Historic Car Brands

Armstrong Siddeley

Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd was formed in 1919, when the Siddeley-Deasy Motor Car Company was bought out by Armstrong Whitworth.  J D Siddeley had adopted the slogan, “As silent as the Sphinx’ and had a Sphinx bonnet ornament on his cars.

The first car of the new union was a massive five-litre, whose six-cylinder engine was cast in two blocks of three, followed by smaller 18hp six of 2.3-litres capacity and two-litre four 14hp models in 1922/23.

In 1928, Armstrong Siddeley Holdings bought Avro from Crossley Motors. Also that year Siddeley partnered with Walter Gordon Wilson, inventor of the pre-selector gearbox, to create Improved Gears Ltd, which later became Self-Changing Gears.

1939 Armstrong-Siddeley 16hp car seen at Kemble Air Show, Kemble, Gloucestershire, England – Adrian Pingstone

1928 saw the company’s first 15 hp six and the following year, a 12 hp vehicle. This was a pioneering year for the marque, during which it first offered the Wilson preselector gearbox as an optional extra. It became standard issue on all cars from 1933. 

In 1930 the company marketed four models, of 12, 15, 20, and 30 hp, the last costing £1450.

In 1932 to Siddeley Special made its debut. This car reflected Armstrong Siddley’s aeronautical connections, having an engine block, head, pistons and rods made from Hiduminium alloy. It was ultra-low-slung and had a centralised lubrication system. Around 140 of these cars were sold in four years.

In 1935, J D Siddeley’s interests were purchased for £2 million[ by aviation pioneer Tommy Sopwith, owner of Hawker Aircraft, to form – along with the Gloster Aircraft Company and Air Training Services – Hawker Siddeley: a famous name in British aircraft production. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft and Armstrong Siddeley Motors became subsidiaries of Hawker Siddeley, with Sopwith himself becoming the new chairman of Armstrong Siddeley Motors.

Armstrong Siddeley Lancaster 1947 – GTHO

The week that World War II ended in Europe, Armstrong Siddeley introduced its first post-war models:  the Lancaster four-door saloon and the Hurricane drophead coupe. The names of these models echoed the names of aircraft produced by the Hawker Siddeley Group. These cars all used two-litre six-cylinder,16hp engines, increased to 2.3-litre,18hp in 1949. 

Armstrong Siddeley Whitley – Charles 01

From 1949 to 1952 two commercial variants of the 18hp Whitleys were produced, primarily for export. 

1952 Armstrong Siddeley Station Coupé LHD – Mr Choppers

The Utility Coupé was a conventional coupe utility style vehicle, while the Station Coupé was effectively a dual cab vehicle, although it still retained only two doors. However, it did have two rows of seating to accommodate up to four adults and the doors were larger to allow better access to the rear. 

Hurricane drophead coupé – Brian Snelson

From 1953 the company produced the Sapphire, with a 3.4-litre six-cylinder engine.

In 1956, the model range was expanded with the addition of the 234, powered by a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine and the 236, with the older 2.3-litre six-cylinder engine. 

The 3.4-litre Sapphire 346 sported a bonnet mascot in the shape of a sphinx with Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire jet engines attached! 

The 234 and 236 Sapphires looked more modern than their predecessors, but Jaguar had launched the unitary-construction 2.4-litre saloon in 1955 and it proved to have more performance and was significantly cheaper than the 234 and 236.

1959 Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire – New Zealand

The last new model produced by Armstrong Siddeley was 1958’s Star Sapphire, with a four-litre engine and automatic transmission. The Armstrong Siddeley car line was a casualty of the 1960 merger with Bristol and the last car left the Coventry factory.

Bristol Siddeley and Rolls-Royce merged in 1966 and, in June 1972, Rolls-Royce sold the stock of spares plus all patents, specifications, drawings, catalogues and the name of Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd to the Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club Ltd.

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