Duple: Simms and Daimler (Part 2)

Civil aviation After the Armistice it was decided that Daimler Hire should extend its luxury travel services to include charter aircraft through a new enterprise, Daimler Air Hire. Following the take-over of Airco and its subsidiaries in February 1920 services included scheduled services London-Paris as well as “Taxi Planes” to “anywhere in Europe”. In 1922 under the name of Daimler Airway services extended to scheduled flights London to Berlin and places between. Frank Searle, managing director of Daimler Hire and its subsidiaries moved with his deputy Humphery Wood into the new national carrier Imperial Airways at its formation on 1 April 1924. Searle and Wood and their Daimler Airway machines formed the core of Imperial Airways operations.
Commercial vehicles
In late 1920s, it, together with Associated Equipment Company (AEC), formed the Associated Daimler Company to build commercial vehicles. The association was dissolved in 1928 with each company retaining manufacture of its original products.
Lanchester acquisition and badging
In 1930 the bulk of Daimler’s shareholding in its subsidiary Daimler Hire Limited was sold to the Thomas Tilling Group and, in January 1931, Daimler completed the purchase of The Lanchester Motor Company Limited. The new Lanchester 15/18 model introduced in 1931 was fitted with Daimler’s fluid flywheel transmission.
Although at first they produced separate ranges of cars with the Daimler badge appearing mainly on the larger models, by the mid-1930s the two were increasingly sharing components leading to the 1936 Lanchester 18/Daimler Light 20 differing in little except trim and grille.
This marketing concept already employed with their BSA range of cars continued to the end of Lanchester and BSA car production. Some very important customers were supplied with big Daimler limousines with Lanchester grilles. The Daimler range was exceptionally complex in the 1930s with cars using a variety of six- and eight-cylinder engines with capacities from 1805 cc in the short lived 15 of 1934 to the 4624 cc 4.5-litre of 1936.
Mid-term review and outlook
By 1930, the BSA Group’s primary activities were BSA motorcycles and Daimler vehicles.
It has been suggested Simms and Daimler soon withdrew from their initial association with Lawson because Lawson showed little potential ability for managing a manufacturing business. It was felt Lawson’s was an unsatisfactory group of people to be associated with. They were described by Frederick Lanchester as “the Coventry Company Promoting Gang”. Once relieved of Lawson, the next period, Sturmey’s chairmanship, suffered from the division between his supporters and his opponents. Sturmey departed in 1899.
Yet in the early 1900s, the achievement of a Royal Warrant and acquisition of some capable talent led to improved fortunes. Under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Jenkinson, an American, Percy Martin, a substantial shareholder and electrical engineer, was promoted to works manager and Ernest Instone to general manager. Jenkinson was succeeded in 1906 by Edward Manville, a distinguished consulting electrical engineer who was to become chairman of BSA. The involvement of the Docker family, father and son, beginning in 1910 failed to solve boardroom difficulties which transferred to BSA and in the end may have brought about disaster but in any case until the late 1920s the collective Daimler leadership did well and the business prospered. Its repute and its profits grew. “Side by side with an apprenticeship scheme which was as good as any in the trade, they had begun to attract pupils from public schools with such success that shortly before (World War I) there was a hostel full of them in a pleasant house in St Nicholas Street near the Coventry works.”[ During that war, the labour force grew from 4,000 to 6,000 men. The acquisition of Airco in February 1920 was a financial disaster for the BSA group, the blame since laid at Percy Martin’s door, and all dividends were passed from 1920 to 1924. Martin had been strongly in favour of its purchase with its extensive aircraft or motor vehicle production facilities near London and no one thought to exercise “due diligence”, which would have revealed Airco’s true circumstances.
All the quality car businesses experienced financial difficulties in the late 1920s. Daimler’s situation seemed particularly serious. Sales fell sharply in 1927–1928, a period of losses ensued and no dividends were paid between 1929 and 1936. The sleeve valve engine was now well out of date, Daimler’s production methods had become old-fashioned, and they had an extravagantly large range of products. Their bankers noted the dwindling sales volume, the equipment. Stratton-Instone’s new dominance of distribution was removed and new outlets arranged. The interests in Singer and the Daimler Hire business were sold and Lanchester bought. The in-house bodywork department was closed and by the spring of 1931 car production ceased, only commercial vehicle production and aero engine work kept Daimler in business.
Laurence Pomeroy joined Daimler in late 1926, at first working on commercial vehicles but from 1928 he worked at the products of the main Daimler operation. Pomeroy introduced redesigned poppet valve engines with the Daimler Fifteen in September 1932, developed new models of Daimlers, recommended what became the September 1932 introduction of the small BSA and Lanchester Tens with poppet valve engines to help Daimler survive the depression and according to Percy Martin these things rescued the business from total collapse in 1932. 1934’s new Straight-Eights were a personal triumph for Pomeroy.
poor performance for price and the need for installation of up-to-date machine tool
With the 1930s, another gradual slide began. Manville died in harness in 1933, Percy Martin was forced out two years later, and Frederick Lanchester resigned as consultant in 1936. That same year, Laurence Pomeroy was not re-elected to the board and left for de Havilland. Ernest Instone had left the works in the early 1920s to concentrate his efforts on distribution (Stratton-Instone) but he too died, in 1932. Daimler was not paying dividends and the 1936 BSA shareholders’ meetings were stormy. Attempted solutions had included the Lanchester acquisition and the introduction of smaller cars, the lower-priced 10 hp Lanchester and its matching but six-cylinder stable-mate the Daimler Fifteen (later DB17 and DB18) introduced in the early thirties. This particular product line as the Lanchester Fourteen and Daimler Conquest was to run through to almost the very end.
Edward H. W. Cooke attempted a revival and from 1937 introduced saloons with a freshness of design new to Daimler. The new products had successes in competitions and rallies. His policy was proved sound but another war, post-war austerity and yet more boardroom battles, this time in public, seemed to put an end to Daimler’s once-proud business.
Daimler’s semi-automatic transmissions
Daimler became a proponent of the Wilson self changing gearbox matched with Fottinger’s fluid flywheel further developed from Vulcan’s and their own patents. They were introduced by Daimler in October 1930 on their new Light Double-Six for an extra £50 and soon they were used in all Daimler vehicles. The chairman reported to the shareholders at their Annual General Meeting in November 1933 “The Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission now has three years of success behind it and more than 11,000 vehicles, ranging from 10 h.p. passenger cars to double-deck omnibuses, aggregating over 160,000 h.p., incorporate this transmission. . . . . it has yet to be proved that any other system offers all the advantages of the Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission. Our Daimler, Lanchester and BSA cars remain what we set out to make them—the aristocrats of their class and type. . . . We have also received numerous inquiries from overseas markets. (Applause)”. These transmissions remained in production until replaced by Borg-Warner fully automatic units beginning in the mid-1950s. Late in that period a new Lanchester model with a Hobbs fully automatic gearbox did not, in the end, enter full production.
Royal Daimlers
A wide variety of engines were made in the earlier years. In an attempt to give some kind of indication of the complexities involved what follows is a list, by year of first supply, of the different engines in cars supplied to the King. In many cases a number of cars were supplied with the same engine and over a period of some years.
World War II work
War was declared on 3 September 1939. It would last until 15 August 1945 and again involve much of the world in the conflict.
During World War II, Daimler turned to military production. A four-wheel-drive scout car, known to the Army as the Dingo had a 2.5-litre engine and the larger Daimler Armoured Car powered by a 4.1-litre engine and armed with a 2-pounder gun were produced, both with six-cylinder power units, fluid flywheels and epicyclical gearboxes. These military vehicles incorporated various innovative features including all-round disc brakes. The Dingo was a BSA design, Daimler’s own design had proved inferior but the “Dingo” name was retained.
During the war Daimler built over 6,600 scout and some 2,700 Mk I and Mk II armoured cars. Tank components, particularly epicyclical gearboxes were provided for some 2,500 Crusader, Covenanter and Cavalier tanks. No complete aircraft as in the previous war but 50,800 radial aero-engines—Bristol Mercury, Hercules and Pegasus—with full sets of parts for a further 9,500 of these engines; propeller shafts for Rolls-Royce aero-engines; 14,356 gun-turrets for bombers including their Browning machine guns; 74,000 Bren guns—bombed-out that production had to be moved to a boot and shoe factory in Burton-on-Trent. Over 10 million aircraft parts were produced during the war. All this production is Daimler’s alone excluding BSA’s other involvements.
Daimler’s peak workforce, 16,000 people, was reached in this period.
After that war, Daimler produced the Ferret armoured car, a military reconnaissance vehicle based on the innovative 4.1-litre-engined armoured car they had developed and built during the war, which has been used by over 36 countries.
Brown’s Lane
The original Sandy Lane plant, used as a government store, was destroyed by fire during intensive enemy bombing of Coventry, but there were by now ‘shadow factories’ elsewhere in the city including one located at Brown’s Lane, Allesey—now itself destroyed—but which after the Jaguar takeover became for several decades the principal Jaguar car plant.
Postwar decline
Churchill, for many years a regular customer, did his electioneering for his first postwar election sitting on the top of the back seat of a discreetly fast and luxurious low-slung Dolphin two-door drop head coupé first registered in 1944. The government ordered new limousines for the top brass of the occupying forces. New straight-eights were supplied to the former colonies for the planned royal tours.
Foreign monarchs re-ordered to replenish their fleets. The 1946 golden jubilee of the founding of the business was celebrated with a luncheon at the Savoy.
However ‘austerity’ seemed infectious. The new Lanchester looked just like a Ford Prefect and its body was made in the same factory. A new model Eighteen with a lot of aluminium because of the steel supply shortage, a modified pre-war Fifteen, was introduced with technical innovations limited to a new cylinder head and curved glass in its side windows now framed by elegant chromed metal channels. Windows were ‘in’. The big DE27 and DE 36 models were the first series-built cars with electrically operated windows. Daimler ambulances became a common sight.
Then in June 1947 purchase tax was doubled—home market sales had already been restricted to cars for “essential purposes”. Petrol remained rationed, ten gallons a month. Princess Elizabeth took her 2½-litre drop head coupé, an 18th-birthday gift from her father, to Malta, where her new husband was stationed. The King took delivery of a new open tourer straight-eight in March 1949. In the commodities boom caused by the 1950 Korean War Australasian woolgrowers reported the new electrically operated limousine-division to be ‘just the thing’ if over-heated sheepdogs licked the back of a driver’s ears. The newest royal Daimler’s transmission failed again and again.
This schedule shows where what should have been Daimler repeat-orders went to. Daimler subsidiary Hoopers at least got to make some of the bodies.
Consorts discounted
Sir Bernard Docker took the extra responsibility of Daimler’s managing director in January 1953 when James Leek was unable to continue through illness. Car buyers were still waiting for the new (Churchill) government’s easing of the ‘temporary’ swingeing purchase tax promised in the lead up to the snap-election held during the 1951 Earl’s Court motor show. Lady Docker told her husband to rethink his marketing policies. 3-litre Regency production was stopped. In the hope of keeping 4,000+ employed the Consort price was dropped from 4 February 1953 to the expected new tax-inclusive level.
Stagnation of all the British motor industry was relieved by the reduction of purchase tax in the April 1953 budget. Daimler announced the introduction of the moderately sized Conquest in May (apparently developed in just four months from the four-cylinder Lanchester 14 or Leda with a Daimler grille).
Daimler and Lanchester (there were no more BSA cars) struggled after the War, producing too many models with short runs and limited production, and frequently selling too few of each model, while Jaguar seemed to know what the public wanted and expanded rapidly. Daimler produced heavy, staid, large and small luxury cars with a stuffy, if sometimes opulent image. Jaguar produced lower quality cars at a remarkably low price, designed for enthusiasts.
The BSA group’s leadership of the world’s motorcycle market was eventually lost to Japanese manufacturers.
Lady Docker’s Daimlers
Sir Bernard Docker was the managing director of BSA from early in WWII, and married Norah Lady Collins in 1949. Nora was twice-widowed and wealthy in her own right. This was her third marriage. She had originally been a successful dance hall hostess. Lady Docker took an interest in her husband’s companies and became a director of Hooper, the coachbuilders.
Daughter of an unsuccessful Birmingham car salesman Lady Docker could see that the Daimler cars, no longer popular with the royal family, were in danger of becoming an anachronism in the modern world. She took it upon herself to raise Daimler’s profile, but in an extravagant fashion, by encouraging Sir Bernard to produce show cars.
The first was the 1951 “Golden Daimler”, an opulent touring limousine, in 1952, “Blue Clover”, a two-door sportsmans coupe, in 1953 the “Silver Flash” based on the 3-litre Regency chassis, and in 1954 “Stardust”, redolent of the “Gold Car”, but based on the DK400 chassis as was what proved to be her Paris 1955 grande finale, a 2-door coupé she named “Golden Zebra”, the “last straw” for the Tax Office and now on permanent display at The Hague.
At the same time Lady Docker earned a reputation for having rather poor social graces when under the influence, and she and Sir Bernard were investigated for failing to correctly declare the amount of money taken out of the country on a visit to a Monte Carlo casino. Sir Bernard was instantly dumped “for absenteeism” by the Midland Bank board without waiting for the court case. Norah drew further attention. She ran up large bills and presented them to Daimler as business expenses but some items were disallowed by the Tax Office. The publicity attached to this and other social episodes told on Sir Bernard’s standing as some already thought the cars far too opulent and perhaps a little vulgar for austere post-war Britain. To compound Sir Bernard’s difficulty, the royal family shifted allegiance to Rolls-Royce. By the end of 1960 all the State Daimlers had been sold and replaced by Rolls-Royces.
Turner’s engines
In 1951 Jack Sangster sold his motorcycle companies Ariel and Triumph to BSA, and joined their board. In 1956 Sangster was elected chairman, defeating Sir Bernard 6 votes to 3. After a certain amount of electioneering by the Dockers an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting backed the board decision and Bernard and Norah left buying a brace of Rolls-Royces as they went registering them as ND5 and BD9. Many important European customers turned out to have been Docker friends and did not re-order Daimler cars.[3]
Sangster promptly made Edward Turner head of the automotive division which as well as Daimler and Carbodies (London Taxicab manufacturers) included Ariel, Triumph, and BSA motorcycles. Turner designed the lightweight hemi head Daimler 2.5 & 4.5 Litre V8 Engines. The small engine was used to power a production version of an apprentice’s exercise, the very flexible Dart and the larger engine installed in the Majestic Major, a relabelled Majestic. Under Sangster Daimler’s vehicles became a little less sober and more performance oriented. The Majestic Major proved an agile high-speed cruiser on the new motorways. Bill Boddy described the SP250 as unlikely to stir the memories of such ghosts as haunt the tree-lined avenues near Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor Castle.
The two excellent Turner V8 engines disappeared with British Leyland’s first rationalisation, the larger in 1968 and the smaller a year later.

