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Homepage. This page: A selection of old photos, all featuring examples of the Armstrong Siddeley motorcar.
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Armstrong Siddeley motor cars.

In their day they were regarded as quality motorcars for the well-to-do and discerning motorist. Nowadays they are quite a rare sight, time having taken it's toll on most examples, with few being restored to as-new condition due to the costs involved. This page is given over to the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire of the 1950s, with two different examples featured here. I'd be interested to receive more period shots of the Sapphire, if anyone has any to share please. The first photo is from my own collection, it shows a smartly dressed lady, posing at the front of LFN 410. The car was registered sometime after September 1955, in the Canterbury area. Does anyone know where it ended up?
Front view of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire

2. Ivan's images of his family's 1953 Sapphire.

Ivan sent these images over, they are stills taken from an old family movie.
Images of another A/S Sapphire
He adds: "My father purchased it new circa 1953 from Reah Brothers, who were Armstrong Siddeley main agents in Newcastle upon Tyne. He owned it for 9 or 10 years. Selwood Garages in South Shields had a new paint shop installed during that time, and my father was persuaded to have the Sapphire re-sprayed (I am not sure when) gold over black, simply for cosmetic reasons. I recollect Selwood did a pretty good job of the respray. It was originally dark grey over light grey. One of the key fobs which came with the car was put in a drawer and forgotten about, and I still have it as a keepsake."
"It was one of the first Sapphires received by Reah Bros from the factory a fact that is evidenced by the chrome strip down the centre of the boot lid. This was omitted on later models. As you say there was a single & twin carb model. STN 468 was a single carb model. If it was parked facing up a steep incline the fuel would drain out of the carb & the engine would not start. The car had to be rolled back to level ground.
Another major design problem was that there were no door sills. The doors simply butted up at right angles to the floor of the car. This made exit and entry to the car very easy but the door seal between the base of the door, which was about a foot wide at its leading edge, and the floor could not cope with the road dirt and water that was thrown up. The upshot of this was that the inside door panels were prone to rot.
STN 468 had a 4 speed manual gear box. I think the option which you mention was a Wilson pre-selector gear box with a fluid flywheel which was a feature of a number of A/S models."

3. A Sapphire snapped on holiday.

Fredric sent this photo over for identification, it shows his father sat behind the wheel of the family's Sapphire. The location was Stanley in Perthshire. The car was registered NFG 595, a Fife-area registration first used in August 1954. Also in shot are various holiday chalets, tents, and I think a lone Anglia estate.
An Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire in Scotland

4. A back yard scene.

This large-scale photo isn't dated, but I'd guess it hails from the early 1960s, if the style of the people shown is anything to go by. A young chap, perhaps with his mum, is seen stood in a back yard, with a small boat in the midst of a mild restoration and re-paint. The Armstrong-Siddeley parked in the background has also received the attentions of a spray can, leaving it with a mottled, slightly down-at-heel appearance, a far cry from how it's two-tone finish would have glistened in the mid-1950s. The car to the right of shot - now identified as a pre-war Sunbeam - looks even more dowdy and un-loved, its demeanour typical of countless 30+ year old cars by the early '60s, many having fallen foul of the recently-introduced Ten Year Test. What its future held is anyone's guess - it certainly looks quite grimy in this photograph. Its registration is obscured so its identity, as with that of the Armstrong Siddeley, remains a mystery. I wonder what, if anything, resided in the wooden garage behind the two cars?
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
An Armstrong Siddeley parked in a back yard somewhere

5. A Sapphire 346 at Castle Bromwich airfield.

A colour photo next, from the 1960s. The location is the former WW2 airfield at Castle Bromwich. Keith's dad ran a plant firm from buildings on the site, hence this photo of his dad's Sapphire with items of plant just visible in the background. Also note the wartime hangar in the background. Excellent photo. Thanks also for the smaller b&w shot, showing the Armstrong Siddeley parked outside on a particularly snowy day. Brrr.
Regarding this car, Keith adds:
"That was a lovely car. Dad had bought the Armstrong from a lady in Sutton Coldfield. I remember going with him to view it. It was on blocks with the wheels removed and covered in Vaseline. He bought it for a song. Later when driving it around he was approached by unsavoury characters. It turned out the car had belonged to a doctor who had been imprisoned for illegal abortions & was well known to the local working girls. Needless to say the reg was changed, to 187 KHA."
Colour photo of a 346 Sapphire
The same car covered in snow

A look at the most popular model, the Sapphire 346.

The Sapphire model was produced, in various incarnations, from 1952 to 1960. Most popular was the Sapphire 346, of which over 7,600 examples were built. It was in fact the first Sapphire offered on the model's launch in 1952, for the 1953 season. It was propelled by a 3.4 litre straight six engine, with hemi-spherical combustion chambers and could either produce either 125 or 150 bhp, depending on whether the twin carburettor option was chosen. Buyers could also choose either four- or six-light bodywork, ie two or three side windows, and twin front seats, or alternatively a bench seat, in leather naturally. As befitting a car of quality, the heater was standard fitment in the Sapphire, something that was far from the norm with many cars of that era. Initially you could opt for either a four speed manual gearbox, or the electrically-controlled pre-selector at extra cost. In 1954 an automatic box would also be offered.
Other variations on the Sapphire theme were as follows. From 1955 to 1958 there was the 234. This used a four cylinder engine of 2290cc, but only 803 buyers plumped for this version. The 236 was built alongside the 234 for much of the latter's production run, utilising the 2.3 litre (ex-Whitley) six cylinder engine for propulsion. Generally they were purchased with Manumatic (clutchless) transmission, but a traditional manual 'box was also available.
In 1958 the Sapphire was replaced by the Star Sapphire. The engine now displaced 3990cc, and the twin carbs were now a standard feature, as were various other mechanical improvements. A prototype Star Sapphire Mk2 was built, but didn't go into production.
Return to Old Car Photos Page No. 9. A number of free advertisements for Armstrong Siddeleys feature in the classifieds section, so if you own one of these fine cars, this section may be of interest. Some earlier Armstrong Siddeley motorcars feature elsewhere in the old photographs section.

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