Ardent Motors Corporation - A Brief History
Ardent Motors Corporation traces its roots back to Ardent Foundry and Tool, a company formed in Cincinnati, OH in 1872. This precursor produced farming tools, parts for the Cincinnati streetcar network, and cast iron goods.
By 1878, Ardent Foundry and Tool began producing steam-powered industrial engines and tractors, and eventually internal combustion versions of the same in the early 20th century. In 1923, Ardent Foundry and Tool sold off its iron works and tool businesses, and emerged as Ardent Motors Corporation. Their first production model was a 2 seat “business coupe”, powered by a 62 cubic inch flathead four.
Soon after, Ardent expanded to light trucks, and provided an ever-expanding range of personal automobiles.
The Great Depression was hard on Ardent Motors, nearly bankrupting them. In August of 1930, a year after the Depression began, Ardent got a new CEO, Jack Chancellor. It was due to Chancellor’s downright extreme management and control that the company managed to survive long enough to see the its fortunes reverse at the start of World War II.
Today, Ardent Motors Corporation builds and markets a full range of vehicles worldwide. They are the largest stakeholder in two smaller car companies, and have production and technology sharing agreements with them.
Ardent Motors (est 1923, Cincinnati, OH)
Townsend Coachworks (est 1919, Toledo, OH; full acquisition and merger in 1953)
Suzume Motor Manufacturing Industries (est 1947, Osaka; acquired 40% share in 1976, entered into co-manufacturing agreement)
Additionally, Ardent has been party to off-and-on sales and design contracts with Darvin Motors Ltd. of Australia since 1959, when the smaller automaker first approached Ardent to buy Toledo 333cid engines.
Ardent Starlight (Series 200)
1946 - 1957
1946 Ardent Starlight 200 Special in Ink Black
Immediately upon being cleared to switch from military to civilian production at the end of the war, Ardent began pumping out passenger cars and light trucks as soon as they could. Their design staff had been, for the most part, concentrating on factory conversion and efficiency during the war, so only a couple designers were available for non-military pursuits at that time. Ardent’s Chief Engineer, John Case, was one of them.
The Starlight was originally designed by John Case, and first put into production in 1939. Production was halted in early 1941, as Ardent’s factories were put to use building machines of war, initially to be sent to Britain, and then used by the US Army later.
The 1946 model was minimally different from the 1939 version, both inside and out. The only major difference was under the hood; the old 85 cubic inch flathead four and two speed manual transmission were gone, replaced by an all-new 99 cubic inch inline four, with an overhead valve design, that produced 49 horsepower. An all new three-speed transmission put power to the rear end. Despite the improvement in motivation, Ardent designed the Starlight to be an entry-level sedan, and marketed it both for urban and the growing suburban markets.
From 1946 to 1951, the Starlight was available in two trims, and three colors.
200 Special, MSRP $649
220 Deluxe, MSRP $669
In 1952, the Starlight received a minor refresh and a newly available engine. Minor interior improvements were made, and the front brakes were vastly improved with the implementation of two-shoe drums. The line expanded from two to three trims, and the colors from three to five. The Starlight ended its run in 1957.
What would have been the previous Deluxe version, in 1952, became the Custom trim. The top-trim Deluxe added a standard AM radio and a “sport” tuned version of the 99 cid engine that produced 61 horsepower. Also, one of the new colors was exclusive to the Deluxe trim.
200 Special, MSRP $899
210 Custom, MSRP $949
220 Deluxe, MSRP $1079
Light Mint (220 Deluxe only)
1952 Ardent Starlight 220 Deluxe in Light Mint