Buses 1911–1973
A significant element of Daimler production was bus chassis, mostly for double deckers. Daimler had been interested in the commercial vehicle market from 1904. In 1906 it produced, using the Auto-Mixte patents of Belgian Henri Pieper, a petrol-electric vehicle and on 23 May 1906 registered Gearless Motor Omnibus Co. Limited. It was too heavy. Following the introduction of Daimler-Knight sleeve-valve engines re-designed for Daimler by Dr Frederick Lanchester Lanchester also refined the Gearless design and it re-emerged in 1910 as the KPL (Knight-Pieper-Lanchester) omnibus, a very advanced integral petrol electric hybrid. The KPL bus had four-wheel brakes and steel unitary body/chassis construction. Failure to produce the KPL set bus design back twenty years.
Introduction of the KPL was stopped by a patent infringement action brought by London General Omnibus’s associate Tilling-Stevens in early May 1911 when just twelve KPL buses had been built. This was just after Daimler had poached LGOC’s Frank Searle and announced him to be general manager of its new London bus service which would be using its new KPL type to compete directly with LGOC.[39]
Some of LGOC’s vehicles used Daimler engines. With the collapse of Daimler’s plans Searle, an engineer and designer of the LGOC X-type and AEC B-type bus, instead joined Daimler’s commercial vehicle department. Reverting to (before LGOC) omnibus salesman Searle rapidly achieved some notable sales. 100 to Metropolitan Electric Tramways and 250 to LGOC’s new owner, Underground.
First Searle designed for Daimler a 34-seater with gearbox transmission (the KPL used electric motors each side) very like the B-Type and it was introduced by Daimler in early 1912. The main difference from what became the AEC B-Type was the use of Daimler’s sleeve-valve engine. In June 1912 what had been LGOC’s manufacturing plant was hived off as AEC. Between 1913 and 1916 AEC built some Daimler models under contract and Daimler sold all AEC vehicles which were surplus to LGOC needs. After war service now Colonel Searle moved to Daimler Hire Limited and its involvement in aviation. The Searle models were developed after World War I, but from 1926–8 Daimler entered into a joint venture with AEC vehicles being badged as Associated Daimler.
In the 1930s the Daimler CO chassis became the main model, followed by a similar, but heavier, CW ‘austerity’ model produced during World War II (100 with the Gardner 5LW engine (CWG5), the rest with the AEC 7.7-litre engine – CWA6) and in postwar years production worked through the Daimler CV to the long-running Daimler CR Fleet line, built from 1960 to 1980 (CVG5 and CVG6 had been a common type of bus in Hong Kong between 1950 to 1988 and Fleet line had also become a major type of bus in Hong Kong until 1995). Small numbers of single deck vehicles were also built. Many British bus operators bought substantial numbers of the vehicles and there were also a number built for export. The standard London double-decker bus bought from 1970 to 1978 was the Daimler Fleet line.
Daimler buses were fitted with proprietary diesel engines, the majority by the Gardner company, of Eccles, Manchester, although there were a few hundred Daimler diesels built in the 1940s & 1950s, and the Leyland O.680 was offered as an option on the Fleet line (designated CRL6) after the merger with Leyland. The bus chassis were also fitted with bodywork built by various outside contractors, as is standard in the British bus industry, so, at a casual glance, there is no real identifying feature of a Daimler bus, apart from the badges (Front engined Daimler buses retained the distinctive fluted radiator grille top). The last Daimler Fleet line was built at the traditional Daimler factory in Radford, Coventry, in 1973. After that date, the remaining buses were built at the Leyland factory in Farington, Preston, Lancashire, and the final eight years of Fleet line production being badged as Leyland’s. The last Fleet line built was bodied by Eastern Coach Works in 1981.
During that Jaguar-owned period 1960–1968, Daimler became the second-largest (after Leyland) double-decker bus manufacturer in Britain, with the “Fleet line” model. At the same time, Daimler made trucks and motor homes. BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation to give the British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. Production of Daimler buses in Coventry ceased in 1973 when production of its last bus product (the Daimler Fleet line) was transferred to Leyland plant in Farington. Daimler stayed within BLMC and its subsequent forms until 1982, at which point Jaguar (with Daimler) was demerged from BL as an independent manufacturer.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1960-1966)
In May 1960, the Daimler business was purchased from BSA by Jaguar Cars for 3.4 million pounds. William Lyons was looking to expand manufacture, wanted the manufacturing facilities and had to decide what to do with the existing Daimler vehicles.
Jaguar had been refused planning permission for a new factory in the area in which it wanted it to be. Daimler had shrunk to representing just 15% of BSA group turnover in 1959–1960 and BSA wished to dispose of its motoring interests. “Jaguars reiterate their previous statement that the production of the current range of Daimler models is to be continued. Furthermore, research and development work in connexion with future Daimler models will proceed normally. Jaguars deny rumours to the effect that sweeping changes, including even the extinction of the Daimler marque, are to be expected. The company’s long term view envisages not merely the retention of the Daimler marque, but the expansion of its markets at home and overseas, it is stated.”
Paul Skilleter, in his book “Jaguar saloon cars” states that Jaguar put a Daimler 4.5L V8 in a Mark X, and it went better than the Jaguar version, achieving 135 mph at the MIRA banked track, even with an inefficient prototype exhaust.
The Daimler Majestic Major and the sporty Dart, already in production, were continued for a number of years, using the Daimler V8 engine. In 1961 Daimler introduced the DR450, a limousine version of its Majestic Major with a longer chassis and body shell and higher roofline. It continued in production until the DS420 arrived in 1968, by which time it had sold almost as many as the “Major” saloon.
They were the last Daimlers not designed by Jaguar.
The last car to have a Daimler engine was the 2.5 V8 later V8-250 which was essentially, apart from a fluted top to its grille, different badges and drive train, a more luxurious Jaguar Mk 2. Its distinctive personality may have attracted buyers who would have avoided the matching Jaguar.
While this car became the most popular Daimler ever produced it had two remarkable characteristics:
• buyers did not include previous Daimler owners but rather people trading up from the bigger Ford, BMC or Rover cars.
• No-one traded their V8-250 for a new V8-250. This at a time when 60% of new Jaguars were sold in exchange for Jaguars.
Daimler Sovereign, now there would be no more than a Daimler label for a luxury version of a Jaguar car. After discussion it was decided it would not be a Royale but a Sovereign.

