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PMI - Performance Machinery Incorporation


Private Miros is right, that’s actually based in reality, if not a hair on the small size, for a US engine in a large car in the early 60’s. The Chevy Impala rand with anywhere from a 230 I-6 to a 409 V8 (if you exclude the one-year only 427). And the same years of Cadillac DeVille would have had a 390 or 429 V8. In '63 the 390 put out 325 horses (Pre-SAE net. so probably in the 270 SAE Net/Automation terms)

So he’s right on the money with the power for this thing, historically speaking.


PMI Usurper Elegant GT

A side project of PMI Usurper, at the end of the lifetime of the Sedan ‘Cannes’ and before the introduction of the ‘Scud’, the ‘Elegant GT’ was developed by a number of PMI Usurper engineers in their own free time with the idea to provide competition against the influx of lighter and smaller foreign imports on the US market.

Main aspect of development was the testing of a monocoque chassis, which was also planned for the upcoming ‘Scud’. Other engineering focus lay heavily on drivability and interior of the car, making it comfortable and easy to drive for the time. The car offered place for 4 in high comfort for the time, together with competitive safety and practicality. The suspension was a complete rework as well, opting for MacPherson Struts and a Semi-trailing Arm in this small family coupe, the first Usurper to not have a solid rear axle with springs.

Lesser engineering effort had been put in the design (the design head engineer just got twins and was not involved in this after-hours project) and in the engine, which was merely a 1962 update of the 1946 PMI small block V8. The updated 248 cubic inch unit now produced 180 horsepower, which was enough to propel this compact family sports car to reasonable performance figures.

Taken up officially by PMI Usurper in the Spring of 1964, the car was initially only available with the 248 and a 3-speed automatic gearbox. Further engine choices, such as a 4-cylinder budget model, and a larger performance V8, were offered after the 1967 facelift.

Reception of the first generation ‘Elegant’ was generally positive, although there were more than a few who were not a fan of it’s styling. The technical side of things, coupled with a reasonable price for a small but top-end car, as well as the fact that production at this stage was limited - adding to the exclusivity factor - made it popular among car enthousiasts who liked the styling, and who wanted something different than the big sleds that had dominated the toruing segment in the US so far.

It also helped that some of those enthousiasts hlped it earn the award of best Touring Car in the August 1964 Motor World Review Article - PMI (the Usurper branch especially) was really making a name for itself here:

Speaking of repeats, PMI has scored another victory in our book, this time with the Usurper Elegant GT.

PMI has restrained themselves somewhat this time around, with 248 cubic inch V8 under the hood that outputs a modest 180 horsepower. At least, modest when you consider the competition.

While not the fastest in any given direction, the Usurper holds its own, with a sub-10 second 0-60 time. It is, however, a very comfortable and chic cruiser, if not a bit controversial with regards to its styling.

For all that you get, the purchase price of PMI’s tourer is actually quite reasonable.

It is, in our opinion, the must-have in this class.

The second generation of the Elegant arrived in 1967 and offered a facelift, and further engine choices, such as a 4-cylinder budget model, and a larger performance V8. Apart from the lights, the biggest change was a more conservative roof line.

The 248 V8 engine was still the base model, but next to this a 127 inline four cylinder engine from PMI Prospect, and the trusted 305 V8 were offered as well. Horsepower figures varied from 99 horsepower to 228 horsepower; a significant number for a less than 3000lb car.

In the early 70’s a new facelift was decided on, focussing on a new version of the 127 four-cylinder and the 248 V8; both radically changed to make them more fuel efficient. The main reason for this choice was that the other two cars on offer by PMI Usurper, the Scud and Scud Sabre, were very much catering to the enthousiasts of big, thirsty engines.

The Usurper, despite the general design starting to become aged, was still PMI Usurper’s best answer to foreign imports. The Elegant was generally more expensive, but also offered better comfort, while staying in the same weight class.

The fuel economy changes hurt the performance limits of the Elegant, but the car was nonetheless considered very enjoyable to drive. True, the four-cylinder and automatic transmission V8 were not what you’d call fast or sportive (the manual V8 was better in that regards, but nothing world-shocking), but all trims were responsive and safe to drive in wet or cold weather.

