Standard Motor Company

Standard Motor Company

Standard-Triumph International Limited
Formerly called
The Standard Motor Company Limited
Industry Automobile
Fate
Founded 1903 in CoventryUK
Founder Reginald Walter Maudslay
Defunct 1968 (British Leyland)
Headquarters CanleyCoventryUK
Key people
Products Motor vehicles and Fergusontractors
Brands Standard, Triumph, Ferguson
Parent

The Standard Motor Company Limited was a motor vehicle manufacturer, founded in Coventry, England, in 1903 by Reginald Walter Maudslay. It purchased Triumph in 1945 and in 1959 officially changed its name to Standard-Triumph International and began to put the Triumph brandname on all its products.

Standard Motor Canley Works Coventry

Moving Pictures about Standard Motor Car Company:

https://youtu.be/UPIEk1tLbZU

https://youtu.be/eNcSOwUCuyE

https://youtu.be/I4khknZnQmM

https://youtu.be/lzWSEnZWa_U

https://youtu.be/TM1rnfIdqtM

https://youtu.be/H3rNe0l1Utw

Looking at this moving pictures is funny and interesting. Take a look. There is much more but I can’t put all film links here.

For many years, it manufactured Ferguson tractors powered by its Vanguard engine. All Standard’s tractor assets were sold to Massey-Ferguson in 1959.

In September 1959, Standard Motor Company was renamed Standard-Triumph International Limited. A new subsidiary took the name The Standard Motor Company Limited and took over the manufacture of the group’s products.

The Standard name was last used in Britain in 1963, and in India in 1988.

History

1903–14

Maudslay, great grandson of the eminent engineer Henry Maudslay, had trained under Sir John Wolfe-Barry as a civil engineer. In 1902 he joined his cousin Cyril Charles Maudslay at his Maudslay Motor Company to make marine internal combustion engines. The marine engines did not sell very well, and still in 1902 they made their first engine intended for a car. It was fitted to a chain-drive chassis. The three-cylinder engine, designed by Alexander Craig  was an advanced unit with a single overhead camshaft and pressure lubrication.

A Roman military Standard of 1 A.D. Maudslay kept a Roman standard at his home

Realising the enormous potential of the horseless carriage and using a gift of £3,000 from Sir John Wolfe-Barry, R. W. Maudslay left his cousin and became a motor manufacturer on his own account. His Standard Motor Company was incorporated on 2 March 1903 and he established his business in a small factory in a two-storey building in Much Park Street, Coventry. Having undertaken the examination of several proprietary engines to familiarise himself with internal combustion engine design he employed seven people to assemble the first car, powered by a single-cylinder engine with three-speed gearbox and shaft drive to the rear wheels. By the end of 1903 three cars had been built and the labour force had been increased to twenty five. The increased labour force produced a car every three weeks during 1904.

1903 Standard 6 hp 1006 cc single cylinder

The single-cylinder model was soon replaced by a two-cylinder model quickly followed by three- and four-cylinder versions and in 1905 the first six. Even the first cars boasted shaft drive as opposed to chains, and the engines were not merely “square” but had 6″ diameter pistons with a 3″ stroke. As well as supplying complete chassis, the company found a good market selling engines for fitting to other cars, especially where the owner wanted more power. Although Alex Craig, a Scottish engineer, was engaged to do much of the detail work, Maudslay himself was sufficiently confident to undertake much of the preliminary layout. One of the several derivations of the name “Standard” is said to have emanated from a discussion between Maudslay and Craig during which the latter proposed several changes to a design on the grounds of cost, which Maudslay rejected, saying that he was determined to maintain the best possible “Standard”.

1910 Standard 30HP cabriolet Veteran Car Club of Great Britain Cotswold Caper

1910 Thirty cabriolet with division

1913 Standard Model S 9,5hp Rhyl 2-seater tourer

1913 Model S 2-seater tourer

In 1905 Maudslay himself drove the first Standard car to compete in a race. This was the RAC Tourist Trophy in which he finished 11th out of 42 starters, having had a non-stop run. In 1905 the first export order was also received, from a Canadian who arrived at the factory in person. The order was reported in the local newspaper with some emphasis, “Coventry firm makes bold bid for foreign markets”.

The company exhibited at the ^ 1905 London Motor Show in  Crystal Palace, at which a London dealer, Charles (later Sir Charles) Friswell 1872-1926 agreed to buy the entire factory output. He joined Standard and later was managing director for many years.

In late 1906 production was transferred to larger premises and output was concentrated on 6-cylinder models. The 16/20 h.p. tourer with side-entrance body was priced at £450. An indication of how much this was can be gained from the fact that a draughtsman earned £3 a week. In 1907 Friswell became company chairman. He worked hard to raise its profile, and the resulting increase in demand necessitated the acquisition of a large single-storey building in Cash’s Lane, Coventry. Even this was inadequate after the publicity gained when a fleet of 20 cars, 16/20 tourers, were supplied for the use of Commonwealth editors attending the 1909 Imperial Press Conference in London.

In 1909 the company first made use of the famous Union Flag Badge, a feature of the radiator emblem until after the Second World War. By 1911 the range of vehicles was comprehensive, with the 8-horsepower model being produced in quantity whilst a special order for two 70 hp cars was at the same time executed for a Scottish millionaire. Friswell’s influence culminated in supplying seventy 4-cylinder 16 hp cars for King George V and his entourage, including the Viceroy of India, at the 1911 Delhi Durbar. In 1912 Friswell sold his interest in Standard to C. J. Band and Siegfried Bettmann, the founder of the Triumph Motor Cycle Company (which became the Triumph Motor Company). During the same year the first commercial vehicle was produced, and the 4-cylinder model “S” was introduced at £195, the first to be put into large-scale production. 1600 were produced before the outbreak of the First World War, 50 of them in the final week of car production. These cars were sold with a three-year guarantee. In 1914 Standard became a public company.

First World War

During the First World War the company produced more than 1000 aircraft, including the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8Sopwith Pup and Bristol F.2-B in a new works at Canley that opened on 1 July 1916. Canley would subsequently become the main centre of operations. Other war materials produced included shells, mobile workshops for the Royal Engineers, and trench mortars.

1922 Standard Eleven SLO4 Tourer

1922 Eleven 4-door tourer

1927 Standard Nine

1927 Nine Selby 4-seater tourer

1930 Standard Swallow 2-door sports saloon on a Big Nine chassis

1930 Standard Swallow
2-door sports saloon on a Big Nine chassis

1933 Standard Ten 4-door saloon

1933 Ten 4-door saloon

1934 Standard 10-12 Speedline sports coupé

1934 10/12 Speedline sports coupé

1936 Avon Standard Sixteen Saloon 1936

1936 4-door sports saloon by Avon on a Sixteen chassis

1937 Standard Flying Twelve 4-door saloon RAF

1937 Flying Twelve 4-door saloon RAF

1919–39

Civilian car production was restarted in 1919 with models based on pre-war designs, for example the 9.5 model “S” was re-introduced as the model SLS although this was soon superseded by an 8 h.p. model.

