All the Makes: Nash to Opel
NASH (1917 - 1957)
Founded by Charles W. Nash, a self made entrepreneur
that started out as a farm labourer, then by 1912 had
landed the job as president of none other than General
Motors. But Nash wanted to be his own boss, and in
1916 he purchased the Jeffery Motor Company with the
intention of building his own cars. In 1917 the very
first Nash hit the roads, it being powered by a 244ci
4 liter six cylinder engine; this was soon followed
by the release of both sports cars and roadsters.
smaller 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine was developed,
and by 1920 there were no less than eight different
body styles using the new engine. Wanting to move the
marque up-market, Nash purchased La Fayette Motors
to provide a fast entry into that sector, particularly
given he would benefit from the La Fayette 341.7ci
5.6 liter V8. The attempt to market a high end Nash
proved difficult however, and soon the plan was abandoned,
Nash having to settle on the middle ground. Like most
other manufacturers Nash was hit hard by the Depression,
however clever management and rationalisation ensured
the company remained in profit, despite production
falling to a mere 14,000 units in 1933.
The La Fayette
name was introduced in its own right, but not as an
up-market limousine, but rather as a cheap big car;
while to aid in rationalisation the model line-up was
reduced from 32 to just 6. In 1941 Nash replaced the
La Fayette with the all-new Nash 600, a car incredibly
advanced for the time. Featuring unitary construction,
the 600 was light, enabling particularly good fuel
consumption combined with more spirited performance
from the 2.8 liter six.
Nash car manufacture was halted
in 1942 so that the company could concentrate on war
time production, but following the war the Ambassadors
were reintroduced, and they now featured Airflyte styling
complete with wrap-around windshields and semi-enclosed
Then came the 1950 Rambler, arguably the
first US compact sedan, but despite the forward thinking,
quality and value for money each Nash offered, it remained
too small to viably compete with the Big Three. The
company merged with Hudson in 1954 to form the American
Motors Corporation (AMC), and while sales of the Rambler
and Metropolitan continued to do well, the bigger Statesman
and Ambassador models were fairing poorly. In 1957
AMC gradually dropped both the Nash and Hudson names.
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NISSAN (DATSUN) (1983 - present)
The Datsun name was dropped by Nissan in 1983, timed
to aid in an all out assault the company was determined
to make on the European market. Nissan purchased a
controlling interest in Motor Iberica of Spain, and
soon had the company building Nissan Patrol 4x4’s.
They then built a brand new factory in Sunderland,
UK to build the Bluebird.
The expansion programme was
not without cost, and given the Button plan for car
manufacturer rationalisation in Australia, most knew
it would be Nissan that would close – although
the company did not want to abandon the Aussie market,
and output in Japan was increased to help compensate.
The Sunderland UK plant expanded, as did a plant in
Tennesse, USA, mostly thanks to the popularity of the
company’s new micro car, aptly named the “Micra”.
The “Z” cars had lost much of their past
appeal, and so the company desperately needed a new
hero car. The 200 and 240SX’s went some of the
way, but the flagship was undeniably the Skyline GT-R.
It lacked a little of the power of the ZX, but the
208.8 kW 158.7 kW 2.6 liter twin turbo straight six
was tractable and smooth, and when linked to a viscous-coupled
four wheel drive and four wheel steering system it
made to a simply stunning and awesome drive.
other Japanese manufacturers, it is arguably the 4
wheel drive iterations that the company is best known
for, the Patrol being joined by the X-Trail “soft
roader” where both either hold, or challenge,
for top position in their respective categories.
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Codes AL | Colour
(1905 - 1929 and 1958 -
Founded by Heinrich Stoll and Christian Schmidt to manufacture
knitting machines. Took the name NSU from the first letters
in the names of the rivers surrounding the plant in which
they operated, Neckar and Sulm. Following the increasing
popularity of bicycles, devoted an ever increasing amount
of production to their manufacture, first with the high
wheelers, then to more modern, ballbearing equipped examples.
Progressed to the motorcycle and, in 1905, developed
their first car.
Within a few years were manufacturing
a variety of different vehicles, from small taxi-cabs
to trucks and all in-between. Manufactured both cars
and motorcycles for the Wehrmacht during World War 1,
after the war turning their attention to racing, gaining
several Grand Prix victories. In 1923 developed the all-aluminum
8/24, but soon encountered financial difficulty and was
sold to Fiat. Built 3 prototype Beetles for Ferdinand
Porsche prior to World War 2.
Continued to manufacture
motorcycles after the war, then designed the 3 wheel
Max Kabine, but this would gain a more traditional 4th
wheel prior to entering production as the Prinz. Built
the first Wankel motor in 1960 and a small Corvair styled
Prinz 4 in 1963. Sold to the VW/Audi concern in 1969,
the name discontinued in 1984.
