At the beginning of the war, Guy’s chief
engineer went to Mersa Matruh in North Africa to see the Guy
armoured vehicles in operation in the North Africa Campaign. The
vehicles performed well and gave good service.
Many Guy military vehicles travelled to
Dover, at the beginning of the war. They were taken to France
for use by the British troops. When the country was invaded by
the Germans, and the allied troops were evacuated in May 1940,
the vehicles, like many others, were driven over the cliffs to prevent
them falling into the hands of the enemy.
Shortly after the start of the war,
production of the ‘Ant’ and ‘Quad Ant’ range moved to Karrier.
Guy did however, produce some armoured bodies. 21 Guy ‘Lizard’
armoured command vehicles were produced in the factory, as were
several 4x4 universal gun carriers. The factory also produced
anti-aircraft, and other guns thanks to the company’s reputation
for high quality, precision work.
Part of the gun shop.
Production of searchlight generator
vehicles soon ended due to the development of radar. Some
civilian vehicle production did take place at Park Lane due to a
shortage of vans and lorries for essential services and
supplies. Each vehicle required a government permit in order for
it to be built.
A 1937 'Arab' in operation during the war at Wombourne.
|Around the same time as production of searchlight generators
ended, Guy received an order from the Ministry of Supply for the production of a chassis suitable
for a use with a double-deck bus body. At the time there was a
severe shortage of buses, many of which had been lost in the
blitz. The specification had been completed on 5th September,
1941, and the prototype was ready on 31st March, 1942. The new vehicle, called the ‘Arab’ utility
double deck bus was based on the original ‘Arab’ bus chassis
from 1933. Due to the shortage of materials, the aluminium parts
were made of cast iron, which increased the chassis weight by
20%. Great attention was paid to increasing the life of
components, and the time between vehicle overhauls. The new bus
gained favour with many operators because of its reliability and
low running costs.
The buses were supplied with 5-cylinder Gardner '5LW'
engines, other than a few that were built to operate in hilly
areas, which had the larger Gardner '6LW'.
Guy's son Robin joined Guy Motors in the autumn of 1941 after
leaving school. He started in the drawing office, and worked on
the 'Arab' utility bus. He joined the navy, then trained at
Gardner Engines in Manchester.
A fleet of 'Arab' utility buses.
A Guy 'Arab'. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
A Guy 'Arab' chassis. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
Another view of the Guy 'Arab' chassis. Courtesy of
The 'Arab' driving compartment. Courtesy of Brian
Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
A Guy 'Arab'. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
Guy 'Arabs' operated by the Lancashire United
Transport & Power Company. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
A fleet of Guy 'Arabs' operated by Glasgow Corporation
Transport. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
A fleet of Guy 'Arabs' operated by Newport Corporation
Transport. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
Guy 'Arabs' operated by the Maidstone Corporation
Transport Department. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.
|Initially Guy was the only wartime manufacturer of double
deck bus chassis, until December 1942 when Daimler received an
order from the ministry for some 'CWG5' chassis. Daimler's
factory in Coventry had been badly damaged during the air raids,
and so production began at a factory commissioned for the
purpose by the Ministry of Supply. This turned out to be part of Courtaulds' factory in
Wolverhampton. So for a time, all UK double deck bus chassis
were built in Wolverhampton.
Over 2,700 Guy bus chassis were built during the war. The
orders not only kept Guy going at the time, but also
established the company as one of the leading suppliers of bus
chassis, which led to the continuation of orders for many years
During the war the factory worked long hours to keep up with
the demand for vehicles and components. Employees worked from 8
a.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. on
Saturdays, and 8 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. on Sundays.
There was a severe shortage of labour, which was solved by
the company in a manner that made history, and changed the law.
At the time, part-time workers were not eligible for national
insurance, and so would not look for work through the labour
The late Judge Caporn and schoolboy
volunteers at work in the body shop.
As a result Sydney Guy instigated a scheme
which resulted in him being threatened with imprisonment and fines.
Fortunately the Ministry of Employment quickly realised that such a
scheme was a necessity, and so similar schemes were set up
throughout the country.
Guy gave senior pupils and teachers from
local schools, the opportunity of doing voluntary war work
during their holidays. They were employed on the assembly jigs
for the bodies of army trucks.
Over 1,000 people answered the initial
advertisement. The response was so great that a separate
department was set up to organise the scheme.
