One of the more intriguing car companies for me is the Rootes Group from Britain, manufacturer of such vehicles as Talbot, Commer, Humber, Sunbeam, Hillman and Singer. The company actually began as a dealership network in 1913, and over the next few decades it grew to purchase a series of British automobile manufacturers. Rootes subscribed, more or less, to the General Motors school of thought: a brand for every purse and purpose, and clearly defined model ranges to fit each application and niche. Rootes was an early adopter of badge-engineering, another GM favorite, and was also an interesting early producer of compact luxury cars.
Rootes operated in various markets around the world with varying levels of success, in Europe, Australia, North America, South America and even the Middle East (the latter by local factories under license). In the late 1960s, Chrysler took an interest in Rootes, both as a captive import for the US market and to get itself a foothold in Europe where Chrysler's American-oriented cars were not marketable. Around this time Chrysler took over Rootes and French carmaker Simca, and made a fine mess of it over the next decade. What little was left when Chrysler was done with it was sold to Peugeot in 1978. In 2007 Rootes ended where it began 94 years earlier, as nothing more than a name on a UK car dealership.