By Rod Ward
This car marque combines two great names in British industrial history. Sir William Armstrong (1810–1900) was a Victorian ‘self-made man’. He trained as a solicitor, but was interested in engineering. In his 30s he set up a firm to build hydraulic cranes, and soon expanded into many other fields of engineering, his firm eventually becoming the enormous Armstrong Whitworth combine. In the 20th century the organisation he founded continued to expand into new areas, including cars and aircraft. In 1919 Armstrong Whitworth took over the Siddeley Deasy company, which had been successful in both car and aircraft design, under the control of John Davenport Siddeley (1866-1953). JDS was a remarkable man, a true 20th century visionary and industrialist, a stickler for disciplined thinking and hard work. As we see in this book, he worked for other car makers, eventually running the Siddeley Deasy company, building motor vehicles and aircraft until the takeover by Armstrongs, who nearly ran the firm into the ground. He took out a personal loan in 1927 to buy the firm back, and transformed it into a market leader in aviation and automobiles. His company became a cornerstone of the Hawker Siddeley Group from 1935 onwards. Armstrong Siddeley cars were made from 1919 to 1960, and they are the constant thread which holds this story together.