Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust
Siddeley Special Gallery
In January, 1933 John Siddeley, CEO of Armstrong Siddeley Motors took the unusual step of launching a car under his own name and telling the world he considered it special. This was a vehicle of the highest quality, technically advanced, having, by the standards of the day, superb performance and yet a riding comfort second to none.
You may wonder what caused him to take this course of action, to read further please click here
Surviving Burlington bodied Specials the first two are Sports saloons on a SWB chassis. The third is a Touring Limousine on a LWB chassis, it had sports saloon shape with a rear compartment of Limousine dimensions.
This car is a Burlington bodied Special that was converted by Salmons and Son into a Tickford Landaulette.
This Special carries a body by Vanden Plas, it had non-functioning pram irons as the roof cannot be fully reclined.
The luxuriously appointed interior of the same Vanden Plas motor car.
Three more survivors, a Vanden Plas Tourer, a Burlington Sports Saloon (in Australia) and a Burlington Touring Limousine
The six cylinder ohv engine had a cubic capacity of 4960cc, with the main engine castings being built with an aluminium alloy known as "Hiduminium" which was developed for strength, durability and lightness for use in aero engines.
For full details see the technical data panel below.
The chassis was a double-down swept configuration with deep side members and well gusseted joints stiffened by tubular and pressed steel cross members.
The fingertip clutch less gear controls
The comprehensive instrumentation
Comfortable seating for a long drive
These images are of a Hooper bodied Special that was supplied new to the Italian Count Natale Labia, for full details of the interesting history of this car please click here
These images are of a 1934 Siddeley Special with a Lancefield Streamlined Sports Saloon body, perhaps not body beautiful but certainly striking. There are storage compartments fitted into the front wings.
These pictures are taken from outside coachbuilders brochures giving prospective customers an idea of how a Siddeley Special could look if they sent their rolling chassis to them for completion.
Technical Data Panel
The Siddeley Special Conundrum
This was no sudden decision as we know the end product was the result of a six year gestation period. It was not market led as this was a time when the UK was coming out of a recession and the Armstrong Siddeley company along with its competitors was manufacturing side valve lower capacity engined cars.
Perhaps there is a clue in that the 30hp car, John’s all-consuming project, which launched Armstrong Siddeley Motors, was still in production in the late 1920s. However despite upgrades to engine, chassis and body styling changes, sales were falling, and by December 1930 production had ceased. From about 1927 John Siddeley was quietly working on the development of the 30hp engine so it should be no surprise that the engine fitted to the Siddeley Special might bear a strong resemblance to that of the earlier car.
Another clue may be John Siddeley’s liking for large American cars. Remember the original 30 hp car shared many features with the Marmon car produced in the States. Again in about 1930, thanks to a Young Dr. Ainscow courting one of John Siddeley’s daughters he was persuaded to try the doctor’s Chrysler 75. A car swap ensued for a week and John Siddeley enjoyed the light controls and comfort of the Chrysler. It has been suggested that John Siddeley may have contributed some of his own money into the Special project so great was his commitment.
Could it be he was also giving thought to an easier life? After all having carried the company through one world war, preparing for what was feared to come, and as a man who had genuine concern for his work force as much as the company, with the strain of passing years, he might well be planning for the future.
When his sudden announcement of retirement came in 1935, aged 71, the 20hp car had established its place in the market and sales were very good. The Siddeley Special had made a strong impact in the high end of the market and certainly is the car in the Armstrong Siddeley range that is the one to which many aspire today. John had moved from bicycles to cars produced in his own name and now he had come full circle.
The time was right and thanks to the Siddeley Special, Sir John Davenport Siddeley, Baron Kenilworth did not retire with a whimper.