Car Marques
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 12:31

Dr Barnea - Oldtimertreff

Tom G John Ltd. acquired the business of Holley Brothers, Coventry in 1919 and built a 50cc motor scooter known as the Stafford Mobile Pup. The company was also an agent for stationary engines from the Hillman Motor Car Company, this agency survived until 1921.

Shortly after starting his business Tom John was approached by Geoffrey de Freville with designs for a 4-cylinder car. The design called for aluminium pistons and pressure lubrication, unusual for the period. It is suggested that de Freville thought of Alvis as being a truly international name.

Alvis CarsGeoffrey De Freville, founder of the Aluminium Alloy Piston Company during the war, had no further connections with Tom John. Tom G John Ltd. Became the Alvis Car & Engineering Company Ltd. in 1921 and moved to Holyhead Road, Coventry. The first Alvis was the 10/30 and soon set the reputation for quality and performance for which the company became famous.

In 1922 the Buckingham cyclecar was an attempt to enter the lower end of the market but was soon abandoned.

Captain GT Smith-Clarke joined from Daimler as Chief Engineer & Works Manager in 1923 and was soon joined by WM Dunn as Chief Draughtsman. This partnership lasted for 25 years and was responsible for many designs.

Despite the quality of their products Alvis went into receivership in June 1924 and the Board was reorganised with Sir Arthur Lowes Dickinson, an accountant, as chairman while Tom John remained as Managing Director.

During the 1930's the Speed 20 led to a series of sporting cars capable of 90 mph (145 kph), and eventually to the fastest pre-war Alvis, the 4.3 litre six-cylinder model of 1936-1940 which could reach 100 mph (161 kph).

During the Second World War Alvis carried out war production. But after the war the market for cars such as the 4.3 litre was gone and a car designed before the war, the 1892cc 12/70, was produced as the TA14.

In 1950 a new chassis and six-cylinder 3 litre engine was announced. This engine was used until the company ceased car production in 1967.

Rover took over Alvis in 1965 and were working on the Rover designed, Alvis built P6BS mid-engined V8 coupe prototype in 1968.

The Alvis Company continued in business making military vehicles.

Published in Austria Dealers
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:58

Dodge

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The History of Dodge

Dodge is a United States-based brand of car, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and, until 2009, pickup trucks, manufactured and marketed by Chrysler Group LLC in more than 60 different countries and territories worldwide. Founded as the Dodge Brothers Company in 1900 to supply parts and assemblies for Detroits growing car industry, Dodge began making its own complete vehicles in 1914. The brand was sold to Chrysler Corporation in 1928, passed through the short-lived DaimlerChrysler merger of 1998-2007 as part of the Chrysler Group, was a part of Chrysler LLC owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity investment firm, and is now a part of the Chrysler Group LLC which has an alliance with Fiat. Fiat has plans to eliminate some Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep existing vehicles in favor of Fiat-Chrysler co-developed vehicles.

After the founding of the Dodge Brothers Company by Horace and John Dodge in 1900, the Detroit-based company quickly found work producing precision engine and chassis components for the citys burgeoning number of car firms. Chief among these customers were the established Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the then-new Ford Motor Company. Dodge Brothers enjoyed much success in this field, but the brothers' growing wish to build complete vehicles was exemplified by John Dodge's 1913 exclamation that he was "tired of being carried around in Henry Ford's vest pocket."

By 1914, he and Horace had fixed that by creating the new four-cylinder Dodge Model 30. Pitched as a slightly more upscale competitor to the ubiquitous Ford Model T, it pioneered or made standard many features later taken for granted: all-steel body construction (when the vast majority of cars worldwide still used wood framing under steel panels), 12-volt electrical system (6-volt systems would remain the norm up until the 1950s), and sliding-gear transmission (the best-selling Model T would retain an antiquated planetary design all the way until its demise in 1927). As a result of all this, as well as the brothers' well-earned reputation for quality through the parts they had made for other successful vehicles, Dodge Brothers cars were ranked at second place for U.S. sales as early as 1916. The same year, Henry Ford decided to stop paying dividends to finance the construction of the new River Rouge complex, leading to the Dodge brothers filing suit to protect approximately a million dollars a year they were earning; this led Ford to buy out his shareholders, and the Dodges were paid some US$25 million.

Stagnation in development was becoming apparent by 1925 and the public responded by dropping Dodge Brothers to fifth place in the industry. That year, the Dodge Brothers company was sold by their widows to the well-known investment group Dillon, Read & Co. for no less than US$146 million (at the time, the largest cash transaction in history).

Changes to the car, save for superficial things like trim levels and colors, remained minimal until 1927, when the new Senior six-cylinder line was introduced. The former four-cylinder line was kept on, but renamed the Fast Four line until it was dropped in favor of two lighter six-cylinder models (the Standard Six and Victory Six) for 1928.

On October 1, 1925, Dodge Brothers, Inc., acquired a 51% interest in Graham Brothers, Inc., and the remaining 49% on May 1, 1926.

Chrysler wanted Dodge Brothers for its name, its extensive dealer network and its factory. He bought it in July 1928, when Chrysler and Dodge engaged in an exchange of stock worth $170 million. Production of existing models continued, with minor changes here and there, through the end of 1928 and (in the case of the Senior) into 1929. The new Chrysler-designed models for 1930 dropped the "Brothers" name and were marketed as just Dodge.

For 1930, Dodge took another step up by adding a new eight-cylinder line to replace the existing Senior six-cylinder. This basic format of a dual line with Six and Eight models continued through 1933, and the cars were gradually streamlined and lengthened in step with prevailing trends of the day. The Dodge Eight was replaced by a larger Dodge DeLuxe Six for 1934 and which was dropped for 1935. A long-wheelbase edition of the remaining Six was added for 1936 and would remain a part of the lineup for many years.

