Standard Vanguard pick up at Donnington Park 09 - IMG 6101small

A rare UK built early pickup at Donnington Park CV show in 2009

Standard Vangard reg TCV 432 in RAF livery at Boroughbridge CV 09 - IMG 8998

A rare standard Vangard pick up in RAF livery

The Standard Motor Company was founded in Coventry, England in 1903 by Reginald Walter Maudslay (1871-1934). The Standard name was last used in Britain in 1963, and in India in 1987.



The company was set up in a small factory in Much Park Street, Coventry, England and 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. This was soon replaced by a two cylinder model quickly followed by three and four cylinder versions and in 1905 the first six. As well as supplying complete chassis, the company found a good market in selling engines for fitting to other cars, especially where the owner was looking for more power. The company took a stand at the 1905 London Motor Show in Crystal Palace where a London Dealer, Charles (later Sir Charles) Friswell agreed to take the entire factory output. In 1907 Friswell became Chairman of the company and worked hard raising its profile culminating in supplying 70 cars for King George V and his entourage at the 1911 Delhi Royal Durbah. Friswell sold his interest in Standard in 1912 to C.J. Band and Siegfried Bettmann the founder of the Triumph Motor Cycle Company which later became the Triumph Motor Company. In 1914 Standard became a public company.

First World WarEdit

During World War I, the company produced over 1000 aircraft including the Royal Aircraft Factory BE12, Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8, Sopwith Pup and Bristol F.2 Fighter in a new works at Canley opened in 1916 which would become the main centre of operations in future.


Civilian car production restarted in 1919 with a range of small cars and by 1924 the company had a share of the market comparable to Austin, making over 10,000 cars in 1924, but by the late 1920s profits had fallen dramatically due to heavy reinvestment, a failed export contract and poor sales of the larger cars. In 1929 Captain John Black joined the board from Hillman as joint Managing Director and one thing he encouraged was the supply of chassis to external coachbuilders such as Jensen, Avon and Swallow Sidecar Company (which would become Jaguar). Reginald Maudslay left the company in 1934, and died shortly afterwards at the age of 64.

In the 1930s, fortunes improved with new models, the Standard Nine and Standard Ten which addressed the low to mid range market and at the Motor Show of 1935 the new range of Flying Standards was announced with semi streamlined bodies.

The Southwards Car Museum on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand has on display a Standard Flying V8 registered with an English number plate and which it claims only 350 were made. They state in their exhibit that 9 still exist in the world and New Zealand originally had 3 of them. The engine was a 20hp Side Valve (90 degrees) V8 and the car had a listed top speed of 85 mph (137 km/h). It cost 349 pounds sterling when new.

World War IIEdit

During World War II, the company continued to produce its cars but now mainly fitted with utility bodies ("Tillies"). However, the most famous war time product was the Mosquito aircraft, mainly the FB VI version of which over 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 Standard Beaverette a light armoured cars and a lightweight "Jeep" type vehicle.

The Post War yearsEdit

With peace the pre-war Standard Eight and Twelve cars were quickly back in production. Of greater significance was, in 1945, the purchase arranged by Sir John Black for £75,000 of the Triumph Motor Company, which had gone into receivership in 1939. Triumph was reformed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard called "Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited". Also, a lucrative deal was arranged to build the small Ferguson tractor which helped fill some of the large war time factory space. This arrangement was seen primarily by Black as a means to securing increased profits to fund new car development. The Ferguson company later bought the factory in Coventry.

A one-model policy for the Standard marque (alongside a range of new Triumphs) was adopted in 1948 with the introduction of the Standard Vanguard, which was styled on American lines by Walter Belgrove, and replaced all the carry-over pre-war models. 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 gave rise to variants such as the Sportsman, Ensign, Vanguard Vignale and Vanguard Six.

The one-model policy lasted until 1953 when a new Standard Eight small car was added. In 1954 the Eight was supplemented by the slightly more powerful Standard Ten which featured a wider chrome grill: the Ten was followed in its turn in 1957 by the Standard Pennant featuring (to modern eyes) implausibly 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 higher power and torque over the standard 948 cc unit. Another tuning package, featuring a different camshaft and twin carburetors, 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.

1958 saw the launch of the Standard Atlas panel van and pick up, 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 motor 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 competitively priced, which resulted in relatively fewer 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 was dropped by Leyland, and these models were hastily rebranded 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. As a point of interest, these vehicles were badged as "Triumphs" for export to Canada, and possibly other overseas markets.

By the later 1950s the small Standards were losing out in the UK market place to more modern competitor designs, and the Triumph name was felt 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.

Overseas assembly plants were opened in Australia, Canada, India and South Africa. Sir John Black stepped down from control of the company in 1954. Ill health was cited as the 'official' reason for his resignation but it is now known the Board of Directors requested he should leave. His deputy and long-time personal assistant, Alick Dick, took over. The company started looking for partners to enable continued expansion and talks were held with Chrysler, Massey-Harris-Ferguson, Rootes, Rover and Renault but these came to nothing.

The Standard-Triumph company was eventually taken over in 1960 by Leyland Motors Ltd who paid £20 million and the last Standard was produced in the UK in 1963, when the final Vanguard models were replaced by the Triumph 2000. Triumphs continued when Leyland became British Leyland Motor Corporation (later BL) in 1968. The Standard brand 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 acquired the Standard and Triumph brands following its purchase of BL's successor Rover Group in 1994. When most of Rover was sold off in 2000 BMW kept the Standard brand along with Triumph, MINI and 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 CityRover.

