Automakers: Italy (Part 5b)

Link to Part 1 of Italian Auto Makers

This summer we did a 6 part series on US Auto Makers starting with July 4th. It’s time to continue with Italian car makers. Part A covered luxury sports car makers, but today lets cover members of the fifth largest car conglomerate in the world (by sales).

For those who don’t know, or have never heard of Stellantis, you are not alone. They’re new (16 January 2021) and we covered them under US makers since the core of the company is Chrysler. You can learn all about the parent company at this link. Italy accounts for five out of the 16 car brands managed by Stellantis from their headquarters in Amsterdam.

Abarth (1949–present)

While a relatively new name to the US market, Abarth has been around since 1949, when it was founded by Italo-Austrian Carlo Abarth. While it is currently the Italian performance division of Stellantis making racing and road cars, it was not always so.

Italian soccer player, entrepreneur and racecar driver Piero Dusio, founded the Cisitalia racing team, but in 1948 Piero fled to Argentina leaving a man named Armando Scagliarini to pick up the pieces. Along with the other assets of the folded car company Scagliarini inherited it’s sporting director Carlo Abarth.  Scagliarini decided to rebuild the business around Abarth, naming it after him and creating it’s emblem to honor Carlos Astrological sign Scorpio.

1950 Abarth 204A

From the complete and partial racers Cisitalia had in stock, Abarth began hiring experienced drivers like  Tazio NuvolariFranco Cortese and Piero Taruffi, and began winning races.

The races made money but the stock and trade of Abarth in the early days was manufacturing aftermarket parts for FiatLancia, Cisitalia and Simca cars.

In 1951 Abarth moved it’s headquarters to Turin and started building a more formal relationship with Fiat. Abarth continued to win races due in part to their brilliant exhaust designs. Thanks to Fiat, they brought their exhaust systems to production cars.

Abarth 595 under Fiat Ownership

Noteworthy: Believe it or not some Original Abarth LD exhausts are now valuable collectors’ items with some replica being made and stamped Abarth without permission from Fiat.

In 1971 Carlo sold Abarth to Fiat, who turned it into their racing division. Fiat didn’t do Hill Climb or Sport Prototype racing so the sold that off to Enzo Osella who found a great deal of success with it, and continued to race in the rally circuit.

Three things all the Zonda’s have in common: they max out around 215 MPH, they go 0-60 in less than 3.5 seconds, and they all look hot.

On 1 October 1981, Abarth & C. ceased to exist and was replaced by Fiat Auto Gestione Sportiva. In the 80s, the name was slapped onto some performance cars, and Fiat used the brand to designate a trim/model level in 2000s. 2007 Abarth was reborn as an an independent unit, controlled 100% by Fiat, to create and sell passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.  

The first models launched were the Abarth Grande Punto, they went on to make 16 more car models that basically all looked alike, while the parent company changed it’s name a few times. In In 2017, Abarth collaborated with Yamaha to produce a limited-edition motorcycle, but it has otherwise been a solid small car maker with little to set it apart and no resemblance of it’s former racing glory.

Alfa Romeo (1910–present)

Founded 24 June 1910, Alpha Romeo is the old man of this group. Headquartered in Turin, Piedmont, Italy (the Detroit of Italy), AR sells cars world wide, with it’s main markets being the US, Canada, and Europe. Currently AR is known for luxury cars but they were best know for sport-oriented vehicles have been heavily involved in car racing since a year after they began.

We don’t really know who founded Alpha Romeo, probably a man named Ugo Stella and other investors because at the time of its birth AR was an “anonymous” company, which means the investors names weren’t public. In fact the “A” in Alpha stands the Italian word for anonymous, “Anonima.” The rest to the acronym stands for “Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili.” The founders built their first factory in Milan where they were able to snatch up manufacturing space from the Portello Factory which was closing up shop. AR continued to make cars at the Portello Factory until 1960.

Romeo came from engineer, entrepreneur, and politician Nicola Romeo, who took over the factory during WWI to make more important things for the war effort. When the war ended they went back to racing making Torpedo 20–30 HP in 1920. Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925 and as an engine maker AR was favored by private race teams. In fact, Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team.

The A.L.F.A. 24 hp was the first car made by Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (A.L.F.A.) in 1910

On the business side, Alpha Romeo has a complicated history that’s very much tied to the fortunes of Italy herself and the ways Italy chose to handle their economy after WWII. Italy has always been a bit more socialist than the US and as part of an extensive 1933 Italian state industrial bailout/ re-organization Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI), and remained under government control until it was sold to Fiat in 1986.

Italian worker unrest and the government ownership caused a lot of trouble for AR, including building a factory in the south to make a new compact car in the 1970s. AR’s finances remained in the red much of their existence. They did, however, continue to build great racers and win a lot of races though to be fair the racing portion of AR was privatized.

When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat.

Henry Ford talking with Ugo Gobbato in 1939
Giulietta Spider

Things changed when Fiat took over.

Here’s what happened. In the early 80’s Alpha Romeo was suffering and draining money from the Italian government who’s main goal was jobs for Italian workers. They attempted a joint venture with Nissan, but the companies were simply not compatible.  

Fiat was approached with a joint venture, but Ford offered a cash infusion in exchange for enough ownership and authority to restructure the company, which they couldn’t guarantee would allow current staff to retain their jobs. Fiat stepped up and took over A.R. which kept the Italian car maker entirely in Italian control. Fiat also guaranteed that all workers would stay in their jobs. The only sticky point was a desire by Alfa Romeo’s then-President Ettore Massacesi to never build an Alpha Romeo car with a Fiat engine. The deal was done by the end of 1986.

The resulting cars from the takeover retained AR’s avant-garde styling and sporting panache without losing Fiat’s understanding of economy and production efficiency. When Fiat bought Maserati back from Ferrari they created a luxury sports division.

In 2007 Fiat reorganized as Fiat Group with 4 divisions of which Alpha Romeo was one. In 2010 Alpha Romeo turned 100, however there was little cause to celebrate. International sales had been trending down since 2001 and they continued to decline until today, despite the merger with Chrysler and eventual formation of Stellantis Italy.

Fiat (1899–present)

Fiat formed in 1899 when Giovanni Agnelli and 8 other investors decided to launch an automobile manufacturer in Turin. In fact the name Fiat is an acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino or Turin Auto Factory.

