Traveler struck out three times as a car company name

We end our drive through the world of forgotten car company names

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vespa
Vespa was known for scooters, but also produced the Vespa 400 automobile

Our series on car companies with unusual names continues as we complete our trip through the third of the 3 volumes of The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile:

Texan — Established in Fort Worth in 1918 to produce roadsters and touring cars, Texan Motor Car built only 150 of those before switching its production to the Light Oil Field Special, a light-duty truck equipped with oversized tires and designed for use in the state’s oil fields. 

Thrift-T — From 1947-1955, the Tri-Wheel Motor Corp. used facilities in North Carolina and Massachusetts to produce 3-wheel utility vehicles with 10-horsepower rear-mounted engines.

Tourist — You may not have heard of The Auto Vehicle Company, established in Los Angeles in 1902, but its Tourist cars were “the best-known West Coast make of the pre-World War I era,” the Encyclopedia notes. The company closed in 1910 after producing nearly 2,700 vehicles.

Traveler — This seems to be a great name for a car company and its products, but after three attempts — in 1907 in Ohio, 1910 in Indiana and 1913 in Detroit — all were gone by 1914.

Unique — The midst of a war may be a unique time to launch a car company, and The Motor Carrier and Cycle Co. of London and its Unique vehicle had only a short-lived run in 1916, in the midst of World War I.

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Venus fiberglass bodies were designed to fit over early post-war Ford chassis | ForgottenFiberglass.com

Venus — Produced only in 1954 in Houston, Texas, the Venus was a fiberglass-bodied, 2-seat, long-finned convertible designed to fit 1949-1951 Ford chassis. 

Vespa — You know Vespa for its motor scooters, but Piaggio used a factory in France to produce the Vespa 400, a 2+2 coupe with a rolltop roof, coil springs, hydraulic brakes and a manual gearbox. The car had a rear-mounted 2-stroke engine and a top speed of 55 mph. Some 34,000 were produced from 1957-1961.

Voodoo — Geoff Neale and John Arnold planned to produce cars in Warwickshire, England, and showed the first of their Voodoo vehicles at the Earls Court Motor Snow in 1971. But Arnold died and only 3 were actually produced.

Whisper — Great name for an electric vehicle, right? Established in 1984 in Denmark, Hope Automobil planned to produce 225,000 electric vehicles based on the Volkswagen Polo platform, rebodied with fiberglass coachwork. None were produced.

Wizard — According to the Encyclopedia, the Wizard Automobile Co. of Wizard, North Carolina, was a scam. There was no town of Wizard in the state, and although a few 15-horsepower 2-seat roadsters were produced in 1920-1921, the company quickly shut down.

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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.

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