Defunct British Automobile Brands

Automobile Manufacturers > Defunct Automobile Brands

Austin Motor Company
British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC)
Jensen Motors
New Avon
Morris Motors Limited
Standard Motor Company
Swallow Sidecar Company
Triumph Motor Company
Leyland Motors Limited


Austin Motor Company


The Austin Motor Company Limited was a British manufacturer of motor vehicles, founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin. In 1952 it was merged with Morris Motors Limited in the new holding company British Motor Corporation (BMC) Limited, keeping its separate identity. The marque Austin was used until 1987. The trademark is currently owned by SAIC

While running the original Wolseley business, Herbert Austin searched for products with a steady demand. Starting in 1895, he built three cars, they were among Britain’s first cars. The third car, a four-wheeler, was completed in 1899. By 1901 his fellow directors could not see future profit in motor vehicles and so with their backing Austin started a separate car manufacturing business still using the name Wolseley.

In 1905 he fell out with directors over engine design. Leaving Wolseley, which he had made Britain’s largest motor vehicle manufacturer, Austin obtained the backing for his own enterprise. The following month The Austin Motor Company Limited was incorporated.

Austin’s cars, like Wolseley’s, were luxury vehicles. The published customer list included Russian Grand Dukes, Princesses, Bishops, high officials of the Spanish government and a long list of Britain’s highest nobility. In February 1914 Austin-manufactured bodies in tourer, limousine, landaulette and coupé styles could be provided with engines of 15, 20, 30 and 60 hp. Ambulances and commercial vehicles were also provided.

Austin became a public listed company in 1914. At that time in number of cars produced it probably ranked fifth after Wolseley (still largest), Humber, Sunbeam and Rover. The Austin Motor Co. grew enormously during the First World War, fulfilling government contracts for aircraft, shells, heavy guns and generating sets and 1,600 three-ton trucks. After the war Herbert Austin decided on a one-model policy. Versions included cars, commercials and even a tractor, but sales volumes were never enough to fill the vast factory built during wartime. The company went into receivership in 1921 but rose again after financial restructuring. Though Herbert Austin remained chairman he was no longer managing director.

In a quest to expand market share, smaller cars were introduced, the 1661 cc Twelve in 1922 and, later the same year, the Seven, an inexpensive, simple small car. One of the reasons for a market demand for a cars like the Austin 7 was the British tax code. In 1930 every personal car was taxed by its engine size. And this system of engine displacement tax was common in other European nations as well in the 1930s. At one point, the “Baby Austin” was built under licence by the fledgling BMW of Germany (as the Dixi); by the Japanese manufacturer Datsun; as the Bantam in the United States; and as the Rosengart in France. And in England the Austin was the most produced car in 1930, the American Austin Car Company operated as a largely independent subsidiary from 1929 to 1934, and was revived under the name “American Bantam” from 1937 to 1941. With the help of the Seven, Austin weathered the worst of the depression and remained profitable through the 1930s, producing a wider range of cars which was steadily updated. However, all the engines retained the same side-valve conformation. In the early 1930s Datsun later known as Nissan Motor Company of Japan built cars infringing Austin patents. From 1934 Datsun began to build Austin Sevens under licence and this operation became the greatest success of Austin’s overseas licensing of its Seven.

During the Second World War Austin continued building cars but also made trucks and aircraft, including Avro Lancaster bombers. The post-war car range was announced in 1944, and production started in 1945. The immediate post-war range was mainly similar to that of the late 1930s.

In 1952, The Austin Motor Company Limited merged ownership, but not identity, with long-term rival Morris Motors Limited, becoming The British Motor Corporation Limited. Also in 1952, Austin did a deal with Donald Healey, leading to a new marque, Austin-Healey, and a range of sports cars. Austin entered into another agreement with Nissan for that company to assemble 2000 imported Austins from partially assembled sets and to sell them in Japan under the Austin trademark. The agreement called for Nissan to make all Austin parts locally within three years, a goal Nissan met. Nissan produced and marketed Austins for seven years. The agreement also gave Nissan rights to use Austin patents, which Nissan used in developing its own engines for its Datsun line of cars. In 1953 British-built Austins were assembled and sold, but by 1955, the Austin A50 – completely built by Nissan and featuring a slightly larger body with 1489 cc engine – was on the market in Japan. Nissan produced 20,855 Austins between 1953 and 1959.

In 1956, With the threat to fuel supplies resulting from the Suez Crisis, Austin’ chairman, wanted to design a small car; the result was the revolutionary Mini, launched in 1959. The Austin version was initially called the Austin Seven, but Morris’ Mini Minor name caught and the Morris version outsold its Austin twin, so the Austin’s name was changed to Mini to follow suit. In 1970, British Leyland dropped the separate Austin and Morris branding of the Mini, and it was subsequently simply “Mini”, under the Austin Morris division of BLMC.

The principle of a transverse engine with gearbox in the sump and driving the front wheels was applied to larger cars, beginning with the 1100 of 1963, (although the Morris-badged version was launched 13 months earlier than the Austin, in August 1962), the 1800 of 1964 and the Maxi of 1969. This meant that BMC had spent 10 years developing a new range of front-drive, transverse-engined models, while most competitors had only just started to make such changes. The big exception to this was the Austin 3-litre. Launched in 1968, it was a rear-wheel drive large car, but it shared the central section of the 1800. It was a sales disaster, with fewer than 10,000 examples being made. BMC was the first British manufacturer to move into front-wheel drive so comprehensively.