Their 35 staff cranked out 24 Fiat 4 HP cars. From these humble beginnings Fiat would grow to be that largest car maker in Italy, then Europe, and third largest in the world for many decades. Fiat of the 1970’s employed more than 100,000 employees an pumped out 1.4 million cars a year.

Fiat has also produced Fiat has also manufactured railway engines, military vehicles, farm tractors, aircraft, and weapons such as their water-cooled machine gun for WWI & WWII, and won awards such as their nine European Car of the Year

Murcielago R-GT 

Noteworthy: In 1910 Fiat manufactured cars in  PoughkeepsieNY, which were sign of wealth among Americans at the time. In fact, a Fiat in 1918 would cost you $6,400 when you could buy a Ford Model T for $525.

Both WWI and WWII interrupted car production for the war effort (the American plant closed for good) and soon after WWI the sociality party took over the Fiat factory causing Agnelli to resign in protest. After WWII the Agnelli were again forced out of the company as a result of their ties to  Benito Mussolini. Giovanni’s grandson, Gianni, took over again as general manager in 1963 (later chairman until 1996).

Of course Fiat would ultimately join with Chrysler to form FCA and then later with French car conglomerate PSA to form Stellantis. Fiat’s secret to success was knowing the home market and then expanding to nearby markets with similar needs for a similar product. Hence Fiat has always made “City Cars” for small urban drivers. See examples below…

Fiat Punto
Fiat 500X

If you look closely at the pictures above you’ll see that these are in fact two different cars.

Lancia 

(1906–present)

 Lancia & C., a manufacturing concern founded in 1906 in Torino by Vincenzo Lancia (1881–1937) and Claudio Fogolin back in 1906.

Lancia is one of those car names that gets bounced around car talk circles but the average person has probably never seen one. Even in the UK and Ireland where Lancia’s were sold until 2015 (although these were technically rebadged Chryslers.)

Noteworthy: Lancia had a long tradition in rally racing, winning more manufacturers awards than any competitor until 1992 when they stopped racing. (They still hold more awards than any other brand, BTW).

If you live in Italy these days you definitely know Lancia, not only as the historic maker of cars they were but as the maker of the second best-selling car in Italy, the Lancia Ypsilon. This is currently Lancia’s only product.

Ypsilon by Lancia

What happened?

Lancia’s founders were both race car drivers for Fiat. They created the “Tipo 51” which looked like an old time fire truck, but sold well enough. They also exported parts to an America assembler who sold the cars under the name SGV.

When Lancia died in 1910, his widow and son brought on designer Vittorio Jano who created some of their best selling models. What Lancia is best known for is innovation. They’re the first people to put a complete electrical system in a car (1913). They first used the monocoque or unibody chassis and the five speed gearbox. They also invented the ‘Sliding Pillar‘ independent front suspension that incorporated the spring and hydraulic damper into a single unit on their Lambda (produced from 1922 to 1931).

Lancia Delta S4 Group B rally car

The down side of all this innovation, and there are more, is that each production model is unique. When your primary goal is invention instead of finding a market need to meet it’s difficult sell enough units to remain viable. What it does do is make you a target for acquisition as other car company’s want your patents.

In 1969 Fiat acquired Lancia but maintained the distinctive Lancia marque with models like the StratosGamma and Beta, which made money for Fiat. In fact Fiat had just attained full control of Autobianchi which it put under the Lancia brand.

When Fiat reorganized to a group of four in 2007 Lancia became one of the four. It was the merger with Chrysler that proved to be Lancia’s demise. The brand was built on innovation and unique design. Producing rebadged Chryslers failed completely.

Will Stellantis prove to be the death blow for Lancia? It’s too soon to tell, but Stellantis has signaled its intentions to rebuild the brand by including it in a group with Alfa Romeo and DS Automobiles which are commissioned to create new models in 2024. The also appointed Luca Napolitano CEO, and Jean-Pierre Ploué its chief designer. The rumor is they will develop three new models, all EV’s – a replacement for their successful city car (Ypsilon), a cross over, and a hatchback.

Noteworthy: the documentary “Elegance on the Move,” celebrates Lancia’s 115th anniversary.

Maserati 

(1914–present)

The Maserati brother all worked in auto manufacture and they founded the company that would bare their name in 1914 to produce race cars.

Maserati’s racing success was top of the range with wins against the German powerhouse , Auto Union and Mercedes on the European circuit and even an indie 500 win. Then in 1957 tragedy struck at the Mille Miglia race when a worn tire caused a wreck, killing Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago, his co-driver/navigator Edmund Nelson, and nine spectators 5 of whom were children.

Maserati quit racing as a team, but continued to make cars for independent racers. They chose to focus on road-going grand tourers from that point on. The 3500 GT became the marque’s first series-produced car designed from scratch which came out the same year as their racing tragedy. Available in two-door coupe and convertible, the 3500 GT took production from a few dozen to a few hundred cars annually.

Noteworthy: Mohamad Reza Pahlavi (aka the Shah of Persia) wanted a road going GT with one of Masarati’s racing engines so they built him the 5000 GT with a 450S racing engine. This was a popular redesign and they sold another 33 of them over the next few decades.

Masarati also introduced four more models before 1967; the two-seater Mistral coupé in 1963 and Spider in 1964, the Quattroporte a sedan literally called the “four-door,” and the Ghibli coupé.

Citroën

To understand what happened in 1968 we need to know a couple things. First is that Alfieri Maserati, the families primary driver for racing, died in 1932. His brothers ran the business for another five years, before selling to Adolfo Orsi and family. the brothers stayed on with their company as engineers for another 10 years. After moving the headquarters from Bologna to its modern location in Modena, Orsi brought on engineer Giulio Alfieri, who not only contributed to winning racecars before 1957 but also lead the team who created the 3500 GT which saved the car company from going under when they left racing.

Tipo C114 Maserati V6 in a Citroën SM

Under Adolfo Orsi, in 1968, Maserati began a joint venture with Citroen to make engines for their new four-seat front-wheel-drive coupé called the SM. Citroen ended up in control of Maserati, but it wasn’t all bad. With stable Citroen financing and hydraulics and Maserati’s expertise and engines Alfieri was able to launch a series of ambitious designs.

This lead to four models, although the  Quattroporte II with it’s more powerful engine, was never put into full production do to financial issues.

