Tag Archive: leyland motors


Herbert Austin (1866 – 1941) , was chief engineer at Wolseley Tool & Motor Company where we successfully developed smaller car. Unable to convince the management for manufacture of small cars, he left Wolseley.
In 1905, he created Austin Motor Company to design and manufacture cars.
A 1907 Austin 30hp car –

Austin Motor Company was manufacturing luxury as well as sports cars.

In 1922, Austin introduced the most famous car of all – Austin 7 , also known as the “Baby Austin“. This car was made with a 700 cc engine to beat the RAC tax which was based on engine capacity.
The Austin 7 was manufactured across the world , under license – by BMW as Dixi, in Japan as Datsun, in France as Rosengart and in the US as American Bantam.
In 1952 , Austin Motor Company and its major rival Morris Motor Company were merged to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Austin and Morris continued as separate brands
Renowned automobile engineer , Sir Alec Issigonis was recruited in to BMC to design a small car for BMC in response to the fuel shortages sparked off by Suez canal crisis. In 1959, BMC introduced the most famous car , the Mini – first as Morris Mini and later as Austin Mini.
In 1961, Sir Alec Issigonis and John Cooper of Cooper Car Company converted the Mini to a performance car and was born the Mini Cooper.
A 1963 Austin Mini Cooper

By 1966 , British Motor Corporation changed as British Motor Holdings (BMH) and in 1969 merged with Leyland Motors to form British Leyland Motor Corporation.
By 1969, the Austin Maxi was introduced –

In 1981, in a financial restructuring , the Austin and Rover brands were merged  to form the Austin Rover group (ARG) and later as Rover group when British Leyland was renamed as Rover.

A 1984  Austin Rover Montego

This car was sold in India as Rover Montego by Sipani Motors

The Austin/Rover/Morris/Mini brands went through a series of mergers and changed many hands , some of which were British Aerospace, BMW, Ford, MG , Nanjing Automobiles.
Currently the Austin/Rover brands are with Tata Motors and Mini brand with BMW.

The Austin logos –

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James Sumner (1860 – 1924) was a British Engineer involved in the manufacture of steam lawn movers and experimenting with self-propelled steam vehicles. In 1892 , he converted a tri-cycle to run on steam.

In 1895 , he designed and developed a 3 wheel steam car for Mr Theodore Carr.

In 1896 , he along with Henry Spurrier (1840 – 1922) and his sons Henry Spurrier II (1869 – 1942) and George Spurrier (1872 – 1946), formed the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland. In 1897 , they introduced the first steam wagon.

1899/1900 saw the introduction  of stem passenger vehicles which started the bus business. Below is the 1900 steam bus sold to Dundee Motor Omnibus. In fact the first export was a steam mail van to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

While the company was manufacturing bigger and better steam trucks and buses, they were experimenting with Petrol-engine power also. In 1904, they introduced the first Petrol-engine Lorry , named as “The Pig”.

In 1907 , Lancashire Steam Motor company was renamed as Leyland Motors , taking the name of the town where it was located.

Leyland continued its domination of the Lorry and Bus market , shifting out of steam to petrol. In 1920, they introduced their car – Leyland Eight.

Leyland Eight was sophisticated and expensive and did not sell well. It was stopped in 1923.

Leyland continued its domination in the Lorry and Bus segment. Leyland was the first to design buses to maximize passenger space which led to the driver sitting on one side of the engine as well as Double-Decker buses. Below is a 1906 Leyland bus and a Double-Decker bus.

Leyland also had the concept of “Leyland Zoo” where the trucks were named after animals , including Octopus for their multi-axle trucks.

After the acquisition of Standard Triumph in 1963, the company was renamed as Leyland Motor Corporation. In 1968 Leyland Motor Corporation merged with British Motor Holdings (BMH) to form the British Leyland Corporation (BLMC). This merger brought in a bouquet of cars (Morris, Austin, Wolseley, Siddley, Standard, Triumph, Rover) under the BLMC umbrella.

In 1975, after financial problems, BLMC was nationalised and renamed as British Leyland (BL). In 1986 , they acquired the Rover group. In 1987 , the DAF group of  Netherlands acquired BL and the company was renamed as Leyland DAF.

1993 saw the bankruptcy of DAF group which led to the management take over as well as splitting in to Leyland trucks LDV Limited (for Vans) Leyland Bus and spare parts division LEX.

In 1998 , Leyland truck was sold to PACCAR group of USA and prior to DAF bankruptcy, Leyland Bus was sold to Volvo in 1988.

The Leyland Logo –

In India , Leyland still lives on in the form of Ashok-Leyland.