Post-war, production at Dodge was restarted by late 1945, in time for the 1946 model year. The sellers market of the early postwar years, brought on by the lack of any new cars throughout the war, meant that every carmaker found it easy to sell vehicles regardless of any drawbacks they might have. Like almost every other carmaker, Dodge sold lightly facelifted revisions of its 1942 design through the 1948 season. As before, these were a single series of six-cylinder models with two trim levels (basic Deluxe or plusher Custom).

Styling was not initially Dodges strong point during this period, though that began to change by 1953 under the direction of corporate design chief Virgil Exner. At the same time, Dodge also introduced its first V8 engine the Red Ram Hemi, a smaller version of the original design of the famed Hemi. The new 1953 bodies were smaller and based on the Plymouth. For 1954, sales dropped, the stubby styling not going over well with the public.

New corporate Forward Look styling for 1955 began a new era for Dodge. With steadily upgraded styling and ever-stronger engines every year through 1960, Dodge found a ready market for its products as America discovered the joys of freeway travel. This situation improved when Dodge introduced a new line of Dodges called the Dart to do battle against Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth. The result was that Dodge sales in the middle price class collapsed, and the Polara was dropped at the end of 1961.

Dodge entered the compact car field for 1961 with their new Lancer sedan (a variation on Plymouth's Valiant). Though it was not initially successful, the Dart range that came after it in 1963 would prove to be one of the division's top sellers for many years.

Chrysler did make an ill-advised move to downsize the Dodge and Plymouth full-size lines for 1962, which resulted in a loss of sales. However, they turned this around in 1965 by turning those former full-sizes into "new" mid-size models; Dodge revived the Coronet nameplate in this way and later added a sporty fastback version called the Charger that became both a sales leader and a winner on the NASCAR circuit.

Full-size models evolved gradually during this time. After Dodge dealers complained about not having a true full-size car in the fall of 1961, the Custom 880 was hurried into production. The Custom 880 used the 1962 Chrysler Newport body with the 1961 Dodge front end and interior. The 880 continued into 1965, the year a completely new full-size body was put into production, the Polara entered the medium price class and the Monaco was added as the top series. The Polara and Monaco were changed mostly in appearance for the next ten years or so. Unique "fuselage" styling was employed for 1969 through 1973 and then was toned down again for the 1974 to 1977 models.

In an effort to reach every segment of the market, Dodge even reached a hand across the Pacific to its partner, Mitsubishi Motors, and marketed their subcompact as the Colt to compete with the AMC Gremlin, Chevrolet Vega, and Ford Pinto. Chrysler would over the years come to rely heavily on their relationship with Mitsubishi.

Everything changed at Dodge (and Chrysler as a whole) when the 1973 oil crisis hit the United States. Save for the Colt and certain models of the Dart, Dodge's lineup was quickly seen as extremely inefficient. In fairness, this was true of most American carmakers at the time, but Chrysler was also not in the best financial shape to do anything about it. Consequently, while General Motors and Ford were quick to begin downsizing their largest cars, Chrysler (and Dodge) moved more slowly out of necessity.

At the very least, Chrysler was able to use some of its other resources. Borrowing the recently-introduced Chrysler Horizon from their European division, Dodge was able to get its new Omni subcompact on the market fairly quickly. At the same time, they increased the number of models imported from Mitsubishi: first came a smaller Colt (based on Mitsubishi's Mitsubishi Lancer line), then a revival of the Challenger (though with nothing more than a four-cylinder under the bonnet, rather than the booming V8s of yore).

Bigger Dodges, though, remained rooted in old habits. The Dart was replaced by a new Aspen for 1976, and Coronet and Charger were effectively replaced by the Diplomat for 1977, which was actually a fancier Aspen. Meanwhile, the huge Monaco (Royal Monaco beginning in 1977 when the mid-sized Coronet was renamed "Monaco") models hung around through 1977, losing sales every year, until finally being replaced by the St. Regis for 1979 following a one-year absence from the big car market. In a reversal of what happened for 1965, the St. Regis was an upsized Coronet. Buyers, understandably, were confused and chose to shop the competition rather than figure out what was going on at Dodge.

Everything came to a head in 1979 when Chrysler's new chairman, requested and received federal loan guarantees from the United States Congress in an effort to save the company from having to file bankruptcy. With bailout money in hand, Chrysler quickly set to work on new models that would leave the past behind.

The first fruit of Chrysler's crash development program was the "K-Car", the Dodge version of which was the Dodge Aries. This basic and durable front-wheel drive platform spawned a whole range of new models at Dodge during the 1980s, including the groundbreaking Dodge Caravan. The Caravan not only helped save Chrysler as a serious high-volume American carmaker, but also spawned an entirely new market segment that remains popular today: the minivan.

Chrysler Corporation was sold to Daimler-Benz AG in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler. Rationalizing Chrysler's broad lineup was a priority, and Dodge's sister brand Plymouth was withdrawn from the market. With this move, Dodge became DaimlerChrysler's low-price division as well as its performance division.

In 2007, DaimlerChrysler reached an agreement with Cerberus Capital Management to sell off its Chrysler Group subsidiary, of which the Dodge division was a part. On June 10, 2009, Italian carmaker Fiat formed a partnership with Chrysler in which a "New Chrysler" was formed and was given the name Chrysler Group LLC, which Dodge remains a part of.

The original Dodge logo was a circle, with two interlocking triangles forming a six-pointed star in the middle; an interlocked "DB" was at the center of the star, and the words "Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicles" encircled the outside edge. Although the "Brothers" was dropped from the name for trucks in 1929 and cars in 1930, the DB star remained in the cars until the 1939 models were introduced.

