Vehicle History Sheets

The history behind the history sheets

Penn Bradly has been the Club Historian for more than 50 years. His vehicle history sheets were started when the club was in its infancy with the aim to log every known Armstrong Siddeley vehicle into a set of master records (ie individual history sheets), concentrating predominately on Australian Armstrong Siddeley vehicles. More than 5,000 Armstrong Siddeley vehicles have been individually catalogued. The information has been entered onto the vehicle history sheets of Penn's design, the design being progressively refined and standardised in about 1996. It's interesting to note that the Rolls Royce, Daimler and Aston Martin Car Clubs have subsequently asked Penn to assist them to establish their own club's vehicle records.

Initially, every (then current) club member was asked to provide details of their vehicles. At the same time Penn also started to write down details of any Armstrong Siddeley vehicle that he saw, even if it were no more than the basic model (not year), colour and number plate. If the vehicle happened to be parked, the old-format registration label also provided him with the engine number which was also recorded. This skimpy data was entered onto a fresh history sheet in the hope (mostly achieved) that more data for that particular vehicle would eventually be found.

In 1961 Penn persuaded Buckle Motors of Sydney to lend him their sales records of all Armstrong Siddeley vehicles that they sold new dating back to 1931. Their trade-in records were also made available and these were also logged in. In many instances the trade-in cars were not from their original owners. This (then) still fairly current data was supplied with various embargos from Buckles - well ahead of today's privacy laws!

In many cases data was collected on previously unknown vehicles. If the engine number was obtained, Penn wrote to Armstrong Siddeley Motors in England who would look up the factory records and send the details for the club's use. Armstrong Siddeley Motors did this countless times in the period 1962 - 1971 with one particular individual, the late Denzil Lusher kindly doing this in his lunch hour. A huge amount of data was obtained and it was surprising to find that some cars came from places like Venezuela, Germany, Accra, Singapore etc.

Penn's next quest was to extract data from other Australian supporting dealers' records. Stokoe Motors was semi-helpful but wanted Penn to come to Melbourne for a couple of weeks to comb through their records, something that the club nor Penn could afford to do as the accommodation costs were beyond their means. However, whenever Penn was in Melbourne he would manage to find the odd couple of hours to visit Stokoe Motors and extract whatever information he could.

The other two main supporting dealers were British and Australian Motors of Brisbane whose Armstrong Siddeley representation dated back to 1919 or 1920 and Southern Motors of Adelaide. Unfortunately most of British and Australian Motors records were lost in the huge Brisbane flood of c1955. Penn was still able to obtain personal memories from the directors and he had the opportunity to extract what he could from their service records post 1955/56. This helped but it was far from complete. Quite a lot of data was also obtained from Queensland-based owners. In contrast, Southern Motors were totally uncooperative. Penn got what he could from Adelaide's Armstrong Siddeley owners with a lot of assistance from the late John Bull.

The only other importer/dealer was West End Motors of Perth who imported only a handfull of 18HP utilities and two 346 Sapphires and whose business had ceased trading long before the club was formed. Armstrong Siddeley Motors confirmed that their total sales were less than 35. Penn collected information from Western Australian owners whenever the opportunity arrived.

In 1964 the club managed to get the New South Wales Vehicle Licensing Authority (now the RTA) to manually type a list of owners' names and addresses and car details for the club from their records. The list was a huge benefit to the club, with the fee of (about) 50 pounds a real bargain considering the amount of typing involved. This project not only yielded a lot of fresh data but gained the club enough new members to easily recoup the cost. Vehicle registration authorities in other States were not prepared to do what the New South Wales authorities had done but they were willing to answer a specific question in detail for a modest fee per enquiry that was personally paid for by Penn.

Penn also tried to obtain the use of records from Reo Motors in Auckland, IMS of Wellington and Archibald's Garage of Christchurch (all in New Zealand). The only response was a photocopy of Archibald's records for the Sapphires as they had destroyed their 16/18HP records. Penn also tried to gain access to the records of the now defunct Bangkok dealer/importer Emgee Car Co but they would not reply to any of the several letters that were sent.

All of this sleuthing was done without knowledge of the Armstrong Siddeley Motors exit records. When Penn became aware of those records sometime in the early 1980's, the Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club photocopied the Sapphire sheets for the 10,086 cars involved. A lot of fresh data was able to be extracted including details of cars that had been previously unknown and would otherwise have been lost forever. The exercise was repeated during the 1990's for the over 12,000 16/18HP vehicles. This was simultaniously helpful and depressing as so many cars from the 1940's have still never been located. Penn's ASOC counterpart Peter Sheppard was ever helpful and a worthwhile contact, with data and information still (c2009) being transferred both ways.

Club member, John Purcell, has developed a Microsoft Access database that now holds a copy of all of Penn's original handwritten records.

We need your help

Perhaps you own, or know somebody who owns, or often see an Armstrong Siddeley vehicle. We would very much appreciate it if you could refer the owner to this website or even offer them a PDF history sheet that they can complete so that we can gather information about that particular vehicle. They must of course understand that any information provided will be added to (and distributed with) copies of the clubs vehicle database. Details about non-Australian-based vehicles are very welcome. Here's an example of what a completed (ficticious) History Sheet looks like.