The Final Chapter

1958 saw the launch of the 'Victory' and 'Wulfrunian' bus chassis at the Commercial Motor Show. The Guy stand also included the new 'Invincible II' which came with a choice of engines from 5 manufacturers. They were:

Gardner’s new 150b.h.p. 6LX
The 210 b.h.p. Rolls Royce C6. The most powerful of the engines.
Cummins’ HU, HF, and NH
Leyland’s O.600, and O.680
Meadows’ 6DC 500, and 6DC 630

Similarly, a range of gearboxes were available, by Meadows, Fuller, Leyland, and David Brown.

Features included air-assisted hand brakes, split braking, a curved windscreen, twin headlamps, and a luxurious cab, with provision for an Ecko radio, 2 interior lights, and even a shaver power point. They were the first British commercial vehicles with twin headlights, and were extremely well received at the show. The new 'Invincible' range established Guy as one of the leading UK truck manufacturers.

Read about the Invincible II

An 'Invincible II'.

In 1960 the 'Warrior II' 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.
Read about the Warrior II

The 'Invincible II' 8-wheel chassis.

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.


The Drawing Office.

Electricity Generating Station.

Sun ray treatment in the Works Clinic.

A long service certificate. Courtesy of Nigel Martin.

At the time, Guy Motors looked in good shape, the lorries were selling well, but there were two serious, and eventually, terminal problems. The company’s latest bus, the 'Wulfrunian', initially seen as an excellent and futuristic design, rapidly got a bad reputation because it included too many advanced and untried features. There were several problems including brake seal failure, trouble with the air suspension, disc brake overheating, and some chassis fractures, which led to escalating warranty costs. All these could have been rectified, but Guy Motors did not have the financial resources to do so.

The second problem, which 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.

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.

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.

In the same year Guy’s final truck the 'Big J' (Big Jaguar) was introduced as a replacement to the 'Warrior' and 'Invincible'. The vehicle was designed by ex-Dodge and Daimler man Cliff Elliott, and made its appearance at the 1964 Motor Show. It had a Motor Panels of Coventry cab, and was available in 2, 3, and 4-axle designs. A range of different manufacturers’ engines and gearboxes were available, and the vehicle gained a good reputation, both for reliability, and a competitive price.

Read about the
'Big J' models

Richard Stanier's 'Big J4T' from 1978.

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.

David Cookson's 'Big J4T' from 1973.

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.

The 'Big Js' on display at the 1966 Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court.

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'.

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 'Big J4T' seen in 2004 at the Black Country Living Museum.

An article that appeared in the Express & Star on the 20th August, 1975. It reflects the seriousness of Guy Motor's position, and Leyland's determination to see it go.

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.

Mike Hitchens' 'Big J4T'.

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.


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