Following many iterations over the years in 2010, with the separation of the Ram brand, the new Dodge logo will remove the ram's head and feature the word "DODGE" with two inclined stripes.

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:56

Datsun

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The History of Datsun

Datsun was a car marque. The name was created in 1931 by the DAT Motorcar Co. for a new car model, spelling it as "Datson" to indicate its smaller size when compared to the existing, larger DAT car. Later, in 1933 after Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. took control of DAT Motorcar Co., the last syllable of Datson was changed to "sun". Nissan phased out the Datsun brand in March 1986. The Datsun name is most famous for the sports cars referred to as the Fairlady roadsters and later the Fairlady (240Z) coupes.

The firm was renamed Kaishinsha Motorcar Co. in 1918, seven years after their establishment and again, in 1925, to DAT Motorcar Co. DAT Motors constructed trucks in addition to the DAT passenger cars. In fact, their output focused on trucks since there was almost no consumer market for passenger cars at the time. Beginning in 1918, the first DAT trucks were assembled for the military market. The low demand from the military market during the 1920s forced DAT to consider merging with other automotive industries. In 1926 the Tokyo-based DAT Motors merged with the Osaka-based Jitsuyo Motors .

The first prototype Datson was completed in the summer of 1931. The production vehicle was called the Datson Type 10, and "approximately ten" of these cars were sold in 1931. They sold around 150 cars in 1932, now calling the model the Datson Type 11. In 1933 the government rules were revised to permit 750 cc engines, and Datsun increased the size of their microcar engine to the maximum size allowed. These larger displacement cars were called the Datsun Type 12.

Ultimately, the decision was made in 1981 to stop using the brand name Datsun worldwide, in order to strengthen the company name Nissan.

Ultimately, the name change campaign lasted for a three year period from 1982 to 1984 (Datsun badged vehicles had been progressively fitted with small "Nissan" and "Datsun by Nissan" badges from the late 1970s onward) until the Nissan name was given prominence in 1983 - although in some export markets vehicles continued to wear both the Datsun and Nissan badges until 1986.

In 2001, Nissan marketed its D22 pick-up model in Japan with the name Datsun, this time however the use of the brand name was wholly restricted to this one specific model name. Production of this model was between May 2001 and October 2002.

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:55

Daimler

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The History of Daimler

Daimler AG (formerly DaimlerChrysler, which was formerly Daimler-Benz AG) is a German car corporation (not to be confused with the British Daimler Motor Company). In addition to cars, Daimler manufactures trucks and provides financial services through its Daimler Financial Services arm. The company also owns major stakes in aerospace group EADS, high-technology and parent company of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racing team McLaren Group, and Japanese truck maker Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation.

DaimlerChrysler was founded in 1998 when Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler-Benz (1926-1998) of Stuttgart, Germany merged with the US-based Chrysler Corporation. The deal created a new entity, DaimlerChrysler. However, the buyout failed to produce the trans-Atlantic automotive powerhouse dealmakers had hoped for, and DaimlerChrysler announced on May 14, 2007 that it would sell Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management of New York, a private equity firm that specializes in restructuring troubled companies. On October 4, 2007 a DaimlerChrysler Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting approved the renaming of the company. From October 5, 2007, the company has been titled Daimler AG. The US company adopted the name Chrysler LLC when the sale completed on August 3, 2007.

Daimler produces cars and trucks under the brands of Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Smart, Freightliner and many others.

An Agreement of Mutual Interest was signed on May 1, 1924 between Benz & Cie (founded 1883) of Karl Benz and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (founded 1890) of Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.

Both companies continued to manufacture their separate car and internal combustion engine brands until, on June 28, 1926, when Benz & Cie. and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft AG formally merged becoming Daimler-Benz AG and agreed that thereafter, all of the factories would use the brand name of Mercedes-Benz on their cars.

In 1998 Daimler-Benz AG "merged" with the American car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation, and formed DaimlerChrysler AG. In 2007, when the Chrysler group was sold off to Cerberus Capital Management, the name of the parent company was changed to simply Daimler AG.

On November 16, 2009 Daimler purchased a 75.1% stake in Brawn GP. The company was rebranded as Mercedes GP. The purchase of Brawn meant that Daimler will sell its 40% stake in McLaren back in phases which will end in 2011. Mercedes will continue to provide sponsorship and engines to McLaren until 2015 when McLaren will probably have to find an engine supplier or make its own engines.

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:54

Citroen

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The History of Citroen

Citroen is a French car manufacturer. Founded in 1919 by André Citroen, it was one of the world's first mass-production car companies outside of the USA. Since 1976 it has been part of PSA Peugeot Citroen, and its headquarters is on rue Fructidor,in Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis, near Paris. The brand celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2009.

Originally a mass-market car maker with relatively straightforward designs, Citroen shocked the world in 1934 with the innovative Traction Avant, the world's first mass-production front wheel drive car (1934-57). Other significant models include the H Van (1947-81), the 2CV (1948-90), the DS (1955-1975) and the CX (1974-91).

Citroen was a keen marketer,he used the Eiffel Tower as the world's largest advertising sign, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. He also sponsored expeditions in Asia and Africa, intended to demonstrate the potential for motor vehicles equipped with the Kégresse track system to cross inhospitable regions. The expeditions conveyed scientists and journalists.

In 1924, Citroen began a business relationship with American engineer Edward G. Budd. From 1899, Budd had worked to develop stainless steel bodies for railroad cars, for the Pullman in particular. Budd went on to manufacture steel bodies for many car makers, Dodge being his first big auto client. In 1928, Citroen introduced the first all-steel body in Europe.