Standard in IndiaEdit

Main article: Standard (Indian automobile)

However, the Standard name lasted into the 1980s in India, where Standard Motor Products, Madras manufactured the Triumph Herald with the basic 948 cc engine as the Standard Herald in the 1960s, eventually with additional four-door and five-door estate models exclusively for the Indian market.

After 1970, Standard Motor Products split with British Leyland, and introduced a bodily restyled four-door saloon based on the Herald called the Standard Gazel in 1971, using the same 948 cc engine but with a live rear axle, as the Herald's 'swing-axle' one was not liked much by Indian buyers and mechanics alike. 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, badged as Standard 20, production of Standard cars ceased until the Standard 2000, a rebadged Rover SD1, was launched in 1985. The car rode higher and had a slightly modified old 1991 cc Standard Vanguard engine, as the company could not procure the license to use the original Rover engine on this car, and was thus not successful, apart from the reasons that it faced competition from cars with Japanese and other newer, fuel-efficient technology in India. It ceased production in 1987 and was the last car to bear the Standard name.

British car modelsEdit

Pre World War 1Edit

Year Type Engine Production Image
1903 6 hp 1006 cc side valve single cylinder
1904-1905 12/15 1926 cc side valve 2 cylinder
1905 16 hp 3142 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1905-1908 18/20 4714 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1906 10 hp 631 cc side valve 2 cylinder
1906 16/20 3531 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1906 24/30 5232 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1906-1912 50 hp 11734 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1907 15 hp 1593 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1907-1908 30 hp 5297 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1908-1911 20 hp 4032 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1908-1911 40 hp 6167 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1909-1911 16 hp 2688 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1910-1911 12 hp 1656 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1911-1914 20 hp 3620 cc (3336 cc from 1913) side valve 6 cylinder
1911-1912 15 hp 2368 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1912 25 hp 4032 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1913-1918 9.5 hp Model S 1087 cc side valve 4 cylinder


Year Type Engine Production Photo
1919-1921 9.5 hp Model SLS 1328 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1921-1923 8 hp 1087 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1921-1923 11.6 hp SLO 1598 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1922-1926 13.9 hp SLO-4 1307 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1923-1927 11.4 hp V3 1307 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1926-1928 13.9 hp V4 1944 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1927-1928 18/36 hp 2230 cc ohv 6 cylinder
1927-1930 9 hp 1153 or 1287 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1929-1933 15 hp 1930 or 2054 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1930-1933 9.9 hp Big Nine 1287 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1931-1935 20 hp Envoy 2552 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1932-1933 Little Nine 1006 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1932-1933 Little Twelve 1337 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1932-1933 Big Twelve 1497 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1934 12/6 1497 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1934-1935 10/12 Speed Model 1608 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1934-1936 Nine 1052 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1934-1936 Ten 1343 cc side valve 4 cylinder Standard Ten - MJ 7187 at Carrington 2011 - IMG 6652
1934-1936 Twelve 1608 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1934-1936 Sixteen 2143 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1935-1936 Twenty 2664 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1937-1938 Flying Ten 1267 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1937-1940 Flying Twelve 1608 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1937-1940 Flying Nine 1131 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1937-1940 Flying Light Twelve 1343 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1937-1940 Flying Fourteen 1608 cc or 1776 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1936-1940 Flying Sixteen 2143 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1936-1940 Flying Twenty 2663 cc side valve 6 cylinder
19367-1938 Flying V8 26868 cc side valve V-8 cylinder
1938-1940 Flying Eight 1021 cc side valve 4 cylinder


Year Type Engine Production Photo
1945-1948 Eight 1021 cc side valve four cylinder 383,139
1945-1948 Twelve 1608 cc side valve 4 cylinder 9959
1945-1948 Fourteen 1776 cc side valve 4 cylinder 22,229
1947-1953 Vanguard Phase I 2088 cc ohv 4 cylinder 184,799
1953-1955 Vanguard Phase II 2088 cc ohv 4 cylinder
2092 cc ohv 4 cylinder diesel
1953-1957 Eight 803 cc ohv 4 cylinder 136,317
1954-1956 Ten 948 cc ohv 4 cylinder 172,500
1955-1958 Vanguard Phase III 2088 cc ohv 4 cylinder 37,194
1956-1957 Sportsman 2088 cc ohv 4 cylinder 901
1957-1961 Ensign 1670 cc ohv 4 cylinder
2092 cc ohv 4 cylinder diesel
1957-1959 Pennant 948 cc ohv 4 cylinder 42,910
1958-1961 Vanguard Vignale 2088 cc ohv 4 cylinder 26,276
1960-1963 Vanguard Six 1998 cc ohv 6 cylinder 9953
1962-1963 Ensign II 2138 cc ohv 4 cylinder 2318 Standard Vanguard - NOX 569 at Armley Mills 2011 - IMG 2817

Military and commercialEdit

Year Type Engine Production
1940-1943 Beaverette 1,776 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1940-1944 12 hp Light Utility 1,608 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1943 Jeep 1,608 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1947-1958 12cwt 2,088 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1954-62 6cwt 948 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1958-1962 10 hp Atlas 948 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1962-1963 Atlas Major 1,670 cc ohv 4 cylinder
1962-1965 7cwt 1,147 cc ohv 4 cylinder

Tractors Models Edit

Built for Ferguson Ltd to market to the designs of Harry Ferguson

See alsoEdit

Australian Motor Industries- the Standard associated company in Australia

References / sourcesEdit

  • Wikipedia for base article

External linksEdit

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