PMI - Performance Machinery Incorporation

PMI - Performance Machinery Incorporation

Performance Machinery Incorporation was founded in 1874 in Albany, New York, by a French Canadian named Julien Godin, who originally came from Montreal. The company mainly produced components for steam engines, boiler and farming equipment.

In the early 1900s, under the leadership of Godin’s son-in-law, Frederick Franklin Lloyd, the company began producing internal combustion engines under the brand name PMI. The PMI-engines were mostly meant for industrial generators and farming machines. With the First World War on its way, defence orders for trucks and aeroplanes came in as well.

During the roaring twenties, Performance Machinery Incorporation produced a number of car engines for different coach builders, setting up strong connection with British, Belgian and French industry. Production of generator engines and the occasional heavy load engine remained the main activity.

As for any company, the crash of '29 and the thirties were difficult, with Performance Machinery Incorporation focussing mostly on argicultural equipment. True this they managed to weather most of the storm, keeping the company in Godin-ownership. In 1935 an important defence contract was won and this was the true beginning of the PMI success story.

In the Second World War, Performance Machinery Incorporation was one of the main contractors for producing and maintaining engines and chassis for armoured vehicles and tanks. In this capacity, the company was very active as well in Europe and under lend-lease programmes in the Soviet Union.

Examples include the PMI 42-10k “Washington”, a high-quality 10 liter 60° V8-engine with double overhead cams producing 350 horsepower and 800 Nm (590 ftlb) of torque. The engines was used in both half-tracks as well as light and medium tanks.

Picture of the PMI 42-10k “Washington”; ca. 1944.

At the end of the Second World War the drastic decision was made to almost fully focus on car production. The decision was made by the CEO at that time, Bobby J. Moore, to reform the company to a holding structure and rename to PMI LLC. A number of European companies, needing money after the war years and destruction, were bought up and brought under the PMI Holding. PMI LLC remained headquartered in Albany, but many different production facilities were set up.

US and North American market:

PMI Prospect Corp.
Focus on family cars for the American market.

  • 1946-1950 PMI Prospect Bonhomme
  • 1978-1988 PMI Prospect Goodman

PMI Usurper Corp.
Amercan Muscle by PMI.

  • 1946-1949 PMI Usurper Coupe
  • 1951-1954 PMI Usurper Sabre
  • 1959-1965 PMI Usurper Sedan
  • 1964-1978 PMI Usurper Elegant GT
  • 1967-1975 PMI Usurper Scud
  • 1969-1973 PMI Usurper Scud Sabre (Gen-I)
  • 1977-1982 PMI Usurper Consul (Gen-I)
  • 1982-1986 PMI Usurper Consul (Gen-II)
  • 1983-1988 PMI Usurper Sedan

PMI Roamer Corp.
Offroad branch.

  • 1956-1962 PMI Roamer

PMI Spirit Corp.
Delivery vans and special projects.

  • 1946-1952 PMI Spirit
  • 1957-1962 PMI Roamer-Spirit

European market:

PMI Polloi S.r.l.
Small and economical city cars.

  • 1949-1954 PMI Polloi Barudion

PMI Calliope Ltd.
Family cars for the European market.

  • 1945-1952 PMI Calliope Mk.I

PMI Puma UK Ltd. and PMI Puma SARL
Small sports cars.

  • 1948 PMI Puma Grand Sport
  • 1966 PMI Puma Prototype

PMI Racing Ltd.
International PMI car racing team.

PMI Minerva NV/SA
Luxury brand.

PMI Merkur GmbH
Offroad and utility.

PMI Zelo S.r.l.
Super and hyper cars, also sold in the US under the name PMI Zealous (after 1958).

  • 1948 PMI Zelo 122 Competizione
  • 1950-1951 PMI Zelo Inter 122 S
  • 1951 PMI Zelo Inter 162 S
  • 1952-1955 PMI Zelo 252 Export
  • 1955 PMI Zelo 142 Competizione
  • 1955-1958 PMI Zelo 315 Export

Russian and Central Asian markets:

OOO PMI Polezniy Podolsk
Largely independent from PMI US and EU under the Soviet Union, a continuation of the Russian headquarters under the World War Two lend-lease programme. Marketted under the brand name Polezny.

  • 1968-1986 Polezniy Dniepro

Japanese market:

Established in 1962:

PMI Hajimeru G.K.
Family cars for the Japanese market. Also sold as PMI Companion in the US (after 1981).

  • 1985-1989 PMI Hajimeru Katei (USA: PMI Companion K)

PMI Dotai G.K.
Sports cars, also sold as PMI Hawk in the US.

