Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki

Swift 7 HP 1912

Swift 1926

The former Quinton Works, Cheylesmore, Coventry

The Swift Motor Company made Swift Cars in Coventry, England from 1900 until 1931. The company started as the Coventry Sewing Machine Co. in 1859. Then started making bicycles in 1869 and by 1898 was building motorcycles. Cars followed in 1900. The Swift Motors Company being founded in 1902 as a separate division. The company folded in 1932.


Founded by James Starley as a sewing machine maker in 1859, the Coventry Sewing Machine Company as it was then called, started making bicycles in 1869 and changed its name to Coventry Machinists. In 1896 they became the Swift Cycle Company and started to make motor cycles in 1898. Swift made their first single-cylinder car in 1900 using an MMC engine. It had an unusual transmission system involving an unsprung two ratio rear axle. This proved unreliable and was replaced by a more conventional layout in 1903. In 1902 a separate company was formed for motor vehicle production and registered as the Swift Motor Company.[1] Production had originally been in the Cheylesmore Works but car assembly moved to a new factory, Quinton Works in Mile Lane in 1906.[2]

The first Swift-engined car was the twin-cylinder 7, later 10, horse power of 1904. This was shortly afterwards joined by the four cylinder 12/14 which continued in a bewildering number of guises until the First World War.

As well as the cars made by the Swift Motor Company, in 1904 a single-cylinder 700 cc cyclecar was produced by the Swift Cycle Company Ltd. This car carried a cloverleaf emblem on its radiator and this was adopted by all the cars.

In the years 1909–11 another single-cylinder 7 hp car was manufactured, this time with 1100 cc. This car was also sold by Austin as the first Austin 7.

A larger car, the 15, with a 3-litre engine was added to the range in 1913, and this continued to just post-war. During the First World War, car production ceased.

After the war ended, the Cycle Car company was merged with the main company as Swift of Coventry. The range was simplified with the excellent 1100 cc 10 continuing and joined by a 2-litre 12 with a 4-speed gearbox. A new 10 was launched in 1923 as the Q type with coil ignition, electric starting, optional front wheel brakes and a top speed of 55 mph (89 km/h). Standard front wheel brakes were added in 1926 and the engine was bored out to 1190 cc to become the P type. The engine grew again to 1307 cc in 1929 when the car became the P2.

Harper Bean, who also made Bean Cars, bought 50% of Swift's ordinary shares in 1919,[2] but got into severe financial difficulties later that year, seriously affecting the company's finances.

The 12 was replaced by the 12/35 in 1925 with front wheel brakes, plate clutch plus an increase of 24 inches (610 mm) in the wheelbase.

The final Swift car was the 1930 Cadet, which was an attempt to compete with the £100 cars. This had an 850 cc Coventry Climax engine and a price of £149 for the tourer and £165 for the saloon but Swift was too small to compete with the likes of Ford and Morris, and closed in 1931 after its suppliers foreclosed on their debts. Coventry Climax were left with a number of engines from the Cadet model, which they used as the basis of their Second World War fire pump engine designated FSM, the SM standing for Swift Motors.

Principal Swift cars

Year Type Engine Production
1904-8 7/8 905 cc side valve two cylinder
1904–1907 9/10 1399 cc side valve 2 cylinder
1904–1907 12/14 1348 cc side valve 3 cylinder
1909–1911 7 1100 cc side valve single cylinder
1905 9 1703 cc side valve 2 cylinder
1905–1907 16 2672 or 2799 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1908–1912 10/12 1560 or 1778 cc side valve 2 cylinder
1908–1912 15/18 3119, 2308 or 2724 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1908 25/30 4942 cc side valve 6 cylinder
1909 18/20 3556 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1912–1914 8 hp 1362 or 1526 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1913–1914 15 and 16/20 3052 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1913–1914 10 1328 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1913–1924 12 (12/35 from 1925) 1940 cc side valve 4 cylinder approx 1500[3]
1914–1915 11.9 1795 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1914–1915 15.9 2610 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1915–1922 10 ED 1122 cc side valve 4 cylinder approx 1500[3]
1915–1930 15 2938 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1922–1927 Ten (Q-Type, QA from 1925) 1097 cc side valve 4 cylinder approx 4500[3]
1924 18/50 2951 cc side valve 4 cylinder prototype only
1925–1930 14/40 1954 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1926–1931 P-Type (2P from 1928, 3P from 1929, 4P from 1930 and 5P in 1931) 1190 cc side valve 4 cylinder
1930-31 Cadet 847 cc Coventry Climax side valve 4 cylinder approx 250[3]

Quinton Works

The former Quinton Works (side view)

The Quinton Works with frontages on Quinton Road and Mile Lane in Cheylesmore, Coventry, originally built in 1890 for S & B Gorton for cycle manufacture, was acquired in 1905 by the Swift Motor Company, who made a motor cycle and a motor tricycle in 1898, and a conventional car by 1901 in their Cheylesmore Works in Little Park Street, but needed more factory space.[4] The frontages of the Quinton Works have been preserved and the building is now used as a hotel.


  1. Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Race is not to the Swift", The Automobile 26: 24–29. June 2008. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Baldwin, N. (1994). A-Z of Cars of the 1920s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-53-2. 
  4. "A brief history of Swift Motor vehicles". The Swift Club. Retrieved on 7 September 2007.

External links

Template:Swift Motor Company range

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Swift Motor Company. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia