Once you start thinking about it, there’s a surprising number of cars named after American states. There’s one, though, that I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of. I mean, with our audience, I’m sure someone has, but it’s still wildly obscure. That’s reason enough to get me excited and want to share this useless bit of automotive falderal with you, so, you know, hold on tight.
Before I reveal the Most Obscure Car Named For A U.S. State, let’s go over what I think are all the other cars named after (or close enough) to U.S. States:
1. Ferrari California
2. Chevrolet Colorado
3. Pontiac Montana, Chevrolet Montana (a little Latin American pickup)
4. Renault Floride
5. Chrysler New Yorker
6. Dodge Dakota (close enough)
I didn’t think I could count the Ford Escort Mexico, because Mexico is, of course, a country, and you really need that “New” to indicate it’s the U.S. state. There’s also a bunch of companies from the early ‘boom’ era of automobiles, like the Pennsylvania (1907-1911), the Texan (1918-1922), Washington (several companies in the 1900s-1920s), and I’m sure there were a few others, but there were so many car companies popping up in that era that I’m inclined not to count those. I hope we can all make peace with that.
Okay, so, here’s the one I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of before: the Grumett Indiana.
I’m smitten by the Grumett Indiana for several reasons: first, I love the strange cars of Uruguay, and perhaps more importantly, there’s something about the name “Grumett Indiana” that’s both immediately identifiable as the name of a car, but also completely alien and baffling.
I sort of long to go to the counter at an Autozone just to have the guy behind the computer ask me what kind of car I need that relay for, and then to watch the tics of dull confusion on his face as he types GROMMET into the MAKE field, and then asks me “did you say ‘Iowa?’ What kind of Grommet was it, sir?”
The Grumett Indiana is based on the third-generation (HC) Vauxhall Viva. Grumett made fiberglass-bodied cars with tube frames and utilizing GM (Vauxhall or Opel) mechanicals. In the case of the Indiana, an actual Vauxhall Viva HC was used to mold the fiberglass body (which was molded by another Uruguayan firm), but the suspension was based on the narrower Open Kadett B, so the track was sort of strangely narrow compared to the body.
In fact, the track from the older-generation Kadett was a full four inches more narrow, so these cars must have looked sort of like a toddler wearing his dad’s sweater. Other than that, I do sort of like the body design, which was based on the Viva 3-door estate, which is a charming sort of humpbacked wagon/hatchback design.
The Indiana also got a unique grille design, unique light treatments front and rear, and its own bumpers.
The Indiana used the Opel 1.1-liter inline-four to make a ravenous 56 horsepower, and I suspect the performance wasn’t why anyone bought these.
Grumett also made some Vauxhall Chevette-based fiberglass-bodied cars and trucks, and some of them seem sort of appealing, like their Grumett Sport, which had the cheeky audacity to compare itself to a Lamborghini in its ads:
I’m sure Lambos and Grumetts got cross-shopped all the time.
They actually made almost 5,000 Indianas between 1972 and 1974, which is, what, over ten times as many cars as Bugatti made Veyrons? And yet everyone knows about the Veyron and nobody seems to know about the Grumett Indiana. Go figure.
Anyway, now you know. This is the car that’s going to win you so many bar bets when you challenge people to name all the cars named for states. You’re welcome.