PMI Kekko G.K.
City and microcars.

Fringe Markets and Sub-Brands

  • 1986-1991 PMI ZST

We all know that mid-80’s Companion wagon definitely belongs here.

That was actually the car that made me decide to revesion my lore thread. The Companion is now the US-market version of the Japanese PMI branch Hajimeru. I did retune the engine to produce 94 horsepower compared to my submission for your CSR, but the 1986 PMI Companion K-Wagon 1.7 is already in there.

I shall also start posting pictures and summaries of the cars soon. @VicVictory, any suggestion which one first?

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I’d say start old, personally. But that’s just me.

Too many holes in the lore for now to do it fully chronologically though…

So start with the Companion. :slight_smile: That was a very well balanced wagon.

PMI Hajimeru Katei (third generation) / PMI Companion K-Wagon


We’re here with Mr. Brad Anderson, 78, from Rochester, New Hampshire and his '86 PMI Companion K-Wagon 1.7. This car is now 32 years old and we are joining Mr. Anderson here today because the car is reaching a milestone today; quite literally, the odometer is currently at 499.983 miles.

While PMI LLC is visiting Mr. Anderson, we’d thought it interesting to give you an overview of the successful 3rd generation PMI Hajimeru Katei, sold in Asia and Europe, the wagon version of which was sold in the US as the PMI Companion K-Wagon.

Mr. Anderson:

I’ve bought the Companion Wagon back in '86. I was looking for something reliable, you know, that take me and the missus to town but that would also work to go into the woods with my dog back then; driving on them slippery tracks. We never had much - always enough you mind - but we was looking to at something not too expensive to drive and maintain. We chose PMI because it offered what the pure Japanese brands offered, but at least we bought American. We kept it this long because we simply never needed anything else. It got us around, the dog loved it, it never broke down.

The Companion K-Wagon was near-identical to the Katei Wagon sold in the Europe and Asia. The main difference was the 4-speed automatic instead of the 5-speed manual. The engine was the multi-point EFI 1740cc, 8 valve, SOHC, Japanese-made four-cylinder, producing 94 hp at 6000 rpm and 138 Nm at 3300 rpm.

The Companion was only marginally heavier so top speed was identical at 166 km/h (103 mph). The automatic gearbox meant slower acceleration and slightly worse fuel economy for the Companion than for the Katei.

1986 PMI Companion K-Wagon 1.7 in "two-tone metallic apple-blue-sea-green and black".
1986 PMI Hajimeru Katei Wagon 1.7 in "non-quite blue".

The third generation Katei was brought on the market in Asia and Europe one year earlier in 1985 in hatchback and sedan form. The Hatchback was particularly popular in the Asian markets, offering place for 5 adults and being powered by an easy and cheap to maintain carburated 1314cc engine. In Japan proper and in Europe the equally carburated sedan was being favoured with its bigger 1540cc engine producing 70 horsepower. The 1.3 only produced 57 horsepower.

1985 PMI Hajimeru 1.3S in "two-toned babylon white and black".
1985 PMI Hajimeru 1.5S in "rich red".

Sales in Japan and Europe went up even more when in 1986 a fuel-injection version of the 1.5 engine became available, next to the wagon version and the 1.7 engine that we already described above. The updated engine procuded 83 horsepower and made the car overall more enjoyable to drive, as well as cleaner to run.

1986 PMI Hajimeru 1.5i in "two-tone metallic taupe and black".

Lastly, especially aimed at the European market, a turbo-charged and fuel-injected version of the 1.3 hatchback was introduced in 1988 as competition to the many hot hatches on the market there. It was not a huge success, and the 1.3, even with a turbo, was no match for 1.6 liter GTI’s, but with 94 horsepower it did turn the Katei into a fun hatch to throw around. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h happened in 10 seconds.

Remarkable was also that the exterior difference to the standard hatch were minimal. The car remained a five-doors and the the only noticable differences were slightly wider wheel arches, the front bumper and the badging.

1988 PMI Hajimeru 1.3Ti in "two-tone babylon white and black".

PMI gladly discloses all stats upon request.


PMI on the US market in 1946

Today we take a look at the early days of PMI and the first cars to be offered on sale after world war two on the US market. PMI was at this time still very much focussed on the development of utilitarian engines.

It is no surprise that development after the war effort immediately focussed on the design of two “universal” engines: a 3571 cc (218 cubic inch) inline-6, called the “Universal Ninety”, producing 90 horsepower at 3700 rmp and 228 Nm (168 lb-ft) of torque at 2000rpm; and a 4070 cc (248,4 cubic inch) V-8, called the “Universal One-Ten”, producing 110 horsepower at 3800 rpm and 263 Nm (194 lb-ft) of torque at 1700 rpm.

