First Saturday In March

Most Saturdays this blog gets a little boost in readership as, apparently, some people still don’t realize that Cristy Lee is no longer part of All Girls Garage, which airs on Saturday. Where Is Cristy Lee? has accounted for almost two percent of all blog views so far in 2021. Of course, that’s only about half the proportion compared to 2020. Anyway, here is a recent photo of the aforementioned Ms. Lee:

 

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On this day in 1896 inventor, engineer and polymath Charles Brady King became the first person to drive a car in Detroit. King designed and built the automobile becoming the father, in a way, of the evolution of Detroit into “Motor City.”

The Detroit Journal interviewed King afterwards and he made a prescient comment:

 

“I am convinced they [horseless carriages] will in time supersede the horse.”

 

King would be a mentor to Henry Ford and Ransom Eli Olds. King would later go to Europe for two years to study automotive design. When he returned he founded the King Motor Car Company in 1911, which was, apparently, the first company to offer a V-8 engine. Company production reached 3,000 for model year 1916, but was severely affected by the post World War I recession. From 1912 through 1918, inclusive, King produced almost 15,000 cars.

Early in 1921, the assets of the company were sold to Charles Finnegan of Buffalo and the company headquarters were moved there in 1923. However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1924. From The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile a picture of a 1912 King:

 

 

I think only the most knowledgeable of automotive historians are aware of King and his contributions to the industry. I was only vaguely aware of him until today and, I guess, don’t really know that much about him even now.

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On this day in 2017 General Motors’ intention to sell its European Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary to PSA Automotive became official. General Motors acquired a majority stake in Opel (a German company) in 1929 and gained full control in 1931. Vauxhall (a British company) was acquired by GM in 1925.

Maybe I missed the coverage, but this is a big story in the history of the automobile industry that seemed to go relatively unnoticed. The sale basically represented GM’s “raising the white flag of surrender” in terms of Europe. Ironically, PSA Automotive very recently completed its merger with Fiat-Chrysler forming a new company called Stellantis. Of course, from 2001 through 2016 General Motors’ European operations lost money every year with a total deficit of more than $15 billion.

The two transactions by PSA Automotive supposedly signal an intention to return to the North American vehicle market. Peugeot and Citroën are part of PSA and neither make has been sold in the US for decades. Of course, Stellantis now “owns” the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands as well as Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Maybe Peugeot and Citroën will not be brought back to this market. Citroën has a history of being an innovator in the automobile industry.

Does anyone have any comments on these transactions, Stellantis or any related topic?

 

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4 thoughts on “First Saturday In March

  1. Stellantis

    It appears they are going to let Chrysler and Dodge die a slow death. FCA showed no interest in growing the brands and it seems Stellantis is following suit. I recently read that Dodge disbanded the SRT group, so no more performance development, at least for ICE. If those two brands do go away, that will be another sad day.

    Citroen, Peugeot and even Alfa have always been a “niche” market in the US and I don’t see that changing. Opel was pretty much the same, Kadett and GT notwithstanding.. I really can’t see any of them having any significant impact in the US market, except for perhaps as electrics.

    But what do I know. I’m just a knuckle dragging, unwoke, white hot rodder that likes old cars/trucks. Certainly not the target demographic for most new vehicles..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, DDM. It has been said that Fiat/Chrysler wanted this merger because they were way behind in EV development and wanted to “leapfrog” into competition. Of course, one could argue–and I have–that they were uniquely suited to having a market niche selling ICE vehicles, at least in the short and intermediate term.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting snapshot of the King Motor Car Company and its founder. I’ve never heard of him or his cars. I wonder if there are any examples of his product in museums or collections anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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