The Fuel Crisis of the early 70’s destroyed the market for large engine touring cars. Citroen it’s self went bankrupt and reformed with Peugeot into a conglomerate to survive. In 1975 Citroen, announced a plan to liquidate Maserati, which the Italian government along with many local politicians fought as best they could. The plan was halted when a buyer came forward, saving 800 jobs.

 Alejandro de Tomaso was a racecar driver, turned industrialist, turned owner and designer of cars. He fired Alfieri on day one and produced at least three car models that relatively flopped. He finally had a win with the Biturbo, a compact front-enginerear-drive coupé in the 1980’s. The Biturbo used a V6 designed by Alfieri of course, and it became the basis for all the models of Masirati going forward for 10 years. The cars got snazzier names and sleeker designs, updated performance enhancement, but were all based in the same framework.

Noteworthy: Maserati competed fiercely to construct a V16 town car for Benito Mussolini before Ferry Porsche of Volkswagen built one for Adolf Hitler. This failed.

By 1989 De Tomaso bought the Italian government out of their share of his company. De Tomaso also owned a share of an Italian car and scooter maker called Innocenti, but the two companies remained separate. Fiat began buying both Innocenti and Maserati stock beginning the transition to a single car maker under Italian control and the Maserati name.

Maserati 3200 GT

On 19 May 1993, De Tomaso sold the last 51% of his shares to Fiat, who continued to build versions of the Biturbo for several years. Fiat had purchased majority control of Chrysler in 2011 as a result of their bankruptcy. So Chrysler was again in business with Maserati. As Citroën had joined PSA Peugeot Citroën this meant with the 2021 creation of Stellantis, Maserati was now entwined with nearly all it’s former partners save for De Tomaso. Maserati is the only company in the group to be quite so connected to all the partners independent of the final merger.

But first Ferrari?!?! Yep

Fiat pulled an interesting maneuver in 1997 selling 50% of Maserati to long-time rival Ferrari, which Fiat owned entirely. The result was a new factory to replace the 1940’s style factory and complete redesigns of each of their models. The new Maserati re-entered the American market which became it’s biggest cash cow. They also re-entered racing, winning the teams championship for world FIA GT championship three consecutive times in the early 2000’s.

4-door full-size saloon

In 2007 Fiat split Maserati away from Ferrari and joined them to Alpha Romeo, which finally started them making a profit. In 2010, Fiat through Abarth into the brand group but this didn’t result in shared technology or joint projects, although it did allow Maserati to focus on directly competing with Mercedes and BMW. As of 2014 Maserati had hit a market saturation point, where they would sell about 70,000 units a year. They decided to stay there, rather than create down-market versions of their cars to appeal to a lower price point.

What will be the fate of Maserati under Stellantis? There are are currently no big plans to change things, beyond of course creating EV versions of all their models.

Auto Makers: US Stelantis (Part 4C) 2nd half

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. We started with Ford and GM earlier this month. Now it’s time for the “parent company” car maker you’ve probably never heard of even though they are currently responsible for many long standing and household recognized brands.

Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

StelantisRecap from 1st Half

Vital Stats: 2021-Present, Headquartered in Amsterdam.

Ever heard of Stellantis? You’ve probably heard of Chrysler and assumed that was the third spoke in the US automotive “Big Three.” Stellantis formed in 2021 as a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation. In order to understand this merger you must first know what happened to Chrysler, detailed below, but in short it became the Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

FCA joined in a 50-50 cross-border merger with the French PSA Group. Upon forming Stellantis became the fifth largest automaker in the world, behind ToyotaVolkswagenHyundai, and General Motors. At the time of the merger, Stellantis had approximately 300,000 employees, and manufactured in 30 countries. Sales are worldwide in 130 countries.

Major brands include  AbarthAlfa RomeoChryslerCitroënDodgeDSFiatFiat ProfessionalJeepLanciaMaseratiMoparOpelPeugeotRam and Vauxhall. This article will focus on the US concerns since this is a US Automaker post. Other car makers will be covered with the respective countries where the brand is most commonly associated. For example, while Vauxhall has long been thought of as Chrysler of the UK most Americans are unfamiliar and unaware the brand even exists.

The deal is estimated to save the companies $4.22 billion. While the merger is thought of as 50-50 PSA got six out of the 11 board members and retained their CEO at the helm of the newly formed company. PSA shareholders paid a fee to acquire their shares in the new company which went to FTA shareholders to compensate them for differences in valuations. It looks to us like a David ate Goliath situation purely for the glory of becoming the #4 car maker in the world.

Jeep

Vital Stats: 1941-Present, Headquartered in Toledo, OH.
Formed by Willys-Overland in 1941.
Merged with Kaiser Motors in 1953.
Acquired by AMC in 1970.
Acquired by Chrysler in 1987.

This history of jeep is fascinating. The jeep is just different from the ground up from most other passenger vehicles. Unusual for a US maker–it’s headquartered outside Michigan. It’s an iconic shape that many automobile manufacturers around the globe feel free to replicate in some fashion. There is also military use which has come back in a manor of speaking.

During the 80 years since the first jeep was built their have been luxury versions, vans and even a truck. With roughly 2400 dealerships holding franchise rights to sell Jeep-branded vehicles if Jeep were spun off into a separate company, it would be a skosh bigger than Chrysler is without it (estimated value $22 to $33 billion). Let’s clear this up some.

The origin of the name is very fitting. You may be familiar with US military terms like FUBAR and SNAFU which go all the way back to WWI. Jeep was, prior to US entering WWII a slang term referencing something General Issue like soldiers and rifles. The term General Purpose got shortened to GP to Jee-P. The vehicle itself was a work horse and quickly became associated with the European view of American Soldiers–reliable, rugged, hard working, lacking refinement but able to get the job done when all means have failed. Jeeps quickly became the light military vehicle of choice for the allies and their military use spread around the globe over the next few decades.

Ford Pygmy

Jeep is not patented and trademarked as design or a term. Therefore jeep without a capitol “J” is the name of sports utility vehicles around the globe if they look like a Jeep. During WWII, a jeep was abandoned on a Japanese Island and the Japanese car maker Toyota created their own version, which explains the Landcruiser and FJ series from them. How in the heck does that happen? Prototypes are closely held secrets, what made Jeep a type of vehicle like pickup or sedan, instead of an exclusive model from one car company?

