With the collaboration of Christian Falkensteiner
The letter L is represented by a surprising amount of production cars. Most of these 3 inch or smaller replicas are representations of European automobiles. But we have been able to pinpoint a few from the US and one from Japan as well!
LADA (RU) 1970-PRESENT
Lada is the name used by the Russian VAZ factory on most export markets for its products which are known by the name of Shiguli in Russia itself. The factory, located in the town of Togliatti, was built with the help of Fiat, and the first cars made there were direct copies of the Fiat 124. Derivatives of this original Lada 2101 are still made nowadays, but over the years several more modern types of cars with front wheel drive have been introduced in addition. Although VAZ has retreated from most export markets due to lack of success, it remains the foremost Russian car producer.
While a vast amount of 1:43 scale Lada models made in Russia is available, only very few have been made in smaller scales. A small-scale diecast model of the 2101 was made under the brand name Mena, and under the Avva brand a model of a 1990s Lada concept car can be found. No small-scale diecast models of Ladas were ever made outside Russia, but a few plastic as well as pewter models in 1:87 and 1:120 scales are available from several producers both in and outside Russia.
LAGONDA (GB) 1904-1994
This company, founded by American immigrant Wilbur Gunn and located in the town of Staines, started out producing small tricycles. From there it quickly went to high performance cars which were successful in motor racing. 1930s Lagondas were designed by Walter O. Bentley after he had lost his own company to Rolls-Royce. After WW II Lagonda was purchased by the farm tractor manufacturer David Brown and merged with Aston Martin. From then on the two marques shared technical components, and while Aston Martin was to produce sports cars, Lagonda was eventually restricted to making four-door sedans. Those were made in very limited quantities, and production ceased entirely for a while as Aston Martin was given priority. A revival initiated by a futuristic new model introduced in 1977 lasted until 1990, but after that only a few prototypes based on Aston Martin models were made. Ford which had become the new owner of Aston Martin Lagonda was not interested in continuing the marque.
There are not many Lagonda models to be found in small scales. Johnny Lightning made a model of the 1980s V8.
LAMBORGHINI (IT) 1963-PRESENT
Farm tractor producer Ferruccio Lamborghini started his sports car venture in Sant'Agata Bolognese with the aim of outdoing Ferrari. Most Lamborghinis made were super sports cars with twelve cylinder engines, often given names taken from the Spanish bullfighting scene. Due to the high prices and the low quantities produced the company was frequently in danger of being liquidated. It changed hands several times from the early 1970s onward. From 1987 to 1994 it belonged to Chrysler. After a brief interlude in the hands of a group of Indonesian and Malaysian investors, it was sold to Audi, itself a subsidiary of Volkswagen, in 1998. However, the basic characteristics of the company's products have remained unchanged to this day.
Being world-famous sports cars, Lamborghinis have always been very attractive subjects for model car manufacturers, so many small scale Lamborghinis have been made by almost all producers, from Matchbox, Majorette and Hot Wheels to Polistil, Zylmex, Tomica, Playart and Siku.
LANCHESTER (GB) 1895-1956
This Birmingham company was one of the foremost pioneers of the British motor industry. Its early models featured mid-mounted air-cooled engines and tiller steering, which were by and by replaced by more conventional designs. Eventually the company gained a reputation for reliability and innovation, which was largely destroyed after a merger with BSA and Daimler in 1931. From then on Lanchesters were basically simplified Daimler models sold at cheaper prices. When the parent company encountered financial difficulties in the 1950s, the Lanchester marque was quietly discontinued.
The only known small-scale model of a Lanchester is a 1910 tourer by Charbens.
LANCIA (IT) 1906-PRESENT
This company was founded by former Fiat racing driver Vincenzo Lancia in Turin. It became known for pionieering chassisless bodywork and independent suspension in the 1920s, as well as for naming all its cars after Greek letters until the early 1930s. Lancia maintained its reputation as a provider of more unusual and technically advanced alternatives to the products of local rival Fiat until the late 1960s. At that time the limited appeal of their then-current front wheel drive models resulted in a merger with Fiat. Under Fiat's ownership, the Lancia marque was retained and gained much success in rallying, mainly with the famous Stratos. Later on the small car brand Autobianchi was also incorporated into Lancia.
The most prolific Lancia model in small scale by far is the Stratos, which was made by many manufacturers, most recently Hot Wheels. Other Lancia models were made by Husky, Majorette, Polistil, Giodi, Norev, Summer, Ingap, Sistema DEP and others.
LAND ROVER (GB) 1948-PRESENT
After WW II the traditional passenger car manufacturer Rover of Coventry decided to expand its production by introducing a range of off-road vehicles originally inspired by the Willys Jeep. Over the years many different variations were made which came to be used for various purposes all over the world. Land Rovers were also manufactured under license in several countries, for example by Minerva in Belgium, by Santana in Spain and by Tempo in Germany. The more luxurious Range Rover series was introduced in 1970. Land Rover remained connected to the Rover company through several mergers until the year 2000, when BMW decided to give up its ownership of Rover. Land Rover was then separated from the passenger car branch and sold on to Ford.
Many small-scale models of Land Rovers exist, mainly from the originally British manufacturers such as Matchbox, Corgi and Budgie. Efsi of Holland did a police version.
LAURIN & KLEMENT (A/CS) 1905-1929
This company was founded in the Bohemian town of Jungbunzlau in 1895 for the production of bicycles. It expanded to produce motorcycles and light motor cars (so-called Voiturettes) later on. The region belonged to Austria at the time and became a part of Czechoslovakia after WW I. In 1925 the company merged with the larger Skoda company of Plzen, which had already established itself with various kinds of industrial products. All new cars introduced from then on were marketed under the Skoda brand, which led to the eventual disappearance of the Laurin & Klement marque. Recently the name has been revived to denote luxury trim versions of Skoda cars.