Though still a coupe in body style, the drivability, cargo capacity and comfortable seating for 4, actually made the car quite popular as a small, spory family sedan.


PMI Usurper Scud Sabre

The 1969 Scud Sabre was built on a different platform that the 1967 Scud Coupe and Scud Sedan. The name was a direct reference to the Usurper Sabre and Super Sabre from the 50’s. Despite being different from the Scud, it was chosen to keep the Scud name for sales reason and to differentiate from the first generation Sabres.

The most iconic Scub Sabres were the supercharged 390 and 464. Powered by huge high-torque V8s, they were considered iconic muscle cars. The engines produced 285 and 300 horsepower (at the wheels) with the 464 producing a massive 610Nm (450ft.lb) of torque. The top speeds were similar between the two supercharged engines, at around 230kph (143mph). The Smaller 390 actually reached 100kph (61mph) faster, but the 464 managed the quarter mile in 16 seconds, which was over half a second faster than the 390.

Smaller, non-supercharged, engines were available as well, a slower but cheaper and more economical 265 inline six engine with 200 horsepower; and the PMI V8 refurbished old Sabre 305 (5litre) block, producing 228 horsepower. The 305 was in fact the most selling trim, as it at least neared the performance of the 390 but was a cheaper car.

In terms of styling the Scud Sabre - usually just referred to as the Sabre, Sabre Muscle car or Sabre Supercharged for the 390 and 464 - used the popular for the era hidden headlights that popped up by rotating part of the grille. The solid part of the grille contained elements reminiscent of the styling of the first generation Sabre.

Epoch Industries - lore and model lineup thread (1867 onwards)

PMI Usurper Scud

The 1967 Scud Coupe and Scud Sedan were built on the huge 3 meter wheel base platform. The Scuds were known for their premium and even luxury interiors and quality finishing, but performance-wise they were not up there with the competition. The size and weight made the car unwieldy and the suspension was basic with macpherson struts in the front and old fashion coils in the rear.

Interestingly, the sub-trim levels were all named after Asian cities. The Coupe was the Rangoon; the convertible the Goa; the premium sedan the Manila; and the luxury Sedan - only introduced late 1972 - the Jeddah.

Placeholder for First Gen

A facelifted Scud was introduced in 1971, although the same engines as in 1967 were still offered. The biggest change came in late 1972 when a - some would say megalomaniac - luxury version was introduced, marketed as the Jeddah trim level. It was in the first place based around massive 511 cu.-in. engine producing 350 horsepower.

With a top speed 145mph and 0-61 in 8.5 seconds, the almost 2 metric ton heavy car was at least fast in a straight line. The automatc three-speed gearbx and wide tires made the car controllable, but the turning performance was simply abysmal. Confort in the end was also hampered by the suspension set-up.

What hampered the car the most was the fuel economy, with less than 8 mpg, the engine-car combination simply did not survive the oil crisis a year after its introduction. A smaller 390 cu.-in. version with 300 horsepower was also offered, but fuel consumsion there was even worse, due to the weight of the car. Even a hastily retuned version of the 390, this time offering 250 horsepower, managing slightly over 10 mpg, could not save the Scud.


PMI Usurper Consul

The Consul was the successor of the Elegant and in a large part formed the answer of PMI on the oil crisis. Although not the most fuel efficient cars on the market, the Consul used regular unleaded fuel, advanced -for the time - catalytic converters, and reasonable mpg, while still maintaining the sports luxury coupe standards that the Usurper brand strive to uphold.

The Consul started in 1977 with an inline six standard version and a V8 premium version. The engines were using tried and tested technology, including a single four-barrel carburator, but were detuned for fuel consumption and regular fuel. The inline six was based on the 1946 PMI six engine, now producing only 115 horsepower and the V8 was the well-known 305, producing 142 horsepower.

