A History of the Standard Motor Company.

By courtesy of: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the following information can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Motor_Company


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 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 War

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-B 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 (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 II

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 Beaverette light armoured cars and a lightweight "Jeep" type vehicle.

The Post War years

With peace the pre-war 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.

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 Phase II Vanguard came with a 2088cc 4 cylinder "wet sleeve" engine producing a whopping 68 HP, the engine could be modified with usage of an additional intake system and two single barrel Solex carburetors which thus produced 90 HP. Typically the Phase II engine was one Solex carburetor, with 85mm by 93mm pistons. Standard Motors at the time supplied many of these engines to Ferguson Tractor distributed in the United States. 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. The van's tooling was also exported to India after UK production ceased, where the resultant vehicle continued in production until the 1980s.

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 Group, 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.

Australian History
Pre-war and post-war Flying Standards had their bodies built in Australia by coach builders like Richards of Adelaide, Floods and Holden.
The Australian assembled phase one had vinyl seats instead of leather and no centre or door arm rests. 
The bonnet emblem on the Australian built phase two was a kangaroo rather than the rocket used on the fully imported cars. The name Spacemaster was used on the phase two and, until 1958, on the phase three. 

1956 Vanguard Spacemaster PhIII.

Released March 1956.  This model is characterised by having a one piece front screen, open mouthed grille with large centre horizontal bar.  The model had no chrome side mouldings with large red taillight lenses which proved a controversial talking point upon the PhIII's release owing to the size of them. The deluxe version, badged accordingly, had arm rests front and rear incorporated into the leather seats.
The "Spacemaster" tag was unique to Australia; no car in the UK was badged "Spacemaster". A duo colour scheme was offered with lashings of chrome work on the front doors. UK cars and those exported to South Africa had a chrome strip running the full length of the car and were badged as a Vanguard. Quite a few of these cars found their way to Australia private imports. 

1957 Vanguard Spacemaster

This model was essentially a '56 in a reworked -party frock-. Unique to Australia, this model was characterised by a -chook wire- grille and thin chrome finishing strips on the side. Fins appeared on the back quarter panels to combat the gawdy American influence. A metal finishing strip appeared below the sills. Bumperbars were dropped below the stonetrays with a finishing chrome strip around the edge of the stone trays. The bumper irons on this model were a hand made work of art.
A vertical dust deflector appeared below the taillights. Interior wise, the seat coverings were of a cheaper material, the upper dash sported padding and the cumbersome horn ring disappeared along with a simpler steering wheel. The model had some outrageous colour schemes both inside and out and became known as the -Kaleidoscope Model-. The mortality rate on this model has been very high. There are very few left, making the model a worthwhile restoration project. Sydney still has a few original examples. 
1958 Vanguard Vignale.
Bodywork given a work over by Vignale and the practical application done by Michelotti. The main changes include large front and rear windows, new attractive grille, new bumpers and over-riders, new front park and blinker clusters and a new bonnet badge. The wheels went from 16- to 15-. Attractive wheel trims were fitted with the dual purpose of cooling the bigger brakes and improving the appearance. A larger gearbox crossmember was fitted to improve the ride as were redesigned rear springs.
A cross-drilled crankshaft was fitted and a high compression head was offered, identified by the stamping "HC" on the side of the head. Interior changes saw soft vynide seat coverings, upper and lower dash padding and the appearance of kilometres as well as miles on the speedo. Westminster carpet appeared in the rear and along the interior sills. The interior light was moved from the side pillar to just in front of the larger rear view mirror. The tool kit was mounted on the petrol tank cover.

 Differentiating between '58 and '59.

The later '59 had the primary colours reversed. For instance sebring white would be found on the bonnet and boot. Early cars had a yellow horn badge and yellow bonnet badge. Late '59 cars had black horn and bonnet badges. Later cars had hard plastic facia padding; early cars had soft vynide facia padding. 
1960 Vanguard Vignale.
Essentially a '59 with redesigned tail light clusters. The quarter panels at the rear are identical to a '59, but the matchbox tail light clusters gave the car a modern appearance. It was reported that Sir John Black hated the Australian fins and was heard to say -get them off- in no uncertain terms following a visit to the Australian factory in late '59. Hence, the fins were gone on this model.
The side trim at the same time changed to the English style and the name Vignale was used for the first time in Australia, but it was positioned about an inch lower down. This was changed midway through 1962 to the same height as the imported models. The bonnet ornament became just letters and the 4 cylinders were closer together than the 6 shown here. Interior wise there was one change made.
1963 Phase III Vanguard, 6 cylinder 4 speed floor shift. 
1962 Phase 111 six cylinder


The Vanguard Six was released in March 1961. The first-off model can be identified by a shorter oil filter housing taking a squat oil filter, and bonnet letters that were close together like its predecessor the 1960 Vanguard Vignale. The radiator filler cap also appeared on one side of the header tank. 

Three months into the model, the bonnet letters were spread approximately two inches, a larger oil filter was fitted and the radiator cap conventionally appeared on the radiator. 

1962. The grey headlining was discontinued in preference of a white head lining. Mid '62 saw a springloaded boot mechanism introduced. Midway through July 1962 bowed chromework appeared to give the car a sleek appearance side-on. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of high-rise or bowed chromework, stand at the side of the car and look at the line of chrome. A gentle rise towards the door handle indicates a late six with high-rise or bowed chromework. If you can just touch the chrome with your thumb under the door handle your car has late chromework. Estate cars also had high-rise chromework from July 62 onwards. (Fully imported cars had high-rise chrome even on the 4cyl. Model Ed.). Sept and Oct -62 saw a very attractive white inlay behind the front bench seat. 

1963 Main changes included straight through chrome on the front guards. Over-riders spread to the outer edges of the bumpers, front and rear. Bonnet letters were dropped two inches and spread across the bonnet. The vertical grille supports were blacked out. The chrome bonnet strips removed. The interior seats were redesigned but used to sag-particularly on the driver's side. All the exterior changes were made to make the car look modern and low slung. 

Not long after the Vanguard Six was introduced, overdrive, automatic transmission and a four speed floor change with optional overdrive was available. AMI fiddled with the torque converter in later automatic cars and by '63, the car had good performance. 
Mid '63 the State Electricity Commission ordered, on a trial basis, half a dozen 4 speed Vanguard Six utes. The SEC employees, showing a reluctance to anything new, gave them a hiding. They took it admirably, so the management ordered 1000 vehicles which kept the ute in production untill mid '64. 
1963 Phase III Vanguard
1914 Colonial Coupe by Rhyl owned by the National Trust of Victoria. 9 or 9.5 hp originally a military vehicle.
1914 Colonial Coupe
1914 Colonial Coupe
1927 Standard 14/28, body designed and built by Garry Graham, based on Standard models of the era.
Flying Standard 8 & 10
1939 Flying Standard 8 Tourer.
1946 Flying Standard 8 Tourer.
1946 Flying Standard 2 door sedan
1946 Flying Standard 14 Drop Head Coupe
Standard 8  & 10
1953 Standard 8.
1957 Standard 10
1958 Standard Super 10
Standard 10.


On 31st of December 1945, the goodwill of the Triumph Company was purchased and - as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Standard Motor Company - the Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited was formed. Leyland took over Standard Triumph in August 1960.
1946 The first Standard built Triumph was the 1800 Roadster
1950 Triumph Mayflower
1952 Triumph Renown.
1960 Triumph Herald sedan

Vanguards were sold in Australia between 1948 & 1964.

1948 Original Vanguard Ph I.
1949 - Ph I
1951 Phase I
1959 Ph III sedan