Changes and New Models

In 1902 the Star Motor Company changed its name to the Star Engineering Company. The business expanded rapidly and diversified. Parts such as wheels and carburettors were made for other manufacturers, and complete cars were supplied to Brown Brothers, the motor factors. The Stewart Street works were expanded and additional premises were obtained in neighbouring Ablow Street, and Dobb Street. In 1903 a new factory was built in Frederick Street on a 40,000sq.ft. site. It included an assembly shop, offices, stores and a pattern shop.

Star workers filling Frederick Street outside the new Star factory.

They were dressed in their "Sunday best" so the photograph must have been taken on a special occasion.

Courtesy of the late David Evans.

Star soon moved away from the Star-Benz design and began to manufacture more advanced designs of its own.

By 1903 several models were available including 10, 15, and 20hp. four-cylinder cars, and 7 and 10hp. two-cylinder cars.

The ‘Little Star’, introduced early in 1904 became very popular. Built along the lines of a Panhard, it had a 7hp. twin-cylinder engine, and sold for £175.

By this time the range had been extended to include a 12hp. four-cylinder car that sold for £450.

A more modern view of the works, taken in 2001.

The eastern end of Frederick Street works, looking up what remains of Nelson Street.
A final view of Frederick Street works taken in 2001.
The engine shop.

Courtesy of Norman Tonry.

An advert from 1902.

An advert from 1903.


Another advert from 1903.

Clive Cooper's 1904 Little Star at the Black Country Living Museum in 2001.

In 1905 the company was affected by a deep depression in the bicycle trade that resulted in a noticeable decline in cycle sales.

At the 1905 A.G.M. there was talk of price cutting and depot losses, and the trade press reported that in order to hold its own, Star had been forced to pursue foreign sales with renewed vigour.

In order to reduce losses the decision was taken to introduce a cheaper car called the ‘Starling’ that would sell through cycle agents for £110.

The car had a single-cylinder De Dion engine, and a two-speed gearbox. After a year the name ‘Stuart’ was adopted for these cars, and also used for Star cars exported to New Zealand.

In 1907 the ‘Starling’ name was re-adopted and production of them continued until 1909. The ‘Stuart’ car had a 7hp. twin-cylinder engine, 3 forward speeds and reverse, and a Cardan shaft drive. Three versions were available, a two-seater, a three-seater, and a four-seater. The three-seater sold for £180, and the four-seater sold for £190. The later ‘Starling’ models had a 6hp. single-cylinder engine, 3 forward speeds and reverse, a chain drive, and a ‘live’ back axle.

Another view of Clive Cooper's Little Star.

An advert from April 1904.

An advert from 'The Autocar' magazine, December 31st, 1904.

A 1905 advertising card for hanging in agents' windows. Courtesy of David Evans.

An advert from April 1905.

An advert from 1906. Courtesy of Ray Jones.

A 1906 advert from "The Motor". Courtesy of Peter Lisle.

In 1907 the first six-cylinder Star appeared and sold for around £600. Two years later the popular four-cylinder 15hp. model was launched. It sold for around £300 and had a 2.8 litre engine, dual ignition and a shaft drive. By 1912 it had become the 3 litre 15.9hp.

In January 1909 an Extraordinary General Meeting was held at the Star and Garter Hotel during which the decision was taken to change the Star Engineering Company into a limited liability company.

The newly formed Star Engineering Company Limited now took over the Star Cycle Company Limited and at the same time formed a new subsidiary company; The Star Cycle Company.

Joseph Lisle, one of Edward Lisle's sons became Managing Director of the Star Engineering Company Limited.

Another advert from 1906. Courtesy of Ray Jones.

Courtesy of Peter Lisle.

Another advert from 1906. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

1909 saw the formation of the Briton Motor Company under the control of Edward Lisle Junior, one of the sons of Star's founder.

The production of ‘Starling’ cars ceased and Briton took over the Stewart Street Works where the ‘Starling’ and ‘Stuart’ cars had been built.

The same workforce was employed, and the first model, the two-cylinder, 7 hp. (later increased to 10 hp.) ‘Little Briton’ soon appeared. It sold for 175 guineas.

Other models quickly followed. There were four-cylinder 12hp., 14hp., and 16hp. cars.

In 1912 Briton acquired a new factory in Lower Walsall Street, Wolverhampton and vacated the Stewart Street works.

An advert from 1907. Courtesy of Peter Lisle.

An advert from 1908. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

Another advert from 1908, as seen in 'The Motor' 19th May, 1908.
This lovely photo of a family and their Star car, taken around 1908, was kindly sent by
Nick Shippobotham.

The lady on the left is his great grandmother.