Daimler Company, owned by BMH (1966-1968)
Jaguar was taken over by British Motor Corporation (BMC), the new masters of badge-engineering, in 1966 and a few months later BMC was renamed British Motor Holdings (BMH).
Sir William Lyons
Though Jaguar had diversified by adding, after Daimler, Guy trucks and Coventry-Climax to their group they remained dependent on Pressed Steel for bodies. Once BMC had taken control of Pressed Steel Lyons felt compelled to submit to the BMC takeover. Lyons remained anxious to see that Jaguar maintained its own identity and came to resent the association with British Leyland. He was delighted by Sir John Egan’s accomplishments and by the new independence arranged in 1984.
In 1967, British Leyland’s New York advertising agency advised and it was accepted that there was insufficient in the group advertising budget to cope with maintaining the marketing of the Daimler brand in USA.
Owned by British Leyland (1968-1984)
Jaguar’s Daimler-trained chief executive Lofty England, a Daimler apprentice 1927–1932, joined Jaguar in 1946. His background was as Service manager, Jaguar  Cars 1946–56, service director 1956–61, assistant managing director 1961–66, deputy managing director 1966–67, joint managing director 1967–68, deputy chairman 1968–72, chairman and chief executive 1972–74.

The Daimler DS420 Limousine introduced in 1968 and withdrawn from production in 1992 employed a strengthened Mk X Jaguar unitary carcass with a new roof and a rear extension—21 inches were let in to the floor pan behind the front seat by Rubery Owen. Finishing from the bare metal was carried out by Vanden Plas who had lost their Princess. The floor pan with mechanicals—a drive-away chassis— was also sold for specialised bodywork, mostly hearses. The very last hearse was delivered on 9 February 1994 to a Mr Slack, funeral director of Cheshire.
Though entirely a Jaguar the DS420 was unique to Daimler. These stately limousines, wedding and funeral cars and the hearses made by independent coachbuilders, their majestic bulk preceded by the fluted grille, are now the way most remember Daimler cars.
Daimler Sovereign, Daimler Double-Six
These were the first series of vehicles that were badge-engineered Jaguars (XJ Series), but given a more luxurious and upmarket finish. For example the Daimler Double-Six was a Jaguar XJ-12, the Daimler badge and fluted top to its grille and boot handle being the only outward differences from the Jaguar, with more luxurious interior fittings and extra standard equipment marking it out on the inside.
Continental Europe
The Daimler name was dropped in Europe for two or three years in the early 1980s. Jaguar adopted the Sovereign designation. The Daimler name returned in Europe at the end of 1985. Jaguar decided it would have its part of the fortune European dealers were making from importing conversion kits of Daimler body parts to convert Jaguars to Daimlers.
Visitors to USA found fluted Daimlers labelled ‘Jaguar Vanden Plas’.
The Daimler brand was kept going by the local fleet market, a chairman could have his Daimler and board members their Jaguars.
When the new XJ40 came into production in 1986 the series III was kept in production a further six years to 1992 to carry the big Double Six engines.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1984-1989)
If Jaguar was not to follow Daimler into becoming just another once iconic brand it needed immense amounts of capital to develop new models and build and equip new factories. This was beyond the ability of the BMH—now British Leyland—Group It was decided to market the Jaguar business by first obtaining a separate London Stock Exchange listing to fix a price then ensuring any successful bid for all the listed shares in the whole business would be from a bidder with, or with access to, the necessary capital. That bidder proved to be Ford.
1984 produced a record group output of 36,856 cars but less than 5% were badged Daimler. Two years later Daimler’s share had reached 11.5%—in fact almost 23% if the Vanden Plas for USA is included.
Owned by Ford (1989-2007)
In 1989 the Ford Motor Company paid £1.6 billion to buy Jaguar and with it the right to use the Daimler name. In 1992, Daimler (Ford) stopped production of the DS420 Limousine, the only model that was a little more than just a re-badged Jaguar.
When Ford bought Jaguar in 1990, the British press showed a coloured computer-generated image of a proposed ‘new’ Daimler car – not merely a rebadged Jaguar XJ..
Daimler remained the flagship Jaguar product in every country except the USA where the top Jaguar is known as the “XJ Vanden Plas” — Jaguar may have feared that the American market would confuse Jaguar Daimler with Daimler AG. Marketing of the Daimler name in USA had ceased in 1967.
Daimler’s centenary was celebrated in 1996 by the production of a special edition: 100 Double Six and 100 straight-six cars, each with special paint and other special finishes including electrically adjustable rear seats.
X300 1994–1997 SWB LWB
Daimler Six 1,362 1,330
Daimler Double Six 1,007 1,230
Daimler Century Six 100
Daimler Century Double Six 100
The single 2-door 4-seater convertible built in 1996 to commemorate Daimler’s centenary and called Daimler Corsica was based on the Daimler Double-Six saloon. The prototype, which lacked an engine, had all the luxury features of the standard saloon but a shorter wheelbase. Painted “Seafrost” it was named after a 1931 Daimler Double-Six with a body by Corsica. Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust have decommissioned it to operate as a fully functional road-legal car and it is on display at their museum at Browns Lane in Coventry, England.

1997 saw the end of production of the Double Six. It was superseded by the introduction of a (Jaguar) V8 engine and the new car was given the model name Mark II XJ. The engine was the only significant change from the previous XJ40. The replacement for the Double Six was the supercharged Super V8, the supercharger to compensate for the loss of one-third of the previous engine’s capacity.
X308 1997–2003 SWB LWB
Daimler Eight 164 2,119
Daimler Super V8 76 2,387 Daimler Super Eight
After a three-year break a new Daimler, the Super Eight, was presented in July 2005. It had a new stressed aluminium monocoque/chassis-body with a 4.2 L V8 supercharged engine which produced 291 kW (396 PS; 390 b.h.p) and a torque rating of 533 N•m (393 lb•ft) at 3500 rpm. This car was derived from the Jaguar XJ (X350).
Owned by Tata (2007-)
At the end of 2007 (the formal announcement was delayed until 25 March 2008), it became generally known that India’s Tata Group had completed arrangements to purchase Jaguar and Daimler.
Tata had spoken to the press of plans to properly relaunch England’s oldest car marque. In July 2008 Tata Group, the current owners of Jaguar and Daimler, announced they were considering transforming Daimler into “a super-luxury marque to compete directly with Bentley and Rolls-Royce”. Until the early 1950s it was often said “the aristocracy buy Daimlers, the nouveau riche buy Rolls-Royce”.
Current status
The Daimler Company Limited, now The Daimler Motor Company Limited, is still registered as active and accounts are filed each year though it is currently marked “non-trading”. Until 20 December 1988 its name was The Daimler Company Limited.
All the Daimler shares were purchased from BSA by Jaguar Cars in 1960. After the introduction of the Daimler DR450 new models used Jaguar bodies with Daimler grilles and badging. Daimler remains in the ownership of Jaguar Cars which now belongs to Tata Group of India.
Before 5 October 2007 Jaguar, while still controlled by Ford, reached agreement to permit then de-merging DaimlerChrysler to extend its use of the name Daimler. The announcement of this agreement was delayed until the end of July 2008 and made by Jaguar’s new owner, Tata.
By 2007, Jaguar’s use of the Daimler brand was limited to one model, the Super Eight, which was to be last Daimler model to be produced.
In 2009, Jaguar lost the right to trademark the Daimler name in the United States.
Other concerns of similar name
In 1895, the Daimler Motor Syndicate obtained from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) the right to use the Daimler name and the British rights to Daimler’s patents. This is the sole link between the British and German entities. The Daimler Motor Syndicate sold these rights to the Daimler Motor Company in 1896, which was bought by BSA in 1910 and renamed The Daimler Company. Jaguar Cars bought the Daimler Company in 1960 and renamed it Daimler Motor Company in 1988.
Austro-Daimler bought similar rights from DMG to use the Daimler name and patents in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austro-Daimler was later absorbed into Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The automotive division of this corporation was eventually absorbed by Magna International and renamed Magna Steyr. The military vehicle division was renamed Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH (SSF) and was bought by General Dynamics.
DMG used the Daimler name on all its cars until 1901, when it began using the Mercedes name on some of its cars. After 1908, all DMG cars used the name Mercedes. In 1926, DMG merged with Benz und Cie to form Daimler-Benz. This name continued until 1998 when they merged with the Chrysler Corporation to form DaimlerChrysler in 1998. Upon selling Chrysler in 2007, the company was renamed Daimler AG.

Daimler another Midlands Motor Company sent to the dogs, to keep British Leyland going. They BL went the same way as all of these big companies who think that they are safe and cannot go the same way as the companies they destroy.