In the early 1920s saloon bodies were first offered; previously all cars had been tourers. The bodies had, since the move to Bishopsgate Green, been made in Coventry by the company itself, but it was not until 1922 that they were mass-produced, using a wooden track along which they were pushed by hand. The company was justifiably proud of the modern factory at Canley, boasting in its advertisements “It is a beautifully lighted and well-aired factory standing on the edge of a breezy common away from the city din and smoke, that the finishing touches and test are given to the All British ‘Standard’ Light cars which issue there to almost every quarter in the world”.

It was about this time during the early 1920s that the slogan “Count them on the road” appeared on every advertisement. By 1924 the company had a share of the market comparable to Austin Motor Company, making more than 10,000 cars in 1924. As the immediate post-war boom faded, many rival marques were discontinued. Cars became steadily larger and more elaborate as manufacturers sought to maintain sales. During the 1920s all the models were named after towns, not only near the factory such as Canley and Kenilworth but also further afield – Teignmouth, Falmouth, and Exmouth.

By the late 1920s profits had decreased dramatically due to great reinvestment, a failed export contract and bad sales of the larger cars. In 1927 the inadvisability of matching the larger more elaborate trend became apparent and the 9 hp Fulham with fabric body was introduced at £185. Production was concentrated mainly on one basic chassis with a 9 hp engine. The importance of standardisation was now appreciated and only one alternative was offered. In 1929 John Paul Black (later Sir John Black) a joint managing director of Hillman took up an appointment at Standard as joint Managing Director.

Standard Swallow and Jaguar

Black encouraged the supply of chassis to external coachbuilders such as Avon and Swallow Coachbuilding and Jensen. The coachbuilding company of Avon during the early 1930s commenced producing cars with a distinctly sporty appearance, using as a foundation, a complete chassis from the Standard Motor Company. These chassis were ordinary production units, used because of their sound engineering design and good performance. Known as Avon Standard Specials they catered for a select market too small for Standard themselves.

1933 Jaguar SS 1

S S One
Engine and chassis by Standard but chassis designed by S S

Swallow decided to produce a car under their own name using a Standard engine and chassis. A prototype S S One was displayed at London’s October 1931 Motor Show and in 1932 Swallow were able to supply three models, two of them used the same body. Swallow’s business was moved to S S Cars Limited and began to use a model name of Jaguar for part of their range then extended it to include their saloons. In 1945 S S Cars became Jaguar Cars and Standard still manufactured Jaguar’s engines though only the smallest remained a standard Standard design.

It was not until 1930, after the replacement of artillery wheels by spoke wheels that the distinctive radiator shape first used on the 6-cylinder models in 1906 was finally abandoned. In 1930, before the worst of the Depression, the Big Nine was introduced which together with the 6-cylinder Ensign and Envoy constituted the complete range. Here standardisation was taken a step further with the bodies on 9 hp four-cylinder and 15 hp six-cylinder being almost indistinguishable except for bonnet length. The Big Nine was soon followed by the Big Twelve and sales for the second six months of 1931 exceeded those of the whole of the previous year. In 1932 there was a Royal visit to the Canley works by the Duke of Gloucester who came to open the Canley Pavilion outside which he took delivery of a new 6-cylinder model.

Founder and Chairman Reginald Maudslay retired in 1934 and died soon afterwards on 14 December 1934 at the age of 64. Charles James Band 1883-1961, a Coventry solicitor and a Standard director since 1920, replaced him as chairman and served in that capacity until the beginning of 1954 though Sir John Black briefly held the appointment before he retired. 1935 saw all production transferred to the Canley site. Extensive re-organisation occurred including a continuous track being laid down in the paint shop on which the cars were completely painted.

Through the 1930s, fortunes improved with new models, the Standard Nine and Standard Ten addressed the low to mid range market. At the 1935 Motor Show the new range of Flying Standards was announced with (semi) streamlined bodies. The Flying Standards came to the market in 1936 with their distinctive streamlined sloping rears virtually replacing the existing range of Nine, Twelve, Sixteen, and Twenty. The Flying Standards were so-called because of the major radiator shell change to a waterfall grille topped by the Union Jack badge apparently streaming backwards in contrast to its previous forward-facing position.

1936 20 hp V8

The Flying Nine, Flying Ten, Flying Twelve, and Flying Fourteen had four-cylinder engines, while the Flying Sixteen and Flying Twenty had six-cylinder engines. At the top of the range was the Standard Flying V-Eight, with a 20 RAC hp side-valve 90 degree V8 engine and a top speed of more than 80 mph (130 km/h). 250 Flying V-Eights were made from 1936 to 1937; they were offered for sale from 1936 to 1938 with the initial price of £349 lowered to ₤325 in the last year to clear inventory.

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

The aero engine plant at Banner Lane, a shadow factory, began construction in mid 1939 and production began in 1940. It was managed by Standard for the Air Ministry. After the war Standard leased Banner Lane and in partnership with Harry Ferguson made his Ferguson tractors.

By the beginning of the war, Standard’s annual production was approximately 50,000 units.

1946 Eight 2-door saloon

1947 Twelve drophead coupé

1948 Fourteen 4-door saloon

1952 Vanguard Phase 1A

c. 1953 Eight

1956 Ensign. It shared the Vanguard Series III body, but had a reduced specification. It was popular with the RAF.

1958 Vanguard

1959 Ten

Second World War

The company continued to produce its cars during the Second World War, but now mainly fitted with utility bodies (“Tillies”). However, the most famous war-time product was the de Havilland Mosquito aircraft, mainly the FB VI version, of which more than 1100 were made. 750 Airspeed Oxfords were also made as well as 20,000 Bristol Mercury VIII engines, and 3,000 Bristol Beaufighter fuselages.

Other wartime products included 4000 Beaverette light armoured cars and a prototype lightweight “Jeep” type vehicle.

Post-war years

With peace, the pre-war Eight and Twelve the twelve fitted with 1776cc engine sold as 14 hp cars were quickly back in production using tools carefully stored since 1939. Of greater significance was the 1945 purchase, arranged by Sir John Black for £75,000, of the Triumph Motor Company. Triumph had gone into receivership in 1939, and was now reformed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard, named Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited. The Triumph factory was near the city centre and had been completely destroyed in the blitz. A lucrative deal was also arranged to build the small Ferguson Company tractor. This arrangement was considered primarily by Black as a means to securing increased profits to fund new car development.

