In the world of motoring and ‘petrol heads’, there are many events which have become annual traditions. None more so than the autumn International Motor Show. Those who attended were a very mixed bag, ranging from the catalogue collectors to some who actually wanted to choose and make the purchase of their next transport. The Siddeley name featured from 1904 at these yearly events held first at Crystal Palace, then Olympia and finally, as a manufacturer of the Armstrong Siddeley marque at Earls Court in 1959.
In our first picture this week we see War Hero and Actor Richard Todd. Perhaps he is best remembered for his leading role in the film ‘The Longest Day’ (1962) in which he relived many of his memories of parachuting into Normandy during the D. Day landings. Here we see him discussing with stand staff the merits of the Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire, which he then went on to purchase.
In our second picture this week we feature the 1956, Sapphire 346 which was the mobile test bed for the then future model which would be named the Star Sapphire and launched at the 1958 Motor Show. On the stand that year Armstrong Siddeley exhibited two examples of the new Star and a 346 Sapphire Limousine. An extremely well-kept secret was that with just a spruce up for the show, the second car exhibited was TDU 707 the former 346 Sapphire now morphed into the Star prototype. Number plate covers were used on the cars at this show to give model identification, as in the case of TDU 707 the registration below would have been a bit of a give a way. At this time the car had covered over 250,000 miles in testing and development.
After the show, factory development and testing continued. It was then purchased by the chief engineer in charge of the project. With further usage in private ownership the mileage is now just short of 400.000 miles.
TDU 707 is a land mark vehicle in the history of Armstrong Siddeley and till recently the car was in safe storage. Sadly changing circumstances caused it almost to be lost to the world of scrap. Fortunately the Heritage Trust was able to purchase it and so save it for posterity. Our third picture shows the car as it is today.