(2001 - present)
A British supercar manufactured since 2001, designed
by chassis engineer Lee Noble who teamed with businessman
Tony Moy. Their car is a two seater mid engined iteration,
powered by a quad-cam 152.5ci 2.5 liter V6 fitted with
twin-turbochargers, only the serious driver, earning
a serious dollar, need apply.
(1896 - present)
Founded by Ransom E Olds in 1897 as the Olds Motor
Vehicle Company of Lansing, Michigan, the company began
the serious manufacture of cars in 1901, that year
manufacturing 425 - not many by today’s standards but at the
time it was enough to make Olds the first high-volume
car manufacturer of the day. Olds left the company following
financial difficulty to form the REO Motor Car Company,
the last of the famous “Curved Dash Olds” being
manufactured in 1907 before a GM buyout in 1908.
a well deserved reputation for innovative firsts, including
the speedometer (1901), out-sourcing of parts, chrome
plating, mono-block V8’s and automatic chokes. In the mid 1940’s Oldsmobile were the first to
offer an automatic transmission in more mainstream models,
their “Hydra-Matic” is widely considered
the forefather of every automatic transmission offered
to this day.
The “Rocket” engine of 1949
was the first mass-produced, high-compression OHV V8,
then in 1962-1963 Oldsmobile released the “Jetfire”,
the first turbocharged passenger car featuring an aluminum-block
215 in³ V8 engine with turbocharger, producing
one horsepower per cubic inch.
The Toronado of 1966
may not have been the first front-wheel-drive American
built car, but it was the first to be successful and
gain acceptance with the motoring public. It would
go on to win the Motor Trend Car of Year award in 1966
for its unique and innovative styling.
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(1905 - 1934)
Founded by the brothers Zust from Switzerland, engineers who had spent their time developing experimental cars. Started building cars to rival Mercedes, then set up a sister company Brixia-Zust to develop cheaper end models, the projected profits from this venture to assist in the development of their high end models.
The Brixia-Zust 3 cylinder models found work for a time as London cabs, but the Zust brothers company was taken over in 1911 by Officine Meccaniche or "OM". They continued production of the S305, and an OM even took out the 1927 Mille Miglia
despite the low-tech approach of the design. Taken over by Fiat in 1933, who quickly realised the commercial division to be the profitable one, and in turn car production ended.
(1898 - present)
Founded by Adam Opel who built a successful business
manufacturing sewing machines, Opel was subsequently
encouraged by his 5 sons to venture into cycle manufacture
in 1886. When Opel passed away in 1895, his widow Sophie
together with elder sons Carl and Wilhelm looked for
something else to manufacture – the obvious choice
was the automobile. The Opel’s purchased the
rights to the Lutzmann car, a small 4 hp (2.98 kW)
single cylinder machine, however this was not a success
and the plan was abandoned after only a few cars had
They were almost going to abandon the notion
of automobile manufacture altogether, but decided instead
to become the sole agent for Darracq in Germany, Austria
and Hungary – part of the deal being that they
would manufacture Darracq’s under licence. These
proved far more successful than the Lutzmann, and soon
Opel had launched their own 10/12 115ci 1.9 liter model.
A twin-cylinder “doctor’s car” followed,
and by 1910 Opel were a well established car manufacturer
in their own right. The following year however the
factory would be all but destroyed after a horrendous
fire – the brothers knew that they needed to
chose one, and one only, line of manufacture – not
surprisingly they chose automobiles over sewing machines.
World War 1 was unkind to Opel, their facility falling
into the hands of the occupying French army, but with
demand for cars at an all time low in impoverished
Germany it didn’t seem to matter all that much.
Opel survived the war, and created their own copy of
the Citroen 5CV, a model that proved immediately very
popular. Sales flourished, so much so that the company
came to the attention of the giant General Motors concern.
In 1929 GM purchased 80% of the company, and in 1931
the remaining 20%.
Under GM guidance, the company began
the manufacture of smaller cars, such as the 1935 Olympia
and 1937 Kadett, along with the six cylinder Admiral
between 1937 and 1939. Manufacturing trucks and engines
for the Nazi regime during the second World War, the
company returned to automobile manufacture in 1947
with the pre-war Olympia model, with GM re-assuming
control in 1948.
The Rekord of 1953 signalled Opel’s
return to design leadership, and later iterations all
helped improve Opel’s reputation for building
good quality cars. Throughout the 1970’s and
1980’s GM would ensure Opel shared the parts
bin with sister company Vauxhall.