Historic Car Brands



In 1902, Reginald Walter Maudslay joined his cousin Cyril Charles Maudslay at his Maudslay Motor Company, to make marine internal combustion engines. The marine engines did not sell very well, so they made a three-cylinder, overhead-camshaft car engine, designed by Alexander Craig.


This advanced engine had pressure lubrication and was fitted in a chain-drive chassis.  With some financial backing from no lesser a personage than Sir John Wolfe Barry – the designer of Tower Bridge in London –  R W Maudslay left his cousin’s business and became a motor manufacturer on his own account. His Standard Motor Company was incorporated on March 2nd 1903, in Coventry. 

“Standard’ was chosen as the brand name, because the concept of company’s cars was around high-standard manufacturing and the use of standardised patterns and interchangeable parts.

The first Standard had a single-cylinder engine, three-speed gearbox and shaft drive to the rear wheels. By the end of 1903 three cars had been built and the labour force had been increased to 25. The increased labour force produced a car every three weeks during 1904.

The single-cylinder model was soon replaced by a two-cylinder model and three- and four-cylinder versions.


1910 Standard 30hp Cabriolet – Peter Turvey


Even the first cars boasted shaft drive instead of the more commonly used chains and the engines were wildly ‘over-square’ – six-inch diameter pistons with only three-inch stroke – at a time when engines were very ‘under-square’.

 As well as supplying complete chassis, the company found a good market selling engines for repowering other cars, to satisfy owners’ needs for improved performance.

In 1905, Maudslay drove the first Standard car to compete in a race: the RAC Tourist Trophy in which he finished 11th out of 42 starters, enjoying a non-stop run. 

The company exhibited at the 1905 London Motor Show in Crystal Palace, where the new Standard 16/20 six-cylinder model so impressed London car dealer, Charles (later Sir Charles) Friswell that he offered to buy the entire factory output. He soon joined Standard and became chairman in 1907.

All in 1905, the first export order was received from a Canadian, who arrived at the factory in person. The order was reported in the local newspaper with some emphasis: ‘Coventry firm makes bold bid for foreign markets’.

Many years later, manufacturing plants were opened in Australia, France, India and South Africa, with assembly plants in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. 

In late 1906 production was transferred to larger premises and output was concentrated on six-cylinder models. As with most car makers of the period, Standard’s  target was the luxury market, because of the cost of low-volume production. The 16/20 tourer was priced at £450 at the time when a draughtsman earned £3 per week. 

A 1907 factory expansion proved inadequate, following a highly publicised deal fo the supply of 20 16/20 tourers for the use of Commonwealth editors attending the 1909 Imperial Press Conference in London. 


Early Standard badge – Peter Turvey


In 1909 the company introduced the Union Flag badge that graced Standard grilles until after World War II. It also ventured into the light-car market, with a 12hp, four-cylinder, low-speed model that was geared to allow it to carry heavy bodywork if required.

By 1911 the range of vehicles was comprehensive, from an 8hp model up to 70hp cars.

Friswell’s influence helped in an order for 70 four-cylinder, 16hp cars for the newly-minted King George V and his entourage at the 1911 Delhi Durbar that celebrated his status as Emperor of India. 

In 1912, Friswell sold his interest in Standard to C J Band and Siegfried Bettmann, the founder of the Triumph Motor Cycle Company (later the Triumph Motor Company). Also in 1912, the first Standard commercial vehicle was produced.


1913 Standard Rhyl S 9.5hp – Peter Turvey


In 1913, the four-cylinder, 9.5hp ‘Rhyl’ Model S was introduced and put into large-scale production, with some 1600 being produced before the outbreak of World War I. These cars were sold with a three-year warranty. 

In 1914 Standard became a public company and during the War it produced more than 1200 aircraft, including the Royal Aircraft Factory BE12 and Bristol F2-B bombers; RE8 reconnaissance aircraft and Sopwith Pup fighters.

Other war materiel included shells, mobile workshops for the Royal Engineers and trench mortars.

Civilian car production was restarted in 1919, with models based on pre-War designs, including the 9.5hp model S was re-introduced as the model SLS Rhyl  and joined by an 8hp model.