In September 1965 BMC completed the purchase of its major supplier, Pressed Steel. Twelve months later it completed the purchase of Jaguar and in December 1966 changed its name from BMC to BMH, British Motor Holdings Limited. In early 1968 under government pressure BMH merged with Leyland Motors Limited and Austin became a part of the large British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) combine. By 1970, Austin’s most notorious model of this era was the 1973 Allegro, successor to the 1100/1300 ranges, 18/22 series was launched as an Austin, a Morris and a more upmarket Wolseley in 1975. But within six months, it was rechristened the Princess and wore none of the previous marque badges, becoming a marque in its own right, under the Austin Morris division of British Leyland. By the end of the 1970s, the future of Austin and the rest of British Leyland was looking bleak.

The Austin Metro, launched in October 1980, was heralded as the saviour of Austin Motor Company and the whole BL combine. It was an instant hit with buyers and was one of the most popular British cars of the 1980s. It was intended as a replacement for the Mini but, in fact, the Mini outlived the Metro by two years. In 1982, most of the car division of the British Leyland (BL) company was rebranded as the Austin Rover Group, with Austin acting as the “budget” and mainstream brand to Rover’s more luxurious models. The MG badge was revived for sporty versions of the Austin models, of which the MG Metro 1300 was the first. Austin revitalised its entry into the small family-car market in March 1983 with the launch of its all-new Maestro, a spacious five-door hatchback that replaced the elderly Allegro and Maxi. April 1984 saw the introduction of the Maestro-derived Montego saloon, successor to the Morris Ital. The spacious estate version, launched in early 1985.

In 1986 Austin Rover’s holding company BL plc became Rover Group plc and was privatised by selling it to British Aerospace (BAe). In 1987, the Austin badge was discontinued and Austin Rover became simply the Rover Group. The Austin cars continued to be manufactured, although they ceased to be Austins. They became “marque-less” in their home market with bonnet badges the same shape as the Rover longship badge but without “Rover” written on them. The Metro was facelifted in 1990 and new engine. It then became the “Rover Metro”, while the Maestro and Montego continued in production until 1994 and never wore a Rover badge on their bonnets in Britain.

The rights to the Austin name passed to British Aerospace and then to BMW when each bought the Rover Group. The rights were subsequently sold to MG Rover, created when BMW sold the business. Following MG Rover’s collapse and sale, Nanjing Automobile Group owns the Austin name and Austin’s historic assembly plant in Longbridge. At the Nanjing International Exhibition in May 2006, Nanjing announced it might use the Austin name on some of the revived MG Rover models, at least in the Chinese market. However, Nanjing is for the moment concentrating on reviving the MG brand. The MG brand is traditionally used for sports cars and Nanjing has no rights to the Rover name, so a revival of the Austin name would seem a logical brand for selling more standard cars. It might also be argued that a British name would be more respected in the European market than a Chinese name. Nanjing Automobile Group itself merged into SAIC Motor.




Austin-Healey was a British sports car maker established in 1952 through a joint venture between the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the Donald Healey Motor Company (Healey), a renowned automotive engineering and design firm. Leonard Lord represented BMC and Donald Healey his firm.

BMC merged with Jaguar Cars in 1966 to form British Motor Holdings (BMH). Donald Healey left BMH in 1968 when it merged into British Leyland. Healey then joined Jensen Motors, which had been making bodies for the “big Healeys” since their inception in 1952, and became their chairman in 1972. Austin-Healey cars were produced until 1972 when the 20-year agreement between Healey and Austin came to an end.

The name Austin is now owned by Nanjing Automobile, a Chinese automobile manufacturer that merged with SAIC Motor in 2007, which bought the assets of MG Rover Group (British Leyland’s successor company) out of bankruptcy in 2005. After Donald Healey sold his original business, Donald Healey Motor Company, the Healey brand was registered to a new firm, Healey Automobile Consultants, which the Healey family sold to HFI Automotive in 2005. In June 2007, Nanjing and Healey Automobile Consultants / HFI Automotive signed a collaborative agreement that aims to recreate the Austin Healey and Healey marques. No timeline has been given as to if or when the Healey and Austin-Healey brands will return.


British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC)


The British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC) was a UK-based vehicle manufacturer, formed in early 1952 to give effect to an agreed merger of the Morris and Austin businesses. BMC acquired the shares in Morris Motors and the Austin Motor Company. Morris Motors, the holding company of the productive businesses of the Nuffield Organisation, owned MG, Riley, and Wolseley. The agreed exchange of shares in Morris or Austin for shares in the new holding company, BMC, became effective in mid-April 1952.

BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with 39% of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Riley, and Wolseley, as well as commercial vehicles and agricultural tractors. The biggest-selling car, the Mini, was famously analysed by Ford Motor Company, which concluded that BMC must be losing £30 on every one sold. The result was that although volumes held up well throughout the BMC era, market share fell as did profitability and hence investment in new models, triggering the 1966 merger with Jaguar Cars to form British Motor Holdings (BMH), and the government-sponsored merger of BMH with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. At the time of the mergers, a well established dealership network was in place for each of the marques. Among the car-buying British public was a tendency of loyalty to a particular marque and marques appealed to different market segments. This meant that marques competed against each other in some areas, though some marques had a larger range than others. The Riley and Wolseley models were selling in very small numbers.

