Our original feature on long-lost GM vehicle makes proved to be extremely popular—and luckily, there’s plenty more material where that came from. In thanks to you for reading Mac’s Motor City Garage, we proudly present more interesting tales of lapsed GM brands.
Scripps-Booth was a Detroit auto manufacturer with a factory on Baufait Street along the Michigan Central belt line. Founded in 1913 by James Scripps-Booth of the Scripps publishing family, the automaker is known for a number of novel designs that never seemed to attract many customers.
In 1916 Scripps-Booth was purchased by Billy Durant’s Chevrolet Motor Car Company, then became part of General Motors when Durant engineered Chevrolet’s takeover of GM in 1917. The Scripps-Booth brand was discontinued in 1923. Shown here is a 1921 Scripps-Booth Series B five-passenger sedan parked in front of the Washington, DC distributor, which today is a crepes shop.
The Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company was founded in Chicago in 1923 by none other than John D. Hertz as a division of the Yellow Cab Company. Two years later, GM purchased a majority stake in the division, renaming it Yellow Truck and Coach. GM bought the operation outright in 1943 and merged it into the GM Truck and Coach Division, which ended the 20-year run of the Yellow Coach brand.
Yellow Coach manufactured transit and tour buses as well as electric trolley buses (also known as trackless trolleys). Shown here is a 1936 Yellow Coach Model 718 wearing the livery of Los Angeles Motor Coach Lines.
Formally launched on June 1, 1929, the Marquette was the Buick-sponsored component of GM’s companion brands strategy, which was designed to fill perceived gaps in he corporation’s often-quoted “car for every purse and purpose.” Priced in the $1,000 range, Marquette slotted in below Buick but above Viking, Oldsmobile’s companion brand.
A thoroughly conventional GM product, the Marquette rolled on a 114-inch wheelbase chassis, powered by a 213 CID, 67 hp version of the Oldsmobile L-head six. The 1930 Model 30 two-door sedan shown here is one of six body styles offered. But the market for mid-priced sixes was overpopulated, and GM pulled the plug on the Marquette at the end of the model year.
From 1962 to 1971, the Acadian brand was marketed through Pontiac-Buick dealers in Canada. However, the Acadian was not a Pontiac but a separate division offering facelifted and rebadged Chevrolet models—the idea being to give dealers, many of them in isolated locales without Chevrolet franchises, Chevy-priced products to sell.
The 1966 Acadian Canso above is a disguised Chevy Nova, while the Acadian Beaumont in the lead illustration at the top of this page is a variant of the ’64 Chevelle Malibu. Acadian was dropped as a separate brand in 1971, but the name was revived for a badge-engineered Canadian version of the Pontiac T1000 sold from 1976 to 1984.
Bedford Vehicles was the truck and commercial division for Vauxhall, GM’s automotive brand in the United Kingdom. Established in 1930 (GM acquired Vauxhall in 1925), the Bedford line was initially marketed as the Chevrolet Bedford until April of 1931, when the Chevrolet name was dropped. Bedford took its name from Bedfordshire, the county in which the vehicles were produced.
Though Bedford manufactured light and heavy trucks of every description, the company’s commercial vans and motor coaches were especially distinctive. Take for example this stylish 1955 Bedford SB3 touring bus with coachwork by Duple in the hire of Frost Coaches. Bedford ceased to exist as a retail brand in 1987.
Unlike the other GM companion brands, Viking (1929-1931) was positioned above rather than below its parent brand Oldsmobile in price and prestige. More than a parts-bin special, the Viking boasted an exclusive 259.5 CID V8, a Lycoming-esque monobloc design with horizontal valves. Alas, the extra investment failed to pay off, and the Viking was cancelled with just 7,224 units produced.
Shown here is a 1930 Viking Convertible Coupe. In old-school car biz lingo, the models in the photo are said to be standing on the New York side—that is, between the car and the camera. If they were positioned behind the vehicle to provide a clearer view of the product, we’d say they were standing on the Detroit side.
In 1988, GM created the Passport division, a Canada-only dealer network that roughly paralleled the Geo brand in the United States. Under the Passport banner, Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers sold Saab and Isuzu vehicles under their original nameplates, along with a rebadged, very slightly restyled version of the Daewoo LeMans that was called the Passport Optima (above).
This alignment lasted only until 1991 when the Passport label was dropped. Saab and Isuzu were matched up with Saturn to form the Saturn-Saab-Isuzu network, and yet another Canadian GM import brand, Asüna, was launched in 1993.
To be continued…