The cars were initially successful in the marketplace, but soon competitors (who were still using a wooden structure for their bodies), introduced new body designs. Citroen did not redesign the bodies of his cars. Citroens still sold in large quantities in spite of not changing the body design, but the car's low price was the main selling point and Citroen experienced heavy losses.

In an attempt to remedy the situation, Citroen developed the Traction Avant. The Traction Avant had three revolutionary features: a unitary body with no separate frame, front wheel independent suspension, and front wheel drive. Citroen commissioned Budd to create a prototype, which evolved into the 7 horsepower (CV), 32 hp (24 kW) Traction Avant of 1934.

In 1933, Citroen also introduced the Rosalie, a passenger car with the world,s first commercially available diesel engine.

Achieving quick development of the Traction Avant and its production facilities at the same time was too costly and overly ambitious, causing the financial ruin of the company. In 1934, debt forced the company into foreclosure and it was then taken over by its biggest creditor, the tyre company Michelin. Fortunately for Michelin, the Traction Avant met with market acceptance and the basic philosophy that had led to this design continued.

During the German occupation of France in World War II, Citroen researchers continued their work in secret and developed the concepts that were later brought to market in the 2CV and DS. These were widely regarded by contemporary journalists as avant garde, even radical, solutions to automotive design.

This began a period of unusual brand loyalty, normally seen in the car industry only in niche brands, like Porsche and Ferrari. The cult-like appeal of the cars to Citroenistes took almost two decades to fade, from 1975 to about 1995.

Citroen unveiled the 2CV (2 fiscal horsepower, initially only 12 HP) at the Paris Salon in 1948. The car became a bestseller, achieving the designer's aim of providing rural French people with a motorized alternative to the horse. This car remained in production, with only minor changes, until 1990 and was a common sight on French roads until recently.

1955 saw the introduction of the DS, the first full usage of Citroen's now legendary hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system that was tested on the rear suspension of the last of the Tractions. The DS was the first European production car with disc brakes.

The DS featured power steering, power brakes and power suspension, and from 1968 directional headlights. A single high-pressure system was used to activate pistons in the gearbox cover to shift the gears in the transmission and to operate the clutch on the Citromatic, Citroen's semi-automatic transmission.

This high-pressure hydraulic system would form the basis of many Citroen cars, including the SM, GS, CX, BX, XM, and Xantia. These vehicles shared the distinguishing feature of rising to operating ride height when the engine was turned on, like a "mechanical camel" (per Car & Driver magazine). A lever located just ahead of the driver's door allowed the driver to adjust the height of the car. On right-hand drive models, this lever was located behind the driver's right foot. The height-adjustability of the suspension allowed for clearing obstacles, and changing tyres. This type of suspension was uniquely able to absorb road irregularities without disturbing the occupants.

In 1963, Citroen negotiated with Peugeot to cooperate in the purchase of raw materials and equipment. Talks were broken off in 1965.

That year Citroen took over the French carmaker Panhard in the hope of using Panhard's expertise in midsize cars to complement its own range of very small, cheap cars (e.g., 2CV/Ami) and large, expensive cars (e.g., DS/ID). Cooperation between both companies had begun 12 years earlier, and they had agreed to a partial merger of their sales networks in 1953. Panhard ceased making vehicles in 1967.

That year Citroen purchased the Italian sports car maker Maserati and launched the grand tourer SM, which featured a V6 Maserati engine and a fully powered steering system called DIRAVI. The SM was engineered as if it were replacing the DS, a level of investment the GT sector alone would never be able to support, even in the best of circumstances. Circumstances became more unfavorable as the 1970s progressed. Citroen suffered another financial blow in the 1973 energy crisis. In 1974, the carmaker withdrew from North America, due to design regulations that outlawed core features of Citroen cars.

Huge losses at Citroen were caused by failure of the Comotor rotary engine venture, plus the strategic error of going the 15 years from 1955 to 1970 without a model in the profitable middle range of the European market, and the massive development costs for the GS, CX, SM, Birotor, Maserati Bora, Maserati Merak, and Maserati Khamsin models each a technological marvel in its own right.

Citroen was weak and unable to withstand the softening of the automobile market that accompanied the 1973 oil crisis. That year FIAT withdrew from PARDEVI and returned its 49% stake to Michelin. This was an ominous sign of things to come and, less than a year later, Citroen went bankrupt. The French government feared large job losses and arranged talks between Michelin and Peugeot, in which it was decided to merge Automobiles Citroen and Automobiles Peugeot into a single company. In 1974, Peugeot purchased 38.2% of Citroen and became responsible for managing the combined activities, in particular their research, purchasing, and investments departments.

Peugeot sold off Maserati to DeTomaso in May 1975, and the Italian firm was quickly able to exploit the image of the Maserati brand to sell tens of thousands of newly-designed Bi-Turbo models.

The takeover was completed in May 1976, as Peugeot SA purchased a 90% stake of Citroen SA and the companies were combined into a holding company, known as PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The PSA venture was a financial success from 1976 to 1979. Citroen had two successful new designs in the market at this time (the GS and CX), a resurgent Citroen 2CV, and the Citroen Dyane in the wake of the oil crisis, and Peugeot was typically prudent in its own finances, launching the Peugeot 104 based Citroen Visa and Citroen LNA. PSA then purchased the aging assets of Chrysler Europe, which it rebranded as Talbot, leading to losses from 1980 to 1985.