Duple- Dennis


Originally known as Dennis Brothers Ltd, the company was founded in 1895 by John (1871–1939) and Raymond (1878–1939) Dennis who made Speed King bicycles which they sold from their shop, the Universal Athletic Stores, in Guildford. They made their first motor vehicle in 1898, and in 1899, their first car; though shown at the National Cycle Show, it was never produced or sold. They entered car production around 1900. About this time John Dennis built the Rodboro Buildings, the first purpose-built motor vehicle factory in Britain, to manufacture motorcars in the centre of Guildford. Larger models followed with a 35 hp (26 kW; 35 PS) model in 1906 powered by a White and Poppe engine; this power unit soon fitted to all their models. Commercial vehicle activity was increasing with the first bus being made in 1903 and fire engine in 1908. Cars soon took second place and it is doubtful if any were made after about 1915. In 1913 Dennis moved to a larger factory at Woodbridge, on the outskirts of Guildford. In 1919 Dennis bought White and Poppe and transferred engine production from Coventry to Guildford.
The Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services owns a pumper that was built by Dennis Brothers and delivered to the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore in 1925 from England.[5]
In 1972 the company was acquired by Hestair Group and renamed Hestair Dennis after a few years of financial difficulties. It was sold to Trinity Holdings (formed from a management buyout from Hestair Group) in 1989 and then to Mayflower Corporation in October 1998.

DenLancet Dennis1
As of the 1990s, the company was no longer a single integrated whole, but was three independent businesses which their parent company is Dennis Group plc, namely:
• Dennis Fire – manufacturer of fire appliances.
• Dennis Bus – manufacturer of buses and other public transport vehicles
• Dennis Eagle – manufacturer of dustcarts/refuse lorries (municipal vehicles). This company also incorporated the remains of the Eagle Engineering and Shelvoke and Drewry concerns.
Dennis Group plc also owned Duple Metsec, the bus bodywork builder which usually supplied body kits for assembly overseas.
Mayflower Corporation sold Dennis Eagle in July 1999 and purchased by Ros Roca in 2006. Dennis Bus and Dennis Fire were incorporated into Transbus International (now Alexander Dennis) in 2001.


Alexander Dennis was formed as TransBus on 1 January 2001, after the merger of Mayflower Corporation-owned Dennis and Alexander, and Henlys-owned Plaxton, all based in the United Kingdom.
TransBus had a variety of factories around the United Kingdom from all three merged companies: the former Alexander factories at Falkirk, Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland, the former Plaxton factories at Anston and Scarborough, the former Northern Counties factory at Wigan, and the Dennis factory at Guildford.
At the height of TransBus, the company produced a range of both bus & coach chassis and bodies as well as fire engines. Included among its range of chassis were the Dennis Dart, one of the all-time best-selling buses in the UK, and the Dennis Trident. TransBus also produced export variants for service in New York City, Hong Kong, and other locations. The Dennis Trident is the most common bus model in service in London.
Since the creation of TransBus merged both Plaxton and Alexander, the TransBus range included Plaxton coaches as well as two double-decker bodies (the Plaxton President and the Alexander ALX400), the Alexander ALX300 citybus and the Pointer body built in quantity on the aforementioned Dennis Dart chassis, which replaced the Alexander ALX200 body built previously on a Dart chassis.
On 31 March 2004, the Mayflower Group was put into administration and by default TransBus also entered administration. On 17 May 2004, the Plaxton coach business was sold to its management and returned to its separate Plaxton identity (TransBus had been in the process of eradicating the traditional company names from the vehicles). Four days later, on 21 May 2004, the remaining part of TransBus (Alexander and Dennis) was bought by independent business men (one of whom was Brian Souter, owner of the Stagecoach Group, although the acquisition was kept separate from the bus and train operation). The new company became Alexander Dennis. The sale did not include the former Alexander Belfast plant, which later closed down.
On 26 January 2005, Alexander Dennis’s Wigan plant was closed after finishing the orders of its President body.
Since the administration period and restructuring of the former TransBus International, Alexander Dennis has secured a number of major orders from UK operators, and is the favoured manufacturer of the Stagecoach Group. The company has also continued to find success in its predecessors’ traditional markets of Hong Kong and the Republic of Ireland, with the Enviro500 securing orders in both markets, and the ALX400 double-deck body remaining the Dublin Bus standard vehicle until production ended in 2006.
Alexander Dennis is also building its share of the North American market, securing £25m worth of orders in 2005 for its Enviro500 model from customers in Victoria, British Columbia, New York City (open top models), San Francisco and Las Vegas.
The order book remained strong in the first quarter of 2006 and the company unveiled two new models, the Enviro400 double-decker and Enviro200 Dart midibus.
In early 2007, Colin Robertson replaced Jim Hastie as the CEO of Alexander Dennis. In May of that year Alexander Dennis purchased Plaxton, thus reuniting the two former TransBus businesses.
Alexander Dennis saw reduced orders due to the Financial crisis of 2007–2010, the company laid off almost 100 employees in Falkirk in spring 2009 and introduced short-time working in late 2009. But between 2009 and 2010, bus operators in England and Scotland received awards from the Green Bus Funds to encourage the purchase of more environment friendly buses, and several hybrid buses were ordered by organisations such as Stagecoach and Transport for London.
In May 2012, New Flyer Industries and Alexander Dennis Limited announced a new joint-venture to design and manufacture medium-duty low-floor bus (or midi bus) for the North American market. New Flyer will handle production and marketing, and Alexander Dennis will handle the engineering and testing.

Alden AlDen1 AlDen2

Photos curtesy of AlexanderDennis Library
In 7 June 2012, Alexander Dennis Limited acquired Custom Coaches, the Australian bus bodybuilders and bus seating manufacturers.

Duple Metsec

Duple Metsec is a former bus bodywork builder based in West Midlands of the United Kingdom, which usually supplied body kits for assembly overseas.
It was originated from the bus body manufacturing business of Metal Sections (known as TI Metsec in late 1970s, now known as Metsec plc). Metal Sections, as the name suggests, produced prefabricated sections of metal for customers for a variety of products. In the early days Metal Sections was not involved in the bus body business, however after supplying framing sections for other bus body builders, they decided to get into the business themselves.
The business was acquired by Duple Coachbuilders in 1980/1981. Duple Metsec became a subsidiary of Hestair Group in 1983 and then subsidiary of Trinity Holdings in 1989.
When Duple Coachbuilders was closed by Trinity Holdings in 1989, Duple Metsec was not closed and its business was retained. In October 1998, it was acquired by Mayflower Corporation.
The factory of Duple Metsec was closed after the formation of TransBus International in 2001.

The Duple Metsec “R” bodywork was built for various types of single-deckers

The Duple Metsec “W” bodywork was built for “full-front” double-deckers. Production of this bodywork was started by Metal Sections as early as 1970s and it had been built on some exported Daimler/Leyland Fleet line and Leyland Atlantean for Hong Kong and Singapore, etc. In late 1970s, the bodywork was modified with rubber mounted windows.
After the formation of Duple Metsec, production of this bodywork continued and had been built on Leyland Atlantean, Dennis Jubilant, Leyland Victory Mk2, Dennis Dominator and almost all the Dennis Dragons/Condors (3-axle) built. Duple Metsec “W” bodywork was built until circa 1998. The first Duple Metsec “W” bodywork built for Dennis Dragons/Condors was built in 1982, which was built on one Dennis Condor prototype with China Motor Bus (CMB), Hong Kong. But CMB finally chosen the complete MCW Metrobus to meet its demand of 3-axle buses. The “W” bodywork was modified and supplied to a number of Dennis Dragons for Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), Hong Kong. After the MCW Metrobus ceased production in 1989, CMB began to receive Dennis Condors with Duple Metsec “W” bodywork.
In 1989, the first Duple Metsec “W” bodywork for air-conditioned Dennis Dragons/Condors was built on a prototype air-conditioned Dennis Dragon for KMB. The body pillars had been re-located and the air ducts for the air-conditioning system were fitted on the ceilings of both saloons, near the side windows. Subsequent non-air-conditioned “W” bodywork built also had similar body design and were supplied to CMB (one batch in early 1990s), KMB and two batches for Africa.
CMB was the first to buy air-conditioned Dennis Condors with Duple Metsec “W” bodywork due to competition from Citybus and they specified gasket glazing with openings on side windows (the gasket glazing on the prototype air-conditioned Dennis Dragon for KMB had no openings on both sides). The specification of these remained the same for subsequent batches until the then chief engineer in 1996 managed to specify gasket glazing without opening vents in them. The order for the following year went further and specified bonded glazing and 2+2 seating.
KMB started to acquire air-conditioned Dennis Dragons with Duple Metsec “W” bodywork, after the first batch for CMB on Dennis Condor chassis. All had fixed bonded glazing. Starting from 1993, KMB also acquired the unique 9.98-metre Dragons with Duple Metsec “W” bodywork.
After Citybus took over 28 routes from China Motor Bus in 1993, they were looking to dual source their vehicles rather than solely rely on one supplier. Dennis Specialist Vehicles in partnership with Duple Metsec were the obvious if not only choice at that time as they were already supplying air-conditioned double deckers to the other two franchised operators. However Citybus had slightly different needs compared to the other two operators, and they also had no space or inclination to assemble their own vehicles. Duple Metsec therefore had to find a third party who would be willing to assemble their body kits on the Dennis Dragon chassis and eventually Salvador Caetano in Porto, Portugal were chosen. The bodies also had new fronts designed for them which would accommodate the same size of windscreens that were fitted to the Alexander R-type bodies in the Citybus fleet. The front dash and cab area were also quite different as Caetano applied their coach styling skills to design a better cab area. The Citybus Dragons were unique in being the only 10.3-metre single-door Dragons built, and the 12m Dragons were the first air-conditioned examples for Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited received four Dennis Dragons with Duple Metsec “W” bodywork in 1996. The body design was similar with Citybus examples.