Ferguson tractor

In December 1945 Standard Motor Company Limited announced that an arrangement had been made to manufacture Mr Harry Ferguson‘s tractors and the Air Ministry‘s shadow factory at Banner Lane Coventry run by Standard during the war would be used for the project. These tractors would be for the Eastern hemisphere, Ferguson tractors built by Ford in America for the Western hemisphere. Production was expected to start in 1946. Implements would be sourced separately by Ferguson who would also merchandise the tractors and the implements.

Standard Vanguard

A one-model policy for the Standard marque (alongside a range of new Triumphs) was adopted in 1948 with the introduction of the 2-litre Standard Vanguard, which was styled on American lines by Walter Belgrove, and replaced all the carry-over pre-war models. This aptly named model was the first true post-war design from any major British manufacturer. The beetle-back Vanguard Phase 1 was replaced in 1953 by the notch-back Phase 2 and in 1955 by the all-new Phase 3, which resulted in variants such as the Sportsman, Ensign, Vanguard Vignale and Vanguard Six.

Standard Eight and Ten

The one-model policy lasted until 1953, when a new Standard Eight small car was added. This was introduced at £481. 7. 6. the cheapest four-door saloon on the market, yet it boasted independent front suspension, hydraulic brakes and an economical O.H.V. engine. At the same time in another part of the same building Standards were producing a very different engine, the Rolls Royce Avon jet aero engine of which 415 were made between 1951 and 1955. In 1954 the Eight was supplemented by the slightly more powerful Standard Ten which featured a wider chrome grille.

Engines

The Phase II Vanguard was powered, like the Phase I, by a 2088 cc 4-cylinder “wet sleeve” engine, now with a modestly increased compression ratio, and producing 68 hp. This engine could be modified by using an additional intake system and two single-barrel Solex carburettors, producing 90 hp. Typically, the Phase II engine was one Solex carburettor, with 85 mm by 93 mm pistons. Standard Motors at the time supplied many of these engines to Ferguson Tractor distributed in the United States.

Standard Pennant

The Ten was followed in its turn in 1957 by the Standard Pennant featuring very prominent tail fins, but otherwise little altered structurally from the 1953 Standard Eight. An option for the Ten, and standard fitment to the Pennant, was the Gold Star engine, tuned for greater power and torque than the standard 948 cc unit. Another tuning set, featuring a different camshaft and twin carburettors, was available from dealers. As well as an overdrive for the gearbox, an option for the Eight, Ten and Pennant was the Standrive, a semi-manual transmission that automatically operated the clutch during gearchanges.

Triumph TR2

During the same year that the ‘8’ was introduced, another car was displayed at the London Motor Show. This was the Triumph 20TS, a sports two-seater with a modified Standard ‘8’ chassis and a Vanguard engine. The 20TS’s lack of luggage space and unsatisfactory performance and handling resulted in production being delayed until the next year when the chassis and drivetrain were developed and the body was restyled to incorporate a generous boot. The car was badged as a ‘Triumph’ rather than a ‘Standard’ and the Triumph TR2 was a winner. Ken Richardson achieved 124 mph (200 km/h) on the Jabbeke Highway in Belgium in a slightly modified car. As a result of the publicity, small manufacturers, including Morgan, Peerless, Swallow, and Doretti, bought engines and other components from Standard Motor Company.

Standard Atlas van

Atlas van 1959. In a segment dominated, in the UK market, by Bedford, a number of UK automakers competed with under-powered forward control competitors. The Atlas was Standard-Triumph’s contender.

In 1958 the Standard Atlas panel van and pick-up was first vended, a cab-over-engine design. It initially used the 948 cc engine from the Standard 10, making the resulting vehicle woefully underpowered, even with its 6.66:1 final drive ratio. In 1961, the Atlas Major was introduced, and sold alongside the original 948 cc Atlas. This variant was powered by the Standard 1670 cc wet-liner motor, as used with different capacities in the Vanguard cars, and the Ferguson tractor. The same engine was also used in Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4 sports cars. To use this larger engine, a substantial redesign of the cab interior and forward chassis was necessary. The vehicles were of a high standard but not priced competitively, which resulted in relatively few sales. In 1963 the Atlas Major became the Standard 15, with a new long-wheelbase variant, with 2138 cc engine, became the Standard 20. Later that year, the Standard name became disused by Leyland, and these models were rebranded hastily as Leyland 15 and 20. By 1968 when production ended in the UK, all variants were powered by the 2138 cc engine and badged as Leyland 20s.

These vehicles were badged as Triumphs for export to Canada, and possibly other overseas markets. The van’s tooling was also exported to India after UK production ceased, where the resultant vehicle continued in production until the 1980s.

Triumph Herald

By the later 1950s the small Standards were losing out in the UK market to more modern competitor designs, and the Triumph name was believed to be more marketable; hence the 1959 replacement for the Eight, Ten and Pennant was badged as the Triumph Herald; with substantial mechanical components carried over from the small Standards. Despite the separate chassis and independent rear suspension, the differential, hubs, brakes, engine and gearbox were all common to the last Standard Pennants. In order to build the Herald the company invested £​2 12 million in a new assembly hall extension at the Canley plant which Standard had acquired in 1916. The builders of the three-storey building excavated 250,000 tons of soil and rock. Inside the building were three 1300 ft assembly lines equipped to be one of the most modern car assembly plants in the world. This turned out to be the company’s last investment on such a scale at Canley: investment decisions after the merger with Rover would favour the newer plant at Solihull.

Overseas plants

Overseas manufacturing plants were opened in Australia, France, India and South Africa. Overseas assembly plants were opened in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.

Sir John Black

During the year ended 31 August 1954 Standard made and sold 73,000 cars and 61,500 tractors and much more than half of those were exported. Since the war Standard had made and sold some 418,000 cars and 410,000 tractors and again much more than half were exported. Appointed to Standard’s then ailing business in 1929, director and general manager since 1930 and appointed managing director in 1934 energetic Sir John Black resigned as chairman and managing director of Standard that year following a serious motorcar accident. He was advised (after consultations with his wife and close friends) to relinquish his offices of chairman and managing director and his membership of the board of directors. His deputy and long-time personal assistant, Alick Dick 1916-1986, took his position as managing director. Air Marshal Lord Tedder was appointed chairman, Tedder would hold that position until the Leyland takeover at the end of 1960. A S Dick resigned in August 1961 when the board was reorganised by Leyland in view of the substantial losses Standard was accumulating.

The company started considering partners to enable continued expansion and negotiations were begun with Chrysler, Massey-Harris-Ferguson, Rootes GroupRover and Renault but these were inconclusive.

Standard’s Vanguard engine

The Vanguard’s engine, later slightly enlarged, powered two saloons, a tractor and three sports cars

Leyland Motors

The Standard-Triumph company was eventually bought in 1960 by Leyland Motors Ltd which paid £20 million and the last Standard, an Ensign Deluxe, was produced in the UK in May 1963, when the final Vanguard models were replaced by the Triumph 2000 model. Triumph continued when Leyland became British Leyland Motor Corporation (later BL) in 1968. The Standard brand was ended on 17 August 1970 when a sudden announcement said that henceforth the Company was to be known as the Triumph Motor Company. The Standard name has been unused in Europe since then and the Triumph or Rover Triumph BL subsidiary used the former Standard engineering and production facilities at Canley in Coventry until the plant was closed in 1980.

