The Guy Car

Sydney S. Guy founder and Managing Director.

Sydney Slater Guy, the founder of Guy Motors was born in 1885 and grew up in the King's Heath area of Birmingham. After serving an apprenticeship at Bellis and Morcom he moved to the Humber Car Company of Coventry after obtaining the post of Service Manager.

In June 1909 he moved to Wolverhampton to become Works Manager at the Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited.

At the end of 1913 Sydney Guy left Sunbeam in order to start his own business.

In May 1914 he founded Guy Motors Limited, based at a new factory in Park Lane, Fallings Park, Wolverhampton.

Plans and finance for the new venture must have been well in hand before he left Sunbeam because production began almost immediately after the formation of the company.

Sydney Guy at the wheel of a 1910 prototype Sunbeam car.

Guy Motors began to produce commercial vehicles, and would eventually become one of the country's leading vehicle manufacturers. On 4th August, 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and the factory was commandeered by the War Department for munitions work.  Soon the factory produced not only lorries, but tank engines, aero engines, and depth charge firing mechanisms for the Admiralty.

After the war full-scale vehicle production restarted at the works, but sales were hampered by the thousands of cheap army surplus lorries that were sold by the Army Disposal Board. Possibly with this in mind, Guy Motors decided to diversify and began to manufacture luxury cars alongside their lorries.

The new 8 cylinder Guy car.

Production of the Guy Open Tourer, the first British 8 cylinder car began in 1919. It was powered by Guy’s new 4 litre, 20 hp. V8 engine that had inclined side valves, inclined detachable heads, and a single cam shaft. The engine also had a combustion chamber which greatly improved the efficiency, making it as efficient as overhead valve designs..

An advert from the Autocar, 29th November, 1919.

The first ever automatic chassis lubrication system.
The car also featured the first ever automatic chassis lubrication system, in which all parts of the chassis were lubricated by pipe lines running from a pump, operated by a cam on the steering lever. Each time the car turned on extreme right lock, the cam operated the oil pump.

The car was designed by E. D. J. Buckney, and first appeared on the market in the summer of 1920.

The company not only sold the car as a chassis to coachbuilders, priced at £1,175, but also supplied a complete car with a Guy body. The complete car initially sold for £1,475 but after a year the price was reduced to £1,395.

Around 150 to 200 of them had been built by the time car production ended in 1925.

The first British V8 engine.
Another view of the engine.
The Guy saloon car.
A cheaper model appeared in 1921, the 'Guy Saloon Car', available in two versions, 12 hp. or 16 hp. The 12hp. chassis sold for £475, or £600 for the complete car. The 16 hp. chassis sold for £550, or £750 for the complete car.  The steering column could be raised or lowered to suit the height of the driver. 

An advert for Guy cars at the Motor Show, from the "Motor" 2nd November, 1921.

A Guy prototype open Tourer with Sydney Guy at the wheel. Taken in 1919.

Very few if any of these cars were made, perhaps only a few hundred in total. It is said that one was given to Henry Meadows, who drove it consistently for many years.

In 1923 a saloon car, the 13/36 hp. was launched with a two litre engine and four wheel brakes; a very advanced feature for the time. There were two models, the 4 door saloon that sold for £650, and the tourer with a hood, that sold for £495.

The Guy 13/36 hp. touring car.

Both Sydney Guy and his wife had Guy cars. He had an open tourer, she had a coupé.

Because of poor sales and the general world slump in the car market, Guys decided to end car production in 1925 and concentrate solely on commercial vehicles.

Another view of the Guy 13/36 hp. car. From Guy sales literature.

Read a contemporary article about the car

A photo of a Guy open Tourer taken in 1919.

A Guy open Tourer outside the factory.

A final view of the V8 open Tourer.

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