Duple Metsec DM5000 was a bus body which was built for Dennis Trident 3. These buses operate with New World First Bus, Citybus, Kowloon Motor Bus of Hong Kong and SBS Transit of Singapore, etc. They are equipped with Cummins Euro II or Euro III engines and all of them are air conditioned.
Duple Metsec bodied two of the pre-production batch of Dennis Trident chassis for Citybus. One was finished as a normal service bus while the other was finished as a prototype airport coach. Both had non-standard interior colour schemes for Citybus to consider for their future orders.
Duple Metsec were quite proactive in working with Dennis Specialist Vehicles to develop a body for a short 10.6-metre version of the Dennis Trident, and they bodied the first two short Trident chassis. Along with the two original 12-metre prototypes, these buses were unique in being assembled by Duple Metsec themselves at their Birmingham premises. Normally Duple Metsec only produced body kits for assembly by either third parties or by the bus operators themselves. Later Duple Metsec also developed a 10.3-metre low height version for New World First Bus of Hong Kong.
After the transfer of production of DM5000 bodywork to Alexander factory in Falkirk, it was still offered on the left hand drive version of the Dennis Trident chassis. In 2001, when New World First Bus wanted to place a repeat order for their special low height Dennis Trident, TransBus offered to produce another batch of this Duple Metsec design to win the order. The TransBus batch is almost identical to the original Duple Metsec design, with the main difference being the fitment of circular indicator lights on the rear of the body, rather than the curved corner units used by Duple Metsec.
Production of the Duple Metsec DM5000 body continued until 2002.




New versions of the ‘Arab’ appeared in 1950 including the underfloor-engined single decker and the ‘Arab’ Mark IV with a new style of radiator grille.
The Arab Mark IV was developed for Birmingham Corporation, which took delivery of 300 chassis.
It was also produced as a 40 passenger single decker with an 18 ft. 5 inch wheelbase.
In 1950 a new version of the ‘Otter’ chassis for 30-seater body was introduced. It was similar to the ‘Vixen’ but had a heavier chassis and different sized wheels. London Transport ordered 84 ‘Vixen’ chassis, fitted with Perkins ‘P6’ diesel engines. During 1953 Guy developed a small rural bus for London Transport, based on the ‘Vixen’, but with some ‘Otter’ parts.
The ‘Otter’ passenger chassis was available with a 6-cylinder Perkins P6, or a 4-cylinder Gardner 4LK engine. The chassis weight in full running order was 2 tons 13¾ cwts. with the 4-cylinder engine, or 2 tons 14¼ cwts. with the 6-cylinder engine. The chassis had a 5-speed gearbox, and semi-elliptic front and rear spring suspension with telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers at the front and rear.
In the early 1950s the costs of passenger vehicle operation were continually rising. This created a demand for a lightweight chassis to reduce fuel consumption. As a result Guy developed the ‘Arab’ lightweight, heavy duty, underfloor-engined bus, introduced in 1953.
The ‘Arab’ chassis was powered by a Gardner 5HLW, or a Gardner 6HLW engine, with 4-speed plus reverse epicyclic, constant mesh gearbox.
Automatic chassis lubrication was available as an extra.
The chassis consisted of a strong, rigid assembly, consisting of two main channels, with channel section flitch plates inserted at the point of maximum stress, channel section and tubular cross members, and an extreme front channel, extended outside the frame to provide an exceptionally low step.
As in other Guy chassis, fitted bolts were used rather tan rivets.
The wheelbase was 16 ft. 4 inches, and the chassis was 8 ft. wide.
By 1954 Guy passenger vehicles were operated by 150 companies in the UK, and abroad, in 26 countries. During 1954 the company developed the first 2-axle trolleybus chassis with an overall length of 30 ft. for Walsall Corporation’s Transport Department. The department’s general manager, Mr. Edgley Cox had obtained permission from the Ministry of Transport to operate 2-axle 30 ft. long double deck trolley buses, which could seat 68 passengers. 15 chassis were supplied, and they were fitted with Willowbrook bodies. The new buses were a great success, and the law was changed the following year to allow the design to be used elsewhere.
In 1955 Guy Motors made what would eventually turn out to be a fatal mistake, the opening of subsidiaries in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. The company’s vehicles sold in large numbers in South Africa, a country which was greatly liked by Sydney Guy after he spent some time there recovering from pneumonia. Until then South African sales had been efficiently handled by a number of agents appointed by the company, but that all changed when Guy Motors sold directly to local vehicle operators.
A further development of the ‘Warrior’ was the vertical engined passenger chassis, built from 9 inch deep x 3 inch wide x ¼ inch thick, high tensile steel pressings. It had an alloy steel ‘I’ section front axle, a two-speed, fully floating rear axle, Bendix-Westinghouse air-hydraulic brakes, and cam and double roller steering gear. The suspension consisted of overslung semi-elliptic springs at the front and rear, with lever type shock absorbers at the front. It was powered by a Gardner 4LW engine, or a 7.685 litre oil engine. The chassis was suitable for 40 to 42 seater bodies. Another development of the ‘Warrior’ was the lightweight underfloor engined passenger chassis, called the L.U.F. for short. It was usually powered by a Gardner 5HLW oil engine, although other engines were available to suit individual requirements. The lightweight chassis was intended for 30 ft. bus or coach bodies, and designed for reliability, and a long working life.
Sydney Guy, the company’s founder, retired in 1957 after 43 years with the company. He died at his home in Albrighton on the 21st September, 1971. He was 86 years old.
In the autumn of 1958 Guy Motors introduced the ‘Victory’ high performance, maximum capacity, single deck bus or coach chassis. Versions were available for the home market, and also the European, and Commonwealth markets.
Guy also produced the ‘Seal’ lightweight single deck bus or coach chassis, available with a long or short wheelbase. The underfloor engined chassis was designed for use as a high performance, small capacity tourist coach, or as a small bus for feeder service routes. In the mid 1960s Guy Motors decided to build an advanced passenger chassis with air suspension, to give a smoother ride. The company had gained some experience after building a number of coaches with air suspension for Greyhound in America. The project was certainly bold, considering that at the time the company had limited financial resources, and so it had to be run on a shoe string. It began with consultation, during which Guy personnel talked to a number of bus operators to discover their future requirements for a low-height, double deck chassis. The outcome was that it should be 30 ft. long, 8 ft. wide, with a front engine, seating 78 passengers.
The new chassis, called the ‘Wulfrunian’ was a development of the Guy ‘Victory Airide’ single decker chassis, introduced at the 1958 Earls Court Show. The ‘Wulfrunian’ included many new features, some of which were not sufficiently tried and tested. It had anti-roll air suspension, independent front suspension, disc brakes, automatic transmission, few oiling points, and on paper appeared to be years ahead of the competition. Unfortunately it turned out to be a disaster for both Guy Motors and its customers. Operators purchased the ‘Wulfrunian’ because of the reputation of Guy ‘Arab’ buses, which were well designed, and extremely reliable. The same could not be said of the ‘Wulfrunian’, which rapidly got an extremely bad reputation. There were several problems including brake seal failure, trouble with the air suspension, disc brake overheating because of the constant stopping and starting, and some chassis fractures, which led to escalating warranty costs. All these could have been rectified, but Guy Motors did not have the financial resources to do so. Customers must have been extremely disappointed with the unreliable design, which resulted them having to replace the vehicles after a relatively short period of time. 137 ‘Wulfrunians’ were built, 126 going to the West Riding Automobile Company. The first two were purchased by Wolverhampton Corporation, one with an entrance at the front, the other with the entrance behind the front wheels.
1958 also saw the appearance of the ‘Warrior Trambus’ consisting of a modified ‘Warrior’ truck chassis which was designed at short notice for a Greek customer. The ‘Trambus’ was powered by an A.E.C. 6-cylinder, 135 b.h.p. engine, and had a 5-speed synchromesh gearbox, driving an open tubular type propeller shaft into the rear 2-speed driving axle, with electric shift control. The suspension used overslung semi-elliptic leaf springs, with double-acting hydraulic dampers at the front.
In 1960 the ‘Warrior II’ truck chassis was introduced. There were two versions, the 6-wheeled ‘Warrior Light 6’ with 3 axles, and the 8-wheeled ‘Warrior Light 8’ with 4 axles. Guy claimed that the vehicles had the largest payload for the lightest chassis, in the weight class, and also the lowest prices. The vehicles soon became very popular.
At the time, Guy Motors looked in good shape, the lorries were selling well, but there were two serious, and eventually, terminal problems. The first was the failure ‘Wulfrunian’, which was a disaster. The second problem, which continuously drained the company financially, was the company’s operation in South Africa, which was loosing £300,000 a year. This had been Guy’s first venture into the retail market. Many vehicles were sold on hire purchase, through finance companies, under a contract by which Guy was responsible for any losses to the finance company caused by default of payment. This was a common occurrence, which cost Guy dearly. Guy also offered a generous trade-in allowance which was far too high. Many old and rotten vehicles, only suitable for scrap, were traded-in at far too-high a price.
By October 1961 the two serious problems left Guy Motors in a precarious financial position. There was no alternative but to call-in a receiver.
At the time, Sir William Lyons, Managing Director of Jaguar was looking to expand the company, which had acquired Daimler in June 1960. Lyons, being an astute businessman realised that Guy Motors could be acquired relatively cheaply. He purchased it at the bargain price of £800,000. Guy Motors liabilities were disposed of in a clever way. One week after the takeover, the assets were transferred to a new company, Guy Motors (Europe) Limited. The liabilities remained with the now defunct Guy Motors Limited. On the Friday before the formation of the new company, all of Guy’s employees were told that they were sacked, and would be re-employed by the new company the following Monday.
Jaguar’s impact was immediately felt at Park Lane. The Guy directors were informed that although no money was available, they were expected to get the business out of its financial mess. Some were made redundant, and the others were told that they would now have a reduced salary, and loose their pension rights. The range of vehicles was rationalised, casualties being the 7 ton ‘Otter’ and some models in the ‘Invincible’ range.
A new and final development of the ‘Arab’, the mark 5, appeared in 1962. It incorporated a number of improvements including full air brakes with automatic adjusters, and a lower frame, 2½ inches lower than previous models. It was powered by a 112 bhp. Gardner 6LW diesel engine, with a 4-speed plus reverse constant mesh gearbox, or a fluid flywheel and semi-automatic box. The chassis had telescopic shock absorbers at the front and rear.
In 1964 Jaguar acquired Guy’s next door neighbour, engine manufacturer Henry Meadows. At this time Jaguar owned many of the best British companies and looked set to dominate the market. The same year saw the launch of Guy’s final truck the ‘Big J’ (Big Jaguar) was introduced as a replacement to the ‘Warrior’ and ‘Invincible’.
Another new product was the ‘Conquest’, a 36 ft. single deck, rear-engined passenger chassis, with full air-suspension, to provide outstanding handling qualities, and freedom from noise and vibration. It was ideally suited for the luxury coach market.
In 1965 the ‘Warrior Trambus’ was replaced by a new version of the ‘Victory’ chassis based on the ‘Big J’ truck chassis, with an AEC AV505, Gardner 6LX, or a Gardner 6LW engine. The ‘Victory Trambus’ as it was called, later became British Leyland’s standard heavy duty export bus chassis. At the time Jaguar was going from strength to strength. Its products sold well, and by 1965 its annual profit was £1.6 million. On 11th July, 1966 Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to form British Motor Holdings, a decision which would eventually have disastrous consequences for Guy Motors. Initially this had little impact on Guy Motors, where production continued quite normally. Unfortunately British Motor Holdings struggled to make a profit, often due to poor costing.
The labour government of the day thought that the troubles in the British motor industry could be cured by company mergers. Harold Wilson encouraged the merger of British Motor Holdings with the Leyland Motor Group. As early as February 1967 the Minister of Technology, Tony Benn, informed the House of Commons that the two companies were holding talks about a merger. This became a reality on 14th May, 1968 when the companies formerly merged to become the British Leyland Motor Corporation Limited.
In 1969 the final batch of ‘Arab V’s were delivered to Chester Corporation. They were the last Guy bus chassis to be built for the British market.
The ‘Big J’ continued to sell well, around 16,000 chassis were produced in all, at the factory, which for a while kept the factory open. Leyland had intended to close Guy Motors in the mid 1970s, but it remained open because of the demand for the ‘Big J’.
80 ‘Victory’ chassis, modified for double deck bodies were sent to South Africa in 1973. They were extremely successful and so a mark 2 version was designed with the front axle moved forward, in front of the entrance. The new chassis was supplied to operators in South Africa, and Hong Kong.
In 1975 the Leyland ‘Landtrain’ T43 was introduced, and many were built at the Guy factory, along with some Leyland ‘Marathon’ trucks, and a few ‘Crusaders’.
A new single deck version of the ‘Victory’ chassis appeared in 1978 with improved suspension and brakes.
By the late 1970s Leyland was finding it hard to compete with the growing competition from abroad. A rationalisation programme began, during which many of the group’s factories were closed. In 1981 the decision was taken to close Guy Motors because the factory lacked the facilities that modern truck production required.
Guy Motors was however, one of the few companies in the Leyland group that actually made a profit. Its order books were full for at least 18 months ahead, and its workforce was second to none. Sadly this not taken into consideration, and the factory closed in August 1982 with a loss of 740 jobs.
Guy vehicles were well known throughout the world. The company exported to 76 countries, and was well respected for the quality and reliability of its products.
If Guy hadn’t opened the South African subsidiary, it could all have ended very differently. Money would have been available to sort out the teething troubles with the ‘Wulfrunian’, and further developments would have ensured a continuing range of up-to-date designs.
The final nail was knocked into the coffin on Tuesday 5th October,1982 at an auction held in the works, during which the entire contents of the factory were sold off.
The 1047 lots included everything, from hand tools, drill bits, and lathe tools, to benches, cranes and hoists, forklift trucks, heavy plant, the contents of the offices, and kitchen equipment.
During the 10 days following the auction, the factory opened on week days from 8-30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. so that successful bidders could remove their purchases from the site.
This must have been a terrible sight for the hundreds of loyal Guy workers who had only recently lost their jobs.
Many people fondly remember the company and its products, which were once a familiar sight throughout the country. Luckily some of the vehicles still survive, and are owned by enthusiasts who keep them in first class condition. They are often seen at vehicle rallies, where they keep the Guy name alive. Hopefully this will continue for many years to come.

