Can you think of any animal that loves cars more than a dog? Dogs love to chase cars, ride in cars, and even relieve themselves on cars. Man’s best friend, in fact, embodies many of the traits we want in our vehicles—fun, speed, faithfulness and reliability. While automakers have named cars after horses, wildcats, predatory fishes, African plains game and even snakes, automotive history is almost devoid of makes, models and mascots associated with dogs. Almost. Read on.
The “Ford Greyhound”
Historic military vehicle enthusiasts will probably recall that the Ford Motor Company’s produced a 6×6 light-armor car vehicle for American and British troops in WWII. Overseas, it was known as the M8 “Greyhound.” The vehicle was widely exported and still reportedly used in some Third World countries. But Ford’s loose association with this lithe and quick little canine actually goes back a little earlier, specifically to an aftermarket mascot (hood ornament) produced for their 1934 passenger cars by STANT in Connersville, Indiana.
Edsel Ford is given credit for originally coming up with the idea for 1927 model Lincolns. As the story goes, Edsel wanted to give Lincoln its own unique stamp and the greyhound seemed a perfect embodiment of speed and beauty. Like the Ford-authorized STANT ornament from 1934, the Lincoln greyhound also had a freestanding tail. The unique radiator cap looks more than a bit similar to the classic mascot used by Jaguar a quarterly century later.
1961 AC Greyhound (source: classic-auctions.com]
From 1959 until 1963, AC Cars of Thames Ditton, Surrey, England, produced a flashy looking two-door they called the Greyhound. The Greyhound was based on the AC Ace and AC Aceca with a 2+2 seat coupe body, but that was also the reason the car failed to take hold in the marketplace. In 1961, The Motor magazine reportedly performed a test on a 2-liter Bristol engine version of the car. Despite clocking a top speed of 110 mph, the Greyhound was seen as too large and heavy to compete against the sportier AC Ace/Aceca and was soon discontinued.
Founded in 1900 as a manufacturer of buses and trolleys, the Mack Brothers Company didn’t manufacture its first truck until 1907. They soon found their niche making delivery trucks and fire engines until the outbreak of World War I when they produced the first truck that made them famous—the heavy-duty AC.
According to records at the Mack Truck Historical Museum, the 7.5-ton capacity AC military vehicles were nicknamed “bulldogs” by British forces and American troops who called up the vehicles when faced with any impossible trucking tasks. Alfred Masonry, the owner of Mack Trucks at the time, was inspired by the comparison but it wasn’t until 1932 that a chrome bulldog was first used as the truck company’s logo. By the early 1940s, the now classic mascot began appearing in advertisements everywhere.
William N. Brockway founded Brockway Carriage Works in Homer, New York, in 1875. But it was his son, George, who saw a future where motorized vehicles would one day replace horse-drawn wagons for delivery needs. Brockway produced its first motorized delivery wagons in 1909 and, later, many other light- and heavy-duty trucks to aid allied soldiers in both World Wars.
After WWII, the need for semi-trucks was never greater. But the market quickly reached a saturation point. This began a series of financial difficulties for Brockway, which soon found itself in an autonomous partnership arrangement with Mack Trucks.
Having so much success with its bulldog logo, Mack Truck executives pushed for Brockway to come up with a logo of their own. A Brockway employee, Bill Duncan, supposedly got the idea to use a huskie sled dog as a mascot from a 1955 television series, Sargent Preston of the Yukon. The show featured Richard Simmons in the role of Sgt. Preston along with his faithful canine companion, an Alaskan husky named Yukon King. Brockway accepted the idea and began advertising the Huskie name and logo on their trucks in 1958.
Most know Willys-Overland for its iconic version of the jeep, not for being an early pioneer of small, economic cars. Enter the Whippet—named after a sleek and beautiful sight-hound breed developed in England—that debuted a year before Ford’s Model A.
With a wheelbase of just over 100 inches, a four-cylinder, 35-horsepower engine, the lighter, more compact and maneuverable Whippet initially outperformed anything being offered by Ford. It was also inexpensive (around $500 in 1927) and surprisingly stylish. In 1928, the Whippet was the third best-selling car in America. In 1929, production of the Whippet hit an all-time high of 320,000 cars.
Unfortunately, 1929 is also the same year the company began sinking after its founder, John Willy, sold his interest to become an ambassador to Poland. After an ill-conceived 8-cyclinder version of the Whippet tanked with buyers in 1931, the name was eventually dropped along with the body design, which was replaced by the C-113.