Sunday, March 05, 2023


Over on Facebook, John Correia was tickled by the fact that the Auburn 852 Phaeton in the previous post had a Lycoming engine, what with John being a private pilot and Lycoming being best known these days as a provider of engines for general aviation aircraft.

What I learned while digging up info on the car was pretty interesting. Lycoming's roots go back to a Nineteenth Century sewing machine manufacturer that had, by the fin de siècle, diversified into the typical array of Second Industrial Revolution manufactured mechanical goods: bicycles, typewriters, et cetera.

In 1907, in the middle of the economic contraction surrounding the Panic of 1907, the company was sold and restructured. Sewing machines not being as profitable as they had been, it stuck its corporate toe in the growing market for automobile engines. (In those early days cars were assembled from pieces by engine makers and coach builders, generally. Those "Body by Fisher" emblems on the scuff plates of your Grandma's Bonneville were a vestige of that.)

After the Great War, Lycoming had grown to become, among other things, pretty much the sole source provider of engines to the luxury trio of Auburn, Cord, & Duesenberg, enough so that E.L. Cord bought the company and brought it under his corporate umbrella. At the time, aviation was experiencing the same explosive growth that the automobile industry had been twenty years earlier, and Cord got Lycoming involved in developing engines for his new aero endeavors.

And now you know the rest of the story!

In the late '30s, Cord consolidated Lycoming and its other aviation assets under the "AVCO Lycoming" umbrella, which is still around and has been known to make a gas turbine or two.