In the end both engines were based of military spec engines, where PMI had the most experience, and were designed to be sold to different manufacturers of cars, light trucks, argicultural and construction equipment.

Nevertheless, PMI introduced 3 own models on the market in 1946:

1. PMI Prospect Bonhomme Super Six

The first car offered on sale by the PMI Prospect Corporation. The Bonhomme was meant to be an affordable American family car for the newly developing suburbs. The 1946 models used the standard PMI “Universal Ninety” engine and could transport six people in moderate comfort.

The Prospect Bonhomme was simple in design and cheap to maintain. The leaf springs made it highly utilitarian inside and outside of the cities. The 90 horsepower engine and a 3-speed manual gearbox propelled it to a top speed just shy of 160 km/h (100 mph).

Sales were encouraging, also due to the so-called Valiant-programme, which offered cars with (sub-optimal) 2-speed automatics and tailor-made controls for use by disabled veterans. This was a programme pushed by the many PMI US workers who were war-veterans as well, having worked on PMI tank, truck and generator engines in the many theaters of war.

The Bonhomme would get additional engine choices and trim levels in the coming years, as PMI expanded. The car was also used in some cities as taxi or police vehicle (albeit mostly the later, more powerful versions).

2. PMI Usurper V8 Coupe

See further, below.

3. PMI Spirit "A"

PMI management had to make the tough decision to focus on a pick-up or on a utility/delivery truck for their 1946 model year. PMI Spirit eventually won the internal design competition over PMI Roamer Corp., who would be granted more time to produce a competitive pick up truck, and who would in time work closely together with PMI Spirit Corp. on different models.

The Spirit “A” was powered as well by the “Universal Ninety”, but had a heavy duty 4-speed manual for better gearing on rough terrain and inclines. The ride on the leaf springs front and rear was harsh and amenities were basic. However the “A” could comfortably transport over a (metric) ton of cargo.

The car was perhaps slightly old-fashioned in styling, in part due to the quite classical spare tire on the side, but extensive usage in rural terrain meant the spare tire accessibility was highly appreciated. The low price ($793) and extremely low service costs (significantly less than $40 dollars per year in first 5 years of ownership) meant the PMI Spirit “A” saw remarkable success as a light professional transport and delivery vehicle.

PMI gladly discloses all stats upon request.

The “Universal Ninety” and “Universal One-Ten” engines are available upon request for use in your 1946 and onwards vehicles.


If only it was a flathead :weary:


While I’m familiar with the Ford flathead, my knowledge of V8s is lacking. I know flatplane V8s are easier to produce, but how realistic would a crossplane crank be in these cars?

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Huh? Flathead refers to the valvetrain. Instead of using pushrods, the camshaft actuates the valves directly, which are placed at the side of the engine.


On the topic of crossplane cranks, these are the most common v8s regardless of valvetrain etc

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See, this is how little I know :smiley:

I’m a lawyer, that’s my excuse for anything mechanical or mathematical (although, that’s not completely true considering the field I work in, but that’s another story).

So it’s side-valve V8 then? Which you cannot get in Automation (yet)?

(I’m learning, thanks for that.)

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Yeah, that’s the case sadly. There’s people who rp that anyways, creativity is the only limit :smiley:


1946-1949 PMI Usurper V8 Coupe

The V8 Coupe was the first vehicle offered by the Usurper branch of PMI US. While the Prospect aimed at families, the V8 Coupe clearly aimed at singles and executive leisure markets and the car was indeed favoured by still single veterans and as a leisure car by business men.

This was the first US PMI car designed with independent front suspension, and because of this reason there were some issues with reliability compared to the other PMI sub-brands on offer. Apart from that, the car was well-finished and the top trim offered leather seats and a radio as standard equipment.

The Usurper as well only had a single engine option for the 1946 model year, the “Universal one-ten”. This 110 horsepower V8 was still very much designed with more utilitarian applications in mind, producing very high torque early on. Nonetheless, the engine worked on the model, coupled as well to a 3-speed manual gear-box, and it produced a deep and muscular sound fitting to the car.

The Usurper was a sturdy vehicle and this was needed, because despite modern independent front suspension the car was quite tail happy and did not take corners all that willingly. It was built and meant as a cruiser for long straight roads that could quickly pick up speed to pass traffic when needed without changing gears. In essence, it was the first dabbling of PMI into the market that would one day become the famous American muscle car.

The Usurper Coupe was marketed mainly to returning veterans as sports car with a kick, and it was well-received.