Performance in pure numbers was not spectacular. The inline six was coupled to a four-speed manual giving the Consul a 105 mph top speed and an advertised fuel consumption of 20 mpg (highway). The V8 premium used a three-speed automatic transmission and had a top speed of 110 mph. Fuel consumption was advertised as 18 mpg (highway). The two cars did not differ much in terms of acceleration, but on the US market a premium V8 model was considered almost obligatory, and increased conform and drivability was indeed was the V8 offered over the inline six.

The real innovation came in 1979 with the release of 4 new trims (though no exterior styling update). While top premium model still used the V8, but now with a more catalytic converter and producing 192 horsepower, the other two engines were real innovations. Fuel consumption of the V8 rose to only 17 mpg (highway), but top speeds of 120 mph and acceleration under 10 seconds to 61 were again possible.

One of the new engines was the same old 218 inline six, orginally from 1946, but the real innovation was in the fuel system, which was for the first time not a carburator but a single point injection system. This was an experiment from the engineering department as the real new base version was powered by a power plant developed by the Hajimura branch of PMI in Japan, a 2.2 inline four engine with a single overhead cam - the first non-OHV engine for PMI Usurper.

The four cylinder (mainly) and the injection six (limited numbers) were offered for a standard version (with a manual four-speed), while again the four cylinder and the V8 were offered for the premium trim (with a three-speed automatic). Despite only producing 100 horsepower, the four cylinder proved itself capable, and although top speed was low and acceleration average, the Consul provided an enjoyable ride experience, this time with fuel consumption figures nearing 25mpg.

1982 update:

Feedback in particular on the 4-cylinder Consuls was rather negative. The cars were not that economical and they were slow and not astronimically great to drive. Thus, the drastic decision was made to stop the cooperation with PMI Hajimura after only 5 years. Instead, the new standard version was the 1982 update of the PMI Prospect small (2750cc) inline-6 engine. Other engine choices included 3 (kind of) variants of a newly developed PMI Usurper engine.

Introduced in 1980, the new cast iron OHV 5 litre V8 was a replacement for the more than trusty old 305 cubic inch. More innovative, a V6 engine, a 3.8 litre, was introduced as well, although really it was little more than the same OHV V8 with two cylinders cut off. They might have been more modern than the V8 and I6 1940’s and 50’s engines used upto that point, but they were still OHV and carburated.

In terms of design, the headlights and the rear of the 1982 model underwent changes, giving the car a more modern look (for the time). Although even that is relative; the styling remained very much conservative American. This was the reason the V8 engine was still offered as well: the decision was taken that it would be unmarketable without V8.

The V8 offered 195 horsepower, but made the car heavy compared to the other trims (nearly 1.5 metric tons). Top speed was over 120 mph and acceleration a respectable 8.3 seconds from 0-61. By contrast the I6 standard version only had 115 horsepower and did not manage much over 100 mph and 12.5 seconds. All engine trims were connected to a new 4-speed automatic gearbox to improve performance.

The new V6 engine was a go between with 150 horsepower, but the real innovation was a turbocharged V6 version, and while less powerful than the V8 with 185 horsepower, it offered better mpg and lower weight, giving it slightly lower top speed and acceleration as well as handling characteristics.

(As always, overview in the opening post updated - further stats availble upon request.)


PMI Usurper Sabre (Gen.II)

In 1986, PMI Usurper relaunched the mythic name Sabre as stand-alone brand (rather than a specific trim as with the Scud Sabre in the late 60s). As with the 50’s car, the Sabre was a stocky but powerful 2-door coupe, designed to travel long distances in comfort, rather than to corner around a track. Although, this Sabre incarnation did features independent suspension all-round. The car had a simple straight forward late-80s design, with a number of design features inspired by European brands.

Equally as with the original Sabre, the focus was on the V8 engine. Using the 1980 5 liter OHV, but now outfitted with fuel injection, the engine produced 206 horsepower and had reasonable fuel economy (up to 22 US mpg while cruising between 50 and 60 mph). The V8 trim was offered in Cruiser and Sports trims, where the former had an automatic 4-speed and the latter a manual four speed.

