The Final Chapter

In 1960 the 'Warrior II' truck chassis was introduced. There were two versions, the 6-wheeled  'Warrior Light 6' with 3 axles, and the 8-wheeled 'Warrior Light 8' with 4 axles. Guy claimed that the vehicles had the largest payload for the lightest chassis, in the weight class, and also the lowest prices. The vehicles soon became very popular.

At the time, Guy Motors looked in good shape, the lorries were selling well, but there were two serious, and eventually, terminal problems. The first was the failure 'Wulfrunian', which was a disaster. The second problem, which continuously drained the company financially, was the company’s operation in South Africa, which was loosing £300,000 a year. This had been Guy’s first venture into the retail market. Many vehicles were sold on hire purchase, through finance companies, under a contract by which Guy was responsible for any losses to the finance company caused by default of payment. This was a common occurrence, which cost Guy dearly. Guy also offered a generous trade-in allowance which was far too high. Many old and rotten vehicles, only suitable for scrap, were traded-in at far too-high a price.


A plan of the Guy factory. I would like to thank Sue and Terry Pinson for their help with it.


The factory in 1948.


The Spare Parts Stores that had over 45,000 storage bins.


Rear axle and gearbox assembly.


Engine reconditioning.


Large vehicle assembly track.


Small vehicle assembly track.


Assembly Shop.


Gear cutting machines.


Assembly.


The Drawing Office.


Electricity Generating Station.


Sun ray treatment in the Works Clinic.


By October 1961 the two serious problems left Guy Motors in a precarious financial position. There was no alternative but to call-in a receiver.

At the time, Sir William Lyons, Managing Director of Jaguar was looking to expand the company, which had acquired Daimler in June 1960. Lyons, being an astute businessman realised that Guy Motors could be acquired relatively cheaply. He purchased it at the bargain price of £800,000. Guy Motors liabilities were disposed of in a clever way. One week after the takeover, the assets were transferred to a new company, Guy Motors (Europe) Limited. The liabilities remained with the now defunct Guy Motors Limited. On the Friday before the formation of the new company, all of Guy’s employees were told that they were sacked, and would be re-employed by the new company the following Monday.

Jaguar’s impact was immediately felt at Park Lane. The Guy directors were informed that although no money was available, they were expected to get the business out of its financial mess. Some were made redundant, and the others were told that they would now have a reduced salary, and loose their pension rights. The range of vehicles was rationalised, casualties being the 7 ton 'Otter' and some models in the 'Invincible' range.

A new and final development of the 'Arab', the mark 5, appeared in 1962. It incorporated a number of improvements including full air brakes with automatic adjusters, and a lower frame, 2½ inches lower than previous models. It was powered by a 112 bhp. Gardner 6LW diesel engine, with a 4-speed plus reverse constant mesh gearbox, or a fluid flywheel and semi-automatic box. The chassis had telescopic shock absorbers at the front and rear.


The 'Arab' mark 5 double deck chassis.


The specification of the 'Arab' mark 5. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.


The 'Arab' flexibly mounted radiator. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.


An 'Arab' mark 5.

In 1964 Jaguar acquired Guy’s next door neighbour, engine manufacturer Henry Meadows. At this time Jaguar owned many of the best British companies and looked set to dominate the market. The same year saw the launch of Guy’s final truck the 'Big J' (Big Jaguar) was introduced as a replacement to the 'Warrior' and 'Invincible'.

Another new product was the 'Conquest', a 36 ft. single deck, rear-engined passenger chassis, with full air-suspension, to provide outstanding handling qualities, and freedom from noise and vibration. It was ideally suited for the luxury coach market.


A 'Conquest' luxury coach, from the Guy Motors literature. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.


Features of the 'Conquest' chassis. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.


Another view of a 'Conquest' luxury coach, from the Guy Motors literature. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.

In 1965 the 'Warrior Trambus' was replaced by a new version of the 'Victory' chassis based on the 'Big J' truck chassis, with an AEC AV505, Gardner 6LX, or a Gardner 6LW engine. The 'Victory Trambus' as it was called, later became British Leyland's standard heavy duty export bus chassis.


A Guy 'Victory Trambus'.


The 'Victory Trambus' chassis. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.


The 'Victory Trambus' chassis specification. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.


Another 'Victory Trambus'. Courtesy of Brian Shaw.

At the time Jaguar was going from strength to strength. Its products sold well, and by 1965 its annual profit was £1.6 million. On 11th July, 1966 Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to form British Motor Holdings, a decision which would eventually have disastrous consequences for Guy Motors. Initially this had little impact on Guy Motors, where production continued quite normally. Unfortunately British Motor Holdings struggled to make a profit, often due to poor costing.