BMW

BMW acquired the Standard and Triumph brands following its purchase of BL’s successor Rover Group in 1994. When most of Rover was sold in 2000, BMW kept the Standard brand along with Triumph, MINIand Riley. The management of British Motor Heritage Ltd, gained the rights to the Standard Brand upon their management purchase of this company from BMW in 2001 (reference BMH website linked below).

There was talk of a possible revival of the Standard name by MG Rover for its importation of the Tata Indica (reference Channel 4 website below). However, for reasons relating to the ownership of the brand by BMW, the car was finally launched as the Rover CityRover.

Standard in India

The Standard name had disappeared from Britain during the 1960s but continued for two more decades in India, where Standard Motor Products of India Ltd manufactured the

Indian Triumph Herald Mk3 advert

 Triumph Herald badged as the ‘Standard Herald’ and with the basic 948 cc engine during the 1960s, with increasingly local content and design changes over the years, eventually producing additional four-door and five-door estate models exclusively for the Indian market by the late 1960s.

After 1970, Standard Motor Products split with British Leyland, and introduced a bodily restyled four-door saloon based on the Herald known as the

Standard Gazel 2

Standard Gazel in 1972, using the same 948 cc engine but with a live rear axle, as the Herald’s swing-axle was not liked much by Indian buyers and mechanics alike. Allegedly India’s first indigenous car, the Gazel was built in small numbers – it has been suggested that it did so to keep its manufacturer’s licence – until 1977. With the company concentrating solely on producing commercial vehicles based on the Leyland 20 model, badged as “Standard 20”, production of Standard cars ceased until the Standard 2000, a rebadged Rover SD1, was introduced in 1985. The car was higher and had a slightly modified old 1991 cc Standard Vanguard engine, as the company could not procure the licence to use the original Rover engine on this car. Being expensive and outdated it was not successful, apart from the reasons that it had competition from cars with Japanese and other newer, fuel-efficient technology in India. It ceased production in 1988, with the Bombay factory also closing its operations at the same time, around the same time that the last examples of the SD1 left British showrooms (production had finished in 1986 but stocks lasted for around two more years). After feeble efforts over successive years to revive the company, the premises were auctioned off in 2006 and Britain’s Rimmer Bros. bought up the entire unused stock of SD1 parts. This also signalled the end of the Standard marque.

British car models

Pre World War 1

Year Name RAC
rating
Cubic
capacity
Bore &
stroke
Valves Cylinders Wheelbase Production
1903 Motor Victoria 6 hp 1006 cc 5 in (127 mm) x 3 in (76 mm) side 1 78 in (1,981 mm)
1904–05 Motor Victoria 12/15 hp 1926 cc 5 in (127 mm) x 3 in (76 mm) side 2
1905 16 hp 3142 cc 100 mm (3.9 in) x 100 mm (3.9 in) side 4 108 in (2,743 mm)
1905–08 18/20 4714 cc 100 mm (3.9 in) x 100 mm (3.9 in) side 6 120 in (3,048 mm)
1906 Model 8 16/20 3531 cc 102 mm (4.0 in) x 108 mm (4.3 in) side 4 108 in (2,743 mm) / 120 in (3,048 mm)
1906 Model 9 24/30 5232 cc 4 in (102 mm) x 4 in (102 mm) side 6 120 in (3,048 mm) / 132 in (3,353 mm)
1906 Model 10 10 hp 631 cc 70 mm (2.8 in) x 82 mm (3.2 in) side 2 78 in (1,981 mm)
1906–12 Model 11 50 hp 11734 cc 140 mm (5.5 in) x 127 mm (5.0 in) side 6 132 in (3,353 mm)
1906–12 Model 12 50 hp 11734 cc 140 mm (5.5 in) x 127 mm (5.0 in) side 6 144 in (3,658 mm)
1907 15 hp 1893 cc 70 mm (2.8 in) x 82 mm (3.2 in) side 6 87 in (2,210 mm)
1907–08 Model B 30 hp 5297 cc 102 mm (4.0 in) x 108 mm (4.3 in) side 6 120 in (3,048 mm)
1908–11 Model C 40 hp 6167 cc 102 mm (4.0 in) x 107 mm (4.2 in) side 6 120 in (3,048 mm)
1908–11 Model D 30 hp 4032 cc 89 mm (3.5 in) x 108 mm (4.3 in) side 6 120 in (3,048 mm)
1909–11 Model E 16 hp 2688 cc 89 mm (3.5 in) x 108 mm (4.3 in) side 4 110 in (2,794 mm) / 120 in (3,048 mm)
1912 Model G 25 hp 4032 cc 89 mm (3.5 in) x 108 mm (4.3 in) side 6 116 in (2,946 mm)
1910–11 Model J 12 hp 1656 cc 68 mm (2.7 in) x 114 mm (4.5 in) side 4 96 in (2,438 mm)
1911–12 Model K 15 hp 2368 cc 80 mm (3.1 in) x 120 mm (4.7 in) side 4 120 in (3,048 mm)
1911–13 Model L 20 hp 3620 cc 80 mm (3.1 in) x 120 mm (4.7 in) side 6 126 in (3,200 mm)
1913–14 Model O 20 hp 3336 cc 89 mm (3.5 in) x 133 mm (5.2 in) side 4 121 in (3,073 mm) / 128 in (3,251 mm)
1913–18 Model S 9.5 hp 1087 cc 62 mm (2.4 in) x 90 mm (3.5 in) side 4 90 in (2,286 mm)

(Sources—Standard Motor Club and Graham Robson Book of the Standard Motor Company, Veloce, ISBN 978-1-845843-43-4)

1919–1939

Year Type Engine Production
1919–21 9.5 hp Model SLS 1328 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1921–23 8 hp 1087 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1921–23 11.6 hp SLO 1598 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1922–26 13.9 hp SLO-4 1944 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1923–27 11.4 hp V3 1307 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1926–28 13.9 hp V4 1944 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1927–28 18/36 hp 2230 cc ohv 6-cylinder
1927–30 9 hp 1153 or 1287 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1929–33 15 hp 1930 or 2054 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1930–33 9.9 hp Big Nine 1287 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1931–35 20 hp Envoy 2552 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1932–33 Little Nine 1006 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1932–33 Little Twelve 1337 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1932–33 Big Twelve 1497 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1934 12/6 1497 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1934–35 10/12 Speed Model 1608 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1934–36 Nine 1052 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1934–36 Ten 1343 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1934–36 Twelve 1608 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1934–36 Sixteen 2143 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1935–36 Twenty 2664 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1937–38 Flying Ten 1267 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1937–40 Flying Twelve 1608 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1937–40 Flying Nine 1131 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1937–40 Flying Light Twelve 1343 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1937–40 Flying Fourteen 1608 cc or 1776 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1936–40 Flying Sixteen 2143 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1936–40 Flying Twenty 2663 cc side-valve 6-cylinder
1936–38 Flying V8 2686 cc side-valve V-8-cylinder
1938–40 Flying Eight 1021 cc side-valve 4-cylinder

