The collection

Dutch brand DAF – Van Doorne’s Automobile Fabrieken – was founded in 1928 by Hubert Van Doorne for the production of trailers and semi-trailers. In 1950, the brand started producing automobiles, unveiling a 2-cylinder, air-cooled model, which was further improved from the 1960s onwards.


Dutch brand DAF – Van Doorne’s Automobile Fabrieken – was founded in 1928 by Hubert Van Doorne for the production of trailers and semi-trailers. In 1950, the brand started producing automobiles, unveiling a 2-cylinder, air-cooled model, which was further improved from the 1960s onwards.

All MAUTO brands

Ateliers de Constructions de Motocycles et Accessoires (ACMA) was a small French car and motorcycle manufacturer, active from 1949 to 1962. Founded by the Italian company Piaggio, just like SIMCA for FIAT, ACMA was an expedient to bypass the high custom fees of that period. In 1957 the company launched the production of a new micro-vehicle: the ACMA Vespa 400. However, the late market launch of this vehicle and the arrival of the Fiat 500 quickly put an end to its production.
This German company was founded by Heinrich Kleyer in Frankfurt in 1886 as a bicycle factory. Car manufacturing began in 1899 and continued until 1939 with a range of 25 models.
Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili was born in Milan, in the Portello district, on June 24th, 1910, on the ashes of the Italian branch of Darracq. Since the beginning, the company produced vehicles with a clear sports imprint, and it survived WWI thanks to the intervention of Nicola Romeo, who gave the brand the second part of its name. In 1925, it conquered the first World Championship for Grand Prix vehicles and during all of the ‘20s and ‘30s it knew few rivals among single-seaters and especially among sports cars, as it collected 11 victories in the Mille Miglia race. In 1933, it passed under government control and launched the production of aeronautical engines and trucks. After WWII, it conquered the first two World Championships of the newborn Formula 1 race; then it focused on industrial production. 1900, Giulietta, Giulia, Alfetta, and many others, including the debut, among compact cars, of Alfasud, produced in a new plant in Pomigliano d’Arco. In the meantime, also Arese and the modern private test track in Balocco came to life. In the ‘60s, Alfa Romeo comes back on track with Autodelta: two more Sports World Championships and the return to the top league, besides dozens of Touring titles. Crisis hit Alfa Romeo in the ‘80s and in 1986 it was sold to Fiat.
Alfa Romeo
Ansaldo was one of Italy's largest engineering groups, dating back to 1853, with interests in ordnance, railway locomotives, shipbuilding and aero engines.
Founded in Turin in 1905 by marquis Pallavicino and by a young engineer who would reach great fame, Giulio Cesare Cappa. Despite the early death of Pallavicino, Aquila went down in history for having experimented with brilliant innovations conceived by Cappa: aluminum pistons, monobloc engine, baty-carter, and, since 1915, electric starting and lighting systems. The company also had an intense racing activity, with drivers such as Meo Costantini, Eugenio Beria d'Argentina, and Giovanni Marsaglia. The outbreak of WWI imposed a difficult plant conversion. In 1917 Aquila Italiana was absorbed by SPA, after having produced about 1,500 cars.
Aquila Italiana
One of the biggest English car manufacturers, created in 1905 by Herbert Austin in Longbridge. Its history is marked by one runabout model - the Seven - produced without interruption for eighteen years, from 1922 to 1939. Although with different proportions in production volumes, Seven could be said to have played a similar role to the Ford T in promoting mass motorization (15 million cars produced of the American model, against 300,000 of the English model). In 1927, 70% of runabouts circulating in Great Britain were Sevens, and out of the 38,000 cars produced by Austin that year, 20,000 were Sevens. After the Second World War, the company merged with Nuffield, and in 1952 the B.M.C. - British Motor Corporation – was founded.
Autobianchi was born in 1955 thanks to the initiative of Bianchi’s general manager, engineer Ferruccio Quintavalle, who, with the aim of rescuing the factory Fabbrica Automobili e Velocipedi Edoardo Bianchi from its post-war difficulties, decided to propose the foundation of a company producing runabouts to FIAT and Pirelli. Thus, Autobianchi was born, with a share capital of 3 million lire, divided equally among the three partners. The production plant was in Desio, and was owned by Bianchi. After the production of very successful models, like the Bianchina and Primula, in 1968 Fiat Auto spa incorporated Autobianchi. Yet some successful models were still launched, such as the A111 and especially the A112, the latter produced until 1986. The most recent model is the Y10, which since 1995 has been marketed by Lancia.
