Tag Archive: bsa


Frederick Lanchester (1868 – 1946), one of the most famous automotive engineers from England, started his career building engines for boats. In 1895, he developed a four-wheeled, 5 hp petrol engine vehicle equipped with an epicyclic gear box with 2 forward speeds and a reverse. Even though this was one of the most advanced motor cars of that time, it did not run successfully owing to transmission problems.

The 1895 car was modified and was operated successfully in 1897. The car was very robust with almost no vibration due the presence of harmonic mass balancer in the engine. Lanchester was the first British car to use its own engine and transmission on the car

In 1899, along with brothers George Lanchester (1874 – 1970) and Frank Lanchester, the Lanchester Engine Company was formed to manufacture engines and cars. The company was renamed as Lanchester Motor Company in 1904.

Some of the most famous models were the various models of Lanchester 10 between the 1900s and 1940s and the Lanchester 40 which rivaled Rolls-Royce

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1904 – Lanchester 10                       1946 – Lanchester 10

Lanchester 40

Frederick Lanchester was known for his new innovative technologies and was the first to invent a wick carburetor to run petrol engines as early as 1890s. The most famous invention of the Lanchester was the Lanchester Balancer , a harmonic mass balancer used to balance a straight 2-cyl or 4-cyl engines., using 2 balance shafts running at twice the crankshaft speed in opposite directions. These Lanchester Balancers are used in many modern straight 4-cylinder engines to balance the typical 2nd order vibrations. One of the modern example is the Mitsubishi “Silent Shaft” design.

The Lanchester logo –

Lanchester Motor company was taken over by BSA group in 1930 and integrated in to the Daimler division. BSA/Daimler/Lanchester was taken over by Jaguar in 1960 and later on passed on to FORD PAG. Currently the brand is with TATA Motors of India when they acquired the Jaguar – Landrover from FORD.

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Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) was founded 1861 by a group of 14 gunsmiths of the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association. BSA was founded to meet the challenge of Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield who started using machines to manufacture arms more efficiently and cheaply.

With demand for small arms reducing , the small arms business was shut down in 1879. In order to utlise the manufacturing facilities , BSA expanded in to manufacture of bicycles. In 1880 the first Di-cycle was manufactured.

A 1880 BSA Di-cycle

BSA was one of the leading bicycle manufacturer till about 1887, when the demand for small arms peaked again. BSA reverted to manufacture of arms for the military.
BSA experimented with Motor cars in 1907 with a Itala design car which won the 1907 Peking – Paris race.

A 1907 BSA car

In 1908 BSA restarted bicycle production and continued till 1957 , when it was sold to Raleigh cycles. Motorcycles production was started in 1909 and continued till 1973 when it was sold to Norton-VilliersTriumph.
In 1910 , BSA acquired Daimler Motor Company which was in financial difficulty. BSA started using Daimler engines in their cars as well as re-badged the Daimler cars as BSA cars. In 1932, BSA/Daimler acquired Lanchester Motor Company.
BSA was the first company to introduce a mass produced Front wheel drive car in 1929. The car was a 3 wheeler with 2 front wheels and one rear wheel.

A 1930 BSA 3 Wheeled car

Later BSA carried on the Front wheel design to a 4 Wheeled car and can be considered as pioneers in front wheel drive cars.

A 1931 BSA front wheel drive car – TW 5

One of the most famous BSA cars was the BSA Scout.

A 1935 BSA Scout and a 1938 BSA Scout

After the WWII , BSA shifted back to Rear wheel drive cars.

Financial troubles at BSA led to Jaguar Cars acquiring BSA in 1960. In between 1966 and 1968 , they were part of BMC (British Motor Corporation) and BMH (British Motor Holdings). In 1968 BSA/Daimler/Lanchester/Jaguar became part of the reorganised and nationalised British Leyland (BL). In 1984, BSA/Daimler/Lanchester along with Jaguar cars became independent of British Leyland. Ford PAG acquired Jaguar cars in 1989 and later sold it off to Tata Motors in 2007.
In 2016, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd bought the BSA brand and plan to re-introduce the brand in India.

