Guy Motors was a Wolverhampton-based vehicle manufacturer that produced cars, lorries, buses and trolleybuses. The company was founded by Sydney S. Guy (1885–1971) who was born in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Guy Motors operated out of its Fallings Park factory from 1914 to 1982, playing an important role in the development of the British motor industry.Sydney S. Guy registered Guy Motors Limited on Saturday 30 May 1914, the same day he departed his position as works manager at the Wolverhampton company, Sunbeam. A factory was built on the site at Fallings Park, Wolverhampton. and by September 1914 production was underway on the newly designed 30 cwt lorry. This employed a much lighter form of pressed steel frame, unlike the more commonly used heavy rolled steel channel frames of the time. This made the vehicle able to cross difficult terrain and a 14-seat post bus built based on the design was used for crossing the Scottish Highlands.In 1915 Guy came under control of the Ministry of Munitions and production was focused on the war effort. The factory continued to produce 30 cwt lorries which were supplied to Britain's allies in the First World War. They also produced Wasp and Dragonfly radial aircraft engines, Tylor truck engines and Maudslay gearboxes as well as being the country's largest maker of depth charge fuses. For their efforts during the war Guy received a commendation from William Weir, Secretary of State for Air. Due to orders from the ministry Guy prospered during the war, expanding its factory and became an established name in British manufacturing
In 1924, the company adopted the slogan 'Feathers in our Cap' which led to the addition of a Native American mascot to their vehicles. 1924 also saw Guy produce the first-ever dropped-frame chassis for passenger vehicles (the B-type). This design allowed passengers to enter buses in a single step and became extremely popular, Guy receiving an order for 170 from Rio de Janeiro alone.
Growing populations in towns and cities meant larger capacity buses were a necessity, leading Guy to develop a 6-wheeled version of their dropped-frame chassis, which allowed for the introduction of the first 6-wheeled double decker buses and 6-wheeled trolleybuses in 1926. Owen Silvers, the general manager of Wolverhampton Corporation, had pushed Guys to develop the 3-axle bus, and took delivery of the first production vehicle. He then convinced Guys to work with W. A. Stevens, who had developed the Tilling-Stevens petrol-electric bus, of which Wolverhampton had several, and Rees Roturbo Co Ltd, who were also based in Wolverhampton, on the design of a trolleybus. Guys modified their 3-axle chassis, fitting a single 60 hp (45 kW) Rees-Stevens electric motor at the front of the chassis. Rees Roturbo produced the regenerative control system. The first BTX vehicle, with an open rear staircase, was tested on the Wolverhampton system in December 1926, and Silvers placed an order for a further 58, with enclosed staircases. The Hastings Tramway Co ordered 50 single-deck BTX trolleybuses and eight open-top double-deck versions, while Rotherham ordered five. Guy double decker buses and trolleybuses would prove popular, with a fleet of double deckers sold to the London Public Omnibus Company and exports supplied all around the world.Exports served as a major source of income for Guy with sales to South Africa, Pakistan, India and the Netherlands, their armoured vehicles proving particularly popular for covering difficult terrain, with 100 supplied to the Indian government in 1928.
Guy armoured vehicles were used throughout the war, featuring prominently at the evacuation of Dunkirk and in the North African campaign. Although production of the Ant and Quad Ant were moved to Karrier, the factory was still involved in the war-effort, producing anti-aircraft guns.
Car and commercial vehicle production in the UK virtually ceased during the war and buses were wearing out, being damaged and destroyed. The Ministry of War Transport was forced to arrange the production of buses/trolleybuses to maintain public services. It approached Guy to produce the first of more than 2,000 Guy double-deck buses which entered service between 1942 and 1945. The Ministry of War Supply ordered Guy to produce a chassis suitable for double-deck buses, the Blitz having resulted in a shortage of buses. In 1942, Guy launched the Arab I, then Arab II utility double deck bus, based on their original 1933 design, but with a frame of identical shape to the Leyland Titan TD8. Parts originally made of aluminium and other parts essential for the war effort were replaced by steel and iron. It was immediately successful, due to its robustness, reliability and low running costs. The company's contribution to the war effort established it as a leading supplier for the government and meant financial stability when heading into the post-war years.
Although new designs such as the Warrior Mark II were being produced and despite the fact that their lorry division was performing well, by 1960, Guy faced seemingly insurmountable financial problems. The failure of the Wulfrunian was a commercial disaster and the operation in South Africa was losing them £300,000 a year.
By 1961, Guy had no choice but to enter receivership. Sir William Lyons, managing director of Jaguar, acquired the company for £800,000, transferring its assets to a new company, Guy Motors (Europe) Limited, which left all the liabilities with the now defunct Guy Motors Limited, the name eventually reverting to "Guy Motors Ltd" in 1966.Jaguar immediately set about rationalisation, reducing both the number of employees and the range of vehicles in production.