First car builder in the world to produce cycle-cars; in fact, Bedelia introduced the concept itself. Cycle-cars are very small and simple vehicles, often characterized by two tandem seats. In 1909, Robert Bourbeaux and Henri Devaux, both aged 18 at the time, take a ride on their motorcycle outside the city limits, but they have an accident and destroy the bike. Consequently, they decide to build one themselves, giving free rein to their engineering talent. The final result was not a motorcycle, but rather a peculiar vehicle with an unseen 2 seats-in-tandem configuration, made even more unique by the fact that the driver was seated behind the passenger. After this model, they designed and produced other cycle-cars. However, when Bedelia (the name includes the founders’ initials) started to manufacture more conventional vehicles, it was unable to stand the competition. The company disappeared from the market in 1925.
Together with Rolls-Royce, Bentley embodies the pinnacle of British luxury motoring, and it is no coincidence that the destinies of these two prestigious English marques became entwined and shared the same path for a remarkable 67 years, even though the name Bentley has always been more associated with sportier performance. The founder of the brand was the prolific and successful engineer and driver Walter Owen Bentley (1888-1971).
One of the most ancient car companies in the world, created by German engineer Karl Benz, widely considered as the father of automobiles, who, with his 1886 “Patent Motorwagen” presented the world with the first car available on the market. His business, founded in 1883 in Mannheim, experienced an initial golden era in the beginning of the 20th century, and was then merged with Daimler in 1926, thus giving birth to the giant Mercedes-Benz.
The car built in Padua in 1894 by Enrico Bernardi (Verona 1841-Turin 1919) is essential to Italian automobile history, because it was the first car ever to be produced in Italy. It is a three-wheel model with a single horizontal cylinder engine, three forward gears and the reverse gear, and single chain drive. This vehicle was an accomplished industrial product, the result of precise and deep engineering research, which placed Bernardi alongside Etienne Lenoir, Nicolaus August Otto, Karl Benz, and Gottlieb Daimler, that is, the greatest forerunners of car manufacturing in Europe.
In the days when the Italian automotive industry was still populated by a multitude of competing manufacturers, Fiat was considered the biggest, and the producer of more affordable cars, Alfa Romeo was known for its fast sports cars, Lancia was associated with elegant, well-crafted cars, while Isotta Fraschini was the nation’s equivalent of Rolls-Royce. In this scenario, the Milanese Bianchi brand soon established a clearly defined image for itself as a manufacturer of cars of substance that offered elegance without ostentation, dependable, intelligently designed mechanicals, and robust, well-built bodywork.
BMW - Bayerische Motoren Werke, that is, Bavarian Motor Factory – was born as an aircraft manufacturer in 1913 and only later converted to car production, starting with the production of small cars under British licence. More than a century after its foundation, today BMW is generally considered the first global manufacturer in the “premium” segment. And, together with Porsche, it is the only big global player in the automotive industry whose dominant shareholder is a family belonging to the great German industrial aristocracy, the Quandt family, who still today have full control over the company and play an active and crucial role in the strategic decision-making processes.
Founded in 1906 in Brescia, as an associate company of Züst, which produced large-sized vehicles, the company Brixia Züst had the task of producing a particular runabout model: the 14/18HP. But, in 1909, the unfavourable economic situation in the automotive industry led those partners who had seen the initiative more as a chance for speculation than a long-term investment to withdraw. This was the beginning of the dissolution of Brixia, which ended in 1912, with its absorption into Züst.
Brixia Zust
A glorious French car manufacturing company founded by an Italian, Ettore Bugatti, born in Milan. Initially, the company was Alsatian (German), from 1909 to 1914, but with the shift of the borders after the First World War, it became a French company. Its best form of advertising were its racing victories: from 1924 to 1927 Bugatti cars won 1,851 races, and, since they were road cars as well, the company sold as many as the plant was able to produce. Active from 1909 until the outbreak of WWII, it always had less than 1,000 employees, and the total production of its 16 main models has been estimated at 6,500 cars. Today, Bugatti is still synonymous of elegance, excellence and pure design.
One of the oldest brands in car history, it was created by Scottish-born David Dunbar Buick, who arrived in Detroit when he was two years old. More than 110 years since its foundation, Buick has produced 43 million cars, and is currently the premium brand of General Motors. Buick has the merit of having presented some of the most beautiful concept cars of the ‘50s, for example the Y-Job and the Centurion, as well as models with remarkable and long-lasting success, like the Riviera, the Elettra, or the Century. A company capable of big innovations, both in terms of design and technology, it stands strong today against Asian and European competition with models like the Enclave, the new luxury crossover.
US car manufacturer founded in Detroit on August 22nd, 1902. It takes its name from Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, the French explorer and soldier who, in 1701, founded Ville d’Etroit, the future city of Detroit. It is an important brand in automobile history, since it was the first to introduce certain important technical/stylistic innovations (for example the Model A, produced in 1903, already had an electric lighting system and 10 HP single-cylinder engine). Also, it introduced the method of “standardization”, which consisted in producing all parts in series to make them interchangeable and adaptable to every car of the same model. In 1910, it was the first company in the world to offer a series-produced sedan. In 1912, it was the first in the world to equip its vehicles with a modern electric system, including starter, ignition, and lighting system. In 1914, it made history producing the first serial car with an 8-cylinder engine. A stunning sequence of technical innovations, often crucial to the development of future car production all over the world.