Vanguard Phase I

Vanguard Phase II

Vanguard Vignale

1945–1963

Year Type Engine Production
1945–48 Eight 1021 cc side-valve four-cylinder 53,099
1945–48 Twelve 1608 cc side-valve 4-cylinder 9,959
1945–48 Fourteen 1776 cc side-valve 4-cylinder 22,229
1947–53 Vanguard Phase I 2088 cc OHV 4-cylinder 184,799
1953–55 Vanguard Phase II 2088 cc ohv 4-cylinder
2092 cc ohv 4-cylinder diesel
81,074
1,973
1953–57 Eight 803 cc ohv 4-cylinder 136,317
1954–56 Ten 948 cc ohv 4-cylinder 172,500
1955–58 Vanguard Phase III 2088 cc ohv 4-cylinder 37,194
1956–57 Vanguard Sportsman 2088 cc ohv 4-cylinder 901
1957–61 Ensign 1670 cc ohv 4-cylinder
2092 cc ohv 4-cylinder diesel
18,852
1957–59 Pennant 948 cc ohv 4-cylinder 42,910
1958–61 Vanguard Vignale 2088 cc ohv 4-cylinder 26,276
1960–63 Vanguard Six 1998 cc ohv 6-cylinder 9,953
1962–63 Ensign II 2138 cc ohv 4-cylinder 2,318

Military and commercial

Year Type Engine Production
1940–43 Beaverette 1,776 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1940 -1943 type CD 1943-1945 type UV 12 hp Light Utility 1,608 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1943 Jeep 1,608 cc side-valve 4-cylinder
1947–58 12 cwt 2,088 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1954–62 6 cwt 948 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1958–62 10 hp Atlas 948 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1962–63 Atlas Major 1,670 cc ohv 4-cylinder
1962–65 7 cwt 1,147 cc ohv 4-cylinder

Standard 8 1955 – badge on one of the final basic Standard 8s.

Leyland 15. Rebranded from ‘Standard Atlas’ after Leyland bought out Standard-Triumph in 1961, the ’15’ used the Vanguard 2138cc engine or a diesel.

Standard 10 Companion Estate – badge on bonnet

Standard Ten Pennant – bonnet badge. The name ‘Pennant’ fitted in with the Standard names such as ‘Vanguard’ and ‘Ensign’

Standard Vanguard Phase I – badge on grille
Standard Vanguard Phase II – boot badge

Standard Vanguard Six – bonnet badge

Standard Vanguard Vignale – bonnet badge

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Standard-Triumph Changes. The Times, Tuesday, Oct 06, 1959; pg. 17; Issue 54584.
  2. Jump up to:a b Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.
  3. Jump up^ Sir Charles Friswell. The Times, Friday, Dec 17, 1926; pg. 16; Issue 44457
  4. Jump up to:a b “Goodbye Standard long live Triumph”. Motor: 39–40. 15 May 1976.
  5. Jump up^ Apral, K. “Standard 1930”http://www.classiccarcatalogue.com. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  6. Jump up^ Mr. C. J. Band, The Times, Tuesday, Jan 08, 1935; pg. 19; Issue 46956
  7. Jump up^ The Standard Motor Company. The Times, Wednesday, Dec 16, 1953; pg. 12; Issue 52806
  8. Jump up to:a b Robson, Graham (May 2011). The Book of the Standard Motor Company. Poundbury, Dorchester, UK: Veloce Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-845843-43-4. Retrieved 2013-06-11A side-by-side comparison shows that the Eight block was smaller in all dimensions than the Nine/Ten, ensuring that all the major components – block, crankshaft, and camshaft – were new, as were the spacings between cylinder centres.
  9. Jump up to:a b Robson, Graham, The Book of the Standard Motor Company, p. 126
  10. Jump up^ Robson, Graham, The Book of the Standard Motor Company, pp. 63–64
  11. Jump up to:a b Motor Industry Management: Journal of the Institute of the Motor Industry. Burke House Periodicals. 1995. p. 25. Retrieved 2013-08-18Standard Flying Eight – first 8hp car with independent front suspension.
  12. Jump up^ Roberts, Peter (1984). The history of the automobile. Exeter Books. p. 145. ISBN 0-6710-7148-3. Retrieved 2013-08-18The ultimate was probably the Standard Flying Eight which had the new advantage for a small car of independent front suspension…
  13. Jump up^ Robson, Graham, The Book of the Standard Motor Company, p. 69
  14. Jump up^ Robson, Graham, The Book of the Standard Motor Company, pp. 63–64: “However, we do know, for certain, that in the 1938/39 financial year, which ended on 31 August 1939, exactly 50,729 cars were produced …”
  15. Jump up^ Standard Motor Company Record Turnover And Profit, Mr. C. J. Band On Expansion Policy The Times, Friday, Dec 21, 1945; pg. 10; Issue 50331
  16. Jump up^ Sir John Black. The Times, Wednesday, Dec 29, 1965; pg. 8; Issue 56515
  17. Jump up^ Standard Motor Company (Manufacturers of Standard and Triumph Cars, Ferguson Tractors, and Standard Commercial Vehicles). The Times, Thursday, Oct 14, 1954; pg. 13; Issue 53062
  18. Jump up^ Reorganizing Standard Triumph. The Times, Tuesday, Aug 22, 1961; pg. 8; Issue 55166
  19. Jump up^ Guinness, Paul (2015-06-25). “Curios: Standard 2000”HonestJohn Classics. Archived from the original on 2015-06-26.
  20. Jump up^ Robson 2006, p. 
  21. Jump up^ Michael Sedgwick and Mark Gillies, A-Z of Cars 1945-1970, Haymarket Publishing Ltd, 1994, page 185
  22. Jump up to:a b c d Sedgwick & Gillies 1986.

External links

AC Cars Group Ltd. 1901 – – present England UK second edition with more pictures and information

AC Cars 

AC Cars Group Ltd.
Private
Industry Automotive
Founded West Norwood, London, England (1901)
Founder The Weller Brothers
Headquarters Thames DittonSurreyEngland
Key people
Alan Lubinsky, current owner
Products Automobile
Parent ACEDES Holdings
Website AC Cars official page

AC Cars Ltd. formerly known as Auto Carriers Ltd., is a British specialist automobile manufacturer and one of the oldest independent car makers founded in Britain.

