Lanchesters Were The Pugs Of Cars

If you’re like most of our readers, you’ve probably spent more than a few sleepless nights staring off into the darkness, with one haunting question echoing inside your mind: What cars most resemble pug dogs? I’m happy to tell you that you can finally get some sleep, because I have an answer: Lanchesters, specifically from 1910 to 1914.

Lanchester was founded in 1895 by three brothers, and produced expensive, luxurious cars. By 1930, they were sold to BSA who effectively merged them with Daimler (the British one, not the German), who was then purchased by Jaguar in 1960, and today the dormant Lanchester name is owned by Jaguar-Land Rover, who’s owned by Tata of India. Got it? Great.


This isn’t meant to be a whole overview of Lanchester; I just want to focus on their cars that really resembled pug dogs, specifically the 1906-1911 Lanchester 28 and the 1911-1914 Lanchester 38.

These cars had a very unusual design for the day, a design that we almost never associate with vintage luxury cars, though we do associate it with vans of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s this design that makes these Lanchesters so pug-like.


The key to the design is that the engine (a 3.6-liter inline six for the 28 and a 4.8-liter inline six for the 38) is placed not under a long, stately hood, but is rather crammed between the driver and passenger, like how the engine sits under a doghouse in, say a 1977 Dodge Sportsman van.

This design all but eliminates the front hood on these cars, and that hood is analogous to a dog’s snout or muzzle. The result are cars with a smushed-in, friendly face that never fails to remind me of a pug.


I mean, come on, look at these guys.


I actually think this is a fantastic design for a large car, as it’s essentially a cabover town car, and has all the space-utilization advantages that entails. Just about all of the length of the car is space usable for people or luggage, with just a stumpy snout up front for radiator and lamps.


For the wealthy people who bought these, the driver sitting right next to the engine wasn’t such a big deal, because the rich people who bought these generally didn’t drive them themselves. The chauffeur will be fine.

Besides, most cars of this era offered no heat for the driver, so maybe sitting next to that warm, vibrating engine was a comfort.


By 1914, Lanchester came out with an all new model, the 40, which had a conventional muzzle/hood, ending their production of pug-resembling automobiles. Arguably, it was all downhill from there, at least in the context of making cars that resemble pugs.

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Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)