The senior management at Guy Motors always had an excellent working relationship with their employees, most of whom enjoyed their time in the factory. Because of this Guy had an industrial relations record second to none. There were no strikes in the factory.
Guy Motors was a good employer, and one of the first companies to voluntarily initiate holidays with pay for all staff. The company also ran a staff profit sharing scheme. All of the worker’s children were given an outing in the summer, and a party at Christmas. There was a welfare club run by a committee, and extensive sports and social facilities including football pitches, tennis courts, a hockey field, and a bowling green, on the sports ground which stood next to the factory.
The canteen stood in the centre of the sports ground and had an up-to-date kitchen and equipment to cater for 500 people. The building was also used for concerts, whist drives, dances, table tennis, and snooker. There was a garden of memory next to the playing fields, which served as a memorial to the fallen in both World Wars.

An Employees view of Guy Motors by Peter Edwards.
I suppose, looking back at things now, the end for Guy Motors started with the take over by British Leyland in 1968. For although on the surface things seemed to carry on as before there were already signs of things to come when the Big J emblem was replaced by the BL emblem, and BL working practices came into being such as the Union leaders having to travel to Lancashire to conduct negotiations on pay and conditions whereas it had always been done locally before, even under Jaguar.
During the fourteen years that I worked there as a storeman/forklift truck driver I can remember the thousands of different parts I issued for different vehicles, particularly all those to the CKD (complete knock down) department for packing to places like Kowloon and Hong Kong due to the fact that Guy’s had built up a reputation in the Far East and could supply any combination of gearboxes and engines that the customer required.
Quite simply Guy Motors was THE big name for trucks and buses in that area, second to none. It was in 1978 with the introduction of the Scammel Crusader that the black clouds started to appear on the horizon. Having been mostly developed by the highly skilled men in the development department at Guy’s, it went into production simultaneously at Guys and Leyland, but a portent of things to come, came in an order from British Airways for an initial 50 vehicles with the promise of a much bigger order if the vehicles came up to expectations. Twenty five were built at Guy’s and twenty five were built at Leyland, the only difference in them being that the chassis at Guy’s were sprayed black and those at Leyland were red.
With the vehicles having been delivered on time, the Leyland management approached BA bosses over their promise of the bigger order. They were told they could have it, but BA insisted that it was on condition that they were built at Guy’s. Leyland however would not agree to this and the order was lost. From that day onwards Guy’s became a thorn in the side of Leyland and the workers at Park Lane began to see the writing on the wall.
In 1980 the T43 Land Train nicknamed “The Marathon” was launched in a blaze of publicity at Guy Motors with a cold buffet laid on in the evening for those who turned up for the launch, the majority of the development once again having been carried out at Guy’s. Earlier in the year a new paint spraying plant was installed in the cab fitting area where the bare metal cabs were sprayed with undercoat before being fitted out, and attached to the chasses being built on a moving track, just below the level of the cab track.
With the installation of this plant we all thought that things had turned the corner but it was not to be because three months later a party of top management from Leyland came down to Guy’s, and I can remember the manager of my department coming to me, as it was part of my job to issue cabs to the cab assembly department, and telling me to get hold of the big fork lift truck and take a cab over to a building on the opposite side of the factory that was no longer used. When I got there I found the Leyland management team, the Guy management team, and a cradle of the type that the cabs fitted into when they went through the paint plant for spraying. I was told to lift the cab into the cradle which I did very carefully, and then I was dismissed. At that point I just thought it was to assure them that the design of the cradles was correct.
It wasn’t until a few months later that I saw on the news on the television, a film clip showing the same cradles going round a much bigger paint plant at Leyland with T43 cabs on them. I knew then that redundancy was not far off.
At the Commercial Motor Show in the latter half of 1980 a T43 Land Train was put on show by Guys, but it was listed as a Leyland vehicle, and those who turned up from areas abroad such as the afore mentioned China Bus Company from Kowloon were told that from then on they would only be able to buy buses made at Leyland. Needless to say Leyland did not get the orders and the whole of the Far East truck and bus empire that Guy’s had built up was lost.
The end finally came when Margaret Thatcher appointed Sir Michael Edwardes to oversee the restructuring of the whole of British Leyland. This was of course a disaster because he was in over his head as they say, and when he had finished, many of the smaller companies such as Guys, which had a full order book for the next two years were closed, and the inefficient Leyland plant was kept open.
Even at the end, Leyland management continued to show their contempt for the Guy Motors workforce when as part of the severance package, a big bonus was promised on condition that certain targets were met. As each month went by with the workers adhering to the agreement, things seemed to be going smoothly and we were told by Leyland management that we were on target to get the bonus, all we had to do was carry-on as we were doing. After about seven months the works convenor had a mysterious phone call from the Guy Motors financial controller, who had recently left the company having found a new position with another company under the terms laid down by the Redundancy Act. He asked to meet with the shop stewards in the nearby pub where he told them that the workforce had already reached their targets a month before, and if they did not lift another spanner until the factory closed, the bonus had already been earned. He told them that he could not inform them before because if he had been found out he could have been dismissed for gross misconduct, and would have lost his redundancy payment.
After that the workforce lost all respect for the management and simply turned up each morning with a couldn’t care less attitude. They went in simply to get their wages, and by the time that the majority of the workforce, myself included had left in July of 1982 there were still a lot of unfinished vehicles, and thousands of parts left in the factory. What happened at the very end I do not know, I was just glad to be out of the poisonous atmosphere.

The loss of not only a British Vehicle Builder with big exports, respected overseas for the way it did business, but also well respected by it’s employees for many a year during it’s lifetime!