 

History

1914 AC 10 open 2-seater
AC’s first 4-wheeled car

AC 12 Royal drophead coupé 1926

AC 16 Royal saloon 1927

AC 16/80 open 2-seater 1939
body by March

The first car from what eventually became AC was presented at the Crystal Palace motor show in 1903; it was a 20 HP touring car and was displayed under the Weller name. The Weller Brothers of West Norwood, London, planned to produce an advanced 20 hp (15 kW) car.

1903 auto carrier

However, their financial backer and business manager John Portwine, a butcher, thought the car would be too expensive to produce and encouraged Weller to design and produce a little delivery three-wheeler.

Autocars and Accessories

1903-ac-auto-carrier-finney-isles-company-limited-auto-carrier-brisbane

Auto-Carrier

In 1904 a new company was founded and named Autocars and Accessories; production started with the Auto-Carrier. The vehicle caught on quickly and was a financial success.

1908 AC Sociable 5-6 hp

1910 auto carrier sociable

AC Sociable

In 1907, a passenger version appeared, called the A.C. Sociable. It had a seat in place of the cargo box.

The A.C. Sociable was described in a review of the 1912 Motor Cycle and Cycle Car Show as “one of the most popular cycle cars on the road, both for pleasure and business”, and A.C. displayed eight vehicles on their stand, six for pleasure and two for business. The single rear wheel contained a two-speed hub, and the single-cylinder engine was mounted just in front of it, with rear chain drive.

Auto Carriers Ltd.

The company became Auto Carriers Ltd. in 1911 and moved to Ferry Works, Thames DittonSurrey—at this time they also began using the famed “AC” roundel logo.

1914 AC Ten horsepower open two seater 4-wheeled car

AC Ten

Their first four-wheeled car was produced in 1913; it was a sporty little two-seater with a gearbox on the rear axle. Only a few were built before production was interrupted by the First World War.

During the Great War, the Ferry Works factory produced shells and fuses for the war effort, although at least one vehicle was designed and built for the War Office.

1920-27 AC Twelve red

AC 12 hp (1920-27)

At the end of the First World War, AC Cars started making motor vehicles again, designing and building many successful cars at Ferry Works, as well as expanding into an old balloon factory on Thames Ditton High Street.

1920-29 AC SIX 16-40, 16-56, 16-66

AC Six (1920-29)

After the war, John Weller started on the design of a new overhead-cam 6-cylinder engine. The first versions of this design were running by 1919. The Weller engine would be produced until 1963.

In 1921, Selwyn Edge (who had been with Napier) bought shares in the company and was appointed governing director. He did not get along with Weller or Portwine, who resigned less than a year later.

In customary fashion Edge sought publicity for the company through motoring competition.

In 1921 Sammy Davis joined A.C. as a driver, competing in the Junior Car Club 200-mile (320 km) race, for cars up to 1,500 c.c., at Brooklands.

AC Cars Ltd.

In 1922, the name changed again to AC Cars Ltd.

In 1923  and 1924  J.A. Joyce won the Brighton Speed Trials driving an A.C. In May 1924, at Montlhéry, near Paris, T. G. Gillett broke the continuous 24-hour record in a 2-litre A.C., fitted with special streamlined bodywork, covering a distance of 1,949.3 miles. In 1926 the Honourable Victor Bruce, an AC employee, won the Monte Carlo Rally in his 2-litre AC. In 1927, Victor Bruce, with his wife Mildred (The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce), assisted by J.A. Joyce, set a 10-day endurance record at Montlhéry, driving an AC Six.

AC (Acedes) Ltd.

Selwyn Edge bought the company outright for £135,000 in 1927 and re-registered it as AC (Acedes) Ltd but sales, which had been falling, continued to decline. The company was caught by the crash of 1929 and went into voluntary liquidation.

AC Cars Plc.

Production ceased for a time, and the company was sold to the Hurlock family who ran a successful haulage business. They wanted the High Street factory only as a warehouse (Ferry Works was not acquired), but allowed the service side of AC to continue.

A single car was made for William Hurlock in 1930. He liked it and agreed to restart very limited production, mainly using components left over from previous models.

New AC Six (1932-40)

An agreement was reached with Standard to supply new chassis, the ancient three-speed transaxle was replaced by a modern four-speed gearbox (built in unit with the engine), and by 1932 a new range of cars was finally launched. Production continued on this small scale, averaging less than 100 vehicles per year, until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The final pre-war car was delivered in June 1940, after which the factory was fully involved with war production.

After the Second World War

1976 AC Invalid Carriage

 While the company’s sporting cars won plaudits from many enthusiasts, it was the long-running contract with the UK government for the production of three-wheeled invalid carriages that may have most impressed those concerned for the company’s financial stability.

A.C. 2-Litre 1947-1956. The four-door configuration and the wider 6.75 × 16 inch wheels identify this as a later example. The flashing indicators will have been retro-fitted.

1958 AC Ace, AC engined

Seven of the 28 Southend Pier Railway cars, built by AC-Cars in 1949

1957 AC Aceca Bristol prepared for the “Carrera Panamericana” Mexican road race

A.C. Greyhound Saloon 1962

1959 AC single-seater at Motor Sport at the PalaceCrystal Palace (circuit) 27 May 2013

AC Invacar

After the war AC secured a large contract with the government to produce the fibreglass-bodied, single seat, Thundersley Invacar Type 57 invalid carriages with BSA engines. The invalid carriages continued to be built until 1976 and were an important source of revenue to the company.

AC 2-Litre

Production of cars restarted in 1947 with the 2-Litre, using the 1991 cc engine from the 16. The 2-Litre used an updated version of the pre-war, underslung chassis, fitted with the AC straight-six engine and traditional ash-framed and aluminium-panelled coachwork, available in saloon or convertible versions.

AC Petite

They also built an aluminum-bodied three-wheeled microcar, the Petite.

Bag Boy by AC

They also produced “Bag Boy” golf carts (with independent suspension to the two wheels!).

AC Train

In 1949, AC Cars also produced four trains, each consisting three power cars and four coaches, for the Southend Pier Railway in Essex. These remained in use until 1976.

1953-1963 AC Ace – AC Ace

In 1953, the firm began production of the AC Ace, based on a lightweight chassis designed by John Tojeiro and Hand built Aluminium Body designed and built by Eric George Gray with the venerable Weller-designed 2-Litre engine.

For 1954, a new aluminum-bodied closed coupe was unveiled at Earls Court, the AC Aceca. It was only slightly heavier than the convertible Ace, and because of better aerodynamics was actually slightly faster (128 mph (206 km/h) top speed).

Today, Acecas are popular at historic racing events. Arch McNeill, a factory Morgan racer from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s told fellow Texan and Aceca owner Glenn Barnett that “the Morgan team spent two years campaigning to beat the factory AC Acecas and finally did in the late 1950s”. Though more valuable than comparable AC or Shelby replicas, the Aceca is still a bargain when compared to a Shelby CSX Cobra, while maintaining similar performance.

