Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Motor Vehicle Manufacturers with Aviation Connections

In the responses to last Friday’s Hooniverse Asks, several of you brought up aircraft or aircraft engines built by automotive manufacturers. Today, I’d like to start our week by exploring this connection further. Let’s list all the automotive-aviation connections we can.
The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Engines, airframes, avionics, and all other airborne products and components are all good, but they must all be from a manufacturer that is/was a producer of complete automobiles, trucks or motorcycles in-house, rather than the other way around (i.e., an aircraft manufacturer who made components of some sort for cars).
  • Concept cars, prototypes and race cars are are acceptable, but not third-party customs.
  • Trucks, both light and heavy-duty, are allowed, as long as they are road-legal. No construction machinery, mining equipment, snowmobiles, tractors or lawn mowers.

Difficulty: 1080 micro-farads per feet per second per point of contact.
How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.
Image Sources: airlinereporter.com & wikipedia.org.

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77 responses to “Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Motor Vehicle Manufacturers with Aviation Connections”

  1. ayuvar Avatar

    Is Subaru an edge case here? While Fuji does most of the heavy lifting on aircraft it’s hard to argue that they’re particularly separate.
    Same sort of deal with Mitsubishi, they worked on a lot of the same planes during WWII but they’re not really the ‘same company.’

    1. marcramsey Avatar

      The relationships between Japanese companies are amusingly complex. Fuji Heavy Industries is a corporate conglomerate that includes Subaru as a subsidiary, they have manufactured numerous aircraft since the 60s, including jet and turboprop trainers, helicopters, and UAVs. FHI itself was formed from the remnants of the forced dissolution of the Nakajima zaibatsu after WWII, which manufactured many aircraft including the B5M “Kate” torpedo bomber.
      Mitsubishi is a keiretsu which includes both Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors was a subsidiary of MHI until 1970. MHI has built military and civilian aircraft, as well as airframe components for for the Boeing 777 and 787. MHI was itself formed from the forced dissolution of the Mitsubishi zaibatsu, known for the A6M “Zero” fighter, among many others.
      Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which build cars and motorcycles, also builds jet trainers, military transports, and helicopters.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      I feel like there’s enough light aircraft running Subaru engines (even if those engines were originally built for cars) that it should count. VW, too.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Then Corvairs count too, they even have air in the name! https://flycorvair.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/img_8238.jpg

  2. The Real Number_Six Avatar
    The Real Number_Six

    During WWI, Dutch car maker Spijker produced a really bad training aircraft called the V.2 http://images.klassiker-der-luftfahrt.de/sixcms/media.php/11/thumbnails/spyker-v.2-trompenburg-jones.jpg.3613962.jpg

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      If rockets count, then Oldsmobile.

      1. Fresh-Outta-Nissans Avatar

        Also, Saturn. See: Chrysler above.

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    Bill Lear, of Learjer fame, also made some prototype steam turbine vehicles. Learjet is now owned by Bombardier, legitimizing it with connections to several types of transportation.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      and don’t forget Bill’s other contribution to car culture

    2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      More importantly, all those plane seats…

  4. P161911 Avatar

    GM owned Hughes Aviation for a while. They were making a lot of missiles at the time. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e8/Tomahawk_Block_IV_cruise_missile_-crop.jpg/300px-Tomahawk_Block_IV_cruise_missile_-crop.jpg
    Fun fact, Hughes also owned DirecTV at the time. DirecTV’s sale of adult pay per view movies made GM on of the largest sellers of pornorgraphy at the time.

    1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      GM also manufactured Grumman Hellcat and Avenger naval aircraft during WWII so that probably counts. Also one of GM’s divisions made M2 .50 cal. machine gun components, which could have ended up arming these aircraft.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Alfa Romeo has a long association with aircraft engines.

  6. P161911 Avatar

    Bristol was more of an aviation company that happened to make a few cars. http://starmoz.com/images/bristol-beaufighter-6.jpg

    1. Andrew Pierce Avatar
      Andrew Pierce

      Sure, but they identify as a car company.

  7. 0A5599 Avatar

    EZ-GO makes street legal Low Speed Vehicles. The parent company is Textron, known for Bell Helicopters, Beechcraft, Cessna, etc.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Also, Textron is the current owner of military vehicle builder Cadillac Gage of Commando fame.

  8. ramLlama Avatar

    Lycoming is a company that make aircraft piston engines like the racing one above. About a century ago, they made engines for cars like this:
    Yup, Lycoming was once part of the Cord group and provided engines to Auburn, Cords, and Deusenberg’s.

  9. tonyola Avatar

    Beechcraft made a prototype car in 1946.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Hey, THERE’s the one I was waiting for! A thousand points in life to Tonyola.

    2. jim Avatar

      And exactly 10 years later, Plymouth used the same name for a Ghia concept car.


      1. Vairship Avatar

        At 1:14 “Help, the tailgate crushed my feet!”

  10. mdharrell Avatar

    If failed attempts count, there’s always the King-Bugatti U-16 aero engine manufactured in limited numbers by, as one would expect from the name, Duesenberg.

  11. mdharrell Avatar

    Aerocar International built a handful of more-than-complete cars.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      Convair also tried their had at the flying car. Logically named the Convaircar.

      1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
        dead_elvis, inc.

        When a small aircraft loves a car very much…

  12. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    Here is the Oldsmobile M9 37mm cannon that was used in the Bell P-39 Airacobra.