A POTTED HISTORY OF GUY MOTORS ( Part1 start till 1950)

Guy Motors of Wolverhampton continuously produced powered vehicles for 68 years. It was the Black Country’s longest surviving powered vehicle manufacturer. Guy was, and still is, well known both at home and abroad for its coaches, buses, and commercial vehicles, which are fondly remembered.
Guy survived recessions and hard times thanks to its ability to produce innovative products, mainly due to its skilled design team. Industrial relations in the factory were second to none. Although wages in the factory were slightly lower than elsewhere, people were generally happy and contented during their time with the company, as can be seen from the high number of long service awards for people with 20 years service.
Guy Motors became what it was thanks to the drive, enthusiasm, and engineering ability of its founder, Sydney Slater Guy, who founded the business in 1914, and ran it until retirement in 1957 at the age of 72. Guy Motors was founded by Sydney Slater Guy, a clever and ambitious young man, who had the determination to succeed. He was born in 1885, and grew up in King’s Heath, Birmingham.
At the age of 16 he joined the Bellis and Morcom steam engineering Company, at Ladywood, Birmingham, after being offered a job in the factory. His employers were clearly delighted with their new member of staff because they soon offered him an apprenticeship. He attended evening classes at the local technical school, which stood him in good stead for the future. In 1906 he obtained the post of service manager for Humber at Coventry.
In June 1909 he joined the up and coming Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited, in Upper Villiers Street, Wolverhampton, as works manager. The company soon became well known thanks to Sunbeam’s flamboyant chief engineer, Louis Coatalen, who had joined Sunbeam in February of that year.
During Sydney’s first 4 years at Sunbeam, production greatly increased, and profits soared, so he naturally wanted some reward for his efforts. At the time he had an annual salary of £250, and the use of a company car. In 1913 he asked the directors for an increase in salary, which was refused. This possibly led to him leaving Sunbeam the following year.
Sydney Guy had clearly been thinking about, and planning his own manufacturing business whilst still at Sunbeam. The design for a 30 cwt. lorry was produced in a small drawing office in Wolverhampton, in late 1913, and plans were made for the factory which would be built the following year, in Park Lane, Fallings Park, Wolverhampton. Guy Motors Limited was registered on the same day that he left Sunbeam, Saturday, 30th May, 1914, and building work on the new Guy factory rapidly got underway.
At the time, a great deal of new industrial development was taking place in the Fallings Park area. Previously factories had been sited closer to the town centre and to the canal and railway network. But by this time there was less reliance on these modes of transport, particularly in the motor industry, and in any event, no space would have been available nearer the centre, especially for new factories which required greater floor space. Guy’s new factory was in production by September 1914, nearly one month after the outbreak of the FirsThe company’s first product, a 30 cwt. lorry, included several new and innovative design features, and was used as the basis for the first Guy passenger vehicle, a 14-seater post bus, with a mail compartment, built for use in Scotland between Achnasheen railway station, east of Kinlochewe, and Aultbea, on the west coast, north of Loch Maree.
The vehicle was powered by a White and Poppe 4-cylinder, side-valve petrol engine, with a cone clutch and gearbox, mounted on a sub-frame, suspended at 3 points. This arrangement prevented any distortion of the chassis, when traversing uneven ground, being transmitted to the engine or gearbox. The gearbox had a direct drive in 3rd gear for use when fully laden, and an indirect 4th gear for use when travelling ‘light’, a facility that later became known as ‘overdrive’. Another innovation was a governor, which only acted on 4th gear to limit the top speed to 30 mph.
In 1915 the factory came under the control of the Ministry of Munitions, and concentrated on war work.
30 cwt.lorries continued in production and were supplied to the Russian army.
Other products included engines for tanks, aero engines, and depth charge firing mechanisms.
Guy became the largest manufacturer of depth charge firing mechanisms in the country.
In 1917 the company was asked to produce A.B.C. ‘Wasp’ 7 cylinder, air cooled, radial aero engines.
The project was clearly a success because during the following year Guy built the prototype A.B.C. ‘Dragonfly’ 9 cylinder, 350 hp. radial aero engine.
The prototype was built and tested in just 24 days, following the receipt of the order.
The government was delighted, and Guy received the following telegram from Sir William Weir, Secretary of State for Air:
Reference to your telegram of yesterday regarding dragonfly engine. I heartily congratulate you on your magnificent performance, the result of which it is hoped will mark a new milestone in progress.
Thanks to the many ministry orders, Guy prospered during the war. The company became an established name, and the factory greatly increased in size. By the end of the war it was well equipped with some of the latest plant and machinery.
Production of civilian vehicles restarted in 1919, during a difficult time for the industry. At the end of the war all military contracts had been cancelled, and the Army Disposal Board sold large numbers of ex-military vehicles at extremely low prices. They flooded the market, and made it almost impossible to sell new products. Many vehicle manufacturers, including Guy Motors found it difficult to survive.
The company continued to be innovative, launching the Guy 8-cylinder car, powered by the first British V8 engine, with inclined valves, and inclined, detachable cylinder heads. Around 150 Guy cars were produced between 1919 and 1925, when production ended.
Production of the 30 cwt. chassis continued in a range of models including the Guy Charabanc, a 14-seater with a 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed plus reverse gearbox, cone clutch, double reduction rear axle, and pressed steel frame. It was also fitted with carbide lamps. In 1920 experiments were carried out with the Holden pneumatic suspension system, in an attempt to improve passenger comfort. The idea was abandoned with the introduction of Dunlop and Goodyear pneumatic truck tyres.
In 1921 Guy produced a 30-seater bus, based on the successful 30 cwt. chassis, with the governor removed. The vehicle became very successful, and large numbers were produced.
1922 saw the development of the Guy Promenade Runabout, based on a special version of the ‘J’ chassis. It had small wheels and a low floor to provide easy access for passengers. The vehicle, first supplied to Bournemouth, was also used at many other seaside resorts including Portsmouth.
Guy began to build military vehicles in 1923 under a government subsidy. The first vehicles were 30 cwt. and 2½ ton trucks with pneumatic tyres. The Guy slogan “Feathers In Our Cap” became well known thanks to the Red Indian mascot that was fitted to almost every vehicle. It all started with an advert on January 22nd, 1924 which pointed out some of the many repeat orders received at the works. The feathers in the advert reminded people of a Red Indian head dress, and so the mascot eventually appeared. The slogan was always, and will always be associated with Guy Motors. In 1924 Guy produced the UK’s first dropped-frame chassis, designed for use with passenger vehicles.
At the time, other manufacturers simply adapted goods vehicle chassis for passenger work.
The dropped-frame chassis enabled passengers to enter the bus via a single step, and became extremely popular. Soon after the chassis was introduced, Guy received an order for 170 buses from an operator in Rio de Janeiro.
The chassis was available in 3 models:
The ‘BA’ with a 13 ft. 4 inch wheelbase, suitable for a 20 passenger body.
The ‘B’ with a 15 ft. 3 inch wheelbase, suitable for a 20 to 25 passenger body.
The ‘BB’ with a 16 ft. 5 inch wheelbase, suitable for a 30 passenger body.
n 1926 much of the country’s industry was brought to a standstill by the general strike, which lasted for 10 days, from the 3rd of May until the 13th of May. It was called by the TUC in an unsuccessful attempt to protect coal miner’s wages and working conditions.
Many companies were badly affected by the strike, but luckily at Guy Motors only a few employees came out on strike, due to the excellent industrial relations at the factory.
After the strike, Sydney Guy formed a works committee to liaise with employees and management in a case of dispute. All employees had to sign a declaration stating that they would follow a standard procedure, and would not undertake any industrial action until the procedure had been completed. They agreed to notify the works committee in writing, about any dispute, and the works committee in turn, had to discuss the matter with management, and reply in writing within 48 hours. If the reply was unsatisfactory, the works committee could then refer the matter to the relevant trade union representative, who could communicate with the managing director. The system worked extremely well, and Guys remained strike free. By 1925 it was obvious that larger capacity buses were becoming a necessity because of the growing population of towns.
As a result, Guy Motors developed a 6-wheeled version of the dropped-frame chassis, which
led to the introduction
of Europe’s first 6-wheeled double decker buses, and the world’s first 6-wheeled trolley buses in 1926, both of which were supplied to Wolverhampton Corporation.
In 1927 a fleet of Guy 6-wheelers were sold to the London Public Omnibus Company and appeared on the streets of London.
They were so successful that the bus company was purchased by the London General Omnibus Company, which later became the London Transport Executive.
Rapid developments in petrol bus design hastened the decline of trams. Many towns and cities decided to invest in trolley buses as a replacement for trams because the electricity generating capability was already at hand. Trolley buses offered many advantages. They pulled to the kerb for loading, were much quieter than trams, more reliable, and cheaper to run. The Guy trolley buses featured Guy’s patented regenerative braking system, which provided electric braking and fed power back into the line.
They were the first of the large number of Guy trolley buses which would be built during the next 36 years, and supplied to operators both in the UK and abroad.. In March, 1927 Jack Bean joined the Board of Guy Motors. He had previously been Managing Director of Bean Cars Limited at Tipton. In 1928 Guy pioneered the 6-wheeled double deck sleeper coach, which ran between London and Manchester.
Until the 1940s, armoured cars were usually based on large touring car chassis. In the mid 1920s Guy developed an armoured car based on the 6-wheeled commercial vehicle chassis, to produce a robust, go anywhere design. The vehicle weighed 9 tons, and had a circular blower-type radiator, and a top speed of 45 mph. In 1928 over 100 of them were supplied to the Indian government.
By the late 1920s the Star Engineering Company Limited of Wolverhampton found itself in trouble because of falling sales. The company produced a small range of commercial vehicles, and high quality cars. In 1928 with production still falling, Star found itself in a precarious financial state. As a result Guy Motors took control through an exchange of shares, though Star continued in existence as a separate company, now called The Star Motor Company Limited.
In 1927 Star launched a new commercial vehicle chassis called the ‘Flyer’ which was developed from a 20-seater low-loading bus chassis. It was powered by a 3.2litre 6-cylinder engine, and sold for £645.
When Sydney Guy decided to take the company over, he either had his eye on the ‘Flyer’, or wanted to re-enter the high quality car market. Most of Star’s production took place in a number of factories in the Frederick Street area of Wolverhampton. The company also had a new factory in Showell Lane, Bushbury, where bodies were built. In 1929 all of the factories around Frederick Street were closed, and production moved to Showell Lane where cars could be built under one roof. The workforce was reduced to around 250, and Guy dropped some of Star’s heavier commercial vehicles that were in direct competition with its own products.
Three cars were available, the 18/50, the 20/60, the occasional 24/70, all with a range of bodies, and a 1¾ ton version of the ‘Flyer’ with vacuum brakes. Under Guy, Star cars retained their quality build and high levels of workmanship, but they were far too expensive for most people, particularly in a time of recession. 1930 saw the introduction of the ‘Comet’, ‘Planet’ and ‘Jason’ series of cars. Around 214 cars were produced that year, the most popular being the 18/50hp. ‘Jason’, selling for £595. Unfortunately a small loss was made on the sale of every vehicle.
At the time, Guy Motors was also in financial difficulties due to the recession, and so couldn’t afford to equip the new Bushbury factory with up-to-date machinery. Star found itself in a desperate situation, and as a result a receiver was appointed in March 1932.

