it to Australia.


(1922 - present)

Prestigous British marque plagued by financial mis-management. Built its first road going car in 1923, then went into receivership in 1924. Rescued by engineers Renwick and Bertilli, the cost of their racing programme would see the company founder again in the early 1930's. Two more ownership changes did not progress things much, until David Brown took control in 1947. His company may have built tractors, but was now responsible for the manufacture of very desirable sports cars, just ask Bond.

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(1900 - 1937)

Named after the town of Auburn, Indiana by founders Frank and Morris Eckhardt. Sourced engines from Continental, starting out with the manufacture of a single-cylinder chain driven runabout, then a twin-cylinder in 1905, a four cylinder in 1910 and a six in 1912. The company was taken over by Erret Lobban Cord in the early 1920's, he being responsible for the development of a completely new range of Auburns for 1925. Best remembered for the 100+mph Speedster, the company was forced to take a financial loss on every one made during the depression. The inevitable liquidation came in 1937.



(1910 - 1939 and 1965 - present)

Founded by August Horch following his fall out with partners at the company already bearing his name, Audi being the literal German translation of his own name. Manufactured some successful competition cars before concentrating on trucks during World War I. DKW would take a controlling share 1928, Audi then manufacturing small cars. Audi, DKW along with Wanderer and Horch would become part of the Auto Union concern, hence the 4 ringed badge seen today. Was nationalised after World War II and placed under Mercedes control in 1949. When VW gained a majority share in 1965 they decided to re-introduce the now forgotten Audi name for a new front-wheel-drive 1700 sedan. Went on to become VW's upmarket brand.

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(1905 - 1989)

Formed from a partnership between Herbert Austin and Frederick Wolseley, began making largish and popular cars such as the Ten and Twenty. Rose to prominance with the cheap and cheerful but very robust Seven, following up with the ingenious Mini. Went into a slow but unstoppable decline after the takeover by British Leyland.

It is worth noting however that the first ever Australian Grand Prix was taken out by an Austin Seven, although it was driven by an Englishman.

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(1953 - 1971)

Donald Healey partnered with son Geoffrey to build a sports car based on Austin components, having experience building such cars with components from Riley, Nash and Alvis. Austin agreed to provide components from the A90 Atlantic, however the Healey design could not have looked more different. The Big Healeys may have been cheaper than the E-Type, but gave little away in performance or sports car feel. Geoffrey Healey then partnered with Gerry Coker to design the Sprite, hugely successful no doubt due to its affordability. The Sprite was eventually dropped in favour of the mechanically identical MG Midget, and the Austin-Healey marque was allowed to pass into Unique Car legend.

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(1899 - 1936)

Began as part of the German Daimler empire, when Austrian company Bierenz-Fischer & Co agreed to build 100 Daimler cars under licence. When a certain Ferdinand Porsche was appointed director in 1903, the company manufacturing cars in its own right was inevitable. Finally able to bury financial ties with the parent company in 1906 and assumed the Austro-Daimler name 5 years later. While Porsche designed, the company manufactured Maja cars under licence for Emile Jellinek, consul-general for the Austro-Hungarian empire in Nice.

A Porsche designed Austro-Daimler then took out the Austrian Alpine Tour. Despite coming up with some innovative designs, Porsche was frustrated at the pace with which the company could bring new product to market, and so defected back to Daimler in 1923. His replacement, Karl Rabe who facilitated the merge with Austro-Fiat, and then with Puch in 1928. With the 1935 merger with Steyr-Werke the Austro-Daimler name was resigned to the history books.

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