In 1958, BMC hired Battista Farina, an Italian automobile designer and founder of the Carrozzeria Pininfarina coachbuilding company, to redesign its entire car line. This resulted in the creation of three “Farina” saloons, each of which was badge-engineered to fit the various BMC car lines:

The compact Farina model bowed in 1958 with the Austin A40 Farina, a small estate version. A Mark II A40 Farina appeared in 1961 and was produced through 1967. These small cars used the A-Series engine. The mid-sized Farinas were launched in 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. Other members of the group included the Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mk. II, MG Magnette Mk. III, and Morris Oxford V. Most of these cars lasted until 1961. They were replaced with a new Farina body style and most were renamed. These were the Austin A60 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mk. IV, Morris Oxford VI, Riley 4/72, and Wolseley 16/60 and in 1964 the Siam Magnette 1622 alongside the Siam Di Tella in Argentina. These mostly remained in production until 1968, with no rear-wheel drive replacement produced. Farina also designed a large car. Launched in 1959 as the Austin A99 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre, and Wolseley 6/99, it used the large C-Series straight-6 engine. The large Farinas were updated in 1961 as the Austin A110 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre Mk. II, and Wolseley 6/110. These remained in production until 1968.

Most BMC projects followed the earlier Austin practice of describing vehicles with an ‘ADO’ number (which stood for ‘Austin Design Office’ but after the merger ‘Amalgamated Drawing Office’). Hence, cars that had more than one marque name (e.g. Morris Mini Minor and Austin Mini) would have the same ADO number. Given the often complex badge-engineering that BMC undertook, it is common amongst enthusiasts to use the ADO number when referring to vehicles which were a single design (for example, saying ‘The ADO15 entered production in 1959’- this encompasses the fact that when launched, the ADO15 was marketed as the Morris Mini Minor and, later, the Austin Seven—soon replaced with Austin Mini). The ADO numbering system did continue for some time after the creation of British Leyland – notable models being the Austin Allegro (ADO67) and the prototype version of the Austin Metro (ADO88).

Most BMC-era commercial vehicles were sold as Morris, but there were sometimes Austin equivalents. Radiator badges on the larger vehicles were often BMC. With the merger of the Nuffield and Austin interests, the Nuffield Organisation’s tractor range, the Nuffield Universal, was incorporated into BMC.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, BMC set up 21 plants overseas, some as subsidiaries, and some as joint ventures, to assemble their vehicles. In September 1966, BMC merged with Jaguar Cars Limited. On 14 December 1966, BMC changed its name to British Motor Holdings Limited or BMH because it had taken over major UK motor industry supplier Pressed Steel in 1965, acquiring Jaguar’s body supplier in the process. In 1968, BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC), which made trucks and buses and were owners of Standard-Triumph International to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). In August 1975 BLMC was partly nationalised and renamed British Leyland Limited which became defunct in 1986.


Jensen Motors


Jensen Motors Ltd was a British manufacturer of sports cars and commercial vehicles in England. Jensen Motors built specialist car bodies for major manufacturers alongside cars of their own design using engines and mechanicals of major manufacturers. Founded by brothers Alan Jensen and Richard Jensen in 1934. Jensen Motors was bought by Norcros Limited in June 1959. Alan and Richard Jensen resigned from the board in 1966. In mid 1968 Norcros decided to sell and was bought by a merchant bank. Donald Healey became a director of Jensen Motors in 1970 and a result of this was the Lotus-engined Jensen-Healey which appeared in 1972.

The oil crisis hit Jensen Motors hard, greatly damaging the sales of its very large V8 Interceptor model and thus degrading its financial condition as a whole. By 1974 Jensen Motors had fallen on hard times, The company was placed into receivership and allowed production to continue until the available cache of parts was exhausted in 1976 and then close in May 1976.

In 2011, Healey Sports Cars Switzerland Ltd (HSCS), who owns all assets, intellectual property, designs, and brand rights for the Jensen and Interceptor brands announced CPP Global Holdings was appointed to engineer, develop and build the new Jensen Interceptor planned for late 2012, with deliveries to customers beginning in 2014. As of October 2017, no additional announcements have been made. Read The Full Story


New Avon


New Avon was a British vehicle coachbuilder. Started as Avon Coachworks in 1919 to make bodywork for cars. Following a change of ownership and financial reconstruction it became New Avon in 1922. Their main customer was Lea-Francis and Hampton cars. Then, in 1927 they produced an open two seat body for the Austin 7 followed in 1928 by a fixed head coupé, which went by the name of Swan, and then in 1929 a “sportsman’s two seater” appeared. The Swan was the work of Alan Jensen. For Standard Motor Company, a new design for a body on a Standard 9 chassis which they wanted New Avon to put into production. This work came just in time as the Lea-Francis work stopped in 1931 when that company went into receivership.