1940’s Willys Jeep

The origin of the design is found WWII. The US government saw a need for a lightweight 4×4 vehicle that could navigate bombed out roads and ford bridgeless streams. This would be a scout vehicle, capable of shuttling brass to strategic positions, or taking secret messages to command across apocalyptic terrain. They contacted 135 auto makers to compete for a contract. Their specs were so tough and the timeline, 49 days, so tight only two companies seized the chance to go after a lucrative military contract–American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland.

Bantam’s BRC 40

American Bantam recruited a designer, Karl Probst, who turned them down, but the government was able to twist his arm. He produced the design in two days using parts that were already manufactured so factories wouldn’t have to be retooled in order to begin production. The exception was the 4-whee drive drain which could be sourced by Spicer. `With plans submitted in 5 days, including blueprints and cost sheets, Bantam built their prototype by September 1940. It was perfect, except under powered. The other problem was that the Government doubted Bantam could make enough of the vehicles fast enough.

So the government essentially handed everything of to Willy’s who were already working on a prototype and Ford. Each produced independent prototypes and ultimately Willys married a “Go Devil” engine with the Bantam Design. It was heavier than initial specs but the government was happy with the final version. Willys granted the Government nonexclusive use of the design and the Government ordered 1500 vehicles from each of the three companies (Bantam, Willys, and Ford). After making 2600 jeeps Bantam switched to making trailers for the rest of the war.

Ford began stamping the F into many parts on the jeeps they made, so Willys-Overland followed suit. The Government eventually put an end to it, which likely lead to eventually creating a vehicle under the name Jeep in 1945–the Willys CJ-2A.

2022 Wrangler

640,000 Jeeps were produced for the war effort, and distributed to every branch of the US military, as well as the Great Britain and Russian allies.

Jeep imitations around the world include Delahaye and Hotchkiss et Cie, in France,  Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota in Japan, as well as pretty much every original Land Rover in the UK. In the Philippines abandoned jeeps were turned into taxis, often expanded to hold more passengers and later decorated with wild colors. These Jeepneys are part of the culture in the Philippines. In Iceland, the word Jeppi (derived from Jeep) is the general term for an SUV.

Eugene The Jeep

Surplus jeeps sold well in the US after WWII and Willys-Overland tried to grab the Jeep name touting their contribution to the original design and project. The Federal Trade Commission wasn’t buying it. So Willys staked their claim by being the first to market a Civilian Version, their CJ in 1945.

In the end, we can’t even be sure that the term jeep comes from GP as often claimed, as early as 1936 a comic book publisher named Popeyes pet “Eugene the Jeep” created by E. C. Segar.

Ram Trucks

Vital Stats: 2012-Present, Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, slogan “Guts. Glory. Ram.”

If the Ram story seems suspiciously short at 12 years, it’s because Ram was a brand under the Dodge marque prior to being spun off. Ram “Classic” trucks are made at the Warren Truck Plant in Warren, Michigan and at the Saltillo plant in Saltillo, Mexico. New series Ram pickups are made at Sterling Heights Assembly in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

In 2009 Chrysler emerged from chapter 11 a restructured company with Ram, Jeep, Dodge, SRT and Chrysler divisions under their own brand identities and management.

Traditionally, Dodge kept their light truck and other vehicle divisions somewhat separately branded from their cars. For example outside the US they used “Fargo Trucks.” So the idea of individual branding for Ram trucks isn’t a new concept to the company. In this case, it reflects certain opportunities that came with Fiat’s involvement and the departure of Diamler’s involvement.

2022 Ram 2500

Specifically, Dodge car division wants to go after hip, cool, and trendy buyers, while Ram Truck is targeting “Real Truck” customers. Ram is well aware of people who by a truck for the look with functionality an after thought. Given that Fiat owns Iveco who makes powerful commercial hauling vehicles, Ram is able to cozy up to a buyer seeking a functional pickup that looks cool as a happy side effect.

Noteworthy: The 1996 film Twister used a red 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck as the storm-chasing vehicle. 

The long history of Dodge and trucks is spoken to in our post on Dodge. The first-generation “Ram trucks” were introduced in October 1980 and featured a Ram hood ornament first used on Dodge vehicles from 1932 until 1954.

Cummins B Series engine added to the engine lineup in 1989 gave Dodge their first big commercial success as their direct fuel injection didn’t require “glow plugs” like the Ford and GM Diesel trucks did.

Ram got some bad press from their  Super Bowl LII commercial featuring a speech from MLK Jr. in which he actually disapproves of advertisers. One of many examples of marketers attempting to be edgy only to dive headlong across the line of good taste.

Dodge Ram went through 4 generations of development dabbling in a modular design, but mainly optimizing engine, axels, drive trains, transmissions and ultimately giving the entire division a facelift for a consistent and cool new look. In a way, Dodge positioned Ram for success through decades of experimenting and the only thing Dodge couldn’t do for the Ram Truck has now been done by Stelantis through some savvy cross pollinating with other existing brands under their new umbrella.

Ram Trucks likely have a bright future in a competitive US Truck market.

 

Rare Auto Makers of the UK (Part 3b)

As with every nation known for making cars, the UK has quite a few small makers that are worth taking note of. Unlike most nations most of the smaller auto manufacturers seem to start their name with an “A.” Just kidding, although you’ll see it’s sort of true. We hope you enjoy this brief list of them. If you know of some we missed please comment. (PS yes, I know the picture says part 3a. Again I recycle the graphics for the rare makers.)

AC

AC Cars Ltd was one of the first car makers of Great Britain. It makes sports cars set apart by excellent dynamics and racing qualities. AC stood for Auto Carriers Ltd. in the beginning. Around 1901 the Weller brothers began tinkering with a making a car, a 20 HP touring car which they presented at the Crystal Palace motor show in 1903.

Their business manager and financial backer, John Portwine, was a butcher by trade. He didn’t want to take that full car into production. It was too big and only useful as a passenger vehicle. So they decided to crate a 3 wheeled delivery vehicle first.

In 1904 the company, now names Autocars and Accessories, debuted a very popular single seater with a cargo box behind it. Three years later they made a version available with a bench seat in place of the cargo box, called the sociable.

1927 Royal Saloon Car

The company became Auto Carriers Ltd. in 1911, adopted their round logo, and produced their first four-wheeled car in 1913. WWI put the company on hold for a bit. In 1921, Selwyn Edge (previously of Napier), pushed the John’s Weller & Portwine out of the company, renaming it to AC Cars Ltd. and began promoting the car through racing.

