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Pictures from the Heritage Archives

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Armstrong Siddeley in Advertising

By now we are becoming familiar with the colourful prose emanating from the Armstrong Siddeley in house publicist W G McMinnies. For an advertisement on 23rd September 1933 he penned these words. ‘Three years of research, Three years of testing, passed before Sir John was satisfied this car was right'.

With the publication of the King's Birthday Honours list in the previous year,1932, a Knighthood was conferred on John Siddeley for his services to the mechanical development of the armed forces. Hence McMinnies's reference to 'Sir John'. But what was so special concerning this car?

Therein lies a clue.

John Siddeley back in 1928 decided that the cars he was manufacturing were an equal to the considered top brands of the day - Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lagonda etc and any of these pesky American interlopers. To this end he decided to produce a car worthy of a place in the top listings, despite the market trend veering away from this sector. It might be said that this was a very personal ambition, which is probably confirmed in that only the Siddeley name appeared on the car radiator badge.

The new Siddeley Special was by any standards a large car, based on chassis lengths of 11 or 12 feet, having a 5 litre engine, power assisted preselective gears and lavish body work, all of which weighed in at around two tons. Despite this weight the car was no slouch and the early models easily reached 130mph. The roads of the day, were as we have said before, not really ready for such performance and there had been reports of ‘close encounters' which led to the cars being restricted to a genuine 100mph ability at John's instruction.

In the picture above is a Vanden Plas bodied Special Tourer which was the Experimental Department and Coventry demonstrator car. Here posed by the publicity department in this charming family based setting with junior in an expensive toy car of the period. Those of us who actually watch adverts on television will recall a current advert using the same format. Nothing new in advertising or under the sun!

(Part two next time.)


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