Vermilion Motors is a car manufacturer, with higher focus on performance-oriented cars. It was founded in January 3, 1927 in Vermilion Creek, Michigan, United States of America. The brand name is derived from its local city name, and was founded by professional car racer, Trevor Finn (1894-1975), and by French sports car mechanic, Harry Lafayette (1893-1989). The main objective for the manufacturer was to build customers’ dream cars, with focus on excelence and performance, favoring a legion of purists for many different generations.
Today, the company has many different models on its sale catalog, such as Daredevil muscle car, Duke muscle sedan, Baron luxury muscle sedan, Adamant budget muscle car, Promethium sports car, Samarium mid-engine budget sports car, Herd pickup truck, and the Primo family SUV. The company’s lifetime best seller is the Herd pickup truck, with over 15 million units sold, mostly in North America. One of the company’s signatures is to not produce FWD cars, and focus on building cars which the public would have fun to drive.
Trevor Finn was a professional car racer, and although his height was 6’4" (1.92 meters) tall, he could win many competitions. When Finn retired from professional races, he wanted to improve the performance for the cars of the era, and that’s when his mechanic, Harry Lafayette, gave him the idea to create an automaker. That’s how Vermilion Motors was founded. The automaker didn’t make a mass production car at that moment, but instead made few custom racing cars until 1939, when the Second World War started.
Since the first years, due to the innovations for their racing cars at the time, the brand made racing competitors that earned several awards. But due to the Second World War, the automaker ceased production for their performance vehicles and offered services exclusively to the US Army, such as manufacturing war tanks and aircraft, and repairs for the same vehicles as well.
After the Second World War, the brand released its first mass production vehicle ever, the Vermilion Barrow, in 1946, which offered good comfort, and mostly important, its high performance. In the 1950s, the automaker saw a car pricing war, which forced the car prices to be lowered to be more accessible to the public. The Barrow saw a second generation in 1954, with its design derived from the 1950s futurism, and in the same year, the brand released the Vanilla.
In 1957, Vermilion Motors wanted to set a land speed record, and that’s when the professional race driver Norman Greenberg decided to make a land speed record. He went to Bonneville Salt Flats with his High Thrust prototype, which was powered by twin V16 engines with 1564 cubic inches (25.6L), both powered by superchargers, with unmeasured horsepower figures, but the automaker mentioned the total output was around 4000 hp. During the first phase of land speed attempts, in May 10, 1958, the High Thrust went as fast as 427 mph (687.2 km/h), setting a land speed record. However, later in the same year, in a second attempt, the land speed car was involved in a serious accident, involving the death of Norman Greenberg at age 35. A replica of the High Thrust was made in 1993 and donated to the Vermilion Motors Automobile Museum in Vermilion Creek.
In 1962, professional car racer Duncan Silver (1924-2018) bought a high performance version of the 354 cid (5.8L) V8 engine from Vermilion Motors, which produced 290 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque, and fitted it into a small car bodywork from the British coachbuilder BC Vehicles (Breton Craft Vehicles). The result was the Silver Anaconda, which by the fact that it had a lightweight chassis, was proven a very fast and competitive car. In 1965, the car received an optional 444 cid (7.3L) V8 engine package that made 455 bhp and 510 lb-ft of torque, making the car exceeding 186 mph (300 km/h). The Silver Anaconda was discontinued in 1967.
For 1966 model year, the Barrow and Vanilla were discontinued, being replaced by the Baron (luxury notchback coupe and sedan), Duke (performance notchback coupe and sedan) and Daredevil (performance fastback coupe), with engines ranging from Inline-6 to V8, with the most powerful engine package, a 465 cid (7.6L) V8 engine producing 460 bhp and 510 lb-ft of torque. The 465 V8 engine was the company’s most powerful engine before the 1973 oil crisis, and was discontinued after the 1971 model year, which is the same year which the Daredevil got a second generation, while Baron and Duke were still in the first generation. The Daredevil and Duke were discontinued in 1974, with their resurrection only in 1998 and 2024 model years, respectively.