Sales declined and the company was bought out by the Hurlock family who had not interest in making cars. Hurlocks ran a successful haulage business and wanted the factory on High Street as a warehouse. They continued to service cars until they agreed in 1930 to start producing cars again. In 1932 they contracted with Standard to supply new chassis. The 2nd world war shut them down again, but after the war AC got a government contract to produce the odd-looking Thundersley Invacar Type 57. This crazy thing had a fibreglass-body, one seat, and a Villiers 2-stroke engines. This odd car was designed for wounded veterans, distributed for free to the disabled, and kept AC solvent for decades.

Invalid Car

Thus the company embarked on their continued journey as both an industrial/business car maker as well as a race/sports car maker.

As a race car maker they have a storied history including an early La Mans success but things really kicked into high gear when AC was approached by none other than Carol Shelby in 1961. He wanted to put a small block Ford Windsor V8 engine into an Ace chassis. The AC Ace could be a post unto itself having developed through a pattern of race team experimentation across Europe, which spawned production cars from AC based on the battlefield (racetrack) success of these modifications. (We say modification but don’t think they added a spoiler or something, we’re talking about rebuilds with new engines on an AC Chassis in some cases.)

The result of the Shelby collaboration also produced a set of cars (31 of them) that were ultimately sold to the public as Cobra 427 S/C. These cars sell for around $1.5 million if you can get your hands on one.

Arash

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest creature on Earth and putting it’s image on the Arash emblem was a bold statement about the type of car Arash Farboud was going to make. Starting in 1999 Farbound committed to a new era of power and convenience in sports cars. Originally Farboud Limited, (name changed in ’06) Arash Motor Company makes Supercars and Hypercars based in Newmarket, Suffolk, England.

AF8

Of course it wouldn’t be a British car company without more drama than a high school cheer squad. So here is the short version. Arash’s first design, the Farboud GT, garnered a lot of attention at its debut in Birmingham NEC Autosport Show, but his second car, the Farboud GTS became a sought after design–by other designers. Chris Marsh worked for Arash (sales and marketing) and became obsessed with the car. Arash granted him licence to the shape allowing Chris to switch out he engine, stream line the doors and improve the interior, which gave the engine a link to bio-fuel. After trying to re-brand the car as “the Fangion” after deceased Argentine F1 racer, but being stopped by the family, Chris renamed it “the Farbio.”

Farbio GTS

Arash sold his shares of Farbio to Michael Simmonds, who later sold to Laurence Tomlinson of Ginetta fame, who kept the design and renamed the car the Ginetta F400.

Arash retained 100% of what is now Arash Motor Company and went on to design more fast and powerful cars–the AF10 (2009) and AF8 (2016). The AF10 is 7.0-litre V8 engine producing at least 500bhp. The AF8 is a mid-engined 7.0-litre V8 engine producing 505bhp (Brake Horsepower).

Ariel

You might think of Arial the Bicyle and later motorbike maker in Bournbrook, Birmingham, but we are talking about the tiny maker of cars in Crewkerne, in SomersetEngland, where a team of 7 to 30 people makes about 100 cars a year.

Founded by Simon Saunders in 1991, Arial makes 4 different designs.

The Atom is an extremely light, high performance car, with unique “exoskeleton” design, (no bodywork or roof) its built entirely around the tube chassis, making it weigh less than 500 kg (1,102 lb). If you want to look like you’re driving an F1 Racer on the street, the Atom is your only choice as there are no other street legal cars of this design. Powered by a Honda Civic Type-R engine and gearbox the 3.5R supercharged model will get you around 700 bhp per ton!

The Ace is Ariel’s attempt at a bike, which could be confusing given the historic bike maker mentioned above. It’s powered by a Honda 1237cc V4 engine and gearbox.

The Nomad can be thought of as an off-road version of the Atom. This road-legal buggy only produces 235bhp.

In August 2017, Ariel announced their electric sports car, called HIPERCAR (High Performance Carbon Reduction), APM200 electric motors, supplied by a Norfolk-based electric bus maker.

Ascari

Ascari Cars Ltd. is a producer of sports cars based in Banberi, UK. The company was founded by Dutch millionaire Klaas Zwart. The company is named after two-time F1 world champion Alberto Ascari (1918—1955).

Very little is known about Ascari. They established in Dorset originally, in 1994. In 2000 they built their new facility in Banbury in northern Oxfordshire.

Its first limited-edition car, the Ascari Ecosse, (1998). Ascari’s second car, the Ascari KZ1, was developed at Banbury, which also housed Team Ascari’s racing assets. The premises are now occupied by Haas F1 Team, of Newman Hass fame. We wouldn’t mention them at all if they stuck to race cars, but they did have a 2005 road-going version called the Ascari KZ1-R version of the A410 race car.

A full list of their cars and versions can be found at this link. Very pretty web surfing for folks like us.

Bristol

Bristol Cars is technically defunct in our opinion, though you could see some of their cars on the road if you get lucky. The manufactured a very small number of “deluxe” class cars by hand until March of 2011 when they suspended manufacture, changed their board members and fired 22 employees.

Bristol Cars was born out of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1945 when the war effort would no longer be buying warplanes. Much of Bristol was bombed during WWII so the entire area was being remade and modernized.

Bristol Bullet

Interestingly, a new company was formed in 2011 to sell off components of the old one. The new company is owned by  Kamkorp Group, and mainly operated to service units it had previously sold. In 2018 they began talking about a new flagship cars design called the “Bullet” a two-seat, open-top sports car  which commemorated their 70th year as a company. Power is sourced from a naturally aspirated 4.8-litre BMW V8 producing 400 bhp, an tribute to their the Bristol 405 Drophead coupé. At least 8 completed chassis with BMW V8 before the company again dissolved without going into full production.

Lesser Known Japanese Car Makers (P2B)

I know the picture says Part 2 A, I stole a picture from myself to save time. We really needed to get straight into the fun part of the post which is car makers in Japan you have likely never near of.

Daihatsu

Officially founded in 1907, Daihatsu Kogyo Co. Ltd., is now a subsidiary of Toyota specializing in vehicle for export to more than 100 countries. This company LOVES their symbolism. Whether it’s their name, a combination of two hieroglyphs which together mean Osaka Production of Engine, or the illustration of their history which can be found at the website they created to celebrate their 110th birthday.