For most of the 1930s work on Standard chassis dominated the output with Swan coupés and Wayfarer saloons but in 1930 they also exhibited a coupé body on a Wolseley Hornet in 1931. Alan Jensen left the company in 1930. Avon produced more designs for Standard as well as work for Austin, Lanchester and Crossley Motors. In 1935 the company was bought by John Maudslay, son of the founder of Standard, Reginald Maudsley, and became part of the Maudslay Motor Group. In 1937 there was a downturn in the company fortunes and New Avon was unable to pay their bill to Standard who foreclosed and forced bankruptcy. During World War II Avon rebuild aircraft, after the war tried to go back to car body making by repair work and some conversions including hearses.

In 1973 Avon was sold to Graham Hudson who ran a large Midlands based car sales and repair organisation. In 1978 Ladbroke Avon Ltd incorporating Avon Special Products wasa formed. They made some special bodied Land Rovers and the Avon-Stevens XJC convertibles. In 1980 these were joined by the Stevens designed Jaguar XJ6 estate car. The Triumph Acclaim was produced in 1981 followed by a turbo version. The business, without the rights to use the Avon name, was finally sold in 1985.


Morris Motors Limited


Morris Motors Limited was a British privately owned motor vehicle manufacturing company formed in 1919 to take over the assets of William Morris’s WRM Motors Limited and continue production of the same vehicles. By 1926 its production represented 42 per cent of British car manufacture a remarkable expansion rate attributed to William Morris’s practice of buying in major as well as minor components and assembling them in his own factory. Self-financing through his enormous profits Morris did borrow some money from the public in 1926 and later shared some of Morris Motors’ ownership with the public in 1936 when the new capital was used by Morris Motors to buy many of his other privately held businesses.

WRM Motors Ltd began in 1912 by bicycle manufacturer William Morris. He planned a new light car assembled from bought-in components. A factory was opened in 1913 in Cowley, Oxford, United Kingdom where Morris’s first car, the 2-seat Morris Oxford “Bullnose” was assembled.

In 1914 a coupé and van were added to the line-up, but the Bullnose chassis was too short and the 1018 cc engine too small to make a much-needed 4-seat version of the car. White and Poppe, who made the engine, were unable to supply the volume of units that Morris required, so Morris turned to Continental of Detroit, Michigan for the supply of a 1548 cc engine. Gearboxes and axles were also sourced in the US. In mid-1915 a new larger car, the 2-seat and 4-seat Morris Cowley was introduced. After the war the Continental engine was no longer available so Morris arranged for Hotchkiss of France to make a near copy. This was used to power new versions of the basic Cowley and more up-market Morris Oxford cars.

Morris’s business continued to grow and increase its share of the British market overtaking Ford to become in 1924 the UK’s biggest car manufacturer, holding a 51% share of the home market and remaining enormously profitable. In 1923 Morris bought Hotchkiss’s Coventry business which later became Morris Engines branch. Morris also brought in F G Woollard which became Morris Commercial Cars to lead the re-organization of their engine production from batch to flow, thus increasing output from less than 300 units per week to 1200. By 1924 the factory was making 2000 units a week with only a small increase in work space and labour force. Morris began building sporting versions of Morris cars in 1924 labelling them MG. They were so successful a separate MG factory was soon established in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

The small car market was entered in 1928 with the Morris Minor, using an 847 cc engine from Morris’s newly acquired Wolseley Motors. The Minor was to provide the base for the MG Midgets. This timely spread into the small car market helped Morris through the economic depression of the 1930s. At the 1934 London Motor Show the Minor was replaced by the Morris Eight.

In July 1935 Morris Motors acquired from W R Morris, now Lord Nuffield, in exchange for a further issue of ordinary shares to him, the car manufacturing businesses of Wolseley Motors Limited and The MG Car Company Limited. A separate private company, Wolseley Aero Engines Limited, was then formed to continue the development of his aviation interests. In 1936 Lord Nuffield sold Morris Commercial Cars Limited, his commercial vehicle enterprise, to Morris Motors. In 1938 William Morris, Baron Nuffield was raised to Viscount Nuffield. The same year he transferred his newly acquired Riley car business to Morris Motors Limited.

Production restarted after the Second World War, with the pre-war Eight and Ten designs. In 1948 the Eight was replaced by what is probably the most famous Morris car, the Morris Minor designed by Alec Issigonis (who later went on to design the Mini) and reusing the small car name from 1928. The Ten was replaced by a new 1948 Morris Oxford MO, styled like a larger version of the Minor. A later Morris Oxford (the 1956 Morris Oxford III) was the basis for the design of India’s Hindustan Ambassador, which continued in production until 2014.

In 1952 the Nuffield Organisation merged with the Austin Motor Company to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Nuffield brought the Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley marques into the merger. Leonard Lord was in charge, which led to Austin’s domination of the organisation. Badge-engineering was important to BMC and for many years the various marques would be seen on several families of similar vehicles.

The Morris marque continued to be used until the early 1980s on cars such as the Morris Marina. The Morris Ital (essentially a facelifted Marina) was the last Morris-badged passenger car, with production ending in the summer of 1984. The last Morris of all was a van variant of the Austin Metro.

