Martin Aeroplane Factory was a fixture for years, but it is a little known fact that owner James V. Martin made three failed attempts at producing an automobile. Martin had hoped to interest other automakers in his automobile designs, but none were interested in producing his three unusual prototype automobiles. His last, the 1950 Martin Stationette had a strangely similar look to the Isetta micro-car produced in Europe by BMW and other companies from 1953-1962.
Even though the 1950 Martin Stationette was a very small automobile, it was powered by a Hercules 4 cylinder helicopter engine and had a top speed of 107 mph. It also featured a number of parts used in Harley Davidson motorcycles as well as Studebaker and Chevrolet parts.
Working with aircraft, Martin also produced a 1928 prototype car, the Martin Aerodynamic, which seemed to hint at many styling clues of automobiles as late as the 1950’s. Although, a crude design with some cartoonish features, the car still seemed somewhat futuristic in many ways.
The 1932 Martin Martinette seemed to be greatly influenced by boxy early aircraft designs, and appears to be the least of his three prototypes, although the 1950 prototype appears to be a greatly improved version of many of the features of the 1932 design. But, the 1953 actual production Isetta automobiles did incorporate this front opening door design from this 1932 design, but not the three design.
While the Martin designs had more than adequate power due to aircraft engines, the European Isetta designs only featured small 2 cylinder 2 stroke motorcycle type engines. The little Italian automobiles were originally built by a refrigerator manufacturer, but then licensed to BMW and other producers in several European nations.
The three wheel designs of James Martin never caught on. But, some of his styling and designs ideas no doubt influenced some other automobiles greatly.