Ceirano & C., Welleyes, F.lli Ceirano, STAR Rapid, Matteo C. & C., Itala, Ceirano-Ansaldo, SPA, Junior, SCAT, S.A. Giovanni Ceirano. Eleven businesses that share two common denominators: they were all founded in Turin and all born thanks to the initiative of one or the other of the Ceirano brothers. It is not easy to plunge into the lives and hectic activities of these four brothers, nor to distinguish the specific contribution of each of them. They were born in a Piedmont family, more precisely from Cuneo.
Cisitalia is a car company founded by Piero Dusio and Piero Taruffi in Turin in 1946. It produces exceptional vehicles, both from the stylistic and technical point of view. It went down in history for having given the world unforgettable vehicles, based on the unique combination between advanced technology and pure design, for having conceived and built an extraordinary Formula 1 vehicle, for having presented the 202, the granturismo berlinetta which, thanks to Pininfarina, entirely revolutionized car design by proposing shapes that anticipated the general stylistic evolution by at least ten years. In its short but legendary life (until 1952) Cisitalia produced less than 300 cars in Italy, but despite the limited quantities, its heritage and influence are still inestimable.
In 1902, in Paris, a gear workshop was born bearing the name of its founder, André Citroën, a motor and mechanics enthusiast. A cusp gear became the logo of this company, whose first car model, the Type A, was launched on the market right after the First World War, in 1919. Citroën was the first car company to also deal with the commercial aspects of car manufacturing in a modern way; instalment loans, a system of exclusive dealers and sales networks, and, above all, an advertising strategy that was completely new at the time and became a distinctive sign of the company as well as an example to everyone else in the industry. Already in the 1920s, also thanks to these features that made it unique, the French company became the leading car company in Europe in terms of sales. The big success arrived with the Traction Avant (1934), the first European mass-produced car with front wheel drive. It was produced for more than 20 years and then replaced by the Citroën DS (1955). However, the company’s all-time big success would be the famous Citroën 2HP presented in 1948 (and reconfirmed in the ‘60s with the Dyane).In 1947 Citroën was acquired by Peugeot. Today it is still part of the PSA group.
Adolphe Clément was a bicycle manufacturer who turned tu the production of tricycles with a De Dion & Bouton engine, and then cars with Panhard&Levassor machanicals. Clément was a restless, andventurous enterpreneur. After working with Panhard&Levassor for some time as their sales manager, he teamed up with other makers to form Bayard-Clément, Clément-Gladiator-Humber, and Clément-Talbot.
Cord Corporation was founded in America in 1929 by Errett L. Cord as a holding company for his many automotive interests, controlling Auburn Automobiles, the engine manufacturer Lycoming Motors, the coachbuilder Limousine Body, the aircraft constructor Stinson and the Duesenberg brand.
Dutch brand DAF - Van Doorne's Automobile Fabrieken - was founded in 1928 by Hubert Van Doorne for the production of trailers and semi-trailers. In 1950, the brand started producing automobiles, unveiling a 2-cylinder, air-cooled model, which was further improved from the 1960s onwards.
This company was one of the biggest car manufacturers in Europe in the very first period of car history. It was configured as the precursor of a typical multinational corporation, whose corporate aims quickly went from direct entrepreneurship to those of a financial holding.
Nel 1882 il Conte Alberto De Dion si associa con il meccanico Georges Bouton per la costruzione di veicoli a vapore. Nel 1889 i due soci iniziano la progettazione di motori a combustione interna di piccola potenza, e nel 1893 brevettano un nuovo sistema, tutt’ora valido, di trasmissione cardanica, chiamato “ponte posteriore De Dion”. Nel 1900, De Dion-Bouton è il maggiore fabbricante d'automobili del mondo. Nel 1910 inizia la lunga serie di modelli a 8 cilindri a V, che avranno notevole successo. Nel dopoguerra però l‘azienda non riesce a mantenere lo stesso livello innovativo dei suoi anni migliori, e il mercato la punisce. La De Dion Bouton non regge la crisi economica del 1929 e nel 1933 chiude definitivamente i battenti.
De Dion & Bouton
In 1882, Count Alberto De Dion started a partnership with mechanic Georges Bouton to build steam vehicles. In 1889, the two partners started designing low-powered internal combustion engines, and in 1893 they patented a new system for cardan transmission, called the "De Dion rear axle", which is still valid today. In 1900, De Dion-Bouton was the biggest car producer in the world. In 1910, the long series of models with V shaped eight-cylinder engines started, and they obtained a remarkable success. After the First World War, however, the company was unable to maintain the same innovative level of its best years, and the market punished it. De Dion Bouton did not resist the 1929 economic crisis, and in 1933 it had to close down for good.