The Morris trademark is currently owned by the China-based automotive company SAIC. The Morris badge shows an ox fording the River Isis, the traditional emblem of William Morris’s home town of Oxford, used in the coat of arms of Oxford


Standard Motor Company Limited


The Standard Motor Company Limited was a motor vehicle manufacturer, founded in Coventry, England, in 1903 by Reginald Walter Maudslay. It purchased Triumph in 1945 and in 1959 officially changed its name to Standard-Triumph International and began to put the Triumph brandname on all its products. In September 1959, Standard Motor Company was renamed Standard-Triumph International Limited. A new subsidiary took the name The Standard Motor Company Limited and took over the manufacture of the group’s products. For many years, it manufactured Ferguson tractors powered by its Vanguard engine. All Standard’s tractor assets were sold to Massey-Ferguson in 1959. The Standard name was last used in Britain in 1963, and in India in 1987.

In 1902 started manufacturing marine internal combustion engines, the marine engines did not sell very well, the same year they made their first engine intended for a car. Three-cylinder engine was fitted to a chain-drive chassis becameing a motor manufacturer. Standard Motor Company was incorporated on 2 March 1903 in Much Park Street, Coventry. The first car, powered by a single-cylinder engine with three-speed gearbox and shaft drive to the rear wheels. By the end of 1903 three cars had been built and increased to produced a car every three weeks during 1904. In 1905 Maudslay drove the first Standard car to compete in a race. This was the RAC Tourist Trophy in which he finished 11th out of 42 starters.

The company exhibited at the 1905 London Motor Show in Crystal Palace, at which a London dealer, Charles Friswell 1872-1926 agreed to buy the entire factory output. He joined Standard and later was managing director for many years. In late 1906 production was transferred to larger premises and output was concentrated on 6-cylinder models. The 16/20 h.p. tourer with side-entrance body. In 1907 Friswell became company chairman. He worked hard to raise its profile, and the resulting increase in demand necessitated the acquisition of a large building in Cash’s Lane, Coventry. In 1909 the company first made use of the famous Union Flag Badge, a feature of the radiator emblem until after the Second World War. By 1911 the range of vehicles was comprehensive, with the 8-horsepower model being produced in quantity. In 1912 Friswell sold his interest in Standard to C. J. Band and Siegfried Bettmann, the founder of the Triumph Motor Cycle Company, which became the Triumph Motor Company. During the same year the first commercial vehicle was put into large-scale production. 1600 were produced before the outbreak of the First World War. These cars were sold with a three-year guarantee. In 1914 Standard became a public company.

During the First World War the company produced aircraft. Car production was restarted in 1919, In the early 1920s saloon bodies were first offered; previously all cars had been tourers. By 1924 the company was making more than 10,000 cars. By the late 1920s profits had decreased dramatically due bad sales of the larger cars.

Standard Motor management encouraged the supply of chassis to external coachbuilders such as Avon and Swallow Coachbuilding and Jensen. Swallow Coachbuilding decided to produce a car under their own name using a Standard engine and chassis. A prototype S S One was displayed at 1931 London Motor Show and in 1932 Swallow were able to supply three models, Swallow’s business was moved to S S Cars Limited and began to use a model name of Jaguar for part of their range then extended it to include their saloons. In 1945 S S Cars became Jaguar Cars and Standard still manufactured Jaguar’s engines.

Founder and Chairman Reginald Maudslay retired in 1934 and died soon afterwards on 14 December 1934 at the age of 64. Through the 1930s and 40s, fortunes improved with new models, By the beginning of the Second World War, Standard’s annual production was approximately 50,000 units. The company continued to produce vehilces during the Second World War.

In 1945 Standard Motor Company purchased the Triumph Motor Company. Triumph had gone into receivership in 1939, and was now reformed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard, named Triumph Motor Company Limited. In December, Standard Motor Company Limited announced that an arrangement had been made to manufacture Ferguson’s tractors, these tractors would be for the Eastern hemisphere, Ferguson tractors built by Ford in America for the Western hemisphere. Production was expected to start in 1946.

A one-model policy for the Standard marque was adopted in 1948 with the introduction of the Standard Vanguard and replaced all the carry-over pre-war models. The Vanguard Phase 1 was replaced in 1953 by the Phase 2 and in 1955 by the all-new Phase 3. The one-model policy lasted until 1953, when a new Standard Eight small car was added. This was the cheapest four-door saloon on the market with an economical O.H.V. engine. At the same time Standards were producing the Rolls Royce Avon jet aero engine of which 415 were made between 1951 and 1955. The Phase 2 Vanguard was powered, like the Phase I, by a 4-cylinder engine producing 68 hp. This engine could be modified producing 90 hp. Standard Motors at the time supplied many of these engines to Ferguson Tractor distributed in the United States.

The Ten was followed in 1957 by the Standard Pennant featuring prominent tail fins, but otherwise little altered from the 1953 Standard Eight. An option for the Ten, and standard to the Pennant, was the Gold Star engine, tuned for greater power and overdrive for the gearbox, an option for the Eight, Ten and Pennant was the Standrive, a semi-manual transmission that automatically operated the clutch during gearchanges.

During the same year that the ‘8’ was introduced, another car was displayed at the 1952 London Motor Show. This was the Triumph 20TS, a sports two-seater with a modified Standard ‘8’ chassis and a Vanguard engine. The lack of luggage space, performance and handling resulted in production delayed until 1953 when the chassis and drivetrain were developed and the body was restyled to incorporate a generous storage space. The new TR2 was badged as a Triumph rather than Standard. As a result small manufacturers, including Morgan, Peerless, Swallow, and Doretti, bought engines and other components from Standard Motor Company.

