Briggs Motor Bodies was a British builder of automotive vehicle bodies, based in ?. The company was a subsidiary of the American Briggs Manufacturing Company. The company had sites in Croydon, Dagenham, Southampton and Romford which during WWII were supplemented by several shadow factories they operated for the Government making items such as Jerry Cans and Helmets (all pressed steel products). In 1953 they were taken over by Ford of Britain.
The Briggs body pressing plant pre-dated Fords factory which was set up to replace the small assembly operation at Trafford Park, Manchester which Ford had stared with to import cars for the UK market. As demand grew Ford decide to build a new UK integrated factory with direct access for shipping to bring in raw materials and parts & export finished vehicles. In 1953 they bought out Briggs Motors.
The Ford Southampton plant is a motor vehicle assembly plant, located in Swaythling. It is the current western European home to the production of the Ford Transit van. The plant, purposefully located on a 44-acre (180,000 m²) site near to Southampton Airport, was built as a shadow factory to assemble aircraft components for engineering firm Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft, opened by the Mayor of Southampton on 2 February 1939. At the outbreak of World War 2, its whole supply chain was switched to produce parts for the Supermarine Spitfire. Recognised as an important part of the British war effort, it was bombed on a number of occasions by the Luftwaffe, the first in September 1940. In the latter years of the war, the site was used to assemble the Spitfire.
After Cunliffe-Owen was placed in receivership in 1947, the factory was bought in 1949 by Briggs Motor Bodies, who supplied Ford of Britain with bodies for their vehicles. In 1953 Ford acquired Briggs, and hence gained control of the 630,000 square feet (59,000 m²) Southampton plant. From 1965, Ford had started to produce the Ford Transit in Great Britain, with bodies from Swayling shipped up the M3 motorway to be mated with chassis at the Langley, Berkshire factory, near Slough. In 1972, Ford of Britain invested £5M in the Southampton plant, enabling it to make the complete Transit van. The first Transit rolled off of the production line in the same year, given to the mayor to be used as a gift for a local charity.