In 1905, Louis Delage, after leaving Peugeot, founded the Société des Automobiles Delage in Paris. The young brand immediately obtained great fame thanks to its racing victories obtained since 1908. The company’s production specialized in light and competition vehicles, but after the war, it started producing cars with larger displacement engines. Nonetheless, competition cars remained the real flagship product of the French company, which graduated as World Champion in 1927. Despite a beautiful eight-cylinder model, the D8, presented in 1929, the company was unable to face the impact of the Great Depression, and in 1935 Delage was absorbed by Delahaye, which maintained the brand until 1953.
Small French factory founded in 1905 by a leading motorcyclist and car driver, Léon Demeester.
Diatto was a great Turin-based industrial plant, which during its best years counted five hundred employees and an annual production of more than 250 cars.With its racing cars, it obtained more than 500 victories all over the world in only twenty years of racing activity. Its origins date back to 1835, when Guglielmo Diatto opened a cartwright workshop in Turin to build carts and carriages. Then, the Diatto industries, managed by his sons Battista and Giovanni, became one of the biggest manufacturers of railway equipment in Europe. The next generation, Vittorio and Pietro Diatto, with the French partner Adolphe Clément, founded the homonymous car company in 1905.
The company Ferrari was founded in 1946 by Enzo Ferrari, after he had managed his team in the years before the war by becoming the Alfa Romeo racing team. It is an Italian company, an icon of “made in Italy”, famous and loved all over the world, symbol of beauty, speed, luxury and power. There is no car company with as many victories in Formula 1 as Ferrari: 16 World Constructors’ Titles and 20 World Drivers’ titles. Also Ferrari’s participations in the other categories and its production of high-performance Granturismo road vehicles are highly important. In the sixties the company was absorbed by the Fiat Group. From January 2016 Ferrari is an independent brand.
One of the oldest global car makers, it was founded in 1899 in Turin. With Giovanni Agnelli at the helm, it achieved international success both commercially and in racing. In the 1920s it became Europe’s leading car manufacturer. Its productions include many successful car models, but also marine engines, aircraft, public transportation vehicles, tractors, and home appliances: the Fiat motto became “Earth, Sea, Sky”. Under its flag we can find all the greatest Italian brands: from Lancia to Ferrari, from Autobianchi to Alfa Romeo, from Innocenti to Abarth and Maserati. In December 2013, after a preliminary agreement struck in 2009, Fiat acquired the American brand Chrysler, giving life to the new FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) group and becoming one of the leading groups in car manufacturing. A further step towards he internationalisation of the brand was taken in 2021, with the creation of the Stellantis group. Born as a result of a merger between FCA and the PSA Group, Stellantis is headquartered in Amsterdam, and has its corporate office in Lijnden, Netherlands. The group owns 14 automobile brands: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS Automobiles, FIAT, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram Trucks and Vauxhall.
It was born in Florence in 1901 as F.T.A. - Fabbrica Toscana di Automobili – for the production of Bouchet engined voiturettes, and in 1903 it was transformed into Florentia, with a 500,000 Italian lire capital. In 1905, Florentia took on the licence to produce French Rochet-Schneider cars and in 1906 it made the decision that would probably cause its downfall: the acquisition of the Venice SVAN shipyards. The motorboat industry, which the Company had aimed at since the beginning, did not yield the expected results, it began to jeopardize the company’s car production, and in 1910 it led the company to liquidation. Only one model produced by this Company still exists: the one exhibited here at the MAUTO.
A Turin-based car manufacturer, which in 1924 built a little runabout car with original and innovative characteristics. However, the market did not react as expected and the company was forced into liquidation already in 1927, with a production of a few hundred cars of which the one displayed here is the only vehicle to survive today.
Ford is the US company that has made Detroit the world’s car capital. With a more than 110-year long history (it was founded by Henry Ford in 1903), the company has produced more than 170 different models and played an irreplaceable role in spreading cars in America and in the world. Ford turned the car into a common consumer good and it exported its work organization methods to all sectors of industrial production. Its legendary Ford T model, produced in 15 million units from 1908 to 1927, was crowned "car of the century" in 1999. Despite the big losses the company experienced after the world economic crisis of 2008-2009, it was the only US car company that did not apply for a government loan and that continued to invest on new models and new technologies.
Russian car manufacturer, among the oldest and most important of the former Soviet Union. Founded in 1932 in Gorkij with the help and cooperation of American manufacturer Ford, it marketed successful models like the Volga and the Cjajka. Currently the Gaz Group produces cars, trucks, buses and vans.
The bicycle manufacturer Georges Richard founded the company Société des Anciens Établissements Georges Richard for the production of automobiles in 1896. Production of the range named “trèfle à quatrefeuilles”, after the four leaf clover adopted as a brand by the industrialist, began with a 2.3/4 hp light car powered by a 2 cylinder Benz engine.