Why are they not listed as one of the oldest car companies in Japan when they were founded in 1907? The simple answer is that they got their start on a college campus as a partnership between Japanese businessmen and students and teachers of technology. The focus was on producing engines in Japan, including steam engines for use on boats–a more practical use of energy at the time.

Fuso

From the Website and the Logo you might be tempted to believe that Fuso is another subsidiary of Mitsubishi, and it is, except that currently the German car Company Daimler owns about 90% of the stock. Fuso makes buses and trucks since 1920’s as well as chassis for vans and the Fuso Canter pictured here.

Mitsuoka

Mitsuoka holds the record for having the creepiest logo. Susumu Mitsuoka founded the company in 1968, originally to do repairs and pre-sale prep, but they’ve quickly evolved to one of the most original car designers on the market. As for the logo, what’s officially described as “white figure “eight” and star inside a circle is depicted against the blue background” that’s instantly recognized by drivers all over the world, looks to us like something from the “Blair Witch Project.” But you tell us, love it or hate it, leave a comment.

Scion

Founded in 2003, Scion is a wholly owned concern of Toyota, making cars only for the American market. Translated, “scion” means Heir, but the logo was designed in California to appeal to surfers and water skiers. They offer only one configuration of each car model. Their flagship models are the SCION FUSE and SCION T2B.

Hino

If Hino is a new one for you, that’s not surprising. Most American drivers are commuters or sports enthusiasts. Hino is Japans leading truck manufacturer. How they got there is interesting. In 1942 Hino Heavy Industry Co., Ltd, split from Diesel Motor Industry Co., and dropped ‘heavy’ from their name after WWII. A few years after than they began to focus on their diesel truck and bus production. Now they’re totally owned by Toyota.

The How And Why Of Airbags

Why exactly were airbags invented? In 1952 John Hetrick suffered a crash in Pennsylvania after avoiding a deer and collided with a large rock. He wondered if cars could come with a safety cushion. He created a design on his kitchen table which sounds romantic but was probably just somewhere he went to design things.

Crash Detection

The first crash detection system was invented in 1967 by Allen K Breed, an electromechanical system which involved a ball-in-tube inflating an airbag via a magnet.

LBJ

Lyndon B Johnson said in a speech that all cars should have airbags as early as 1969. Despite this, it seems that airbags have been far from top priority for driver’s safety.

When a few of them were rolled out in the 1970s they ultimately weren’t seen as customer friendly until the 1990s. This is because using an airbag was likely to lead to secondary injuries until a less rigid version was created in 1991 which was safer to use.

A 1973 Chevrolet Impala had driver side airbags. They only lasted until 1977, the manufacturers saying that hardly any consumers were interested. Ford and GM would lobby against airbags as both unfeasible and impractical for a number of years. The first brand to make airbags standard from 1988 was Chrysler but they were very much in the minority.

Another Annoying Factor: Sensor Lights

There are many reasons why the sensor light will come on, one of them is driving through a ford or a flood. Whatever the reason, it should be checked out. The light may be red or yellow and may be flashing, depending on the car make. The location of the sensor also varies.

There was a time when manufacturers insisted that airbags should be replaced after 15 years, which still seems a reasonable amount of time when you think about it, but this is no longer the case. However, it is more important to check sensors on older air bags as wrong deployment can create injury and cause accidents.

Deployment Control

Exactly when and how airbags are deployed depends on the ECU (electronic control unit) which monitors the type of collision, the angle of impact and severity. A special algorithm works out if the factors for deployment have been met and which airbags should be deployed. It works by pyrotechnics, that is a small explosion, powered by backup battery.

Modern Airbags

Up to 10 airbags can be fitted in a modern vehicle, the most common being the driver and passenger. The principle of the airbag is to absorb energy and they are considered passive restraints in that they are not activated by the passenger.

Cars don’t especially need side airbags, but many manufacturers fit them anyway. Engineers are always coming up with new types of airbags such as rear curtain airbags and far-side airbags.

They still aren’t without incident, some people have been killed by airbags, mostly shorter people as they have to sit closer to the steering wheel. Unfortunately, these problems have yet to be resolved as of time of writing.

The Love of Three Wheeled Cars

Is a three-wheeler a car, or a bike? It depends on who you ask.

Designs of three wheeled cars vary, some are similar to motorized tricycles, some are more van-like, there are also those which are unmotorized as such.

How do cars stay upright? Why don’t they just fall to one side? They have the plus point of lower production costs, fewer parts to buy and less time to assemble, though the chassis must surely cost more than a traditional chassis.

Due to the CanAm Spider, people think three wheeled cars are a comparatively recent invention, but they have a long history.

Historically, the big reason for a three wheeled vehicle is to avoid special taxes levied on cars. And that continued to be the case for many centuries, at least in the UK.

Early Three Wheeled Cars

The first three wheeled car was powered by steam. It was hard to manoeuvre and crashed into a wall; not surprising as the intricacies of driving were a mystery at this point. It did however have a poor distribution of weight.

Morgan 3 Wheeler

Karl Benz invented the first motor car with three wheels but only 25 were sold between 1886 and 1893. It could be thought of an idea before its time.

Henry Morgan used a two-cylinder Peugeot engine and although he originally wished to manufacture a motorcycle he decided instead to turn it into a three wheeled car. It was first shown in Olympia in London during 1910.

There were a number of teething troubles, the public was looking for a vehicle which had more than one seat and Morgan had designed a one seat car. Unbowed, he went back to basics and produced a two-seater three wheeled car for 1911 which in turn was sold by Harrod’s department store.

Reliant Robyn

The Bond Minicar and the BMW Isetta were produced just after the second world war. Most drivers preferred the Mini as a smaller vehicle but there was always a niche market of buyers. Isetta is a bubble car company originating in Italy but other countries such as Argentina, France and UK built it under license. The company originally manufactured refrigerators.

The Campaigna T-Rex is a sleek Canadian car powered by a BMW engine. It first hit the market in 1996. Its balance is maintained by having two strong wheels in front. It produces 160hp, not bad for such a small vehicle.

Polaris Slingshot

The story of the Reliant Robin originated in the work of a bicycle company (Raleigh). The design of the car was created by Ogle Design, a famous car and transport design consultancy company which also created Triumph motorcycles and Chopper bikes. Although the company was founded in 1935 it didn’t produce a car until 1952. The last three wheeled car was produced in December 2011.