  13. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    Let’s continue down the GM line. How about the Fisher Body Works P-75 Eagle. This is what GM did to avoid making bombers.

    1. Texlenin Avatar

      General Mistake, then as now….. 🙂

    1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
      Wayne Moyer

      You beat me to it.

      1. engineerd Avatar

        I as well.

  14. Sjalabais Avatar

    Volvo actually made the engines for both Gripen and Viggen.
    The company has also been involved in building space rockets etc.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      That one, however, is a Canadair CF-104 with a GE J79 engine.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Not sure what the F104 connection is, but GKN bought Volvo Aero a while back, according to The Great Wikipedia.

  15. The Real Number_Six Avatar
    The Real Number_Six

    Tatra built several aircraft types under license, plus this original design, the T101 http://www.flying-revue.cz/imagebank/24077561/800/600/t101……_(1280×852).jpg

  16. mdharrell Avatar

    I’ll use my reference to the Westinghouse Markette a few days ago as an excuse to bring up the Westinghouse-powered Convair F2Y Sea Dart:

    1. Texlenin Avatar

      Oh, how much fun that would be on Lake Texoma.
      Even better, Lake Lewisville. On July 4th. With afterburner.
      I know. I need help.

  17. jim Avatar

    Fiat. The car is a 1800, the aircraft is a G.91.

  18. 0A5599 Avatar

    Preston Tucker’s XP-57 (never-completed prototype). Also, some Tucker Torpedos had helicopter-derived engines.

  19. jim Avatar

    Piaggio was a plane manufacturer long before the introduction of the Vespa scooter. Corradino D’Ascanio, the guy who designed the Vespa, was an aero-engineer who not only had no experience with motorcycles in general, but he actually hated them, considering them too cumbersome, difficult to repair and dirty.

  20. marmer Avatar

    Am I just stomping on all the low hanging fruit? BMW. Messerschmitt. Heinkel. Hispano-Suiza. Isotta-Fraschini. Maybach. Voisin.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I’m surprised none of those have been mentioned yet.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      I thought about Voisin but the aero company and the auto company were not the same, even though Gabriel Voisin established both of them.

      1. marmer Avatar

        True, although the Gabriel Voisin connection seems enough. However, Avions Voisin, which built cars, was more or less taken over by Gnome et Rhone which was then nationalized into SNECMA, which became a major French aircraft component and defense manufacturer.

  21. 0A5599 Avatar

    The producers of The Blues Brothers movie had to get the FAA to issue a certificate of un-airworthiness for the Pinto before they could drop it from the helicopter for the stunt.
    I couldn’t find any production notes regarding roadworthiness.

    1. Guest Avatar

      Off topic, the Pinto that COULD fly.

      Until it crashed…

      1. engineerd Avatar

        It’s not flying. It’s falling…with style.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Yes, but do they make any cars?

  22. jim Avatar

    Ferruccio Lamborghini wanted to expand his company into helicopters production. But things didn’t go as expected, and only one prototype was built.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Hey, Mickey!

  23. 0A5599 Avatar

    SpaceX and Tesla, sort of, through Elon Musk.

  24. 0A5599 Avatar

    Crosley made a few planes.

    1. AlexG55 Avatar

      Plus the CoBra engine used in Crosley cars from 1946-48 was used as an auxiliary power unit for B-17s because of its light weight- the sheet-metal block only weighed 15 lb.

  25. 0A5599 Avatar

    A bicycle is pretty much just a human powered motorcycle.

  26. 0A5599 Avatar

    “…and all other airborne products and components are all good, but they must all be from a manufacturer that is/was a producer of complete automobiles, trucks or motorcycles in-house, rather than the other way around…”
    Certainly the second generation Charger is an airborne product.

    1. Texlenin Avatar

      Airborne Equivalent- Convair Model 48 Charger COIN

  27. Jaap Avatar

    Daimler-Benz had aircraftmanufacturer DASA in it’s stable during the nineties. Picture is the Parvania Tornado they produced. Real lowhanging fruit is the Svenska Aeroplan AB, mother of all SAAB’s, untill 1990.

    1. sporty88 Avatar

      Daimler-Benz also made whole lot of aero engines in the 1930’s and 40’s.
      (Low-hanging fruit, I know)

  28. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    BMW manufactured quite a few aircraft engines.

  29. mdharrell Avatar

    It is my understanding that Mohs Seaplane Corporation did, in fact, manufacture aircraft parts among other things.

    1. marmer Avatar

      I actually thought that the Mohs Seaplane Corporation was basically Bruce Baldwin Mohs with his own pontoon-fitted Cessna. He would occasionally ferry people to remote spots in the Great Lakes area or in northern Wisconsin.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It was mostly that, certainly. I’ll have to dig out my copy of his autobiography, but I believe there was a bit of parts manufacturing as well.

  30. sunbeammadd Avatar

    Sunbeam was a major aero engine manufacturer. And they sometimes fitted them to their cars for competiton purposes.

  31. sunbeammadd Avatar

    The Rootes Group built various aircraft for the war effort, including Bristol Blenheims.

  32. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    Belated Tuesday answers, Aermacchi and Agusta. Aermacchi started with biplanes, is currently making Eurofighter parts and made small motorcycles from the 40-70s and was owned and branded by Harley-Davidson before becoming part of Cagiva.
    Agusta is a helicopter maker famous for MV Agusta motorcycles, and is now part of the same conglomerate as Aermacchi.