Georges Richard
A Spanish rival to the English Rolls Royce and Italian Isotta Fraschini marques, Hispano-Suiza built motor cars that embodied sophisticated build quality and techniques, power, elegance and opulence. The company was founded in Barcelona in 1904. That year, the Catalan trader Damian Mateu had purchased, together with his business partners Fonctuberta and Seix, the small De La Cuadra automobile factory originally established by J. Castro. The personnel of the factory included its technical director, the young Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt, who had previously worked for a watchmaker in his home country. The name of the company was changed to Hispano–Suiza, marking the start of the Iberian brand’s slow but continuous ascent to glory.
A French company founded by August Hurtu, specialised in the construction of sewing machines, typewriters and bicycles.
The Iso Rivolta company was founded in 1939 at Bresso (Milan) by Renzo Rivolta and became world famous in 1953 when the Isetta, one of the world’s most succesful small cars, appeared on the market. The firm then turned to the production of high-performance cars: the first was the 300 GT, which came out in 1962. The Lele was styled in 1969 by Carrozzeria Bertone with one-off bodywork for an american customer. Later a short-run production was started, but ended in 1972.
Iso Rivolta
Prestigious cars celebrated all over the world, marine and aviation engines which made heroic deeds possible, racing records, and brilliant designers are the ingredients of the history of this glorious Italian luxury car brand, founded in Milan in 1900 by Cesare Isotta together with the brothers Vincenzo, Oreste and Antonio Fraschini.
Isotta Fraschini
Born in Turin in 1904, thanks to the initiative of one of the Ceirano’s brothers, Matteo, Itala immediately proved to be a solid company, able to produce beautiful, sturdy, reliable and fast cars. Its fame reached a peak with the victory obtained in the Beijing to Paris race in 1907. Its designers, Balloco, Orasi, and most of all Cappa, devised brilliant and anticipatory solutions. Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia, later the founder of MAUTO, was in charge of its advertising and technical communication with highly impactful advertising images. Yet the excessively high manufacturing costs and a management which already in 1913 had lost its balance, led to a long period of distress, which in 1931 ended with the final closure of what could have been the “second Fiat”.
Considered one of the most prestigious English phenomena in automotive history, Jaguar was founded in 1922, as the Swallow Sidecar Company, by two young enthusiasts, William Lyons and William Walmsley. The first model called Jaguar was presented in London in 1935 and sold for less than 400 Pounds. In just a few decades, the company (which after the Second World War had become Jaguar Cars) became an internationally famed industry and the biggest luxury car manufacturer in the world. Together with the historical brand Daimler, acquired by Jaguar in 1960, it is one of the main suppliers of the British Royal Court. Despite economic difficulties and many changes of ownership (the first in 1966, when it waived its independence by merging with BMC, British Motor Corporation), it was able to maintain the prestige and style of its vehicles unchanged for decades. Since 2008, it is part of the Indian group Tata Motors.
A Turin-based company which rose to become a great European brand, thanks to a design ability that always pushed it towards innovation. Electric services, serial unitary body, front independent wheel suspensions, narrow V engine, tiltable steering column, boxed transmission, integrated trunk, and the aerodynamic line, are only some of the innovations that have made models like the Theta, Lambda, Aprilia, Aurelia, Flaminia, Delta, and many others unforgettable cars, unique in their aesthetic and mechanical refinement, elegance, personality and sportiness. For decades, Lancia represented the essence of the Italian top-range product, but it was also able to interpret the theme of the classy city car. Today, after more than one hundred years of history, the innovation that founder Vincenzo Lancia was so fond of is aimed at the environment, with the Ecochic models.
Land Rover is the name that was given to the first AWD model, the forerunner of off-road vehicles for civil and military uses, produced by Rover, the time-honoured British car manufacturer. Unveiled in Amsterdam on 30 April 1948, the celebrated model was produced for many years in countless versions. When British Leyland, the car maker that had acquired the Rover marque in 1967, was nationalised in 1975, the name became that of an independent automobile manufacturer.
Land Rover
F.I.A.L - Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Legnano – was founded in Legnano in August 1906 for the production of cars and marine engines. Initial capital 350,000 Italian lire. Yet after only two years of activity, the company went into liquidation and was acquired by Ferrario & Rosa in 1909, which led it towards other types of production.
The brand Lloyd was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1906 to market electric vehicles. After a long break, where it only focused on the production of trucks, in 1950 the brand again identified a series of vehicles in the Borgward group (which had acquired Hansa-Lloyd in 1929). Unfortunately, the collapse of the Borgward Group (1961) also dragged Lloyd into ruin, although in those years Lloyd was marketing successful runabouts, like Alexander and Arabella.
