Welcome to the Armstrong Siddeley Motors blog dedicated to vintage Armstrong Siddeley motor cars from 1919 to 1932. Armstrong Siddeley made five different models of car in the 1920s. All the cars were made in Coventry, Warwickshire in England from 1919 to 1960. Please click on the links below the images to find out more.
Is this the most exciting Armstrong Siddeley ever made? This the Siddeley Special which first appeared at the 1932 Olympia Exhibition motor show. The six cylinder 5 litre engine was made of Hiduminium alloy which was light and very strong. Armstrong Siddeley emphasised that the engine employed aero engine practice and even the car’s brochure had a mock aluminium cover and silver pages. This was a large car with 11 foot wheelbase (3.35 metres).
Armstrong Siddeley Special Coupe Cabriolet made by coach builders Salmons and Sons. It cost £945 when new in 1933.
The new car needed a new badge
This car was sold in Bournemouth May 16th 1931 at Chine Motors to a R Dover and still has its original registration number. The car was dark brown with light top, and was resprayed in about 1990. The body was made by Mullliner. This car may have been sold recently. There are other Armstrong Siddeleys from the 1930s for sale, see this advert.
H & H Auctions sold this very original 1926 Chiltern Coupe on 8 October 2014 at their Duxford auction. See details here. Another 14 HP was for sale in the Bonhams auction at Harrogate on 12 November 2014. This was a 1927 Broadway saloon and it didn’t sell at the auction, see this link.
H&H sold a 30 HP Armstrong Siddeley Limousine on 5 December 2013. This car was made in 1919 and has registration number NL 960. I remember seeing it in unrestored condition at Beamish Museum over 30 years ago. It is a big car and an exciting new acquisition for the lucky winner of the auction. For more information on the car see here There is a nice 1932 12 HP saloon for sale September 2014 follow this link
To continue this regular blog, here is the main image from a 1923 brochure for the Stoneleigh Three Seater Utility Car. The Stoneleigh was a light car made by Armstrong Siddeley. Light cars were aimed at people who wanted a low cost car and there were many makes made during the early 1920s. Designs varied and the Stoneleigh Utility was particularly unusual as the driver sat in the single front seat in the centre of the car and two passenger seats were behind. The engine had twin air cooled cylinders, set at 90 degrees with a capacity of 998cc. In October 1923 the price was £185.
Vintage models of Armstrong Siddeley
Thirty horse power car
30 horse-power car, which Armstrong Siddeley introduced in 1919 and continued to make into the 1930s. This picture shows the Mark 3 coachbuilt saloon in 1928. The 30 HP was a competitor to Rolls Royce 40/50, Lanchester, and the Daimler 30, 35 and 45 HP models. Eighteen horse power car
18 horse-power car, which Armstrong Siddeley started to make from 1922. Later on it became the 20HP car and in the 1930s was developed into the 20/25 model. This model was sold in a competitive market with rival models such as the Rolls Royce 20 HP, Austin 20 HP, Vauxhall 23/60, Crossley 20/70 and others. Fourteen horse power car
14 horse-power car, which Armstrong Siddeley announced in July 1923. The company continued to make this model up to 1929. The 14 HP sold well in a competitive market with similar sized cars made by Vauxhall, Rover, Bean, Humber, Lea Francis, Sunbeam, Swift and others. This model had a flat, rather than V radiator. Fifteen horse power car
15 horse-power car, which Armstrong Siddeley introduced in October 1928 and made through to the mid 1930s. This six cylinder car originally shared body styles with the four cylinder 14 HP model. By 1930 the 15HP had replaced the 14 HP. Twelve horse power car
12 horse-power car, which Armstrong Siddeley introduced as a lower cost model in October 1929. The company had, perhaps wisely, avoided competing in the 12 HP market previously as there were good 12 HP cars made by Austin, Alvis, Lagonda, Morris and others. The sizes were named after the standard RAC rating of horse-power which was based on the engine size. In the 1920s the cost of road tax in the United Kingdom was based on the HP rating. The links above take you to the pages on each model. In addition, I have added pages on Books about Armstrong Siddeley and vintage Armstrong Siddeley advertisements Advertising Armstrong Siddeley. Recently, I have added more information on the technical details of the different models. Do have a look.
Armstrong Siddeley’s Sphinx mascot
The Armstrong Siddeley Sphinx mascot is famous and was first used by John Davenport Siddeley in advertisements for the Siddeley Deasy car that he made before the start of the First World War in 1914. Armstrong Siddeley Motors adopted the Sphinx when they started production in 1919 and continued until they made their last car in 1960. The Sphinx changed over the years – it was sitting as in the photograph above through to 1932, lay down for the rest of the 1930s and was streamlined in the 1950s. The mascot that I show here dates from 1927.
