Our series on car companies with unusual names continues as we keep working our way through The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, today we start on Volume III:
Panache — “The Panache can rightly be said to have had absolutely none of the eponymous quality,” the Encyclopedia notes. It explains that Panache Cars of Blackburn, Lincolnshire, England, was an attempt at producing a car that looked like a Lamborghini Countach but was on a Volkswagen Beetle chassis.
Panther — Six different companies named themselves after the big cat. The various companies dated to as early as 1902 and were located in Germany, England, Italy and South Korea. Among their products was the late 1970s Panther Six, a six-wheel convertible with two front axles.
Parent — Nobody, it seems, wants to drive their parents’ car. In fact, Oldsmobile even used the advertising slogan, “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” in the 1980s. Turns out it wasn’t only the case in the late 20th century. French automaker Parent lasted only two years, 1913-1914.
Perfection — Based in South Bend, Indiana, from 1907-1908, Perfections cars likely didn’t live up to their name.
Phoenix — Between Fhenix, Phoenix and Phonix, there were 9 companies named for the bird that rose from the ashes.
Pullman — “The first car to bear the Pullman name was quite different from any of the others,” the Encyclopedia reports of a York, Pennsylvania, company that operated from 1903-1917. “Designed by A.P. Bromell, it was a 6-wheeler powered by a 2-cylinder engine which drove the center pair of wheels. The front and rear pair turned in opposite directions for steering… It was not a success.”
Quick — About the only thing quick about this New Jersey automaker was its demise. It announced plans to produce a car a day starting in December 1899 but closed in 1900, likely without producing even a single vehicle.
Rapid — Of the three car companies named Rapid, one did much better than Quick, or than the other Rapids. Rapid of Turin, Italy, was in business producing its vehicles, labeled Star, from 1905-1921.
Road & Track Le Mans Coupe — From 1957-1960, the American car magazine ran a series of articles about building a car to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Design of the fiberglass body was done by the famed Strother McMinn of the Art Center College of Design. “Several readers built cars to the R&T design, the Encyclopedia reports, although they used other chassis than the one recommended.
Silent Knight — Not to be confused with the Christmas song Silent Night, this car, produced from 1905-1907, took its name from one of its founders, Charle Yale Knight, and was the first car to use the sleeve-valve engine he invented. Though the Silent Knight was not a sales success, the engine would be used by Daimler, Minerva, Panhard, Mercedes, Stoddard-Dayton, Stearns and other automakers.
Sir Vival — Apparently a play on the word Survival, a prototype was displayed at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The car was produced by safety advocate Walter Jerome, who started with a 1948 Hudson sedan but was cut ahead of the passenger compartment. The car got an articulating front section designed to bend in a head-on crash, a wraparound bumper-car style bumper and “a raised driving tower.”
Splinter — From 1982-1990, Splinter Auto Works of Plymouth, Indiana, produced ash and marine birch-sided station wagons and pickup trucks based on Chevrolet Chevette chassis but with 1930s styling.
Standard — Pretty much the “standard” name for a car company, with 14 of them using that moniker between 1900 and 1980 to build cars in England, the United States, Italy, Germany, Austria and India.
Best known was Standard of Coventry, England, in business from 1903-1963. However, the most ahead of its time was Standard Gas Electric Power of Philadelphia, which operated only from 1909-1910 but which used an electric starter for its 4-cylinder engine 2 years before Cadillac and an electrically operated push-button gear selector 50 years before Edsel.