Orio & Marchand, one of the first Italian business to evolve from artisan to industrial scale, was established in 1898 when the Marchand brothers bought into the existing company of the Piacenza-born Stefano Orio, who produced bicycles and sewing machines with his sons Bartolomeo and Attilio. Paolo and Leone Marchand had embarked on a number of ventures in the mechanical and petroleum industries in Milan, Montechino and Velleja. Their first mechanical factory was founded in Musocco (Milan) in 1897, but after just a year, it was decided to move to Piacenza, in the Emilia region.
Historical company founded in Bologna by the Maserati brothers celebrates its one hundredth anniversary. From the world speed record set by Borzacchini in 1929 at 246.029 km/h, to the world championship won by Fangio with the 250F in 1957, until the launch of the new 405 HP GranTurismo in March 2007 in Geneva, this company’s history is studded with sports victories, brilliant designers (Alfieri Maserati, Giulio Alfieri, Gioachino Colombo), and elegant and fast models. But also with ownership changes, financial difficulties, and corporate earthquakes. Today, it is one of the most prestigious brands of the newborn FCA Group, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, and its cars are sold all over the worl
The most prestigious brand of the German automotive industry takes its name from a young woman. In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, first the race cars and then the entire Daimler Motoren of Cannstatt production were baptized with the name of Emil Jellinek’s daughter, Mercedes. In 1926, Daimler merged with Benz, which until then had been its main rival on the market and in the races, and Mercedes-Benz was born. From this union exceptional cars were generated, like the “Grosse Mercedes”, the “Silberpfeile” or Silver Arrows, the 300 SL gullwing, the 180, and many others that combined charm and speed, sturdiness and elegance. More than any other trademark, the three-pointed star is still the symbol by excellence of high-quality “made in Germany” products and luxury cars.
Mercedes Benz
Vittorio Millo, director of the Lucca factory of the Andrea Croce spinning mills of Genoa (which would later become Cotonificio Piaggione S.A.), developed a motor-driven tricycle around 1896. Although this ended up being destroyed, in 1902 he built a vehicle that would then be tested with satisfactory results. Alessandro Minutoli had also worked on the construction so the two engineers decided to set up the Società Minutoli-Millo & C in Lucca in 1903.
Minutoli Millo
In 1912, William R. Morris founded a car manufacturing company called W.R.M. Motors Ltd. In 1919, the company changed its name in Morris Motors Ltd. After acquiring Wolseley and Riley and founding M.G., Morris Motors merged with Austin in 1952, giving life to the British Motor Corporation Ltd.
A German brand that is very important for German motorization history thanks to its motorcycle and car production. It was born in 1873 as a mechanical workshop, then it started producing bicycles and later entered the world of motorcycles, and in the beginning of the 20th century it began approaching car production. However, in 1928 it gave up car manufacturing and returned to it only in the late ‘50s, with popular medium-low range models, like the Prinz. And it dedicated itself only to cars, riding on the wave of a success that prompted it to focus, maybe too much, on innovation. In 1967, the Ro80 was presented, powered by a rotary engine, a fascinating product that was still in need of development. Two years later, it was sold to the Volkswagen group.
It is America’s oldest brand, active from 1897 and 2004, with almost 35 million cars produced. It was part of General Motors throughout almost all of its existence, but it was not able to resist the serious crisis that struck the “made in USA” car industry in the beginning of the new millennium.
OM - Officine Meccaniche was founded in 1899 in Milan as a public limited company that produced railway stock and machinery for woodworking. Once it obtained a commission for the production of aircraft, in 1917 it absorbed car company Züst from Brescia, which provided OM with the knowledge necessary to manufacture engines. In 1937, OM merged with two other companies, Officine meccaniche di Milano and MAIS from Suzzara. In 1967, OM was absorbed by FIAT and, in time, it focused its activities on the production of forklifts.
This small Turin firm was set up in November 1907 with its headquarters in via Borgone on the corner of via Frejus. Its purpose was to continue to build Peugeot’s under licence which up to then had been assembled by the company Peugeot-Croizat, now wound up. The company was called Officine Meccaniche Torinesi & Brevetti Peugeot. Management was taken on by Cesare Goria-Gatti (one of the founders of Fiat) who was already a member of the Peugeot-Croizat board of directors. In addition to giving new impetus to the assembly of Peugeot cars and commercial vehicles, the company undertook a study for the development of a small car which would go into production in 1911 under the name of Victrix. It was a single-cylinder, cardan transmission vehicle of 695 cc whose wheeled chassis cost 2,500 lire. Construction continued until 1913 when the company was put into liquidation. The only existing Victrix is kept in this Museum.
The man who started the Opel dynasty, Thonges Opel, was a simple farmer with but one goal: to give his children an easier life than his own. He urged his young son Philipp Wilhelm (born in 1803) to become a blacksmith. Following his father’s advice, Philipp moved to Russelsheim, where he married and had three children - Adam (born in 1837), Georg and Wilhelm. In the space of fifteen years, with the invaluable support of his wife, Philipp had built up a flourishing company manufacturing sewing machines, and had embarked on a number of other business ventures making him the most successful man in the little town of Russelsheim.