Next, we have the Polaris Slingshot which uses a four cylinder engine sourced by General Motors. This one has 173 horsepower, the first model unveiled in 2014. Should you wish to open it up it is helpful to know that it has a 5-speed manual transmission. It is marketed as a three wheeled motorcycle, rather than a car.

It does seem somewhat of a shame that three wheeled vehicles haven’t yet passed into the mainstream despite the many fans of these vehicles.

General Motors Throughout The World

Detroit Renaissance Center

It should come as little shock that the biggest factory in Detroit, based in the Renaissance Center, belongs to General Motors but this isn’t their only plant. How much does it account for in the grand scheme of their manufacturing and just how did GM become such a major player?

Plant Locations:

There are hundreds of factories around the world employing tens of thousands of people. The size of the GM payroll and how widespread it is, could be a reason they’re a major player. Let’s take a closer look at some of these locations.

In the US:

There are more than 100 facilities in cities across the US, including Arlington and Bay City. Of specific note is the Cadillac. These include assembly plants as well as part stamping plants, propulsion component and battery plants. Most, however, are distribution centers. Still, they’re vital parts of the local economies as it gives smaller communities a tie into a global product.

In the internet age it’s hard to grasp how difficult it was for a smaller city to bring in big business with international sales. It took something that required a lot of parts and that sold all over the world in high volume. This could be one reason GM is considered a major player.

Equinox

The GM Defence Concord Facility makes vehicles especially for the army. They have a factory in North Carolina which was previously used to make Chevrolets. GM has a long tie with defense contracts which could be another reason they’re a major business.

Mexico

There are several factories in Mexico, including the Equinox and the Trax. Vehicles such as the Saab and the Oldsmobile used to be made in Mexico. They also make pickups and various other trucks.

Canada

1907 McLaughlin

The link between GM and Canada has a long vintage; all the way back to 1907 when McLaughlin and Buick were contracted to make Buick cars. After successfully making Buicks for several years McLaughlin sold Buick stock in order to obtain a foothold into GM stock. McLaughlin joined GM Detroit, forging a strong link.

The GM’s main center is called the Canadian Regional Centre and works with many countries around the world. Although you may hear of some factories closing, such as one in 2017 it still makes cars such as the Chevrolet and the Pontiac.

Brazil

’78 Opala

General Motors do Brasil began in 1925. It did final assembly from various parts imported from the US and was based in the city of San Paolo. The first car produced was an Opala, a type of Chevrolet.

One million Opalas were made in Brazil, and it was even used by the Brazilian police as well as the taxi service. The name comes from Opal, a German subsection of GM. The first version was a 4-door sedan and was available in “Especial” (Special) and “Luxo” (Deluxe).

Europe

In Europe the General Motors brand has been less than successful with names such as Opel and Vauxhall not actually capturing the public imagination. People seem to prefer the German cars-those being BMW, Merc and VW. The business was eventually sold to the PSA Group who own such names as Citroen and Peugeot.

This was GM cutting their losses—no real way to hide it – and what a loss. According to official figures the venture eventually lost $39 billion. Only a major player can lose $39 billion and survive.

China

In China things appear so much better with promising sales on Buicks, Chevrolets and Baojun and Wuling. Don’t recognize those last two? Don’t feel bad they’re clearly not available in your market. There are several other vehicles brands Westerners won’t recognize.

Baojun Advertisement

Wuling originally made very small vans until it joined with GM in 2002 where it began to manufacture small trucks as well.

Baojun was created a few years after Wuling (in 2010) with the goal to create what was known as “farmer’s cars.” It’s first vehicle looked like a cross between a Chevrolet and a Daewoo and the latest vehicle is a MPV – multi-purpose vehicle with seven seats. They have to their name, a number of crossovers, compacts, and electric vehicles. There are so many Baojuns out there that they could have their own article.

Wuling

If you own a new car in North America, South America or China then the chances are that it’s a General Motors vehicle. The magnitude of the company cannot be easily stated.

Editors Note: Here at the Kicker we’re working with the descendants of legendary Harley Earl to get a story about the early days of GM. His official story can be seen in the documentary, “Fins,” the making of which has tied up our dig into this era of GM (they had the exclusive scoop). But there is more to the story than the film reveals so we’ll be coming to you soon with more on the era of GM’s hay day.

The Glory Days of AMC Cars

Pacer not a Pinto

Without a doubt, the golden era for AMC was the 1970’s, and we mean golden in more ways than one.

A report by the CAP-HPI around five years ago suggested that AMC seventies models with a copper bronze hue or even custard yellow were on the way up. Despite the car industry changing in the intervening years many cars of this vintage remain popular.

Side Note: CAP produces a black book analyses the used car market, similar to Kelley Blue Book only based on large scale market.

Setting Themselves Apart:

AMC, American Motor Corporation, looked to be different than other automakers and came up with an SUV style vehicle, the Eagle. It looked like a cross between an all-terrain vehicle and a passenger car, with a long hood but about the same size as a VW Beetle. They were manufactured by AMC & Chrysler between 1979 and 1987.

It had the alternate name of the Eagle Wagon which makes sense if you see one. According to an article written for Newsweek in 1979 it was the only four-wheel drive passenger vehicle made at the time. It could also be thought of as the first crossover.

Was this a gamble? Possibly, after all there was no established market for such a car. There doesn’t appear to be a genuine effort at market research on AMC’s part, only a prediction that “consumers would embrace a vehicle with the comfort of an automobile (sic) but with capabilities of an all-terrain vehicle.”

The design came from Ray Lunn who was the chief designer for the AMC Jeep. It was given the convoluted code name of “Project 8001 plus Four.” Having a uni-body was vital to the design; a unitized body means a vehicle frame or chassis is purpose made for the car in question. Unibody was not a common thing in ATV’s of the time, since people who like to take their cars off-road also like to pound out dents from going off road—not a strength of the unibody design.

Other AMC Oddities:

In perhaps the weirdest product crossover some Hornets and Gremlins could be ordered with denim interiors in the 1970s created by jean manufacturer Levi. It can’t be the best substance to keep clean though.

The AMC Hornet shouldn’t be confused with the Green Hornet or the Hudson Hornet. As with most of the cars referred to here, it was only produced in the ‘70s. A compact which came as either a sedan, or a station wagon. The Hornet had the same platform as the Gremlin, the Eagle and the Spirit, among others.