The labour government of the day thought that the troubles in the British motor industry could be cured by company mergers. Harold Wilson encouraged the merger of British Motor Holdings with the Leyland Motor Group. As early as February 1967 the Minister of Technology, Tony Benn, informed the House of Commons that the two companies were holding talks about a merger. This became a reality on 14th May, 1968 when the companies formerly merged to become the British Leyland Motor Corporation Limited.

In 1969 the final batch of 'Arab V's were delivered to Chester Corporation. They were the last Guy bus chassis to be built for the British market.

The 'Big J' continued to sell well, around 16,000 chassis were produced in all, at the factory, which for a while kept the factory open. Leyland had intended to close Guy Motors in the mid 1970s, but it remained open because of the demand for the 'Big J'.

80 'Victory' chassis, modified for double deck bodies were sent to South Africa in 1973. They were extremely successful and so a mark 2 version was designed with the front axle moved forward, in front of the entrance. The new chassis was supplied to operators in South Africa, and Hong Kong.

In 1975 the Leyland 'Landtrain' T43 was introduced, and many were built at the Guy factory, along with some Leyland 'Marathon' trucks, and a few 'Crusaders'.

A new single deck version of the 'Victory' chassis appeared in 1978 with improved suspension and brakes.


A Guy 'Victory U.F.' 40 to 45 seater long distance coach, which had all-round air suspension.


A Guy 'Victory U.F.' 44 to 65 seater, inter city or luxury touring coach.

By the late 1970s Leyland was finding it hard to compete with the growing competition from abroad. A rationalisation programme began, during which many of the group’s factories were closed. In 1981 the decision was taken to close Guy Motors because the factory lacked the facilities that modern truck production required.

Guy Motors was however, one of the few companies in the Leyland group that actually made a profit. Its order books were full for at least 18 months ahead, and its workforce was second to none. Sadly this not taken into consideration, and the factory closed in August 1982 with a loss of 740 jobs.

Guy vehicles were well known throughout the world. The company exported to 76 countries, and was well respected for the quality and reliability of its products.

If Guy hadn’t opened the South African subsidiary, it could all have ended very differently. Money would have been available to sort out the teething troubles with the 'Wulfrunian', and further developments would have ensured a continuing range of up-to-date designs.

The final nail was knocked into the coffin on Tuesday 5th October,1982 at an auction held in the works, during which the entire contents of the factory were sold off.

The 1047 lots included everything, from hand tools, drill bits, and lathe tools, to benches, cranes and hoists, forklift trucks, heavy plant, the contents of the offices, and kitchen equipment.

During the 10 days following the auction, the factory opened on week days from 8-30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. so that successful bidders could remove their purchases from the site.

This must have been a terrible sight for the hundreds of loyal Guy workers who had only recently lost their jobs.

The following obituary appeared in the Express & Star on the 27th August, 1996.

Motor Giant Dies, 67

 A former Wolverhampton motor manufacturer who won acclaim throughout the world has died from cancer, aged 67.

Trevor Guy died at home in Whiston, near Albrighton, yesterday. His family was at his bedside. His wife Shirley paid tribute today to a "generous and gentle man". Mr. Guy was the younger son of Sydney Guy who founded Guy Motors in Fallings Park in 1914.

The company won fame for producing commercial vehicles and buses. It also made around 150 V8 luxury cars and a few small four-cylinder models. Trevor Guy became a director of the firm and served on its board until it was sold to Jaguar in 1961.

Educated at Rugby School, he became an engineering student with the family firm. He served for 18 months in Germany with the 10th Royal Hussars and later travelled the world as a sales executive. After the company was taken over, Mr Guy turned to farming at Whiston before retirement. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1991.

His widow Shirley said: "He loved the country and country pursuits, and was also an exceptional sportsman. Above all, he was a man of integrity and was extremely popular and respected."

Mr. Guy leaves a son Ashley and daughter Amanda. The family is to hold a small, private funeral next week.

Courtesy of Sue and Terry Pinson.

Many people fondly remember the company and its products, which were once a familiar sight throughout the country. Luckily some of the vehicles still survive, and are owned by enthusiasts who keep them in first class condition. They are often seen at vehicle rallies, where they keep the Guy name alive. Hopefully this will continue for many years to come.

   
Return to
The Post War Years
  Return to the
beginning
  Proceed to
Industrial Relations