1987 and 1988 saw the introduction of 2 new engine choices; a inline-6, using a fuel injected 4.1 liter Matilda engine, the second SOHC engine PMI Usurper ever used, after the rather unsuccessful use of Japanese 4-cylinder SOHCs in the Consul in 1979. The Matilda engine was actually more powerful than the V8 with 220 horsepower, and cheaper. It was only available with automatic gearbox. The only reason it wasn’t more successful was that it wasn’t a V8 and the car looked designed for a V8.

Available with a 5-speed manual or the trusty 4-speed automatic, the last engine choice was a EFI fuel injected version of the V6 Turbo engine made popular by the PMI Usurper Consul. Only producing 192 horsepower, the manual gearbox Sabre V6 Turbo was nonetheless the best accelerating, getting from 0-60 in only 7 seconds.


PMI Usurper V8 Coupe (Gen.II)

Yet another revival of a name, the V8 Coupe was the first car PMI Usurper ever put on the market. The 1992 version, just as the 1946 car, only had two seats and was all about big engine performance coupled to a luxurious interior and cruising comfort. Numbers produced were limited, and the car was never meant to be the main product of PMI Usurper for these model years. Nonetheless, even for limited model prices and maintenance were manageble compared to the competition on the sports market.

Initially offered only with a manual 5-speed gearbox and 5 liter V8 engine producing 220 horsepower, the V8 Coupe was sporty and luxurious with premium interior and acceleration 0-61 of 7 seconds and a top speed of 150mph (242km/h). Most obvious quirks and features in terms of styling were the round badge in the front, reminiscent of the 1947 V8 Custom, as well as the covered headlights - which was more a Scud Sabre thing, rather than a V8 customs feature.

1994 saw two additional new trims: a 5 liter V8 with a four speed automatic (and more lethargic performance - though 8 seconds on the 0-61 is not exactly snail pace either) but with updated premium interior features; and a massive V8L engine trim level with a 5.9 liter ASCAR-derived engine making almost 292 horsepower. Acceleration for this monster was well below 7 seconds and it topped out at around 165 mph.

In terms of driving performance, the V8 Coupe was enjoyable at low speeds and highway speeds. However, at high speeds and pushed to the limit in the corners, it was prone to wheel spin and sudden loss of rear wheel grip. This meant the car was mainly fast in a straight line (the V8L managed a 02:41,09 on our test track, by comparison the Japanese-made PMI Dotai 2.2 Type-B, with a naturally aspirated 2.2 inline-4 engine and a mere 150 horsepower, managed a 02:38,90). Nonetheless, normal everyday driving, both with manual and automatic trim levels was comfortable, the high V8-torque making gear changes with the manual transmission a relatively rare occasion anyway.


PMI (Racing) Zelo 122 C

The very first car to bear the name Zelo, although developed by the team that has now been incorporated into the PMI Racing division. The First true PMI Zelo as an independent brand available for the broad public - although broad is relative for a luxury tourer - would be the PMI Zelo Inter 122 S, using an adapted, more reliable, but less powerful engine of this race car.

Powering the 122 C was a 1995cc (60.0mmx58.8mm) Direct-Acting Over-Head Cam 60° V12, producing 160 horsepower at 7100rpm and 175Nm of torque at 5600rpm. A light, hand-made tubular frame and light-weight aluminum body paneling ensured the light race car could reach speeds over 180 km/h fairly comfortably. If any critique could be given, it’s that for budget reasons - and the 122 Competizione was already an expensive car - a 4-speed manual gearbox was chosen. Damiano Colombio, the lead engineer in charge of the development of the PMI-Zelo 12.20 C power plant, wanted to use a five-speed gearbox as it matched the high revving V12 better than that of a traditional four-speed gearbox.

The main success of the 122 Competizione was its handling. With racing sway bars front and rear, and finely tuned brakes, it did not suffer the twitchiness and nervousness of many of its competitors in the day. Despite its exquisite driving abilities, and its success in late 40s, and early 50s racing, the car was very expensive to produce, even for a competition brand, and only 6 cars were ever produced.

PMI Racing - Zelo 122.car (35.0 KB)