PSA gradually eliminated Citroen’s ambitious attitude to engineering and styling in an effort to rebrand the marque as an economy brand. In the 1980s, Citroen models were increasingly Peugeot-based, which was part of a worldwide motor industry trend called "platform sharing." The 1982 BX used the hydropneumatic suspension system and still had a Citroenesque appearance, while being powered by Peugeot-derived engines and using the floorpan later seen on the Peugeot 405. By the late 1980s, many of the distinctive features of the marque had been removed or diluted - conventional Peugeot instruments, switchgear and dashboards replaced clean sheet ergonomic designs, complete with self cancelling indicators that Citroen had previously refused to adopt on ergonomic grounds.

Citroen has expanded into many new geographic markets. In the late 1970s, the firm developed a small car for production in Romania known as the Oltcit, which it sold in Western Europe as the Citroen Axel. Sales were adversely affected by poor build quality. That joint venture has ended, but a new one between PSA and Toyota is now producing cars like the Citroen C1 in the Czech Republic. In China, the C3 and Xsara are sold alongside the Fukang and Elysée local models. Citroen is still a global brand except in North America, where the company has not returned since the SM was effectively banned in 1974 for not meeting NHTSA bumper regulations.

Production of the versatile 2CV was ended in 1990. Companies like Chrysler with the CCV concept car, Toyota with the Scion xB and Honda with the Element have recognized the 2CV concept and translated it to the modern era. More recently, Citroen has introduced the C3 Pluriel, an unusual convertible with strong allusions to the 2CV, both in body style (such as the bonnet) and in its all-round practicality. A "retro style" C3-based, post-modern 2cv like the new VW Beetle and BMW MINI is under active consideration by Citroen.

The Pluriel is but one example of Citroen's return to innovation, after launching somewhat dull (although efficient) models throughout the 1990s. Other examples are the C2, C4, and C6. The introduction of newer models, such as the long-awaited XM replacement, the C6, indicates Citroen's continued commitment to innovation in the 21st century. But the days of clean-sheet thinking and truly radical innovation are long gone. Being too avant-garde and too far ahead of public taste is too risky.

At the beginning of 2009, Citroen announced that is was setting up a luxury brand called DS that would run parallel alongside its current car range. This brand (or marque) would use the name of the 1955 car to represent its future cars starting with the DS 3, a high quality small car based on the floor plan of the new C3. This car will début in early 2010 quickly followed by the larger DS 4 and the large DS 5 respectively. They will all be badged with the new DS logo rather than the familiar Citroen double chevron and all will have markedly different styling from their equivalent sister car.

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:53

Chrysler

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The History of Chrysler

Chrysler Group LLC is a U.S. car manufacturer headquartered in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925. From 1998 to 2007, Chrysler and its subsidiaries were part of the German based DaimlerChrysler AG (now Daimler AG). Prior to 1998, Chrysler Corporation traded under the "C" symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. Under DaimlerChrysler, the company was named "DaimlerChrysler Motors Company LLC", with its U.S. operations generally referred to as the "Chrysler Group". On May 14, 2007, DaimlerChrysler announced the sale of 80.1% of Chrysler Group to American private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., although Daimler continued to hold a 19.9% stake. This was when the company took on the name, Chrysler LLC. The deal was finalized on August 3, 2007. On April 27, 2009, Daimler AG signed a binding agreement to give up its 19.9% remaining stake in Chrysler LLC to Cerberus Capital Management and pay as much as $600 million into the carmaker's pension fund.

On April 30, 2009, Chrysler LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced a plan for a partnership with Italian carmaker Fiat. On June 1, Chrysler LLC stated they were selling some assets and operations to the newly formed company Chrysler Group LLC. Fiat will hold a 20% stake in the new company, with an option to increase this to 35%, and eventually to 51% if it meets financial and developmental goals for the company.

On June 10, 2009, the sale of most of Chrysler assets to "New Chrysler", formally known as Chrysler Group LLC was completed. The federal government financed the deal with US$6.6 billion in financing, paid to the "Old Chrysler", formally called Old Carco LLC, which remained in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The transfer does not include eight manufacturing locations, nor many parcels of real estate, nor equipment leases. Contracts with 789 U.S. car dealerships, who are being dropped, were not transferred.

The company was founded by Walter Chrysler (1875-1940) on June 6, 1925,when the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation.

Walter Chrysler had originally arrived at the ailing Maxwell-Chalmers company in the early 1920s, having been hired to take over and overhaul the company's troubled operations (just after a similar rescue job at the Willys car company).

In late 1923 production of the Chalmers car was ended.

Then in January 1924, Walter Chrysler launched the well-received Chrysler car. The Chrysler was a 6-cylinder car, designed to provide customers with an advanced, well-engineered car, but at a more affordable price than they might expect. (Elements of this car are traceable back to a prototype which had been under development at Willys at the time that Walter Chrysler was there). The original 1924 Chrysler included a carburetor air filter, high compression engine, full pressure lubrication, and an oil filter, at a time when most autos came without these features. Among the innovations in its early years would be the first practical mass-produced four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a system nearly completely engineered by Chrysler with patents assigned to Lockheed, and rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration. Chrysler also developed a road wheel with a ridged rim, designed to keep a deflated tire from flying off the wheel. This safety wheel was eventually adopted by the auto industry worldwide.

Following the introduction of the Chrysler, the Maxwell was dropped after its 1925 model year run, although in truth the new line of lower-priced 4-cylinder Chryslers which were then introduced for the 1926 model year were basically Maxwells which had been re-engineered and rebranded. It was during this time period of the early 1920s that Maxwell was ultimately incorporated under the Chrysler name.

Chrysler is also currently planning at least three hybrid vehicles, the Chrysler Aspen hybrid, Dodge Durango hybrid, and the Dodge Ram hybrid including HEMI engines. Chrysler plans to use hybrid technology developed jointly with General Motors and BMW AG in vehicles beyond the two hybrid SUVs it had already announced to introduce in 2008.