AC Greyhound 2.6 (1963)

AC Greyhound

There was a demand from some customers for a larger four-seater car, for whom AC produced the Greyhound. This was built on a stretched Ace chassis with coilsuspension all around and a 2.2-litre Bristol engine.

AC Railbus

http://www.railcar.co.uk/type/ac-cars-railbus/summary

The company also ventured briefly into railway rolling stock business, building five four-wheel railbuses for British Rail in 1958.

AC Ace LM (Le Mans) Prototype

The AC Ace LM Prototype was a single piece from the year 1958 with the unusual chassis number LM5000, which John Tojeiro designed on behalf of the brothers Hurlock specifically for the AC factory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and for further long distance racing. The vehicle was only 737-kilogram and differed fundamentally from the standard model: it had a load-bearing, lightweight, tubular steel frame without the massive ladder structure, a new front axle with single wheel suspension, this time in the form of upper and lower triangular steering with coil spring / shock units, and a newly designed pendulum axle at the rear. The open aluminium body was much flatter, with larger overhangs at the front and rear and aerodynamically rounded with a lowered down front and high tail. It was designed by the body builder Cavendish Morton. The engine/ transmission unit, a tuned production unit, came from the Bristol Type 100D2 / S. After a test ride on the Brooklands circuit, just a few kilometres from the AC factory, the prototype, which was not yet mature, completed two assignments in 1958: in June as a factory car in the Le Mans 24-hour race and in September in the Rudac Racing Team at the RAC Tourist Trophy at the Goodwood Circuit. Due to changes in the regulations, the car was no longer able to compete in the next-class category in the FIA – Sportscar World Championship. The ‘Bristol’ engine / gearbox unit went back there, the racing car was sold without drive and later rebuilt. It still exists today as a collector’s item.

AC Ace Bristol Zagato

The “AC Ace Bristol Zagato” was designed and built by Zagato from the year 1958. Conceptually, the Berlinetta resembles the two-seat factory coupe ‘ ‘AC Aceca’ ‘, but on the chassis number BEX 477 of a left-steered’ ‘AC Ace Bristol’ ‘. The idea came about at the Geneva Motor Show in 1957 during a meeting between Hubert Patthey, the then AC and Aston Martin importer for Switzerland and Elio Zagato. The original vehicle from 1957 was delivered to the Swiss company Pattheys in 1958; Who commissioned the Carrozzeria Zagato to produce a single, individual car body for the vehicle to be used at local races and the Pescara rally. Zagato designed and built a coupé body made of thin-walled aluminum sheet with Zagato’s trademark “Double Bubble”, a solid roof with two vaults above the driver’s and co-driver’s seat to ensure sufficient headroom at low headroom. Pattey sold the finished vehicle to an Englishman who lived in Switzerland, who was arguing with him for various rides near Lake Geneva; Later the racing driver Jo Siffert acquired the single piece, which he used at different racing events and historical races like the Mille Miglia. On the circuit, the single took part only in a well-known races, on October 5, 1958, at the Coupes du Salon in the French [], where it won the class in the class up to 2000 cc. The vehicle is now owned by an American collector.

‘Specifications AC Ace Bristol Zagato (if different): Modified Bristol six-cylinder engine with 130 hp at 13250 rpm at 5750 rpm, torque 174 Nm at 4500 rpm, length 3848 millimeters, height 1245 millimeters, ready-to-fly weight 862 kilograms, top speed 185 km / hr, Acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.7 seconds, to 100 miles per hour in 161.2 seconds.

AC Ace-Aigle

The ‘AC Ace-Aigle’ was an aerodynamically improved single-piece AC Ace Bristol based vehicle with the BEX289 chassis number designed specifically for the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1960. The inspiration came from the Swiss AC importer Hubert Patthey, as was the case with ‘AC Ace Bristol Zagato’ in 1958, but was conceptually much easier. The Aigle Aigle, which has been legally independent in its own right alongside the design studio and car body builder Ghia in Turin existed. In contrast to the standard vehicle, the ‘Ace-Aigle’ had a modified front and a fixed hardtop. The roof top had two unusual vaults to give the rider and co-driver plenty of headroom – actually the “double bubble” design, typical of Zagato, and implemented in its 1958 coupé. The normal, aerodynamically relatively unfavorable front body of radiator grille, front fenders and bonnet was replaced by a new front and made of lightweight polyester front. This was rounder, ran longer and flatter forward, and had a flat, oval cooling air intake, backlit headlights clad with plexiglas half shells. She remotely recalled the Jaguar E-Type. According to the same concept and with very similar lines, Ghia Aigle had already changed several Austin-Healey Sprite from 1958 to 1961 (albeit without hardtop).

The “Ace-Aigle” was used by Swiss riders André Wicky and Georges Gachnang from the Swiss racing team Ecurie Lausannoise. The Le Mans test in April 1960 completed the vehicle as the fastest and most successful, but failed in the race in June 1960

A very similar “Ace Bristol” with chassis number BEX1192 appeared in Le Mans in 1962, at the same time the last Le Mans appearance of an “AC Ace” before the “AC Cobra” from 1964 was used. The car of a French private jet suffered accident damage the previous year and had been returned to the AC factory, where it received a special lightweight body with an aerodynamically favorable front in the style of the ‘Jaguar E-Type’ / ‘Ace -Aigle . In the race, there was no clutch damage.

1958 AC-Bristol

The 6 cylinder Bristol engine was optional until it ceased production in 1961.

Soon after, car dealer and racing driver Ken Rudd fitted his own competition Ace with a pre-war BMW-designed, Bristol-produced 135 bhp (101 kW) six-cylinder engine. This combination was put into production as the AC Ace-Bristol in 1957. In this form, the car raced at Le Mans in 1957 and 1958.

An AC Aceca fitted with a Bristol 6 engine.

nothing to find. Ggrrrr

AC A86

One prototype labeled as drawing number “A86” was made in 1959. This Aceca-Bristol had a wider body and was built on a coil sprung chassis similar to the AC Greyhound.

1962 AC Ace 2.6 Ruddspeed

The prototype chassis number (RS 5000) featured the standard Ace body work.

(RS 5001 – 5036) The production model of the AC Ace 2.6 (as it is latterly known today) is for many people the prettiest Ace of all—and undoubtedly the rarest, with only 36 such cars built.

To fit the Zephyr engine, AC had to modify the frame, relocate the steering box and completely change the nose of the car. These changes are often mistakenly attributed to Carroll Shelby.

AC Aceca 2.6 Ruddspeed

The prototype chassis number (RS 5500) featured the standard Ace body work.

(RS 5501 – 5507) The production model of the AC Aceca 2.6 (as it is latterly known today) is one of the rarest models, with only 7 such cars built.