One aspect that helped sales, certainly only on, was an extremely favourable review by the highly-esteemed Motor World Review of August 1946, granting it the prize for best non-family car on the market of 1946.

Brawny and comfortable. These are two adjectives that come to mind after we tested the Art Deco-style Usurper from PMI. Part roadster and part luxury car, this V8 powered street figher is our Best Other Car of 1946.

Able to rocket to over 100 MPH, and cover the first 60 in just over 11 seconds, it’s plenty fast. Genuine wood trim all over the interior, two plush seats, and a radio round out the equipment list on the Usurper.

Perhaps it’s not the best handling car in the world, but the fun factor is undeniably there. As is the flash factor.

For those looking for a unique, thrilling ride, not much approaches the dollar for dollar value of this vehicle.

PMI may claim that the Usurper “has a way with women”, but we think that it is simply “the way” for sport in the current market climate.

In late autumn 1947, a special custom version with an adapted, 2 carburettor, version of the “Universal One-Ten”, referred to as the “Performance One-Forty” was introduced.

The increased power output made the Custom an even more fearful road warrior, reaching speeds of almost 200km/h (120mph). Prices were up at that point and you had to put down almost $200 more to own a Custom.

Apart from the badging on the rear was the specially designed from grille, which differed from the standard model. It also inspired the grille of later Usurper models. There are very view Usurper V8 Coupe Customs still out there, and they fetch an impressive amount of money at auction.

Both the standard as well as the custom model were built until early 1949, when diminishing sales figures and aging design compared to the fast moving competition made PMI Holding pull the plug on the model. All-in-all though, the first Usurper can be considered a success.


1951-1954 PMI Usurper Sabre V8

Introduced in 1951, the Sabre was PMI’s answer on the early 50s restyling of other famous brands such as Ardent and Bogliq. The front grille was inspired by the 1947 V8 Coupe Custom and was typical of aerospace influences in the automobile industry. All Sabres offered comfortable seating for 4 adults and were more than capable to cruise at high speed.

The Sabre was built mainly around a newly developed larger capacity V8 engine, which was basically a bigger bored version of the Universal One-Ten, and which produced with the standard 2-barrel carburator 150 horsepower. This car was called the Sabre V8 Custom, although in reality production was standardized.

A cheaper version, simply called the Sabre V8 was also available, with an updated version of the well-known Universal One-Ten. The newly-installed 2-barrel carburator made sure it produced 126 horsepower.

An exclusive SuperSports version powered by a racing-inspired version of the new larger V8, sporting 2 carburators, was also offered. This was the top of the line trim and the 185 horsepower engine made it one of the fastest American compact coupes on offer.

The SuperSports trim was reviewed in the Motor World Review of August 1951:

PMI Usurper Sabre V8

“…lovely 185 horsepower 318 V8. The Usurper Sabre continues a tradition of performance, making it to 60 in 10 seconds flat, and being able to hit just shy of 119 MPH. While it handles competently, the level of comfort just doesn’t rise to our expectations…”

Pros: Good performance and handling, relatively low purchase price
Cons: Poor comfort, poor safety


1945 - 1952 PMI Calliope Mk.I

Let us turn our eyes towards PMI in war-torn Europe now. Although, that has to be nuanced, as the Calliopes were manufactures in the UK, where the infrastructure was intact. Nonetheless, the first passenger car of PMI in Europe was a simple affair relying heavily on recycling World War II technology.

The chassis used was that of a light army truck, with coils in the front but leaf springs for the rear suspension. The engine was equally a PMI light army logistics truck powerplant. The highly undersquare OHV-4 cylinder engine (73,0x106,0mm) produced high torque but a measly 52 horsepower. Officially referred to as the 184 (here the 18 refers to 1800cc and the 4 to the number of cylinders) weighed a metric ton and was by no means fast. Top speed was somewhere between 120-130km/h (80-85mph) and acceleration with the 3-speed manual gearbox was a creeping 26 seconds from 0-100 (0-61).

In late 1948, a new version, the 226, became available, outfitted with a new 2,2 litre OHV straight six PMI engine (also highly undersquared at 68,3x100,0mm). The power unit produced 75 horsepower and made for a remarkable smooth ride. Next to the engine and gearbox ratio, the 226 had larger drums in the rear than the 184 and featured a padded dashbord as safety feature, but was for the rest identical. Top speed was increased to 145km/h (90mph) and acceleration from a standing start dropped below 18 seconds.