The Vermilion Baron got a new generation for the 1975 model year as coupe only. The brand also released the Viscount and Earl models with sedan and station wagon variants, both had a second generation in 1978 and a third generation in 1982. The Baron had a third generation in 1979 before the model’s discontinuation in 1985. The fourth generation for Viscount and Earl was released in 1989 and lasted until both were replaced by Heart and Valor models in 1996.
The company also released its first hatchback in 1983, the Vermilion Quirk, which had two engine options including a 2.0L Inline-4 making over 220 bhp and top speed of 146 mph (235 km/h) when using the RWD drivetrain. An AWD drivetrain was available later before the model was discontinued in 1991.
In 1985, the company has released its first pickup truck, the Vermilion Herd, which is the company’s best selling vehicle, which saved the company in its financial crisis.
In 1988, Alexander “Alistair” Finn, grandson of the company’s founder Trevor Finn, had a Business degree from Harvard University and became the company’s CEO. He intended to make the brand to return to its performance roots. That’s when he made Vermilion SPV (SPV stands for Special Performance Vehicles) division, and that division includes multiple performance models produced in the present.
Also in 1988, Trevor Finn’s grandson, Alistair Finn owned a 1965 Silver Anaconda, and he wanted to make spiritual successor to the car. That’s when the iconic Vermilion Promethium was born. The plans were to make a V8 engine for the vehicle, but the second concept had a brand new engine layout for passenger cars, a V10 engine. The car started production in 1991 as the Vermilion Promethium Targa 494, powered by a 494 cid (8.1L) V10 engine making 405 bhp and 460 lb-ft of torque. In 1996, the car received a facelift that included a release of a coupe version called GTS 494 and improvements for the 8.1L V10, which then made 460 bhp and 460 lb-ft of torque. In 1998, the car received a top trim for the coupe version, the GTX 540, which was originally a 8.8L V10 that made 1044 bhp and 806 lb-ft of torque with top speed of 250 mph (402 km/h), but was deemed too dangerous to drive, and in the release version of the 8.8L V10, it made 560 bhp and 585 lb-ft of torque instead. Production ended in 2002, only returning in 2023 for the 2024 model year.
In 1996, Earl and Viscount were discontinued, giving place to the Vermilion Heart and Valor. Heart was available in full-size luxury sedan and limousine trims, while Valor was available as a full-size premium sedan, both available with a 5.8L OHV V8 engine under the hood, powering the rear wheels (RWD). The Vermilion Valor chassis was also used to make police interceptor cars, which was called “Vermilion Valor Police Interceptor”, and since 1998, it also had a 7.6L V8 engine option from the Vermilion Daredevil SPV 465 Crazy Goat of the same year. The 1996-1997 5.8L V8 available was advertised at 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, while the 1998-2012 version had 330 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. And the 1998-2005 7.6L V8 engine was rated at 519 hp and 548 lb-ft of torque, which was very popular in the highway patrol, which can exceed speeds over 186 mph (300 km/h). Both cars were discontinued in 2012.
In 1995, the Vermilion Daredevil Retro Concept car was displayed in the 1995 SEMA Show. It featured a classical, squared muscle car design similar to the classic muscle cars, and the public reaction was extremely positive. The release car had its production started in January 1998. The 1998 Daredevil had three trims, one with a 354 cid 5.8L V8 making modest 330 bhp and 360 lb-ft of torque, another with a 405 cid 6.6L V8 making 427 bhp and 444 lb-ft of torque, and the top trim with a 465 cid 7.6L V8 making 519 bhp and 548 lb-ft of torque. The muscle car was discontinued in 2005 after approximately 848,000 units sold, and only returned in 2010.