So how do you spot an Armstrong Siddeley in a field or traffic jam of vintage cars? The first thing is look up. If the car has a saloon or coupe body, it will almost certainly be taller than most other vintage cars. Even a car with a tourer body will sit high above the road as the vintage Armstrong Siddeley has a high chassis, which is usually thought to be because many cars were sold to British colonial countries with poor roads. The design of the Armstrong Siddeley is architectural, reflecting the characteristics of Art Deco buildings of the 1920s. The cars had strong vertical and horizontal lines and an overall solidity. All the designs avoid fussy detailing and this is carried throughout the design so the cars had disc wheels and solid body panels with no louvres cut into the side panels of the bonnet. The Art Deco feel is strongest in the cars with V-shaped radiators. Get closer to the car and you will see the Sphinx mascot on the radiator above the Armstrong Siddeley name picked out of blue enamel. There will also be an intertwined AS on the car’s pedals. Another unmistakable feature is the loud whine that comes from the gearbox in first and second gears. This is a characteristic of the crash gearbox, so is not heard on the cars with pre-selector gearboxes that were fitted as an alternative after 1928. What will you notice if you are lucky enough to get a lift in a vintage Armstrong Siddeley? The first thing is the high step up onto the running board and into the car giving you a good view of the road ahead. The driver will turn on the petrol under the scuttle, maybe getting out to flood the carburettor, turn the ignition switch to M for magneto and then press the floor-mounted starter button. You will hear a loud whirr as the starter turns the heavy flywheel at the back of the engine. The car should start easily with minimal use of the choke. Out on the road the car will perform in line with many other non-sporting vintage cars with a top speed, depending on the model, of 45 to 60 mph. The cars have a reputation for being slow. There is some truth in this for the cars with heavy bodies and it is definitely true of the underpowered 12 horse-power car. For the other models the reputation for slowness probably comes from two things that you will notice on your journey. The cars have a large flywheel and no clutch-stop so changing gear is a slow process as using the crash gearbox the driver has to wait for the engine to slow down before changing up a gear. Also, there is a large gap in the ratio between top gear and second so as soon as you change down for a hill the car slows down. The good thing is that there are few inclines that you cannot climb up in second gear!
Finds and discoveries
Vintage Armstrong Siddeley cars are still being discovered in different states of repair.
In May 2014 there were two vintage Armstrong Siddeley cars on sale on the Pre-war Cars website, a 1927 York Saloon and a 1924 Mark 1 saloon kit of parts. In the June edition of The Automobile magazine, Michael Worthington-Williams showed a 14 HP engine in Wynyard, Tasmania which was saved from a tip. He says he once owned a 1928 14HP car and describes the engine as gutless. My experience is that a well maintained engine is as good as most other mid priced cars of the period. The car is let down by only having three gears, as there is a big ratio gap between second and third gear. Also the saloons seemed to get heavier as the decade went on.
In December 2009 Bonhams sold the restored 30 HP open-drive limousine dating from 1920, registration number NL 960. This car was at Beamish Museum in the 1980s before it was restored. See Bonhams 30 HP for more details. In 2009 and early 2010 there was a late 14 HP Armstrong Siddeley tourer, registration NT 7608, for sale in Meath, Ireland see Bonhams 14 HP Cotswold and a short-18 HP for sale in England. Also in early in 2010 there was an interesting, partly restored 18 HP saloon for sale in New Zealand. The advert said it dated from 1924, but I think it may be later than that. There was an amazing find in 2010 in Australia of a 14HP tourer from 1926 with unrestored original body, which I expect was made in Australia. Hopefully, the new owner will restore it and get it on the road again. I do hope they keep as much of the original bodywork as possible and resist the temptation to replace everything and make the car look like new. There was another Australian bodied 14HP tourer which appeared for sale in a number of places, including Bonhams in September 2010. Unfortunately, it was always wrongly described a Cotswold tourer, which it is not as these bodies were made by Burlington at the Armstrong Siddeley works in Coventry, England. There are lots of differences, such as the shape of the body, doors, door handles, windscreen, rear wings, and dash board. See Bonhams Australian 14 HP In November 2010 Bonhams had a very original 14 HP Broadway saloon for sale, registration YU 4561. I believe this may now be in Yorkshire. See Bonhams 14 HP