What Automaker Started as a Motorcycle-Sidecar Business known as the Swallow Sidecar Company?

The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded on 4 September 1922 by two friends, William Walmsley, and William Lyons as both families lived on the same street in Blackpool, England. Walmsley has previously been making sidecars which he reconditioned into motorcycles.

Lyons, on the other hand, was his apprentice at Crossley Motors back in Manchester. Lyons had seen the commercial potential of the sidecars, he joined with Wamsley to obtain the Blackpool premises, which they had to get a £1,000 overdraft.

What Automaker Started out as a Motorcycle-Sidecar Business known as the Swallow Sidecar Company

They had a small team of employees set up and they started commercial production of motorcycle sidecars. The 2 partners with their vast experience in the industry became automakers that started as a motorcycle-sidecar business known as the Swallow Sidecar Company.

Slowly, the company started diversifying in 1926 and even changed its company name to Swallow Sidecar Company and Coachbuilding Company as they were doing car coachwork business now. 

Austin 7 is the first car that Lyons and Wamsley worked on and it was a popular but inexpensive vehicle. There was a dealer in Bolton known as Lancashire who supplied the Austin 7 chassis and was commissioned it by Cyril Holland who was a coachbuilder. They built a distinctive open tourer body which resulted in the 1927 Austin Seven Swallow.

This was priced at a mere £175 and it was brightly colored with 2 tones and a style that imitated the expensive cars at the time. Soon after that, they produced the Austin Seven Swallow Salon, which was a saloon version and now the company changed its name again to Swallow Coachbuilding Company.

The demand for the Swallows started increasing and this forced the company to move premises in 1928 to Holbrook Lane, Coventry. In 1929, the business had grown enough to even take part in the celebrated London Motor Show. At this time, 3 new Swallow models were released namely Standard, Swift, and Fiat. They also tried their hand at producing one-of-a-kind sports cars. The “First” SS(Standard Swallow) was sleek and streamlined which was trying to make the car fast and even venture into racing.

Lyons was now tired of outsourcing the chassis and he commissioned a custom chassis from the Standard Motor Company with a 2.5-liter Standard engine. He went ahead to showcase this at the 1931 Motor Show. With continuous success, they took over the coachbuilder Holbrook Bodies for expansion in 1933. In 1934, the company name changed to S.S Cars Ltd by Lyons and since Wamsley did not share the ambitions Lyons, he left the company.

In October 1935, the first four-door sedan with a standard engine was released with the help of Harry Weslakes suspended valves. These new SS models gained a lot of popularity since they were inexpensive. After the 2nd World War, due to the unfavorable connotations of the SS initials, the company changed its name to Jaguar Cars Ltd in 1945.

This is what we now know as Jaguar which is a luxury brand, the automaker that started as a motorcycle-sidecar business known as Swallow Sidecar Company. It has a long history and that is why it enjoys the goodwill it does at the moment.

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