The BSA Logos –

Siegfried Bettman (1863 – 1951) , a German by descent , was importing and selling bicycles and sewing machines in England. In 1886, he created S. Bettman and Co for importing bicycles and selling under the name “Triumph“. In 1887, the company was renamed as  Triumph Cycle Company and later as New Triumph Company Ltd. In 1888 manufacturing bicycles were started in England on the insistence of his partner Moritz Schulte.
Triumph expanded in to motorcycles in 1902 and the first motorcycle was fitted with a Minerva engine.
In 1907 , Triumph started manufacturing their own engines as well as used engines designed by the famous Sir Harry Ricardo. During the war , Triumph motorcycles were used by the Allied army.
A 1914 Triumph Model H motorcycle used by the army –
A 1924 Triumph Ricardo Motorcycle –
While continuing to make and excel in motorcycles, Triumph expanded in to manufacture of cars. In 1921, they acquired the Dawson Car Company and launched their first car in 1923 – a Triumph 10/20
In 1930 the company was renamed as Triumph Motor Company and  launched the very successful Triumph Super 7 , in competition to the Austin 7 car.
Unable to keep in pace with the competition, Triumph shifted its focus from small car to large and luxury cars. Successful models like the Triumph Gloria followed.
By 1944 the company was bankrupt and was sold to Standard Motor Company. Standard Motors shifted Triumph to performance and sports cars and continued to sell normal cars under the Standard brand name.
A 1955 Triumph TR2

 

Triumph changed many hands in the following years – 1960 Leyland Motors; 1968 British Leyland Motor Corporation ; 1986 Rover group; 1994 BMW. When BMW sold the Rover holdings , it retained the Triumph brand  and the brand name is currently with BMW.
The last Triumph was a 1983 Triumph Acclaim

 

While the Triumph cars ceased production, the motorcycle continues till date. In 1936 the motorcycle division was sold to Ariel Motor Cycle Company and was renamed as Triumph Engineering Company Ltd. In 1951, the Triumph Engineering Company was taken over by BSA.  In 1956 , BSA sold off the bicycle division to Raleigh Bicycle company but retained the motorcycle division. In 1971 , the Triumph Motorcycle Division was sold to Norton-Villiers to become Norton-Villiers-Triumph (NVT). In 1977 NVT was sold to The Meridien Motorcycle Co-operative to become the Triumph Motorcycle (Meridien). 1983 saw the bankruptcy of Triumph and a builder /property developer John Bloor invested in Triumph to keep the brand alive till date as Triumph (Hinckley).

A 2011 Triumph Thunderbird Storm

The Triumph Logos –
A Triumph Bicycle head logo
A Triumph Motorcycle Logo –
A Triumph Car Logo –

LEON BOLLEE

Leon Bollee (1870 – 1913) was born in to a family of French entrepreneurs involved in the manufacture of church bells to steam cars. In 1889, Leon Bollee invented a mechanical calculating machine, probably the world’s first calculator. In 1895 , Leon Bollee constructed the first car , a 3-wheeler and called it a voiturette.
See the operation a Leon Bollee here with its hot tube ignition and starting procedures
Leon Bollee produced the first 4 wheel car in 1899 and by the time the demand for small cars were going down as the engine sizes increased. Leon Bollee manufactured the first big car in 1903 and by 1910, was manufacturing cars equipped with engine sizes ranging from 8 litres to 11 litres. Some of the Leon Bollee cars – a 1904 Leon Bollee and a 1911 Leon Bollee.
Leon Bollee automobiles was taken over by Morris Motor company in 1924 with the intention of selling Morris cars under the Leon Bollee brand in France. The partnership did not succeed as planned and finally Leon Bollee closed its operation by 1931-33.
The Logo of Leon Bollee and Morris Leon Bollee –