In 1958 the Standard Atlas panel van and pick-up was first offered, a cab-over-engine design. In 1961, the Atlas Major was introduced, and sold alongside the original Atlas. In 1963 Atlas Major became the Standard 15, with a new long-wheelbase variant the Standard 20. Later that year, the Standard name became disused by Leyland, and these models were rebranded as Leyland 15 and 20, UK production ended in 1968. These vehicles were badged as Triumphs for export to Canada, and possibly other overseas markets. The van’s tooling was also exported to India after UK production ceased, where the resultant vehicle continued in production until the 1980s.

By the later 1950s Standards were losing markets to more modern competitor and the Triumph name was believed to be more marketable; hence the 1959 replacement for the Eight, Ten and Pennant was badged as the Triumph Herald. During the year end 1954 Standard made and sold 73,000 cars and 61,500 tractors. Since the war Standard had made and sold some 418,000 cars and 410,000 tractors and much more than half were exported.

The Standard-Triumph company was eventually bought in 1960 by Leyland Motors Ltd which paid £20 million and the last Standard, an Ensign Deluxe, was produced in the UK in May 1963, when the final Vanguard models were replaced by the Triumph 2000 model. Triumph continued when Leyland became British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. The Standard brand was ended on 17 August 1970 when a sudden announcement said that henceforth the Company was to be known as the Triumph Motor Company. The Standard name has been unused in Europe since then and the Triumph or Rover Triumph BL subsidiary used the former Standard engineering and production facilities at Canley in Coventry until the plant was closed in 1980.

BMW acquired the Standard and Triumph brands following its purchase of BL’s successor Rover Group in 1994. When most of Rover was sold in 2000, BMW kept the Standard brand along with Triumph, MINI and Riley. The management of British Motor Heritage Ltd, gained the rights to the Standard Brand upon their management purchase of this company from BMW in 2001


Swallow Sidecar Company


Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company, and Swallow Coachbuilding Company were trading names used by Walmsley & Lyons, partners and joint owners of a British manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars and automobile bodies in Blackpool, Lancashire — later Coventry, Warwickshire — before incorporating a company to own their business which they named Swallow Coachbuilding Company Limited.

Under co-founder William Lyons its business continued to prosper as SS Cars Limited and grew into Jaguar Cars Limited. The sidecar manufacturing business, by then owned by a different company, Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited, was sold by Jaguar to an aircraft maintenance firm, Helliwell Group, in January 1946.

Swallow was founded by two friends, William Walmsley and William Lyons. Their partnership became official in September 1922. Their business partnership was known by three successive trading names: Swallow Sidecar Company, Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company, and Swallow Coachbuilding Company. In 1930 a limited liability company was incorporated to own their business.

William Lyons, having recognised the commercial potential for sidecars, joined Walmsley and together they found premises in Bloomfield Road, Blackpool. With a small team of employees they were able to begin production of the motorcycle sidecars. Walmsley’s father bought a big building in Cocker Street Blackpool which they moved into and began to offer to repair and paint cars and fit new hoods and upholstery. They added coach building to their business name.

The first car that Lyons and Walmsley worked on intending to build and sell was the Austin 7. Lyons commissioned a coachbuilder to create a distinctive, open two seater body with a detachable hardtop. The result was announced in May 1927, the Austin Seven Swallow. Austin gave their approval to the Swallow coachwork though adjustments were needed. Soon after, a saloon version was produced: the Austin Seven Swallow Saloon. In the same year, “Sidecar” was dropped from the name, and it became the Swallow Coachbuilding Company.

Three new Swallow models appeared in 1929 on Standard, Swift, and Fiat chassis. Also in 1929 John Black, director of Standard Motor Company and William Lyons realised a long-standing dream and produced a one of a kind sports car, This “First” SS (Standard Swallow) was a sleek Boat Tail Roadster with a flowing, streamlined design and pointed to an obvious attempt at making a fast car, possibly with the intention of venturing into racing.

Bodies on the Wolseley Hornet chassis fitted in well with Swallow’s planned new product range. They were the first 6-cylinder Swallows. Production began in January 1931 with an open 2-seater. A 4-seater car followed. In April 1932 the new Special chassis arrived and these cars were quite popular. They were the last of the special-bodied Swallows, whose production was replaced in the summer of 1933 by their SS 1 tourer first announced in March 1933

A prototype S S One was displayed at 1931 London Motor Show and in 1932 Swallow were able to supply three models, Swallow’s business was moved to S S Cars Limited and began to use a model name of Jaguar for part of their range then extended it to include their saloons.

Engines and chassis supplied by the Standard Motor Company were fitted with Swallow bodies styled under Lyons supervision. The first of the SS range of cars available to the public was the 1932 SS 1 with 2-litre or 2½-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine and the SS 2 with a four-cylinder 1-litre side-valve engine. Initially available as coupé or tourer a saloon was added in 1934, when the chassis was modified to be 2 inches (50 mm) wider.

The success of the new range brought about a number of changes. William Walmsley wished to leave this business and it was decided to replace Walmsley’s capital by bringing new outside shareholders into a brand-new incorporation, S. S. Cars Limited. The new company technically commenced business on 1 February 1934 following its incorporation 26 October 1933. Subsequently, S. S. Cars Limited bought the shares of Swallow Coachbuilding Limited as of 31 July 1934 and Swallow was liquidated before S. S. issued shares to the public in January 1935.