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:51

Chevrolet

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The History of Chevrolet

Chevrolet is a brand of car produced by General Motors Company (GM). Founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted GM founder William C. Durant on November 8, 1911, Chevrolet was acquired by General Motors in 1917. Chevrolet was positioned by Alfred Sloan to sell a lineup of mainstream vehicles to directly compete against Henry Ford's Model T in the 1920s, and continues to hold its position as General Motors' highest-selling brand to the present day, with "Chevrolet" or "Chevy" being at times synonymous with GM. In North America, Chevrolet offers a full range of automobiles, from subcompact cars to medium-duty commercial trucks.

Chevrolet first used its "Bowtie emblem" logo in 1913. It is said to have been designed from wallpaper Durant once saw in a French hotel. More recent research by historian Ken Kaufmann presents a compelling case that the logo is based upon a logo for "Coalettes". Others claim that the design was a stylized Swiss cross, in honor of the homeland of Chevrolet's parents.

In control, Durant was in the process of setting up Chevrolet production facilities in Toronto, Canada. Later that year, during a lunch meeting in New York with "Colonel Sam" McLaughlin, whose McLaughlin Motor Car Company manufactured McLaughlin-Buick cars, it was agreed that Chevrolets with McLaughlin-designed bodies would be added to the Canadian company's product line. Three years later, the two Canadian operations (Chevrolet was by then a part of GM in the United States) were bought by GM to become General Motors of Canada Ltd.

By 1916, Chevrolet was profitable enough to allow Durant to buy a majority of shares in GM. After the deal was completed in 1917, Durant was president of General Motors, and Chevrolet was merged into GM, becoming a separate division.

Chevrolet had a great influence on the American car market during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1957, Chevy made the first fuel injected engine. In 1963, one out of every ten cars sold in the United States was a Chevrolet.

The basic Chevrolet small-block V-8 design has remained in continuous production since its debut in 1955, longer than any other mass-produced engine in the world, although current versions share few if any parts interchangeable with the original. Descendants of the basic small-block OHV V-8 design platform in production today have been much modified with advances such as aluminium block and heads, electronic engine management and sequential port fuel injection, to name but a few. Descendants of the small-block V-8 in the form of the LT V-8s, and had influence in the design of the LS V-8s, both of which are still installed in Chevrolet vehicles. The original small-block design is simplistic compared to the overhead-cam V-8 that Ford Motor Company used and continues to use in its line of larger cars and light trucks. Depending on the vehicle type, Chevrolet V-8s are built in displacements from 4.3 to 8.1 litres with outputs ranging from 110 horsepower (82 kW) to 638 horsepower (476 kW) as installed at the factory. The engine design has also been used over the years in GM products built and sold under the Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Opel (Germany),Hummer and Holden (Australia) nameplates

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:50

BMW

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The History of BMW

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the MINI brand, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna brands. BMW is known for its performance and luxury vehicles.

After World War I, BMW was forced to cease aircraft (engine) production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923 once the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted followed by automobiles in 1928-29.

The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is portrayed by BMW as the movement of an aircraft propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky - an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, twelve years after the roundel was created. The emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew, combined with the white and blue colours of the flag of Bavaria, reversed to produce the BMW roundel. However, the origin of the logo being based on the movement of a propeller is in dispute, according to an article recently posted by the New York times, quoting "At the BMW Museum in Munich, Anne Schmidt-Possiwal, explained that the blue-and-white company logo did not represent a spinning propeller, but was meant to show the colors of the Free State of Bavaria."

By 1959 the automotive division of BMW was in financial difficulties and a shareholders meeting was held to decide whether to go into liquidation or find a way of carrying on. It was decided to carry on and to try to cash in on the current economy car boom enjoyed so successfully by some of Germany's ex-aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmitt and Heinkel. The rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta were bought, the tiny cars themselves were to be powered by a modified form of BMW's own motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet.

In 1992, BMW acquired a large stake in Californian-based industrial design studio DesignworksUSA, which they fully acquired in 1995. In 1994, BMW bought the British Rover Group (which at the time consisted of the Rover, Land Rover and MG brands as well as the rights to defunct brands including Austin and Morris), and owned it for six years. By 2000, Rover was making huge losses and BMW decided to sell the combine. The MG and Rover brands were sold to the Phoenix Consortium to form MG Rover, while Land Rover was taken over by Ford. BMW, meanwhile, retained the rights to build the new MINI, which was launched in 2001.

The company is a charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Environmental Achievement Track, which recognizes companies for their environmental stewardship and performance. It is also a member of the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program and is on the Dow Jones Sustainability Group Index, which rates environmentally friendly companies.[24] BMW has taken measures to reduce the impact the company has on the environment. It is trying to design less-polluting cars by making existing models more efficient, as well as developing environmentally friendly fuels for future vehicles. Possibilities include: electric power, hybrid power (combustion, engines and electric motors)hydrogen engines.[25]

BMW vehicles follow a certain nomenclature; usually a 3 digit number is followed by 1 or 2 letters. The first number represents the series number. The next two numbers traditionally represent the engine displacement in cubic centimeters divided by 100.

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:48

Bentley

 

 

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The History of Bentley

Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of cars founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley. Bentley had been previously known for his range of rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later versions of the Sopwith Camel. Since 1998, the company has been owned by the Volkswagen Group of Germany.

Before World War I, W.O. Bentley had been in partnership with his brother H.M. Bentley selling French DFP cars, but he had always wanted to design and build his own range of cars bearing his name. In August 1919, Bentley Motors Ltd. was registered, and a chassis with dummy engine was exhibited at the London Motor Show in October of that year. An engine was built and running by December, and orders were taken for deliveries starting in June 1920; however, development took longer than estimated, and the first cars were not ready until September 1921.