The truck chassis underneath made the Mk.I very utilitarian and allowed to carry almost up to a metric ton of cargo. Coupled to this was the interior, one of the few areas were no expense was saved. The Mk.I offered plush and comfortable seats front and rear, allowing 6 adults to take place in the car. This is the reason the Mk.I stayed in production until 1952, downpriced the last 2 years, seeing continued sales to farmers and artisans as family car that could double as a hauler.


PMI Roamer-Spirit Model I

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PMI Roamer-Spirit Model II

A new version of the PMI Roamer pick-up truck was introduced in 1956, called the ‘Country’. Apart from design the most important update was the bigger and improved inline-6 engine in the standard truck. An optional small block V8 model was also availale.

Standard with the new 266 cubic inch inline-6 producing 142 horsepower and 223 of torque, the Roamer could take on almost any terrain and could almost reach 100mph on straight asphalt.

The V8 option available was the trusty 248 cubic inch V8, the first V8 developed by PMI. Marginally cheaper, and actually less powerful with its 134 horsepower and 192 of torque, this option was mainly offered to satisfy demand for a V8 offroad pickup. One minor advantage for the V8 version was that it received the 3-speed manual gearbox with overdrive from the '51 Usurper, while the inline-6 version did not have that overdrive gear.

As with the Model I, the Roamer had solid axle coils front and rear, focussing on high offroad capability and utility. Equally as with the Model I, PMI Spirit set out to make a more street-oriented version with independent front suspension and more expensive interior including a high-quality radio, called the ‘Vogue’. The bumpers and front fascia, especially the indicators, were adapted for the Spirit Vogue model, compared to the Roamer Country.

New for the Model II ‘Vogue’ was that the engine was changed as well, switching out the inline-6 or the small 248 cubic inch V8 for the 1955 Usurper 305 cubic inch V8 (5 liter). The engine produced 168 horsepower and 316Nm of torque (233 The '57 trim had a manual three-speed gearbox (without overdrive) and accelerated in 10,5 seconds to highway speed. The top speed was well over 100 mph (160kph).

In '59, a version was made available with a 2-speed superglide automatic gearbox.

The '57 Vogue was well-received and featured in the Motor World Review of August 1957, in which it was chosen as winner in the Best Utility category:

Rough and tough, utility vehicles have grown in number and popularity in recent years. No longer solely relegated to the docks or farm work, they have become more adaptable and thus more mainstream. This year, we name PMI’s Roamer the Utility of the Year.

A sturdy 305 cubic inch, 168 horsepower V8 hides underneath the hood, hooked up to an equally sturdy 3-speed manual. The rear differential has a mechanical lock lever, allowing the Roamer to handle rough roads and mud better

While the Roamer is only a 1/2 ton light truck, it is far and away the most comfortable vehicle of the group. It also handles quite well on the road, second only to the Ardent in this aspect.

“Roam” and “Impress” are what PMI would like you to do, and we think this truck may just be able to do that.


PMI Usurper Sedan ‘Cannes’

The ‘Cannes’, named after the French town on the Côte d’Azur, was the first four-door developed by Usurper. At over 6 meters long, the ‘Cannes’ had more than ample space for that extra pair of doors anyway. Size also meant weight, this new Usurper, launched in 1959 and face-lifted in 1961, clocked in at a full two metric tons.

This amount of weight needed power, so the ‘Cannes’ was only offered with a single engine option, a large 390 cubic inch V8, for the first time tuned to run on super-leaded fuel. The 1959 version had a single 2-barrel carburator and produced 210 horsepower and 336 of torque. A manual 4-speed gearbox was chosen over an automatic unit for more optimalized power delivery.

Beneath the car remained the standard PMI Usurper set-up of a ladder chassis, independent front suspension, and a solid coil rear axle, although actually this would actually be the last Usurper with a simple ladder chassis to be produced.

The 1961 update featured a new grille and a redesigned rear quarter, with lower, sleeker fins and more modern rear lights. The engine was updated as well with a 4-barrel carburator, meaning the 390 now produced 255 horsepower and 358 of torque.

The high power-output meant good performance, but especially the high torque made it at times a difficult car to drive, with tendency towards oversteer when accelerating out of a slow corner. Top speed of the '61 model was 128mph; acceleration from 0-61 was achieved in less than 10 seconds. Fuel economy was not a worry in the sixties and that showed in the fuel consumption of this car and its mpg of well under 10.

Other critiques in the car media were its relatively high cost and issues with reliability. However, the engine, comfort and the prestige attached to the model were universally lauded.


That thing would have been a muscle car before the term was coined; it’s quite obvious that this car is over-engined!


That is exactly the Usurper philosophy!

(The engine is based on reality though, and was used from the late 50’s onwards.)