The continued success and expansion of their SS Jaguar range, in particular the sports and saloon cars announced in late 1935 would lead to its new name. On 23 March 1945 the SS Cars Limited shareholders in general meeting agreed to change the company’s name to Jaguar Cars Limited. Said Chairman William Lyons “Unlike S.S. the name Jaguar is distinctive and cannot be connected or confused with any similar foreign name.” Standard still manufactured Jaguar’s engines.

In January 1946 the Helliwell Group, an aircraft maintenance firm, bought Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited from Jaguar Cars Limited. Sidecars produced at Helliwells’ Walsall Airport works were built in the same way as the originals and used the same patented trademark. They closed shop in the late 1950s


Triumph Motor Company


The Triumph Motor Company was a British car and motor manufacturing company. The Triumph marque is owned currently by BMW. The marque had its origins in 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann of Nuremberg formed S. Bettmann & Co and started importing bicycles from Europe and selling them under his own trade name in London. The trade name became “Triumph” the following year, and in 1887 Bettmann was joined by a partner, Moritz Schulte, also from Germany. In 1889, the businessmen started producing their own bicycles in Coventry, England.

The company was renamed the Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd. in 1897. In 1902 they began producing Triumph motorcycles in Coventry. At first, they used engines purchased from another company, but the business prospered and they soon started making their own engines. In 1907 they purchased a new factory. Major orders for the Model H were placed by the British Army during the First World War; by 1918 Triumph had become Britain’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles.

In 1921 Bettmann acquire the assets of the Dawson Car Company and start producing a car and 1.4-litre engine type named the Triumph 10/20 designed for them by Lea-Francis, to whom they paid a royalty for every car sold. Production of this car and its immediate successors was moderate, but this changed with the introduction in 1927 of the Triumph Super 7, which sold in large numbers until 1934.

In 1930 the company’s name was changed to Triumph Motor Company. Holbrook realized he could not compete with the larger car companies for the mass market, so he decided to produce expensive cars, and introduced the models Southern Cross and Gloria. At first they used engines made by Triumph but designed by Coventry Climax, but in 1937 Triumph started to produce engines to their own designs by Donald Healey, who had become the company’s experimental manager in 1934.

The company encountered financial problems and in 1936 the Triumph bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold. Healey purchased an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and developed a new car model with an Alfa inspired straight-8 engine type named the Triumph Dolomite. Three of these cars were made in 1934, one of which was used in competition and destroyed in an accident. The Dolomites manufactured from 1937 to 1940 were unrelated to these prototypes.

In July 1939 the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership and the factory, equipment and goodwill were offered for sale. The Thos W Ward scrapping company purchased Triumph, and placed Healey in charge as general manager, but the effects of the Second World War again stopped the production of cars; the Holbrook Lane works were completely destroyed by bombing in 1940.

In November 1944 what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph trade name were bought by the Standard Motor Company and a subsidiary “Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited” was formed with production transferred to Standard’s factory in Coventry. Triumph’s new owners had been supplying engines to Jaguar and its predecessor company since 1938. After an argument between Standard-Triumph Managing Director, John Black, and William Lyons, the creator and owner of Jaguar, Black’s objective in acquiring the rights to the name and the remnants of the bankrupt Triumph business was to build a car to compete with the soon to be launched post-war Jaguars.

The pre-war Triumph models were not revived and in 1946 a new range of Triumphs was announced, starting with the Triumph Roadster. The Roadster had an aluminium body because steel was in short supply and surplus aluminium from aircraft production was plentiful. The same engine was used for the 1800 Town and Country saloon, later named the Triumph Renown. A similar style was also used for the subsequent Triumph Mayflower light saloon. All three of these models prominently sported the “globe” badge that had been used on pre-war models.

In the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name for sporting cars and the Standard name for saloons and in 1953 the Triumph TR2 was initiated, the first of the TR series of sports cars that were produced until 1981.

Standard had been making a range of small saloons named the Standard Eight and Ten, and had been working on their replacements. The success of the TR range meant that Triumph was considered a more marketable name than Standard, and the new car was introduced in 1959 as the Triumph Herald. The last Standard car to be made in the UK was replaced in 1963 by the Triumph 2000.

Standard-Triumph was bought by Leyland Motors Ltd. in December 1960. Further mergers resulted in the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968.

During the 1960s and ’70s Triumph sold a succession of Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, in 1973, already had a 16-valve four-cylinder engine. It is alleged that many Triumphs of this era were unreliable.

For most of its time under Leyland or BL ownership the Triumph marque belonged in the Specialist Division of the company, which went by the names of Rover Triumph and later Jaguar Rover Triumph, except for a brief period during the mid-1970s when all BL’s car marques or brands were grouped together under the name of Leyland Cars.

The only all-new Triumph model initiated as Rover Triumph was the TR7, which was in production. Plans for an extended range based on the TR7, including a fastback variant codenamed “Lynx”, were ended when the factory closed. The four-cylinder TR7 and its short-lived eight-cylindered derivative the TR8 were terminated when the road car section of the Solihull plant was closed (the plant continued to build Land Rovers.)