In 2002, the company made its first SUV, the Primo, under the new CEO Brent DaSilva. The same CEO would discontinue both Promethium and Daredevil, in 2002 and 2005 respectively, being very negatively criticized for doing so. Although the Daredevil would come back in 2010, it didn’t have as much effort as the 1998 production car. The CEO eventually revived the Vermilion Baron in 2006.
In 2019, DaSilva announced in the social networks that the company would transition the entire fleet to electric vehicles from 2023 to 2028, but the public was dissatisfied with his decision and asked him to resign from the CEO position. He had only resigned in 2022, after the investors had withdrawn their investments due to fear of losing money.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alistair Finn hired young designers from December 2020 to February 2021 to design cars with their creativity. They were all video game enthusiasts, and were told to make a car in a video game style, but better. Between them were 22 years old Gabriel Fleming, who designed the second generation Promethium, and would eventually become the Head of Design and later CEO, and 20 years old Ginger Steele, design of the fifth generation Daredevil and Duke, who would eventually become the first woman to become Head of Design after Fleming became CEO. After hiring the young car designers, Finn took the designs to DaSilva, and he liked them and hired few of them to work in the company as designers.
In January 2022, Gabriel Fleming became CEO, being the youngest CEO in the company’s history, at age of 23. Fleming is said to be able to find solutions for hard problems and issues, and is open to public feedback, as opposed to many other corporations. Fleming also demanded the company to start developing DOHC engines to update the old OHV engines the company had been using its entire life.
With Fleming as CEO, the first vehicle produced was the Promethium in 2023 for 2024 model year, with the base trim being the GTS 512 with a 8.4L DOHC V10 engine making 666 bhp and 666 lb-ft of torque, including a Sport version with a ducktail spoiler, and the GTS-R, which is the aerodynamic version for the car. The car also includes a high performance GTX 540 version, with a 8.8L OHV V10 making 1076 bhp and 830 lb-ft of torque, with ducktail spoiler and top speed of 254 mph (408 km/h). Vermilion has also advertised its return to motorsports, with the Promethium SPV GT3-R 512, powered by a 8.4L OHV V10 engine making 577 bhp and 600 lb-ft of torque, to make a balance of 0.47 bhp/kg that’s typical of Group GT3 cars.
The other new cars released are the fifth generation Daredevil and the second generation Duke. Both powered by four different V8 engines as of 2023, 340 cid OHV 5.6L, 376 cid OHV 6.2L, 405 cid DOHC 6.6L and 465 cid DOHC 7.6L. The engines range from 385 bhp to 684 bhp and 400 lb-ft to 660 lb-ft of torque. There is also a modified version of the Crazy Goat 465 engine for the Daredevil that makes 854 bhp and 740 lb-ft of torque, and top speed of 215 mph (346 km/h).
Today, like in the past, the Vermilion Motors is focused on making performance cars and luxury practical vehicles, while keeping the same devotion to the purism and fun. There is a legion of enthusiastic fans all over the world, and they carry the legacy of the brand wherever they go in their Vermilion cars.
Current Production Vehicles
Adamant - Pony Coupe - Front-Engine, RWD
Baron - Full-Size Luxury Sedan - Front-Engine, RWD
Daredevil - Muscle Coupe - Front-Engine, RWD
Duke - Muscle Sedan - Front-Engine, RWD
Herd - Pickup Truck - Front-Engine, RWD, 4WD
Primo - SUV - Front-Engine, RWD, 4WD
Promethium - Sports Coupe - Front-Engine, RWD
Samarium - Budget Sports Car - Mid-Engine, RWD
2024 Vermilion Promethium by Flingang
2024 Vermilion Daredevil by Flingang
2024 Vermilion Duke by Flingang (Photo taken in BeamNG, since I don’t have another better screenshot, I hope you forgive me.)
1965-1967 Silver Anaconda by Flingang
1996-2002 Vermilion Promethium by Flingang
1998-2005 Vermilion Daredevil by Flingang