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Armstrong Siddeley was a British company operating during the first half of the 20th century. It had two aspects: motor cars, Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd, and aero-engines and aircraft, via the Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth Company. The company was formed as a result of the merger of the interests of two Coventry-based companies, Armstrong-Whitworth and Siddeley-Deasy in 1919.
Siddeley Autocars of Coventry, was founded by John Davenport Siddeley (1866-1953) in 1902. Its products were heavily based on Peugeots using many of their parts but fitted with English bodies. This company merged with Wolseley in 1905 and made stately Wolseley-Siddeley motorcars. They were used by Queen Alexandra and the Duke of York, the later King Edward VII.
In 1909 J.D. Siddeley resigned from Wolseley and took over the Deasy Motor Co and the company became known as Siddeley-Deasy. In 1912 the cars used the slogan "As silent as the sphinx" and started to sport a Sphinx as a bonnet ornament.
During World War I the company produced trucks, ambulances, and staff cars. In 1915 airframes and aero-engines started to be produced as well.
In 1919 Siddeley-Deasy was bought by Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth & Company and Armstrong Siddeley Motors was made into subsidiary as was the Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Company.
In 1927, Siddeley bought Armstrong Siddeley out of Armstrong Whitworth and both it and the Armstrong Whitworth aero company were in his control.
The companies manufactured automobiles and later aircraft engines up to 1960. J.D. Siddeley retired when in 1936 Armstrong Whitworth aircraft became part of Hawker Siddeley Aircraft. In 1936 Thomas Octave Murdoch (Tommy, later Sir Thomas) Sopwith, another aircraft pioneer, became chairman of Amstrong-Siddeley Motorcars. Armstrong Siddeley remained a separate name although part of Hawker Siddeley until it merged with Bristol Aero Engines to form Bristol Siddeley. Bristol Siddeley and Rolls-Royce merged in 1966.
The first car produced from the union was a fairly massive machine, a 5-litre 30hp; a smaller 18 appeared in 1922 and a 2-litre 14hp was introduced in 1923. 1928 saw the company's first 15hp six; 1929 saw the introduction of a 12hp vehicle. This was a pioneering year for the marque, during which it first offered the Wilson preselector gearbox as an optional extra; it became standard issue on all cars from 1933. In 1930 the company marketed four models, of 12, 15, 20, and 30hp, the latter costing £1450.
The company's rather staid image was endorsed during the 1930s by the introduction of a range of six-cylinder cars with ohv engines, though a four-cylinder 12hp was kept in production until 1936. In 1933 the 5-litre six-cylinder Siddeley Special was announced, featuring a Hiduminium (aluminum alloy) engine; this model cost £950.
The week that World War II ended in Europe, Armstrong Siddeley introduced its first post-war models; these were the Lancaster four-door saloon and the Hurricane drophead coupe. The names of these models echoed the names of aircraft produced by the Hawker Siddeley Group (the name adopted by the company in 1935) during the war. These cars all used a 2-litre six-cylinder engines, increased to 2.3-litre engines in 1949. From 1953 the company produced the Sapphire, with a 3.4 litre six-cylinder engine.
In 1956 the model range was expanded with the addition of the 234 (a 2.3-litre four cylinder) and the 236 (with the older 2.3 litre six-cylinder engine). The Sapphire 346 sported a bonnet mascot in the shape of a Sphinx with namesake Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire jet engines attached. The 234 and 236 Sapphires were a radical departure from the traditional Armstrong Siddeley appearance. This, coming in a time of conservative auto design, was not well received by the marque's loyal customers. Hence, the "baby Sapphire" brought about the beginning of the end for Armstrong Siddeley.
The last model produced by Armstrong Siddeley was 1958's Star Sapphire, with a 4-litre engine, and automatic transmission. In 1959 Bristol Aero Engines merged with Hawker Siddeley, forming Bristol Siddeley. The Armstrong Siddeley was a casualty of the merger; the last car left the Coventry factory in 1960.
Cars produced by Armstrong Siddeley had designations that implied their engine displacement.
|Model Name||Type||Engine||From||To||No. Produced|
|Eighteen||Various||2400 cc||1921||1925||2500 inc 18/50|
|18/50 or 18 Mk.II||Various||2872 cc||1925||1926||2500 inc Eighteen|
|Twenty||Short and Long chassis||2872 cc||1926||1936||8847|
|Fifteen||Tourer, saloon||1900 cc||1921||1925||7203 inc 15/6|
|Twelve||Tourer, saloon, sports||1236 (1434 cc from 1931)||1929||1937||12500|
|15/6||Tourer, saloon, sports||1900 cc (2169 cc from 1933)||1928||1934||7206 inc Fifteen|
|Siddeley Special||Tourer, saloon, limousine||4960 cc||1933||1937||253|
|Short 17||Coupe, saloon, sports saloon||2394 cc||1935||1938||4260 inc Long 17|
|Long 17||Saloon, tourer, Atlanta sports saloon, Limousine, landaulette||2394 cc||1935||1939||4260 inc Short 17|
|12 Plus & 14||Saloon, tourer||1666 cc||1936||1939||3750|
|20/25|| Saloon, tourer, Atlanta sports saloon
|16||Saloon, Sports saloon||1991 cc||1938||1941||950|
|Lancaster 16||4 door saloon||1991 cc||1945||1952||12470 inc Hurricane, Whitley, Typhoon and Tempest.|
|Lancaster 18||4 door saloon||2309 cc||1945||1952||12470 inc Hurricane, Whitley, Typhoon and Tempest.|
|Hurricane 16||Drophead coupe||1991 cc||1945||1953||12470 inc Lancaster Whitley, Typhoon and Tempest.|
|Hurricane 18||Drophead coupe||2309 cc||1945||1953||12470 inc Lancaster Whitley, Typhoon and Tempest.|
|Typhoon||Fixed head coupe||1991 cc||1946||1949||12470 inc Lancaster Whitley and Tempest.|
|Tempest||coupe||1991 cc||1946||1949||12470 inc Lancaster Whitley and Typhoon.|
|Whitley 18||Various||2309 cc||1946||1949||12470 inc Lancaster Hurricane, Typhoon and Tempest.|
|Sapphire 346||4 door saloon & Limousine||3435 cc||1952||1958||7697|
|Sapphire 234||4 door saloon||2290 cc||1955||1958||803|
|Sapphire 236||4 door saloon||2309 cc||1955||1957||603|
|Star Sapphire||Saloon & Limousine||3990 cc||1958||1960||980|
|Star Sapphire Mk II||Saloon & Limousine||3990 cc||1960||1960||1|
A feature of many of their later cars was the option of an electrically controlled pre-selector gearbox. Like many British cars of the age there is an active owners club supporting their continued use.
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