Have you seen the pre-Ford Mustang?

Our series on car companies with unusual names resumes at the letter L

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Mustang
Was Ford's Mustang Mach-E inspired by this 1948 product from Mustang Engioneering of Renton, Washington ? | Ford Performance photo

Our series on car companies with unusual names continues as we keep working our way through Volume II of The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile:

La Licorne, French for Unicorn, was produced in France until World War II | Joachim Kohler photo

La Licorne — La Licorne is French for The Unicorn. These cars “were little known outside France,” the Encyclopedia notes. However, the company was in business from 1901-1950 and produced cars “in reasonable numbers, and were not uncommon sights on French roads up to the mid-1950s, though serious production ended in 1939.” Company-founder and former bicycle racer J. Corre put his own name on the cars until switching the badge to Unicorn in 1907. 

Laurin & Klement — You may not be familiar with the original name of this automaker founded in 1905 in what was the Astro-Hungarian Empire, but you likely know Skoda, which took over after a fire destroyed Laurin & Klement’s factory in 1924.

Lincoln — No, not the car company that would become part of Ford, but the 6 other Lincoln carmakers that produced automobiles in the U.S., England and Australia from 1900-1926. Among them was Chicago-based Lincoln Motor Car Works which produced the Sears Motor Buggy for the catalog-sales specialist.

Liquid Air — This company, based near Boston, reportedly raised $1.5 million from investors in 1899 on the promise of producing cars propelled by liquid air. The premise was to contain air under so much pressure that it would liquify and, under expansion, drive a 1-cylinder engine.

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“However,” the Encyclopedia notes, “the efficiency of this system has been estimated at no more than 4 percent and it is unlikely to have propelled the car for any distance, if at all.” 

The company closed in 1900 showing only $7,500 left on its books.

Little — There was a Little Motor Car Company in Flint, Michigan, from 1912-1913, and elsewhere companies known as Little Detroit, Little Greg, Littlemac, Little Princess and Little Scotsman.

L.S.D. — No, not the psychedelic drug of the 1960s, but L.S.D. Motor Company of Yorkshire, England, which produced 3-wheelers from 1920-1924.

Merciless — Huntington Automobile of New York was founded in 1906 by former American Mercedes engineer John McMulkin, who selected Merciless for the name of its cars because it thought its cars were Mercedes-like and that Merciless might be confused with Mercedes. 

Merkel — You likely know of the Flying Merkel and other motorcycles produced by Joseph Merkel. But did you know he made two entries into automobile manufacturing? The first was done while his company was in Milwaukee, where he produced a runabout and tourers. He later moved operations to Ohio and tried again, this time producing only 2 examples and powered by a motorcycle engine.

Moose Jaw Standard — Believed to be the only car company based in Saskatchewan, Canada. In 1916, locals hired an engineer, acquired a factory and bought auto parts from American suppliers with plans to produce 25 luxury cars. Only 5 were finished, 1 each going to the largest investors.

This vehicle wore the Mustang badge before Ford’s version | Farber & Associates photos

Mustang — No, not as in the hugely successful Ford pony car, but as Mustang Engineering Corp. of Renton, Washington, which in 1948 produced a rear-engine sedan with a bus-like body made from aluminum. It had seats for 6 and entry via van-style doors on either side. Sort of like an early Ford Mustang Mach-E?

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Nameless — As the Encyclopedia puts it, “The founders of this company either lacked the imagination to think up a name for their car, or perhaps believed that Nameless would attract more attention.” It didn’t; the London-based company lasted only from 1908-1909.

No Name — This was a 2-seater produced for a few years in England in the early 20th Century.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This Mustang vehicle is so neat. I am reminded a bit of some aspects of the Tucker.
    Are there surviving vehicles?
    What would a nice one be worth? Who made their engine? Seems, like Tucker, ahead of it.s time.

  2. This Mustang, as unique as it is seems to be something that should a, could a, caught on but didn’t. Does anyone know were any of these ever produced ? Do any survive ? Has any changed hands, and if so for what kind of $ ?

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