Among the biggest and oldest (1899) names in American car history, Packard is famous for the accurate construction, the 12-cylinder luxury vehicles (it seems even Enzo Ferrari was inspired on them), the racing victories in the pioneering period and, in the 50s, a series of technical innovations. Since the production was quantitatively limited (for American standards), the company remained faithful until its closure in 1958 to its tradition of quality and excellence, which dated back to the moment of its foundation and of the first vehicle produced, both results of James Ward Packard’s initiative.
Louis-René Panhard and Emile Levassor founded their company in Paris in 1886 and produced their first car (also powered by a Daimler engine) three years later. The B 1 was presented in 1899.
Panhard & Levassor
Big French industrial group, founded in 1810 for the production of saws, tools and equipment, pepper mills and coffee grinders (still in production). Already in the mid-19th century 800 quintals of steel left its workshops every year. The first steam tricycle was presented at the 1889 Paris Expo: thanks to Armand Peugeot, grandson of the founders, and committed supporter of the individual motorization development.
The Pope-Hartford was the longest-lived of the five makes of car to bear the name of Col. Albert Augustus Pope, and the only one made in the Pope Manufacturing Co.'s headquarter town of Hartford. A prototype single-cylinder car was built in the summer of 1903, and went into production the following year. Larger models appeared quickly. A 16 HP twin came in 1905 and a 20/25 HP in 1906, while by 1908, when 393 cars were made, only 4-cylinder cars were listed, the 25 HP Model R and 30 HP Model M. It was the most expensive of the Pope group of cars, apart from some models of the Pope-Toledo which was discontinued in 1909. 1912 was Pope-Hartford's best year, with 712 cars made, but they were in receivership the following year, probably brought about by offering too many models, 18 in a three-chassis range, which could not be justified by the volume of sales. The Pope-Hartford had a good reputation for quality, but was one of many similar expensive cars. The 60 HP six was dropped for 1914, when the only offering was the 40 HP four, and the receivers sold off the Hartford property before the end of the year.
At the end of WWII, German engineer Ferdinand Porsche, the designer of the VW Beetle that was shown to Hitler in May 1938, and his son Ferry, were prisoners in France. While waiting for their liberation, their closest collaborators opened in Gmünd, a small town in Carinthia, a workshop for repairs and maintenance of the numerous military VWs in circulation in Austria at the time. When the Porches, the son Ferry first and then the father, were released from the French prisons, activities were extended to include the design of a sporty Volkswagen model, equipped with a regular 1131 cc VW engine and featuring a new tubular chassis frame and a new body made from metal panels fashioned by hand. The name of the project, which would subsequently be used to identify the model, was 356. From the very start (August 1948), the two initial versions, cabriolet and coupé, met with great interest. Orders came in fast and the production rate permitted by the small facilities (5-6 units per month) proved altogether insufficient. Thus, the company moved to Feuerbach (in late 1949) to achieve a small increase in output (8-10 units/month): in the meantime Porsche models began to compete and take wins in various races.
Prinetti & Stucchi is a historical Italian company founded in Milan in 1874, which originally manufactured sewing machines and bicycles before turning its attention to building tricycles, quadricycles and mini-cars in 1898. The company’s first model was a tricycle conceived by a very young (just 17) Ettore Bugatti, an engineer of extraordinary talent who would go on to become a legend. He fitted one of the company’s pedal powered tricycles with a De Dion engine (or, to be precise, two individual engines mated together, for a total output of 3 hp), and used it to compete in a number of races, coming first in the Verona Rally (161 Km) of April 1899 and third in the Brescia-Verona-Brescia in September that same year (223 Km). He was also responsible for the company’s next motorised project – a quadricycle with two De Dion engines powering the rear wheels. It is not clear, however, whether or not he was also involved in the creation of a second quadricycle, also in 1899 – namely the 4 HP, powered once again by two De Dion single cylinder engines, but connected to the front wheels instead. The history of the brand is, however, very short. Two prototype water cooled engines were presented in 1901, but the company was closed down the following year, due to the departure of Prinetti (who had been appointed a Minister) and financial problems. Stucchi continued production with his own company (Stucchi & C.) until 1906, when he withdrew definitively from the automotive world.
Prinetti & Stucchi
A big French company, linked to the initiative and genius of a single man, exactly like Ford in the USA, Fiat in Italy, and Benz in Germany. In this case, the key personality is Louis Renault, who founded the Renault Frères in Billancourt with his brothers in 1899. Immediately, two important first inventions followed: in 1898, cardanic transmission; in 1899, the first closed car. Then the Marna taxis, the 4 HP, the runabout for everyone, the racing collaboration with Alpine and Gordini, the adventure in F1, the electric car and other countless successes, which made it quickly reach more than 110 years of history.