AC Cobra

In September 1961, AC was approached by Carroll Shelby to use a small block Ford V8 engine in the Ace chassis, producing the AC Cobra.

Shelby needed a car that could compete with the Chevrolet Corvette in US sports car racing.

Only 1 was built (CSX 2000) using a Ford 221 Windsor V8.

Debuted in 1962 with a Ford 260 V8 engine. This was then superseded by the Ford 289 V8 engine.

Shelby 289 Cobra

The resulting Cobra was a very powerful roadster, and it is commonly blamed for the introduction of the 70 mph (110 km/h) limit on British motorways. While this was a major factor in the decision, after a coupe version was caught doing 196 mph (315 km/h) during a test run, a then-recent spate of accidents under foggy conditions also helped the introduction of the limit.

AC 289 Cobra

European Model of the Shelby 289 Cobra, introduced in 1963 as a replacement for the AC Ace 2.6 Ruddspedd.

1964 Shelby 427 Cobra Flip-Top Roadster

Shelby 390 Flip-top

At the end of the 1964 racing season, the Cobra was being outclassed in sports car racing by Ferrari. Carroll Shelby decided he needed a bigger engine. A big block Ford FE series 390 V8 was installed in a Cobra and the result was scary—the car was virtually undrivable.

Ford/AC design team

It was decided that a completely new chassis was needed. With the combined help of Ford’s computers and the experience of the AC engineers, the new MKIII was born with 4-inch (100 mm) main tubes instead of 3-inch (76 mm) for the chassis, huge cross-braced shock towers and coil springs all around.

Shelby 427 Cobra (Comp)

In 1965 a competition version with a stripped interior, no glove box, different instrument layout and revised suspension. The competition version also had a more powerful motor with only one carburetor, side exhausts, a roll bar and wider fenders to accommodate racing tires.

The engine that was installed in the car was Ford’s famed 427 FE NASCAR “Side-Oiler” V8, a power-house engine developing 425 bhp (317 kW) in its mildest street version.

Unfortunately, the car missed homologation for the 1965 season and was not raced by the Shelby team. However, it was raced successfully by many privateers and went on to win races all the way into the 1970s.

At the end in 1966, Shelby was left with 31 unsold competition cars; it was decided by Shelby American to sell them to the general public under the name of Cobra 427 S/C or Semi-Competition. Today these S/C cars are the most sought after models and can sell in excess of 1.5 million dollars.

Shelby 427 Cobra (Street)

In 1966 a street model was available. It came with a tamer motor, optional dual carburetors, a glove box, and exhaust running under the car.

AC 289 Sports

Meanwhile, AC went on producing a milder version of the 427 MK III Cobra for the European market fitted with the small block Ford motor. The car was called the AC 289 and 27 were produced.

Carroll Shelby sold the Cobra name to Ford in 1965 and went on to develop the famed racing Ford GT40.

AC 428 or Frua

1973 AC at Earls Court  AC 428 Frua

1971 AC Frua Roadstar

At the same time, the company realized they needed a grand tourer model that could appeal to wealthy customers. AC contacted the famed Italian coach builder Pietro Frua to design an appealing GT body that could be fitted on a MKIII Cobra chassis stretched by 6 inches (150 mm). The new car was shown at the 1965 Turin show. A few early models were fitted with the famed 427 Ford FE motors. In 1967 the long-stroked 428 motor became available and the car was known as the AC Frua. Built out of steel rather than AC’s usual aluminum, the Frua is heavier than a Cobra at slightly under 3,000 lb (1,400 kg). That said, it is still a light and very fast automobile built on a racing chassis. The car was never fully developed and the cost of sending chassis from England to Italy and back for final assembly made it so expensive that only a few were produced. Production ended in 1973 after only 80 cars (29 convertibles and 51 coupes) were finished.

1969 AC 429 Coupé Frua

AC 429

In 1970, a special version of the coupé was built. It was based on an extended bodyshell that Frua built for Monteverdi which was supposed to become the second Monteverdi 375/L. (Monteverdi Chassis# 2002)

After the alliance of Monteverdi and Frua split off in Summer 1969, that bodyshell remained in the Frua works in Turin. A year or so later Frua changed some details on front and rear, including some semi-hidden headlamps which had been seen on the Iso Lele and the Iso Grifo, second series, before. The car was called AC 429; it remained a one-off.

3000ME

1979 AC 3000ME

The 1970s were not a good period for luxury car manufacturers and Derek Hurlock went searching for a totally new smaller car. Mid-engined designs were in fashion at the time and in 1972 the Diablo, a prototype with an Austin Maxi engine and transaxle, was built by privateers Peter Bohanna and Robin Stables.

In much the same way as they had taken up the Tojeiro prototype and turned it into the Ace, AC acquired the rights and at the 1973 London Motor Show showed their own version, the mid-engined ME3000 with the 3.0-litre Ford Essex V6 engine installed transversely over a bespoke AC-designed gearbox. Development was virtually complete in 1976 when new Type Approval regulations were introduced. A prototype failed the 30 mph (48 km/h) crash test, and the chassis had to be redesigned. On the second attempt, the car passed with flying colours. This was a huge achievement for a tiny firm—Vauxhall had to make several attempts before the contemporary Chevette passed. For AC, such delays meant that the first production cars (now renamed 3000ME) were not delivered until 1979, by which time they were in direct competition with the Lotus Esprit. Although comfortable, brisk, nicely built and practical, AC’s ambitions of selling 250 cars per year were a distant memory. After just 71 cars were sold, Hurlock called a halt to production as his health was suffering and the company was struggling in the teeth of a recession. In 1984, production stopped at Thames Ditton and the car and the AC name were licensed to a new company registered as AC (Scotland) plc run by David McDonald in a new factory in Hillington, Glasgow. Here, 30 cars were built, including a development car tested with Alfa Romeo‘s 2.5-litre V6 engine and a nearly complete Mark 2 prototype of the same. Regardless (or possibly because) of these developments, AC Scotland called in the receivers in 1985.

The End

After selling the historic High Street works for redevelopment, AC themselves soldiered on as a service operation in the “21st Century” works on Summer Road until the Hurlock family finally sold their holdings in 1986 to William West.

After some complex machinations the company was split between property interests and the car brand; the former was renamed and the latter was acquired by C.P.Autokraft’s owner Brian Angliss.

Autokraft era

In 1982 Brian Angliss was running Autokraft, a Cobra restoration shop, parts supplier and replica manufacturer. To further such pursuits, he acquired some of the tooling from Thames Ditton and created the MKIV; the car had US-spec 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers, a US-regulations compliant motor, and a larger interior with modern switchgear. About 480 cars were produced in his factory at Brooklands. He also produced a lightweight model which was more in tune with the original Cobra spirit, though it could not be exported to the US owing to federal regulations.