Lancaster spot on

with fans of style

Armstrong Siddeley Lancaster

ONE British car company that hit the ground running was the late lamented Armstrong Siddeley which created some cars that were so individual in style that they were almost art forms.

The company chose the names of famous British warplanes for its 1940s cars and firstto take offon the week that hostilities ended in Europe was the Lancaster, a four-door saloon which was a rugged set of wheels in a very British style.

But there was a touch of the mysterious east about the car because it bore on the bonnet the company's famous Sphynx mascot which marked it as something special.

As a boy the Lancaster fired up one of those life changing moments in which I developed a passion for cars. I felt that the styling of the car was unsurpassed and I still do.

I never got to own one but I did drive one or two and they were just truly wonderful essays on how to arrive and depart in true style.

The Lancaster was produced until 1952 when it was superseded by the Whitley and 3597 were made.

It featured an all new chassis with independent front suspension using torsion bars and a live rear axle with leaf springs. Braking was by a Girling hydro-mechanical braking system with the front drums hydraulically operated while those at the rear used rod and cable.

Wire wheels were an option but they were rarely chosen because this was not really a sports saloon,being more a stylish carriage.

Early Lancasters were powered by a 70bhp 1,991cc six-cylinder engine, carried over from the pre-war 16hp model but from 1949 this grew to 2,309cc. There was a choice of fou- speedsynchromesh manual or a pre-selector gearbox.

Construction was in the old style with steel and aluminium panels over a wooden frame and after some years of used they became very creaky.

The Lancasters were very rugged but their Achilles' heel was rust due in some part to the poor quality steel that was supplied after the war.

In addition to a pre-selector option, the Lancaster featured a novel amber warning light that indicated a bulb failure.

Armstrong Siddeley went on to produce some breathtaking cars such as the Sapphire and Star Sapphire but the march of progress, and a troubled industry saw its demise, which was a sad day for Britain.


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