1922 Standard Eleven SLO4 Tourer – Alf van Beem


In the early 1920s saloon bodies were offered in addition to the tourers. The Standard car bodies had been made for some time by the company itself, but in 1922 they became mass-produced, using a wooden track along which they were pushed by hand. 

Popularity of the smaller one- to two-litre, four-cylinder Standards helped the company adopt  a ‘Count them on the Road’ slogan in the early 1920s that appeared on every advertisement. By 1924, it was rivalling the Austin Motor Company, making more than 10,000 cars in 1924. 

However by the late-1920s profits had decreased dramatically, due to reinvestment, a failed export contract and poor sales of the larger cars. The 1927 launch of the 18/36 2.2-litre, six-cylinder model wasn’t timely.


1927 Standard Nine Selby – Malcolm A


To help boost small-car sales the 9hp Fulham, with fabric body, was also introduced for £185 in 1927. The importance of standardisation was now appreciated and only one body alternative was offered. 

In 1929 Captain John Black, previously managing director of Hillman, joined Standard and became joint managing director with R W Maudslay in 1933.

Black encouraged the supply of chassis to external coach builders, including Avon, Swallow Coachbuilding and Jensen. Avon and Swallow produced cars with a distinctly sporty appearance, using complete chassis and these Standard ‘Specials’ catered for a select market too small for Standard themselves.

Meanwhile, Down Under, J F Crosby invested in Eclipse Motors Pty Ltd of Melbourne and 1929 the company secured the Victorian agency for Standard Motor Company’s cars. The company became Talbot and Standard Motors and began a period of expansion with the Standard marque through the 1930s. 


1930 Standard Swallow – Andrew Bone


In 1930, artillery wheels gave way to spoke wheels and the distinctive radiator shape first used on the six-cylinder models in 1906 was abandoned. Also, before the worst of the Depression, the Big Nine was introduced and together with the six-cylinder Ensign 15hp and Envoy 20hp models constituted the complete Standard range.

Standardisation was taken a step further when the bodies of the 9 hp four-cylinder and 15 hp six-cylinder cars differed only in bonnet length. The Big Nine was soon followed by the Big Twelve and sales for the second six months of 1931 exceeded those of the whole of the previous year. 

In 1932, there was a Royal visit to the Canley works by the Duke of Gloucester, who came to open the Canley Pavilion and to take delivery of a new six-cylinder model. The new 1.0-litre, four-cylinder, Little Nine joined the range.

In 1933, the Little Twelve (1.3-litre, side-valve six) and Big Twelve (1.5-litre, side-valve six) were released, with Wilson pre-selector gearboxes.


1933 Standard 10 – Arpingstone


Founder and chairman Reginald Maudslay retired in 1934 and died soon afterwards at the age of 64. Charles James Band, a Coventry solicitor and a Standard director since 1920, replaced him as chairman and served in that capacity until the beginning of 1954.

The Standard Nine and newly-released Standard Ten addressed the low to mid range market in 1934. 

At the 1935 Motor Show at Olympia, the new range of ‘Flying Standards’ was announced, featuring semi-streamlined bodies. They hit the market in 1936, with their distinctive sloping rear bodywork and soon replaced the outgoing range of Nine, Twelve, Sixteen, and Twenty. 


Standard Flying 12 – Dennis Elzinga


The Flying Standards were promoted as: ‘cars of astonishing beauty, with flowing lines simplified for practical reasons’ and ‘at speed, as silent as a bird on the wing’.

Also in 1936, the range-topping Flying V8 was released. Powered by a 2.7-litre, side-valve, V8, this car was aimed at the Ford V8, but only around 350 were produced before Word War II.


Standard 20hp RAC V8 engine – Autocar


In 1938 a new factory was opened and Standard launched the Flying Eight, with a new, one-litre, side-valve, four-cylinder engine, smaller than that in the Flying Nine and was the first British mass-produced light saloon with independent front suspension.The Flying Ten and Flying Twelve were also given new chassis, with independent front suspension in 1938.

