The Early Inter-War Years

Production of civilian vehicles restarted in 1919, during a difficult time for the industry. At the end of the war all military contracts had been cancelled, and the Army Disposal Board sold large numbers of ex-military vehicles at extremely low prices. They flooded the market, and made it almost impossible to sell new products. Many vehicle manufacturers, including Guy Motors found it difficult to survive.

The company continued to be innovative, launching the Guy 8-cylinder car, powered by the first British V8 engine, with inclined valves, and inclined, detachable cylinder heads. Around 150 Guy cars were produced between 1919 and 1925, when production ended.


A Guy car and lorry outside the factory.


A Guy engine with detachable cylinder heads.

The commercial vehicle engines were equally advanced. At the time most engines were fitted with side valves and fixed cylinder heads, whereas Guy engines had inclined valves, and inclined, detachable cylinder heads.

Advantages included increased accessibility, superior running efficiency, and longer life.

The efficiency of the engine was at least equal to any contemporary overhead valve type.

The detachable cylinder heads could be removed in a matter of minutes.
The design allowed extreme accessibility to the valves.


The vehicle assembly shop.

Production of the 30 cwt. chassis continued in a range of models including the Guy Charabanc, a 14-seater with a 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed plus reverse gearbox, cone clutch, double reduction rear axle, and pressed steel frame. It was also fitted with carbide lamps.


The Guy Charabanc.

 

Read about Guy 30 cwt. vehicles

   

In 1920 experiments were carried out with the Holden pneumatic suspension system, in an attempt to improve passenger comfort. The idea was abandoned with the introduction of Dunlop and Goodyear pneumatic truck tyres.

During the same year the company launched a 2½ ton commercial chassis in time for the first post-war Commercial Motor Show at Olympia in October.

Another innovation was the introduction of the first roadless farmer’s vehicle, which had SPUD wheels. This type of wheel became widely used on farm tractors.


The Guy roadless farmer’s vehicle.

A SPUD wheel.
In 1921 Guy produced a 30-seater bus, based on the successful 30 cwt. chassis, with the governor removed. The vehicle became very successful, and large numbers were produced.


A Guy 2½ ton tipper.


A 30 cwt. lorry.


The engine that powers the 30 cwt. lorry above.


A 2½ ton truck from about 1920, still in use in New Zealand in 1955.


A Guy van from 1927.

A Guy 25 cwt. box van.

 


A Guy 30-seater bus.


Courtesy of Brendan Kinsella.

In 1922 Guy introduced an articulated 6-wheeled vehicle suitable for carrying heavy loads. The articulated design was extremely successful, and has become a common sight on the roads. It can be seen today in numerous forms, produced by many manufacturers.


The Guy articulated 6-wheeled vehicle.

In the same year a 2½ to 3 ton electric battery vehicle was developed for refuse collection, with a side-tipping, wooden back.
1922 also saw the development of the Guy Promenade Runabout, based on a special version of the ‘J’ chassis. It had small wheels and a low floor to provide easy access for passengers. The vehicle, first supplied to Bournemouth, was also used at many other seaside resorts including Portsmouth.


The Guy Promenade Runabout.


Another view of a Guy Promenade Runabout.
     

In 1923 Guy developed a road-rail vehicle for South African Railways. It had a detachable bogie at the front, which could be removed for road use, and large wheels at the back which ran outside the track.

The vehicle had twin engines, driving a single propeller shaft through a special gearbox. On the railway it was used for hauling and shunting wagons.


The Guy road-rail vehicle.

The engine compartment in the road-rail vehicle.
Guy began to build military vehicles in 1923 under a government subsidy. The first vehicles were 30 cwt. and 2½ ton trucks with pneumatic tyres.


A Guy military truck.

   
View some Guy adverts from the 1920s
   
The Guy slogan "Feathers In Our Cap" became well known thanks to the Red Indian mascot that was fitted to almost every vehicle. It all started with an advert on January 22nd, 1924 which pointed out some of the many repeat orders received at the works. The feathers in the advert reminded people of a Red Indian head dress, and so the mascot eventually appeared. The slogan was always, and will always be associated with Guy Motors.


The original advert.

 


The Guy mascot.

 


An advert from 1935.

 


An advert from 1922.

In 1924 Guy developed a vehicle with caterpillar tracks instead of rear wheels. The caterpillar tracks provided considerable adhesion, allowing the vehicle go almost anywhere.

They were supplied to the Admiralty, the War Office, and Crown Agents for the colonies.

Unfortunately they had a short life because mud and grit caused excessive wear on the track joints.


A Guy lorry with rear caterpillar tracks, on test.


The Guy low-loading drop-frame chassis, developed in 1924, greatly changed bus design. It improved passenger accessibility, lowered the centre of gravity, and made the vehicle easier to handle.
A Guy fire engine was exhibited at the 1924 Motor Show following a joint-project by Guy Motors and John Morris of Manchester.

Guy supplied a ‘J’ type chassis as the basis of the machine, which was bodied and fitted-out in Manchester.


The Guy fire engine at the Black Country Living Museum.

The vehicle spent its working life at Cheddleton Paper Mills, before going into preservation. It can be seen today at the Black Country Living Museum, in Dudley.

In the early 1920s a well-equipped body shop opened at the works, producing all kinds of bodies for commercial vehicles. By 1924 complete vehicles were supplied to many of the most important operators in the country.

Some examples of the many types of vehicles produced:

A Guy lorry.
A travelling showroom.
A gully emptier.
A farmer's vehicle with a moveable upper deck.
A Guy horse box.
One of Harrods' fleet of Guy vans.
A 2½ ton Guy van.

   
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The Late 1920s