When the pupils and teachers were at
school, part-time women workers took their place during the day,
with business and professional men, doing a night shift.
One of the first, and most enthusiastic
volunteers was Judge Caporn, a County Court Judge.
|Guy Motors participated in the National Savings Scheme, and
Sydney Guy gave six pence on each certificate purchased. The
company also produced its own I.D. card with photo and finger
prints on the back.
A booklet produced as an advert, and an
explanation of the 'Syzygies' name.
|During the war the scope of advertising was greatly
restricted, and so Guy started a clever campaign in order to
keep the company’s name alive. The campaign was influenced by
the widespread interest in crosswords, and the ‘Brains Trust’ on
the radio, which provided relief from the problems of war.
It consisted of a series of clever adverts entitled
‘Transport through the Syzygies’ which gained a lot of interest.
People at first thought ‘syzygies’ was a spelling mistake, until
it appeared time, after time.
Guy received many letters from people
expressing their ideas about the word, which was in fact used in
its astronomical sense, meaning a computation of time.
|The following is an article from the Express & Star,
Wednesday 3rd January, 1945:
This is Their
War Effort – VI
Wolverhampton Firm Pioneers in
Welding Armour Plate and Use of Part-Time
With the production of many
thousands of military vehicles of several
successful types, and over 2,000 war-time bus
chassis to their credit, Guy Motors Limited,
Wolverhampton, have, in the opinion of their
chairman and managing director, Mr. Sydney S.
Guy made two important contributions to the
nation’s war effort, in addition to their main
The first was concerned
with the welding of bullet-proof armour plate
for armoured cars and tanks; the other with the
introduction of part-time workers into industry.
For over 20 years the
company has paid much attention to vehicles for
military purposes and has produced many types.
When expenditure on the army reached very low
levels, and military were ordered in such small
quantities that they could not be produced
profitably, Guy Motors designed and developed
military types largely at their own expense, and
during the 14 years up to 1937 produced 14
Very shortly after the war
started, Guy vehicles or proved quality were
available for military duty in large numbers,
and the supply has been steadily maintained ever
One of the most successful
types has been the Quad Ant, a four-wheel drive
vehicle developed from an earlier model. It has
been adapted for a number of uses, notably as an
artillery tractor. It was on a variety of this
type, with the engine at the rear, that the
first British armoured car body of all welded,
bullet-proof, armour-plated construction was
Convincing others that
welding was better than riveting for this
purpose was not easy, but now the system is
widely applied, not only to armoured car bodies,
but also to tanks. As early as 1940 details of
the method were sent to America, and though
there may be no connection, it was reported not
long after that the first American tanks with
welded hulls were coming off the line. Guy
Motors have produced a considerable number of
armoured cars of their own design, and have
recently been producing hulls for the Humber
Mr. Guy is equally proud of
the part the firm played introducing the
extensive use of part-time labour into war
factories. It was found that many professional
and business men were not only able, but anxious
to devote their evenings to factory work, and
that many women were prepared to work part-time
during the day. Special arrangement of working
hours was made for them, and in a very short
time the firm had more applicants than they
It seemed, however, that
the law did not provide for the employment of
part-time workers, and the Ministry of Labour
pointed out that Mr. Guy was in danger of very
severe penalties, both fines and imprisonment. A
stand was made, but at one time it seemed that
the part-time work would have to be abandoned.
The law was changed soon afterwards and
subsequently part-time work for some categories
The achievement of
part-time workers in the factory has been
considerable, and many of the women who started
in this way have switched over to full-time
employment. They, and other women have proved
outstandingly successful at a wide variety of
jobs in the factory.
In 1942 It was found that
buses would have to be produced to enable
transport organisations to cope with the huge
task of carrying workers to their work, and as
sufficient military lorries of a type Guy Motors
were producing had been made, they were switched
over to making bus chassis.
Although of Guy design, the
wartime chassis had to conform to Ministry of
War Transport specifications and the materials
used were not always exactly what the company
would have wished, resulting in the chassis
being heavier than its pre-war equivalent. Over
2,000 war-time chassis have been produced in
about two and a half years.
In addition to their
production effort, Guy Motors have reconditioned
large numbers of engines and have continued to
supply spare parts which kept vehicles in
service. The stores department has recently
supplied from stock, spares for vehicles 22 years
Into the 1930s
The Post War Years