It was on a visit to the DFP factory in 1913 that W.O. noticed an aluminium paperweight, and had the inspired idea of using the lightweight metal instead of cast iron to make engine pistons. The first Bentley aluminium pistons went into service in aero engines for the Sopwith Camel, in service during the Great War.

The company was always underfunded, and Bentley turned to millionaire Woolf Barnato for help in 1925. As part of a refinancing deal, which resulted in his effectively owning the company, Barnato became chairman. A great deal of Barnato's fortune was devoted to keeping Bentley afloat, but the Great Depression destroyed demand for the company's expensive products, and it was finally sold to Rolls-Royce in 1931.

A group of wealthy British motorists known as the "Bentley Boys" (Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry Birkin, steeplechaser George Duller, aviator Glen Kidston, automotive journalist S.C.H. "Sammy" Davis, and Dr. Dudley Benjafield among them) kept the marque's reputation for high performance alive. Thanks to the dedication to serious racing of this group, the company, located at Cricklewood, north London, was noted for its four consecutive victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1927 to 1930. Their greatest competitor at the time, Bugatti whose lightweight, elegant, but fragile creations contrasted with the Bentley's rugged reliability and durability referred to them as "the world's fastest lorries".


Rolls-Royce had bought Bentley secretly using a company named the British Central Equitable Trust; not even Bentley himself knew the true identity of the purchaser until the deal was completed. A new company, wholly owned by Rolls-Royce, was formed as Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd. As W.O. Bentley was little more than an employee, he left to join Lagonda in 1935 when his contract was up for renewal. The Cricklewood factory was closed and sold, and production moved to the Rolls-Royce works in Derby.

When a new Bentley car appeared in 1933, the 3-litre, it was a sporting variant of the Rolls-Royce 20/25 - and although disappointing some traditional customers, it was well-received by many others. Even Bentley himself was reported as saying, "Taking all things into consideration, I would rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name".

After World War II, production of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars was moved to an ex-wartime engine factory in Crewe, Cheshire. Bentleys increasingly became Rolls-Royces without the distinctive grilles and with a lower price tag, and by the 1970s and early 1980s, sales had fallen badly, with at one time less than 5% of production carrying the Bentley badge.

The parent company failed in 1970 following problems with aero engine development, and the car division was floated off to become Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd. and remained independent until bought by Vickers in August 1980.

Under Vickers, Bentley began to regain its high-performance heritage, typified by the 1980 Mulsanne. Bentley's restored sporting image created a renewed interest in the name and sales as a proportion of combined company output began to rise. In 1986, the Rolls-Royce:Bentley ratio was 60:40; by 1991 it was 50:50.

In 1998, Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors were purchased from Vickers by Volkswagen Group for £430 million, following a bidding war with BMW. BMW had recently started supplying components for the new range of Rolls and Bentley cars, notably V8 engines for the Bentley Arnage, and V12 engines for the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. Volkswagen Group believed that the Rolls-Royce name was included in the purchase, when in fact it belonged to Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine company, and was used by the automobile division under licence. It also emerged that BMW's aeronautical division had a joint venture agreement with Rolls-Royce plc, and that the German company was able to terminate its supply deal with Rolls-Royce with 12 months' notice, which would not be enough time for Volkswagen Group to re-engineer the cars.

BMW and Volkswagen Group entered into negotiations, and an agreement was reached whereby Volkswagen Group would manufacture both Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars until the end of 2002, licensing the name from Rolls-Royce plc; on 1 January 2003, the right to build Rolls-Royce cars would transfer to BMW. BMW licensed the brand from Rolls-Royce plc and paid £40 million to Volkswagen Group, but the deal did not include any manufacturing facilities, staff, or intellectual property on present or future models. BMW also agreed to continue its supply agreements, which gave Volkswagen Group the time it needed to reduce its reliance on BMW as a supplier. Bentley reintroduced the venerable Rolls-Royce V8 engine into the Arnage, initially as an additional model, and all BMW engine supply ended in 2003 with the end of Silver Seraph production.

Demand had been so great, that the factory at Crewe was unable to meet orders despite an installed capacity of approximately 9500 vehicles per year; there was a waiting list of over a year for new cars to be delivered. Consequently, part of the production of the new Flying Spur, a four-door version of the Continental GT, was assigned to the Transparent Factory (Germany), where the Volkswagen Phaeton luxury car is also assembled. This arrangement ceased at the end of 2006 after around 1000 cars, with all car production reverting to the Crewe plant.

In April 2005, Bentley confirmed plans to produce a four seat convertible model the Azure, derived from the Arnage Drophead Coupe prototype at Crewe beginning in 2006. By the autumn of 2005, the convertible version of the successful Continental GT, the Continental GTC, was also presented. These two models were successfully launched in late 2006.

A limited run of a Zagato modified GT was also announced in March 2008, dubbed "GTZ."

Published in Car Guides
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:47

Austin

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The History of Austin

Herbert Austin (1866-1941), former manager of the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company, and later to be made first Baron Austin of Longbridge, founded The Austin Motor Company in 1905. The first car was a conventional 5-litre four-cylinder model with chain drive, of which about 200 were made in the first five years. In World War I Austin grew enormously in fulfilling government contracts for everything from artillery to aircraft, and the workforce expanded from around 2,500 to 22,000.

After the war Herbert Austin decided on a one-model policy based on the 3620-cc 20-hp engine. Versions included cars, commercials and even a tractor, but sales volumes were never enough to fill the vast factory built during wartime. The company went into receivership in 1921 but rose again after financial restructuring.

Critical to the recovery was the appointment in 1922 of a new finance director, Ernest Payton and a new works director in charge of car production, Carl Engelbach. This triumvirate of Austin, Payton and Engelbach steered the company's fortunes through the inter-war years.

