Quand les constructeurs automobiles changent de nom

Voltswagen. The announcement made a lot of noise… it must have been the new name of the electric cars of the VW group in the USA… but it was above all an April Fool’s joke that came out early! For as many name changes among car manufacturers, it has already been seen.

Here we do not tell you about builders who have been absorbed by another. No, we are focusing on “strategic” name changes.

SS becomes Jaguar

It is one of the most famous name changes in the automotive world. And for once we see the logic going for miles!

In 1922 William Lyons and William Walmsley founded the Swallow Sidecar Company. It builds, as its name suggests, sidecars but very quickly the company is also tackling the car body. In 1934 they launched SS Cars and the following year the two partners separated. In addition to sports sedans, they produced a coupe the SS Jaguar 100. The war interrupted car production.

In 1945 it will be able to resume. On March 23, a general meeting of shareholders validates a name change. SS, which obviously refers to the Schutzstaffel, the shock troops of the Third Reich, suddenly we will keep the name Jaguar.

And even if in 2021 the brand has announced that it wants to turn to 100% electric, no new name change on the horizon.

Nissan and Datsun

The names Datsun and Nissan have been linked together for 100 years. Datsun makes cars, then trucks, then cars again. The brand was absorbed by Nissan in 1933. Nissan vehicles were then fitted to the Imperial Japanese Army… and this is once again what will impose the fact of having several names.

When Nissan wants to export cars, its name may not be very popular with American veterans. It is therefore Datsun that will be used for export, the same vehicles being Nissan in Japan.

In 1981 the group decided to abandon the name Datsun and all the cars were Nissan. Definitely? No, in 2013 Datsun was relaunched as a low-cost Nissan brand dedicated to “emerging” markets, particularly India and Indonesia, with rebadged Renault, Nissan and Lada vehicles.

Simca becomes Talbot

It is certainly the one that touched us the most in France. There you have to see two stories in parallel, that of Simca and that of Talbot.

In 1903 Adolphe Bayard, Clément-Bayard automobiles and Count Chetwynd-Talbot joined forces to manufacture Clément-Bayards in England. The brand was bought in 1919 by Darracq, the two bought Sunbeam and the whole became Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq. In 1934 it was Anthony Lago, a British man who bought the company, then in 1957, bloodless, he sold it to Simca who put the brand on hold.

On the other hand, it all began in 1926 with the creation of SAFAF, Société anonyme française des automobiles Fiat, which is a French subsidiary responsible for distributing Turin automobiles in France. Its director is also Turin: Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi. The latter will develop the company and after the crisis of 29 restored significant customs taxes, SAFAF began to produce its cars in France with many subcontractors.

In 1934, the Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile was founded, which set up a factory and began to produce French Simca-Fiat more seriously. We must wait for theDovetail so that we find a Simca that is not (totally) a Fiat in the range. Then the brand buys Ford France, recovers the Vedette and sells some shares in the oval. Fiat AND Ford are shareholders. Ford was replaced by Chrysler in 1958 but Fiat remains present. In fact, it was not until 1962 that Fiat did not sell its shares. Simca was then owned by Chrysler.

Chrysler will want to create a “European hub” with the English group Rootes and the Spanish Barreiros. However, the Pentastar is not investing enough and market share is declining. In August 1978 all European activities were sold to PSA. In July 1979 the name of Simca disappeared. In the dowry, PSA bought the name of Talbot which allows to draw a line on the previous adventure, especially since the last cars were Simca-Chrysler. Talbot will stop in France in 1986 and will continue in Spain and England, in particular on utility vehicles, until 1995.

From Daimler to Mercedes

It all started in 1882. Gottlieb Daimler separated from his partner Otto with whom they created Deutz. He moved into a villa in the suburbs of Stuttgart and the winter garden was used as a study office. He worked there with Wilhelmn Maybach and issued numerous patents for internal combustion engines using gas and then gasoline. It was the start of a great industrial adventure and the engines were used in cars, trucks, boats and airships. Licenses are also sold to Daimler USA, Daimler Motor Company in Great Britain and Austro-Daimler, a brand founded by the son of Gottlieb and Ferdinand Porsche.

In France the engines are manufactured by Panhard and Levassor while the cars are distributed in particular by Emil Jellinek on the Côte d’Azur. In 1902 he became the exclusive importer of Daimler Motoren Gesellshaft cars in France but also in Austria-Hungary, Belgium and the USA. He renames the cars after his daughter’s name: Mercedes.

The brand quickly established itself and we knew the Mercedes better than the Daimlers. Jellinek joined the board of directors of DMG and it was Paul Daimler who designed the three-pointed star in 1909. The cars produced were Mercedes and even the merger with Benz which gave Daimler-Benz AG only transformed the brand in Mercedes-Benz.

Volkswagen resurrects Audi

Mercedes is precisely one of the triggers of this story. The brand’s cars take up so much space that other German brands take offense. In 1928 DKW bought a small neighboring brand: Audi. Four years later the brand merged with Horch and Wanderer to create Auto Union. Four mark and a symbol with four rings. The production tool was rationalized and the Grand Prix successes of the 1930s brought the brand to the fore.

The post-war period is more complicated, only DKW is actually still standing, and in 1957 Auto Union is bought… by Daimler-Benz! However, the adventure will be short-lived since it was Volkwagen who bought Auto Union in 1964. Auto Union quickly faded and was replaced by Audi on the F103, a legacy of the group. The logo remains the one with four rings! The last DKWs disappeared in 1969 and VW would push Audi back up to the point of making it the premium manufacturer that we now know.


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