LEXUS (JA) 1989- PRESENT
This is a separate division of Toyota. Specific dealerships were established in the US to sell this car. It was produced to be a high end luxury automobile. The desire was to compete with the Acura by Honda and the Infiniti by Nissan in the US market. The first fullsize models available in the US arrived in 1990 and were based on the top of the line models from Toyota at that time. It should be noted that all products carrying this nameplate are called Toyotas in Japan itself and some other markets. Unlike Acura and Infiniti though, the Lexus marque is also available in Europe. Models in small scale have been made by Jada, Johnny Lightning, Revell, Hot Wheels, Tomica (as Toyotas), X-Concepts, Maisto, Hongwell and Muscle Machines.
LIGIER (FR) 1968-PRESENT
This company located at Vichy was founded by former racing driver Guy Ligier. While mainly producing vehicles for racing purposes including Formula One racers, it also made a production sports car called JS 2 which featured the same Maserati engine as the Citroën SM. This car ceased to be made in 1975. In 1980 the company diversified into an entirely different area, introducing the first of a range of microcars for the use of which no driver's license is required. These Ligier microcars are still produced nowadays and sold successfully in several European countries.
LINCOLN (US) 1921- PRESENT
This firm was founded by Henry Leland, formerly of Cadillac! It is ironical to note that this man was instrumental in founding two different marques that are now the prime competitors for the US Upper Class market! In 1922 after experiencing financial difficulties, this firm was acquired by Henry Ford and became the top of the line make in the Ford corporate line. Miniature Lincolns have been made by MUKY, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Racing Champions/ RCErtl, Johnny Lightning and Summer.
LINCOLN CONTINENTAL (US) 1941-present
This car is being considered as a sub-marque. The body style consisted of a unique 2 door coupe or convertible. It had been adapted from the production Zephyr model and was ordered into production after the prototype was made for Edsel Ford. The front end styling is reminiscent of the Zephyr while the rear area had a distinctive high trunk area in front of an external spare tire, just inside the bumper. This styling exercise introduced the "Continental Rear Tire "design era. It became prominent on other marques as well in the 1950s and 1960s. The name reappeared in 1956 when the Continenal Mark II was introduced as a separate marque in the Ford corporate line. A Continental Mk. III appeared in 1958 but that was conviently overlooked when a new Continental Mk II was introduced in 1968. Continentals have continued as part of the Lincoln line into the current decade. It is noted that the 1940s car never droppped the Lincoln name during its production. Models of the original car have been made by RCErtl , NSG and Laramie in small scale while many manufacturers have offered later Continental models.
LLOYD (GE) 1906-1914, 1950-1985
The original Lloyd company of Bremen was merged with Hansa before WW I to form Hansa-Lloyd which became part of the Borgward group in 1929. After WW II Borgward re-introduced the Lloyd marque to market a separate range of small cars. The LP 400, Alexander and Arabella models enjoyed some success until the Borgward group collapsed in 1961. The Lloyd company then continued on a much smaller scale and started producing cars based on certain Fiat models fitted with smaller engines to be used by German drivers who had only motorcycle licenses. In this particular niche the company survived until the 1980s.
The only known small-scale diecast models of Lloyd cars are part of the Schuco Piccolo range. Siku featured a model of a Lloyd LP 400 in its early plastic range, and the Lloyd Alexander was made by Wiking in 1:87 scale plastic both in the 1950s and 1990s.
LOCOMOBILE (US) 1899-1929
This firm began operations when the founders purchased steam car design rights from the Stanley Brothers. These patents were obtained by A.L. Barber and J.B. Walker. But Walker and Barber soon parted ways and Walker established the Locomobile firm in 1903. The first vehicles were steam powered but the patents were then sold back to Staney following 1903.
The firm then began production of an expensive gasoline powered car. Financial difficulties were experienced in 1920. For a short time the firm was owned by Crane-Simplex and later by Mercer as part of the Hare Motor Group. And even later the firm became part of the Durant manufacturing group in 1922. Unfortunately the Great Depression in the late 1920s was the final downfall for survival. The only known small scale model was made by High Speed for a Readers Digest promotional a few years ago.
LOTUS (GB) 1952-PRESENT
Colin Chapman started producing one-off specials for racing purposes in the late 1940s. A regular production of road-going sports cars did not start until the mid-1950s. Thanks to successes in motor racing this marque of lightweight sports cars with plastic bodies quickly became popular. After Chapman's death in 1982, the company experienced some difficulties and was taken over by General Motors in 1986. At the same time the road car company was separated from the Formula One racing team which struggled on with little success until 1995. GM passed on Lotus to the Bugatti group in 1993. After that group's collapse Proton of Malaysia bought the marque in 1996. The new Elise model introduced in that year proved to be successful and still forms the backbone of the Lotus range nowadays.
Small-scale models of Lotus cars are plentiful and have been made by most of the major diecast producers, among them Matchbox, Corgi, Lone Star, Hot Wheels, Tomica, Playart and many others.
LTI (GB) 1984-PRESENT
The Coventry-based London Taxis International company is the producer of the famous British taxicabs. This company, which was previously called Carbodies, started manufacturing taxicabs in 1948, but originally those were marketed under the Austin brand name. During the time when Rover belonged to BMW, LTI was the largest British-owned car manufacturer.