The last Triumph model was the Acclaim, introduced in 1981 and essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade built under licence from the Japanese company Honda, at the former Morris Motors works in Cowley, Oxford. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, a rebadged version of Honda’s next generation Civic/Ballade model. The BL car division had by then been named the Austin Rover Group, which also ended the Morris marque as well as Triumph.

The trademark is owned currently by BMW, which acquired Triumph when it bought the Rover Group in 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused. The Standard marque was transferred to British Motor Heritage Limited. The Standard marque is still retained by British Motor Heritage, who also have the licence to use the Triumph marque in relation to the sale of spares and service of the existing ‘park’ of Triumph cars.


Leyland Motors Limited


Leyland Motors Limited (later known as the Leyland Motor Corporation) was a British vehicle manufacturer of lorries, buses and trolleybuses.

Founded in 1896 as the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland in North West England. The company’s first vehicle was a 1.5-ton-capacity steam powered van. This was followed by a number of undertype steam wagons. By 1905 they had also begun to build petrol-engined wagons. The Lancashire Steam Motor Company was renamed Leyland Motors in 1907 when it took over Coulthards of Preston, who had been making steam wagons since 1897. They also built a second factory in the neighbouring town of Chorley.

In 1920, Leyland Motors produced the Leyland Eight luxury touring car, a development of which was driven by J.G. Parry-Thomas at Brooklands. They also produced the Trojan Utility Car in the Kingston upon Thames factory at Ham from 1922 to 1928.

During World War II, Leyland Motors, along with most vehicle manufacturers, was involved in war production. Leyland built the Cromwell tank at its works from 1943 as well as medium/large trucks such as the Hippo and Retriever. After the war, Leyland Motors continued military manufacture with the Centurion tank.

In 1946, Associated Equipment Company (AEC) a British vehicle manufacturer that built buses, motorcoaches and trucks from 1912 until 1979 and Leyland Motors formed British United Traction to build trolleybuses.

In 1955, through an equity agreement, manufacture of commercial vehicles under licence from Leyland Motors commenced in Madras, India at the new Ashok factory. The products were branded as Ashok Leyland.

Leyland Motors acquired other companies in the post war years:

1951: Albion Motors, Scottish automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer.
1953: Danish Automobile Building (DAB), a bus manufacturer, later with a majority stake in the 1970s
1955: Scammell—military and specialist lorry manufacturer
1961: Standard-Triumph (Standard-Triumph International Limited), cars, vans and agricultural machinery

Holding company: Leyland Motor Corporation

The company diversified into car manufacturing with its acquisitions of Triumph and Rover in 1960 and 1967. Donald Stokes, previously Sales Director, was appointed managing director of Leyland Motors Limited in September 1962. He became chairman in 1966. Chronologically, the 1960s growth of Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC) was as follows:

1962: Leyland Motors acquires Associated Commercial Vehicles (ACV), which incorporated AEC, Thornycroft, Park Royal Vehicles and Charles H Roe.
1962 a new group holding company was incorporated to own Leyland Motors Limited, ACV and new acquisitions
1965: Minority (25%) interests in Bristol Commercial Vehicles and Eastern Coach Works
1966: Rover cars and their subsidiary car, aero-engine and armoured fighting vehicle manufacturer Alvis Car and Engineering Company
1967: Aveling-Barford was acquired. This company mainly made road rollers and dumper trucks.

In 1968 Leyland Motors merged with British Motor Holdings (BMH) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). BMH, which was the product of an earlier merger between the British Motor Corporation, the Pressed Steel Company and Jaguar, brought with it more marques, including Daimler, Guy, BMC, Austin, and Morris. Leyland diesel engines were used in Finnish Sisu and Vanaja lorries and buses in 1960s.

British Leyland

British Leyland was an automotive engineering and manufacturing conglomerate formed in the United Kingdom in 1968 as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd (BLMC), following the merger of Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings.

The BLMC group was difficult to manage because of the many companies under its control, often making similar products. This, and other reasons, led to financial difficulties and in December 1974 British Leyland had to receive a guarantee from the British government.

In 1975, after the publication of the Ryder Report and the company’s bankruptcy, BLMC was nationalised as British Leyland (BL) and split into four divisions with the bus and truck production becoming the Leyland Truck & Bus division within the Land Rover Leyland Group. This division was split into Leyland Bus and Leyland Trucks in 1981. Leyland Trucks depended on British sales as well as export markets, mainly Commonwealth and ex-Commonwealth markets. The early 1980s were very hard, with export sales drying up in many places such as oil-dependent Nigeria. In 1986, BL changed its name to Rover Group. The equity stake in Ashok Leyland was controlled by Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, and sold in 1987. At this point, while building about 10,000 trucks per annum, Leyland was more and more depending on outside engines as production of their own 98-series was steadily declining. The 1986 closure of Bedford Vehicles’s heavy truck plant further harmed Leyland, as they had been planning on selling axles and other components to the General Motors subsidiary.

After the various vehicle manufacturing businesses of BL and its successors went defunct or were divested, the following marques survived: Jaguar and Land Rover, now built by Jaguar Land Rover; MG, now built by MG Motor, and Mini, now built by BMW. The truck building operation survived largely intact as Leyland Trucks, a subsidiary of Paccar.


Defunct Automobile Brands & Manufacturers