Gremlin

The Gremlin has a reputation as an ugly and therefore bad car. In fact, gremlins are mythical creatures that destroy machines so it’s a terrible name for a car line. The truth is the Gremlin was ahead of its time; a sub-compact manufactured in both the US and Mexico by AMC. It was produced a long time before the 1985 film of the same name.

What’s a Matador?

Today we might honestly ask that, but ironically an AMC 1970’s advertising campaign asked, “What’s a Matador?” The twist is that at the time AMC Matador was the car to have, superseding the AMC Rebel. A two-door hardtop, it had the export name “Rambler Matador.” They also became the car used by the LA Police Department for a while.

(Trivia section: What car did the AMC Matador replace? The answer is below.)

One way that the costs were kept down in AMC cars was having parts such as the distributor, starter and carburettor shared with companies like Ford. Not many people realise that AMC manufactured engines for other company’s cars when practical.

In the end, AMC was purchased in 1987 by Chrysler who continued some of the car lines for a few years and then phased them out.

Answer to the question above: The AMC Matador replaced the Plymouth Satellite as the car used by the LA PD.

The Origin Of Trucks

Benz-Gaggenau BL 10 platform truck

Firstly, where does the word truck come from? It appears it was first used for the wheels on a ship’s cannon and was extended to carts carrying heavy loads. Before gas powered trucks were steam trucks, though they weren’t that widespread.

While vehicles remained expensive, luxury items, the truck wasn’t that popular either. There were many cheaper ways to transport goods – carts, canal boats, railways and so on.

The first trucks had wooden wheels clad in iron. The Phoenix was a later model, a converted car that ran on coal gas, lamp oil as well as gasoline.

Early Trucks

Karl Benz came up with the first truck in 1895 which was in turn altered to become an autobus. In 1896 Gottleib Daimler produced a horseless wagon with 4hp. Although it was said to carry 3300 pounds many disagreed – presumably this was too much for them?

Because of the lack of interest in Germany Gottleib Daimler tried selling the product in England, as coke and coal was cheaper than in Germany. There may have been a speed issue too. Up to 1896 the speed limit was 4mph. It was advertised as being able to transport 1500Kg but it wouldn’t be until 1901 that a truck could outdo the steam alternative as a test run between a motor truck and a steam truck in Liverpool proved.

They would also be promoted in Paris by the French Automobile Club in 1898. The wooden wheels referred to above were a hazard as they were liable to catch fire.

Süddendeutsche Automobilfabrik’s truck used a steel frame and steel wheels along with wheels and pistons. Before that German trucks had used a belt drive.

Other versions were created by Peugeot and Bussing. Only after the Second World War were things like pneumatic tires and power brakes introduced. The diesel engine was introduced in 1923. All of these were styled as large delivery vehicles, not pick ups as we think of them today.

The First American Truck!

Autocar created the first truck in the US with a choice of either 5 or 8hp and two-cylinder engine in 1899.

The first pickup truck was “vehicle no 42” in 1896. After that a modified Ford Model T called The Runabout had a similar design. The first Chevy truck was created in 1918 also using the Model T chassis. The chassis would continue for some time, in 1935 the same chassis would be used to create a station wagon for Chevy, though they did need to alter the load bearing capabilities of the vehicle and remove some of the body panels. These were open-cab vehicles and included such items as specialist hickory wood wheels.

EV Trucks?

There were a number of electric trucks being produced as early as 1907 with strong suspension and gears, such as a 5-ton truck produced in Indianapolis.

Model T Tow Truck

Tow Trucks

The tow truck was created in 1916, basically from necessity. Created by Ernest Holmes in Tennessee it hooked up cars (either broken or crashed ones) using chains and pulleys to take them to the wreckers. The tow truck company and the associated wrecking business was taken over by Miller Industries.

The Volvo’s first truck in 1928 had a four-cylinder engine and although it was said only to allow 1,500Kg many people overloaded it with little side-effect.

The truck, like all early vehicle styles, was only finding its way at that point since there were no huge freeways and has come a long way since.

Exploring Cars on Various Islands

There are a number of islands that ban cars such as the Mackinac Islands which have to rely on bicycles and horses though they do allow snowmobiles during the winter months and a police car for obvious reasons. Apparently, a car was smuggled onto the island by the secret service in 1975. It was only there in case a quick getaway was needed for the president’s visit.

Although these islands without cars do seem idyllic this post isn’t concentrated on that specifically. More on that topic later though.

Islands that Embrace Cars

There are, after all, other islands which embrace the motor car such as Amelia Island, Florida. They are due to hold an automobile event in May. It includes an auction of various classical cars.

Peel P50 Microcar

Developed on the Isle of Man the Peel P50 microcar is the smallest car in production – though there have been smaller homemade (and garage made) cars. It is designed for an adult and a bag of shopping weighing 59 Kg or 130 pounds. Turning in an enclosed area is impossible, the only thing you can do is pick the whole thing up. It is road legal in the UK if not elsewhere.

Seguin Island in Paris, the site of a medieval abbey farm was the location of a Renault factory up until 2005 when the buildings were demolished and is now a cultural centre.

Shetland off Northern Scotland are to have electric cars powered by tidal power. This was created by Nova Innovation, though the charge point does resemble other electrical charge points.

A Portuguese island in the Atlantic – Porto Santo – charges up cars using solar power which in turn can add electricity to the grid (yes, it is still part of the electricity grid) and gives money back into the community.

For some islands, such as the Big Island, Hawaii renting a car seems to be the best way to get around. Even then you can’t go to such places as Mauna Kea or Green Sand Beach. If you wish to travel by public transport, there are taxis, Ubers and Lyfts available – though the latter is fairly new to the island and operates from the three main airports.

So, what about Car Islands that Don’t Work

So far, so picturesque. But the introduction of cars is bad news for paradise island in the Pacific such as the Marshall Islands or South Tarawa. These are littered with broken down cars, buses and even trucks left on the side of the road. You will also find the detritus of abandoned cars by the beach, which is sad as this is where it is believed to enter the ecosystem.

It’s not just vehicles obviously, but these items are highly visible. There’s no space to dump vehicles, the only real option is to export the car. Repairs that would otherwise be made are not carried out due to the lack of trained mechanics and car knowledge on the islands. It could be changed with a bit of training here, but even getting to the island is proving tricky nowadays.