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Armstrong Siddeley

February 19th, 2020 3 comments

Welcome to the Armstrong Siddeley Motors blog in the year after the Centenary Year of Armstrong Siddeley. My blog is 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. Armstrong Siddeley made cars between 1919 and 1960. Please click on the links below the images to find out more.

Armstrong Siddeley 30 HP

Armstrong Siddeley 30 HP painted by Guy Sabran

One of the images from Armstrong Siddeley’s best brochure for the 20 and 30 horse power models published in 1930. The paintings are by Guy Sabran and show the cars in luxury settings. Here a 30 HP landaulet is beside a French river; other images shows cars on tour, at the sailing club and on large country estates with grand houses. Click here to see more adverts

Siddeley Special

Is this the most exciting Armstrong Siddeley ever made? This is 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 Salmons & Sons

Siddeley Special Coupe 1933

Armstrong Siddeley Special Coupe Cabriolet made by coach builders Salmons and Sons. It cost £945 when new in 1933.

Armstrong Siddeley Special 1933

New badge created for the Siddeley Special

The new car needed a new badge

 

Armstrong Siddeley models 1919-1932

Thirty horse power car

Armstrong Siddeley coachbuilt saloon 1928

Armstrong Siddeley 30 HP 1928

Armstrong Siddeley launched the 30 horse-power model in 1919. It was a large luxury car bought by wealthy owners. Cars could be fitted with tourer, saloon and coupe bodies. Factory designed bodies were made by Burlington Carriage Co Ltd which was owned by Armstrong Siddeley and other coach builders built bodies especially for the new owners. Armstrong Siddeley continued to make the 30 HP into the 1930s. This picture shows the Mark 3 coachbuilt saloon in 1928. The 30 HP had a five litre, six cylinder engine. It was a competitor to Rolls Royce 40/50, Lanchester, and the Daimler 30, 35 and 45 HP models. For more information click here 30 horse-power

Eighteen horse power car

Armstrong Siddeley 18 horse power car 1926

Armstrong Siddeley 18 HP 1926

Armstrong Siddeley announced the 18 horse-power car in 1921 and started to make the model in 1922. Smaller than the 30 HP, it was still an imposing car and was sold with tourer, saloon, and landaulette bodywork. 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. It had a six cylinder, 2.4 litre engine. For more information click here 18 horse-power

Fourteen horse power car

Armstrong Siddeley 14 HP car 1928

Armstrong Siddeley 14 HP saloon 1928

Armstrong Siddeley introduced the 14 horse-power car in July 1923. It was aimed at the growing number of people who wanted a well made, mid-price family car and was available with tourer, saloon, landaulette and two seater and dickey bodies. This model had a flat, rather than the V radiator of the larger models. 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. The 14 HP was Armstrong Siddeley’s only model with a four cylinder engine. This was just less than 2 litres. For more information click here 14 horse-power

Fifteen horse power car

Armstrong Siddeley 15 HP car 1928

Armstrong Siddeley 15 HP 1928

Armstrong Siddeley started making the 15 horse-power car in October 1928. Originally it shared body styles with the 14 HP and by 1930 had replaced it. The 15 HP car had a six cylinder engine of 1.9 litres. In October it was given a V radiator and the look of the car was modernised. The 15 HP continued to be made through to the mid 1930s. For more information click here 15 horse-power

Twelve horse power car

Armstrong Siddeley 12 HP car 1929

Armstrong Siddeley 12 HP two seater 1929

Armstrong Siddeley introduced the 12 horse-power car in October 1929 as a lower price car available in just three body styles – tourer, two seater and saloon. In the 1920s the cost of road tax in the United Kingdom was based on the HP rating, so a 12 HP car was also less expensive to tax. 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. For more information click here 12 horse-power

The links above take you to the pages on each model. In addition, I have pages on Books about Armstrong Siddeley and  Advertising Armstrong Siddeley

Stoneleigh

Below, in complete contrast, 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 pounds.

Stoneleigh Armstrong Siddeley 1923 Utility Light car

Stoneleigh Utility Light Car 1923

Armstrong Siddeley’s Sphinx mascot

Armstrong Siddeley Sphinx mascot

Sphinx mascot on 1927 Armstrong Siddeley

The Armstrong Siddeley Sphinx mascot 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 when it was modelled on the Sphinxes on the Thames Embankment, and was streamlined in the 1950s. The mascot that I show here dates from 1927.

Siddeley Special mascot 1930s

Mascot used on the Siddeley Special car, 1932 onwards

Characteristics

So how do you spot an Armstrong Siddeley in a field or traffic jam of vintage cars? 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 because many cars were sold to countries with poor roads.

The design of the Armstrong Siddeley is architectural, reflecting the characteristic Art Deco style 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, 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 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!