In a quest to expand market share, smaller cars were introduced, the 1661 cc Twelve in 1922 and, later the same year, the Seven, an inexpensive, simple small car and one of the earliest to be directed at a mass market. At one point, the "Baby Austin" was built under licence by the fledgling BMW of Germany (as the Dixi); by the Japanese manufacturer Datsun; as the Bantam in the United States; and as the Rosengart in France. (the American Austin Car Company operated as a largely independent subsidiary from 1929 to 1934, and was revived under the name "American Bantam" from 1937 to 1941).

With the help of the Seven, Austin weathered the worst of the depression and remained profitable through the 1930s, producing a wider range of cars which was steadily updated by the introduction of all-steel bodies, Girling brakes, and synchromesh gearboxes. However, all the engines retained the same side valve conformation.

During the Second World War Austin continued building cars but also made trucks and aircraft, including the construction of the Lancaster bombers of 617 squadron, better known as the Dambusters.

The postwar car range was announced in 1944 and production of it started in 1945 The immediate postwar range was mainly similar to that of the late 1930s but did include the 16 hp significant for having the company's first overhead valve engine.

In 1952 Austin merged with the Nuffield Organisation (parent company of Morris) to form the British Motor Corporation with Leonard Lord in charge. Austin was the dominant partner and its engines were adopted for most of the cars; various models amongst the marques would soon be badge-engineered versions of each other.

Also in 1952, Austin did a deal with Donald Healey, the renowned automotive engineer. It led to a new marque, Austin Healey, and a range of sports cars.

In 1952 Austin entered into a legal agreement with the Nissan Motor Company of Japan, for that company to assemble 2000 imported Austins from partially assembled sets and to sell them in Japan under the Austin trademark. The agreement called for Nissan to make all Austin parts locally within three years, a goal Nissan met. Nissan produced and marketed Austins for seven years. The agreement also gave Nissan rights to use Austin patents, which Nissan used in developing its own engines for its Datsun line of cars. In 1953 British-built Austins were assembled and sold, but by 1955, the Austin A50 completely built by Nissan and featuring a slightly larger body with 1489 cc engine was on the market in Japan. Nissan produced 20,855 Austins from 1953-59.

With the threat to fuel supplies resulting from the 1956 Suez Crisis Lord asked Alec Issigonis to design a small car and the result was the revolutionary Mini, launched in 1959. The Austin version was called the Austin Se7en at first. But Morris' Mini Minor name caught the public imagination and the Morris version outsold its Austin twin, so the Austin's name was changed to Mini to follow suit. In 1970, British Leyland dropped the separate Austin and Morris branding of the Mini. From then, it was simply "Mini", under the Austin Morris division of BLMC.

The principle of a transverse engine with gearbox in the sump and driving the front wheels was carried on to larger cars with the 1100 of 1963, (although the Morris-badged version was launched 13 months earlier than the Austin, in August 1962), the 1800 of 1964 and the Maxi of 1969. This meant that BMC had spent 10 years developing a new range of front-drive, transverse-engined models, while most competitors had only just started to make such changes.

The big exception to this was the Austin 3-litre. Launched in 1968, it was a rear-wheel drive large car, but it shared the central section of the 1800. It was a sales disaster, with fewer than 10,000 examples being made.

But BMC was the first British manufacturer to move into front-wheel drive so comprehensively. Ford did not launch its first front-drive model until 1976, while Vauxhall's first front-drive model was launched in 1979 and Chrysler UK's first such car was launched in 1975. Front-wheel drive was popular elsewhere in Europe, however, with Renault, Citroen and Simca all using the system at the same time or before BMC.

In 1966, BMC and Pressed Steel merged with Jaguar and became British Motor Holdings. In 1968, BMH merged with Leyland Motors and Austin became a part of the big British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) combine.

In 1982, most of the car division of the by now somewhat shrunken British Leyland (BL) company was rebranded as the Austin Rover Group, with Austin acting as the "budget" and mainstream brand to Rover's more luxurious models. The MG badge was revived for sporty versions of the Austin models, with the MG Metro 1300 being the first of these.

In 1986 Austin Rover's holding company BL plc became Rover Group plc and was privatised by selling it to British Aerospace (BAe).

In 1987, the Austin badge was discontinued and Austin Rover became simply the Rover Group. The Austin cars continued to be manufactured, although they ceased to be Austins. They became "marque-less" in their home market with bonnet badges the same shape as the Rover longship badge but without "Rover" written on them. Instead any badging just showed the model of the car- a Montego of this era, for instance, would have a grille badge simply saying 'Montego', whilst the rear badges just said 'Montego' and the engine size/trim level. The Metro was facelifted in 1990 and got the new K-series engine. It then became the "Rover Metro", while the Maestro and Montego continued in production until 1994 and never wore a Rover badge on their bonnets in Britain. They were, however, sometimes referred to as "Rovers" in the press and elsewhere.

The rights to the Austin name passed to British Aerospace and then to BMW when each bought the Rover Group. The rights were subsequently sold to MG Rover, created when BMW sold the business. Following MG Rover's collapse and sale, Nanjing Automobile Group owns the Austin name and Austin's historic assembly plant in Longbridge. At the Nanjing International Exhibition in May 2006, Nanjing announced it might use the Austin name on some of the revived MG Rover models, at least in the Chinese market. However, Nanjing is for the moment concentrating on reviving the MG brand. The MG brand is traditionally used for sports cars and Nanjing has no rights to the Rover name, so a revival of the Austin name would seem a logical brand for selling more standard cars. It might also be argued that a British name would be more respected in the European market than a Chinese name.

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