The American REO Motor Car Company was founded in 1904 in Lansing, Michigan, by Ransom Eli Olds, who seven years before had created the Olds Motor Vehicle, subsequently Oldsmobile, from which he retired in 1904 to establish the new company.
This company, the most famous to come from the Tours region, was founded in 1906 by François Rolland and Emile Pilain.
Born in Manchester in 1906 thanks to the agreement between Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, it rapidly obtained a leading role in the luxury car sector. It was advertised as “the best car in the world”; there are countless anecdotes about it, which all demonstrate its perfection, noiselessness, and safety even after decades of use. The foundation of its fame was laid by the Silver Ghost, presented already in 1906 and produced until 1925, followed by the Phantom in its various series, and several other models, always with charming names (Silver Wraith, Silver Cloud, Silver Shadow). Today it is part of the German group BMW.
Rolls Royce
This historic French car manufacturer was founded in 1904 by the brothers Maurice and George Sizaire together with their business partner Louis Naudin. The company was the first of three established by the entrepreneurial and brilliant Sizaire brothers, who would later go on to found Sizaire-Berwick (in 1913) and Sizaire Frères (1923).
Sizare & Naudin
Acronym for Società Piemontese Automobili Ansaldi-Ceirano (1906-08), it was later called Società Ligure Piemontese Automobili as a result of the participation in the company of investors from Liguria. Spa was one of the main companies for the production of cars, aircraft engines and commercial vehicles in Turin. Founded in 1906 by car experts Michele Ansaldi and Matteo Ceirano, the company had assets for 1 million liras, to which contributed Michele Lanza, a pioneer of motorisation who, in 1895, built the first four-wheels automobile ever produced in Turin. The best period for Spa were the years between 1923 and 1925, when the company produced several well designed and well-finished models. However, the company was severely hit by the credit crunch and the stock market panic caused by the bankrupcy of Banca Nazionale di Sconto. The investors from Liguria withdrew their support and in 1926 FIAT took control of Spa, halting the production of cars.
Turin-based car manufacturer, whose acronym stands for Società Torinese Automobili Elettrici, was born in Turin in 1905 to build French Krieger electric vehicles under license. However, after some years, despite interesting models, both with mixed propulsion (petrol engine and electric drive) and completely electric propulsion, the company was put into liquidation (1913).
The names of the twins Francis and Freelan Stanley hold a very special place in the history of American steam powered automobiles. As well as playing a pioneering, innovating role in the development of steam power, they continued to remain faithful to this technology for twenty years or so even after the affirmation of the internal combustion engine.
This car company was founded in Turin in 1912 by Luigi Storero, one of the pioneers of Italian motoring and expert FIAT racing driver. Their production was based on several technologically advanded models (some of them, for example, were equipped with eletric starters), but it was halted in 1916, when the factory was converted to war production. After the war, Storero shut down for good because of a lack of financing to convert back to car production.
Syrena is the trade name of cars made by FSM (Fabryka Samochodow Malolitrazowych), the Polish automobile factory at Bielsko Biala which also produces the Polski and the Warzawa
Turinese car maker Temperino was founded in 1907 by Maurizio, Giacomo and Carlo Temperino, three brothers who came back to Italy from the United States, where they were born and worked as apprentices in mechanical workshops. Their activity initially involved just the storage of cars, in a garage placed in Corso Principe Oddone 44, but they soon started producing motorcycles, sidecars and cars. With the aim of creating a small utillitary vehicle, small and affordable both in prices and keeping, Temperino was active in the first decade of the XX Century and in the first half of the following decade.
Car maker from East Germany, from 1957 onwards it produced small cars with two-stroke engines (only after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 they started producing four-stroke engines), and fiberglass bodywork. Trabant halted production in 1991 because they couldn't abide by the strict environmental rules set by the newly reunified Germany.
These cars have never been mass produced, or are just prototypes, so we wanted to put them all in this category of special cars.
Vetture speciali
This company was founded in 1898 to make bicycles, by Lucien-Marie Vinot-Préfontaine (1858-1915) and Albert Deguingand (1872-1943). The double-barrelled name Vinot-Deguingand was only used early in the company's history; once the cars became established they were always known simply as Vinots.
Vinot & Deguingand
The name of this car maker literally means "car of the people". It was Adolf Hitler himself who wanted a car affordable for everyone in Germany, and that feat was achieved by Ferdinand Porsche: he built a car, produced in 20 million units, that embodied the most rational and long lasting concept of utility car. Founded in 1937, after the end of the Second World War Volkswagen became a huge brand, becoming the biggest car maker in Germany. Now the brand owns Audi (acquired in 1964), Seat (1990), Skoda (1991), Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti (1998), Scania (2008), Italdesign (2010), MAN (2011), Ducati and Porsche (2012).