Standard’s, UK-Government-financed aero-engine plant began construction in mid-1939 and was managed by Standard for the Air Ministry. The company continued to produce chassis during World War II, but mainly fitted with utility-bodied ‘Tillys’. 


Standard ‘Tilley’ – Pilot Officer L H Baker


Standard’s most famous War-time product was the de Havilland Mosquito aircraft, mainly the FB VI version, of which more than 1100 were made. 750 Airspeed Oxfords were also made as well as 20,000 Bristol Mercury VIII engines and 3000 Bristol Beaufighter fuselages. Other Wartime products included 4000 Beaverette light armoured cars.

With peace, the pre-war Eight, 1.6-litre Twelve and 1.8-litre Fourteen were quickly back in production, using tools carefully stored since 1939. 


1946 Standard 8hp Saloon – Lars-Goran Lindgren


Also in 1945, Standard purchased the Triumph Motor Company that had gone into receivership in 1939. It was reformed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Standard, named Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited. 

A lucrative deal was also arranged to build the small Ferguson Company tractor, to help build up post-War cash flow and profits, to fund new car development.


1952 Standard Vanguard Phase IA – Red Simon


A one-model policy for the Standard marque, plus a range of new Triumphs, was adopted in 1948, with the introduction of the two-litre, Standard Vanguard that was styled on American lines by Walter Belgrove.

In 1952, in Australia, the Crosby family formed a holding company, Standard Motor Products Ltd, in co-operation with the Standard Motor Company of England to assemble cars at a new assembly plant in Port Melbourne. 

The subsidiary company responsible for vehicle assembly was the Standard Motor Company (Australia) Limited. It assembled the Standard Eight, Vanguard, Spacemaster and the Triumph Mayflower.


1954 Standard Vanguard Phase II_ Ute – Sicnag


The aptly-named Vanguard was the first post-War design from any major British manufacturer. The beetle-back Vanguard Phase I was replaced in 1953 by the notch-back Phase II.

The Phase I and II Vanguards were powered by a 2.1litre, four-cylinder, ‘wet liner’ engine, producing 60hp. With two single-barrel Solex carburettors, it could be provoked up to 90 hp. Standard Motors supplied many of these engines for US-market Ferguson Tractors.

The Vanguard engine was also the powerplant for the Standard Eight-chassis, Triumph TR2 sports car that became a world-beater after its 1957 release.

The one-model policy lasted until 1953, when a new Standard Eight small car became the cheapest four-door saloon on the market, yet it boasted independent front suspension, hydraulic brakes and an economical overhead-valve engine. 


Standard Eight – Charles 01


In 1954, the Eight was supplemented by the slightly more powerful Standard Ten that featured a wider chrome grille.

In 1955, came the all-new Vanguard Phase III, powered by the same engine, but now tweaked to 68hp. Its all-new unit-construction bodywork was used on the Sportsman, Ensign, Vanguard Vignale and Vanguard Six variants. The Six engine was an 80hp, two-litre job, with twin Solexes that subsequently powered the Triumph 2000.


Standard Ensign – Charles 01


The Ten was followed in 1957 by the Standard Pennant with prominent tail fins, but otherwise little altered structurally from the 1953 Standard Eight. An option for the Ten, and standard fitment to the Pennant, was the Gold Star engine, tuned for greater power and torque than the standard 948 cc unit. Another tuning set, featuring a different camshaft and twin carburettors, was available from dealers. 

As well as an overdrive for the gearbox, an option for the Eight, Ten and Pennant was a Standrive, semi-manual transmission that automatically operated the clutch during gear changes.


1959 Vanguard Vignale Utility- Sicnag


By the late-1950s, small Standards were losing out in the UK market to more modern competitor designs and the Triumph name was believed to be more marketable. The 1959 replacement for the Eight, Ten and Pennant was badged as the Triumph Herald, although its differential, hubs, brakes, engine and gearbox were all common to the last Standard Pennants.

The Standard-Triumph company was bought in 1960 by Leyland Motors and the last Standard Ensign Deluxe was produced in May 1963, when the final Vanguard models were replaced by the Triumph 2000.

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