The Star 'Weather Screen' was launched in May, 1908. It consisted of a sheet of flexible waterproof canvas, wound around a spring roller which was mounted above the dashboard on a pair of jointed bars. The product was described in 'The Motor' magazine as follows:.

A New Weather Screen

Illustrations show a patent weather screen which the Star Engineering Company, Wolverhampton, have just placed on the market. The screen is composed of a sheet of flexible weatherproof canvas that is wound round a spring roller, the axis of which is carried by the dashboard, and the free edge of this sheet is stiffened by a suitable bar which is connected with the dashboard through the medium of a pair of jointed bars, each of which is formed in two lengths pivotally connected together by means of a joint of the knife-blade type which allows the two lengths to be substantially closed together in one direction, but prevents them from being moved more than slightly out of line with one another in the opposite direction.

The portions of each bar are also provided with joints either at their connection with the main support, or with the stiffening bar which limits their turning movement, one of them in one direction and the other in the other direction, so that when the bars have been opened out to hold the stiffening bar in its upward position with the sheet drawn upwards from the roller, the bars cannot move sideways and allow the stiffening bar to fall. When the bars have been opened (for the purpose of holding up the stiffening bar of the sheet against the pull of the spring roller) they are stopped from further movement in the same direction by the stop joint between the two lengths of which they are each composed, and two lengths of each bar have moved sufficiently out of line with one another to ensure that they cannot accidentally turn backwards.


The new Star weather screen.

P. Whitty's 1909, 4-cylinder, 12hp. Star.

As seen at the Black Country Living Museum in 2001.

An advert from 1910.

C. Howe's 1910 15hp. 4-seater tourer. Courtesy of Peter Lisle.

In 1911 Star produced a 2-cylinder 10hp. car and several 4-cylinder models, including 12hp., 15hp., 20hp., and 25hp. cars.

There were two 15hp. cars, one being the up-market 15hp. De Luxe.

Another advert from 1910.

A 15hp. tourer from 1912. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

Soon after Briton’s move to Lower Walsall Street a disastrous fire gutted the body shops in Dobbs Street.

Luckily production could continue much as before, by moving the body building department into the now empty factory in Stewart Street.

The 1912 Star Victoria tourer that's in the collection at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.

In the driver's seat is Ray Salisbury, sitting alongside Stan Davis. Ray's wife Ann is sitting in the back.

An advert from 1912.

Another view of the 1912 Star Victoria tourer at the Black Country Living Museum.

With an extremely young "driver".

An article from 'The Engineer'.

Another article about Star appeared in the November 22nd, 1912 edition of 'The Engineer':

Motor Car Show at Olympia

Another particularly well designed car of the 15.9 horsepower class is that shown by the 'Star Engineering Company, Limited, Wolverhampton. An elevation and plan of the chassis are given in Figs. 20 and 21, while Figs. 22, 23, 24, and 25 show the construction of the engine, clutch mechanism, gearbox, and back axle. The engine has four cylinders cast in pairs, with a bore of 80 mm. and stroke of 150 mm. The valves are all on one side and the cam and magneto shafts are operated by separate chains from the crankshaft, while the oil and water pumps are driven by a third chain. from the rear end of the camshaft.

The chains are fairly heavy, and as the drives are short, the makers claim that no means of adjustment is necessary. The oil is drawn from a sump in the crank chamber by means of a pump and forced to the main bearings of the crankshaft through passages drilled in the crank cheeks and big ends. The main crankshaft bearings are carried from the upper part of the crank chamber so that the latter can be removed without disturbing the crank shaft. The clutch is of the leather-faced conical pattern enclosed in an oil-tight casing. There is a double universal joint between the crank and gear shafts, and the gearbox is suspended at three points from two cross members of the chassis. All the gear shafts are short and run in ball bearings with the exception of the spigot of the primary shaft, which runs in plain bearings.

Four road speeds and a reverse are provided, and the final drive is by means of a propeller shaft and bevel gearing. Ball bearings are fitted throughout in the back axle. The rear springs are of the three quarter elliptical type, and also serve the purpose of radius and torque rods as in the Sunbeam car.


From the 1913 Star catalogue.

From the 1913 Star catalogue.

An advert from 'The Motor' magazine, 10th April, 1912.

Christopher Habgood's 1914 Star Torpedo tourer.

As seen at the Black Country Living Museum in 2001.

Another view of Christopher Habgood's 1914 Star Torpedo tourer.

This time at the 2008 Festival of Black Country Vehicles, at the Black Country Living Museum.

Star’s range of models increased with the introduction of the 10/12, the 11.9hp. and the 20.1hp. cars. The 15.9hp. and the 20.1hp. models were also available with bull-nosed radiators and streamlined bodies. Production increased to twenty vehicles a week, and the cars became well known for their reliability. By 1914 Star had become the sixth largest vehicle manufacturer in the country.


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