Spares and manufacturing rights were obtained by McKenzie and Denley, of Birmingham, who continued selling spares and servicing Stars into the 1960s. The Frederick Street works were sold to James Gibbons (Windows) Limited, and later to Chadd Castings Limited, who cast aluminium components. The Bushbury factory was sold to Manley & Regulus, makers of plumbing fittings, and later acquired by Delta Metals.
The end of the 1920s was a difficult time for Guy. The company was nearly taken over by the rival lorry and bus manufacturer, Dennis Brothers Limited, of Guildford, Surrey in 1927. Between 1925 and 1929 profits greatly increased, but during the recession following the Wall Street crash in October 1929, Guy shares fell from one pound to just one shilling. Shareholders lost 95% of their investment in the company, which was caused by the recession, and the purchase of ailing Star. The company came close to collapse, and must have deeply regretted taking over Star.
The early 1930s was a difficult time for the company, due to the depression, which reached an all-time low in 1932, and the emergence of a serious rival in the form of Bedford commercial vehicles, launched by General Motors in 1931. Trade didn’t start to pick-up until 1933. Luckily Guy continued to develop military vehicles, and was sustained by many orders from the War Office. It was a worrying time for the country due to the goings-on in Germany as a result of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party.
The 1930 Road Traffic Act greatly influenced the construction of commercial vehicles. A 30 mph. speed limit was imposed on all goods vehicles with an unladen weight of up to 50 cwt. Vehicles weighing more were not allowed to exceed 20 mph. This encouraged the development of lighter vehicles.
In 1933 Guy launched the ‘Arab’ bus chassis, the first bus chassis designed for use with a diesel engine. It was designed for use with the Gardner ‘LW’ range of engines, and had vacuum-hydraulic brakes. Although sales were not very good in the 1930s, when around 60 were built, later versions of the design would sell in extremely large numbers, and allow the company to flourish until well into the 1950s
An additional feature was incorporated in the Guy 4-wheel double-deck trolley buses operated by Wolverhampton Corporation.
The vehicles were equipped with two 24 volt batteries, which were connected in parallel for lighting, but if required for manoeuvring, they were then connected in series to give 48 volts. This was sufficient to power the vehicles for a distance of 2 or 3 miles, without the use of the overhead power lines.
This feature had many advantages; for instance, if a driver wanted to take his vehicle into the depot, or manoeuvre in the depot, it was possible to do so without the assistance of the overhead wires.
The development of the all-important Guy military vehicles continued with the launch of 6-wheel and 8-wheel driven vehicles which could go almost anywhere, even across a 6 ft. wide trench, without falling into it. In 1935 Guy Motors was invited to take part in army trials at Llangollen. The company submitted the ‘Ant’, a new 4-wheeled vehicle with a payload of 15 cwt., and a short wheelbase. After performing well at the trial, Guy received an order for 150. After receiving the order from the Government, Guy Motors began to concentrate on the production of military vehicles. By 1938 the production of vehicles for the civilian market completely ceased when Guy relied exclusively on Government contracts. It would be some years before the production of vehicles for the civilian market recommenced.
In 1938 Guy Motors produced the first British rear-engined, 4-wheel drive, armoured car, as a development of the ‘Quad Ant’. It had a hull and turret of bullet-proof, homogeneous hard unmachinable plate, which was welded instead of riveted together. Until this time it was assumed that it was impossible to weld the plate.
Welded construction had many advantages. It reduced the number of casualties resulting from ‘splash’, and rivet heads flying around the inside of the tank. It reduced the price of material for each tank by eliminating the machining of the plate. The vehicle was far more waterproof, and could enter water of a greater depth.
The Government technical department advised that it was impossible to commercially weld the material, and so Guy offered to weld the first batch ordered, and if unsuccessful, to stand the cost. The vehicles were welded, and on examination by the military, the technique was found to work extremely well. As a result it became standard practice and saved the country an estimated 100 million pounds.
The new development was put at the government’s disposal, for the duration of the war, and Guy received an award from the Royal Commission for developing the technique. At the beginning of the war, Guy’s chief engineer went to Mersa Matruh in North Africa to see the Guy armoured vehicles in operation in the North Africa Campaign. The vehicles performed well and gave good service.
Many Guy military vehicles travelled to Dover, at the beginning of the war. They were taken to France for use by the British troops. When the country was invaded by the Germans, and the allied troops were evacuated in May 1940, the vehicles, like many others, were driven over the cliffs at Dunkirk to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy.
Shortly after the start of the war, production of the ‘Ant’ and ‘Quad Ant’ range moved to Karrier. Guy did however, produce some armoured bodies. 21 Guy ‘Lizard’ armoured command vehicles were produced in the factory, as were several 4×4 universal gun carriers. The factory also produced anti-aircraft, and other guns thanks to the company’s reputation for high quality, precision work.
Production of searchlight generator vehicles soon ended due to the development of radar. Some civilian vehicle production did take place at Park Lane due to a shortage of vans and lorries for essential services and supplies. Each vehicle required a government permit in order for it to be built.
Around the same time as production of searchlight generators ended, Guy received an order from the Ministry of Supply for the production of a chassis suitable for a use with a double-deck bus body. At the time there was a severe shortage of buses, many of which had been lost in the blitz. The specification had been completed on 5th September, 1941, and the prototype was ready on 31st March, 1942. The new vehicle, called the ‘Arab’ utility double deck bus was based on the original ‘Arab’ bus chassis from 1933. Due to the shortage of materials, the aluminium parts were made of cast iron, which increased the chassis weight by 20%. Great attention was paid to increasing the life of components, and the time between vehicle overhauls. The new bus gained favour with many operators because of its reliability and low running costs.
The buses were supplied with 5-cylinder Gardner ‘5LW’ engines, other than a few that were built to operate in hilly areas, which had the larger Gardner ‘6LW’.
Sydney Guy’s son Robin joined Guy Motors in the autumn of 1941 after leaving school. He started in the drawing office, and worked on the ‘Arab’ utility bus. He joined the navy, then trained at Gardner Engines in Manchester.
Initially Guy was the only wartime manufacturer of double deck bus chassis, until December 1942 when Daimler received an order from the ministry for some ‘CWG5′ chassis. Daimler’s factory in Coventry had been badly damaged during the air raids, and so production began at a factory commissioned for the purpose by the Ministry of Supply. This turned out to be part of Courtaulds’ factory in Wolverhampton. So for a time, all UK double deck bus chassis were built in Wolverhampton.
Over 2,700 Guy bus chassis were built during the war. The orders not only kept Guy going at the time, but also established the company as one of the leading suppliers of bus chassis, which led to the continuation of orders for many years to come.
During the war the factory worked long hours to keep up with the demand for vehicles and components. Employees worked from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. on Sundays.
There was a severe shortage of labour, which was solved by the company in a manner that made history, and changed the law.
At the time, part-time workers were not eligible for national insurance, and so would not look for work through the labour exchange.
As a result Sydney Guy instigated a scheme which resulted in him being threatened with imprisonment and fines. Fortunately the Ministry of Employment quickly realised that such a scheme was a necessity, and so similar schemes were set up throughout the country.
Guy gave senior pupils and teachers from local schools, the opportunity of doing voluntary war work during their holidays. They were employed on the assembly jigs for the bodies of army trucks.
Over 1,000 people answered the initial advertisement. The response was so great that a separate department was set up to organise the scheme.
When the pupils and teachers were at school, part-time women workers took their place during the day, with business and professional men, doing a night shift.
One of the first, and most enthusiastic volunteers was Judge Caporn, a County Court Judge.
Guy Motors participated in the National Savings Scheme, and Sydney Guy gave six pence on each certificate purchased. The company also produced its own I.D. card with photo and finger prints on the back.
During the war the scope of advertising was greatly restricted, and so Guy started a clever campaign in order to keep the company’s name alive. The campaign was influenced by the widespread interest in crosswords, and the ‘Brains Trust’ on the radio, which provided relief from the problems of war.
It consisted of a series of clever adverts entitled ‘Transport through the Syzygies’ which gained a lot of interest. People at first thought ‘syzygies’ was a spelling mistake, until it appeared time, after time.
Guy received many letters from people expressing their ideas about the word, which was in fact used in its astronomical sense, meaning a computation of time.
In 1946 post war production got underway with the introduction of a single deck ‘Arab’ and the reintroduction of the pre-war version of the ‘Arab’ double decker. The single deck version had a 17 ft. 6 inch wheelbase, and in common with the double deck model had a Wilson preselective, epicyclic, constant mesh gearbox, and a friction clutch. All chassis were road tested by travelling from the factory to Bridgnorth and back. In 1948 Guy Motors acquired Sunbeam Commercial Vehicles Limited from Brockhouse, which had owned Sunbeam for 2 years. From then-on all Guy trolleybuses carried the Sunbeam name. Also in 1948 Guy made an agreement with Park Royal, which allowed the company to produce double deck bodywork on Park Royal frames. Initially trolleybus production continued at Moorfield Works, but in 1953 production moved to the Guy factory in Park Lane, were an extension had been built to the machine shop. Trolley buses continued to see well. By the mid 1950s there were more Sunbeam trolley buses in South Africa than the total of all other makes.