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The Early Years - Swallow Sidecars Main / Library / Technical / Model guide / Buyers guide / Guestbook / Photobook / Links / Archive / Specialists

The Early Years - Swallow Sidecars

Swallow Sidecar Company was formed in Blackpool by William Lyons, on his 21st Birthday on the 4th September 1922, with the nine year older William Walmsley as his equal partner. The company was formed with a bank overdraft of 1000 guaranteed by their respective fathers. The company was to produce sidecars for motorcycles, a follow-on of Walmsleys previous line of reconditoned war-surplus Triumph motorcycles and fitting of sidecars.

sidecar sidecar


Swallow sidecars

In spite of the economic stagnation of the early 20's the company bloomed and had their first stand at the 1923 Motorcycle Show. In 1926 the growth was sufficient to enable the company to move into larger premises at Cocker Street and change the name of the company to Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding company.

In 1927 the company announced the Austin Swallow Two-seater, a rebodied version of the seven-horsepower Austin Seven. Lyons quickly gained orders for close to 500 of the cars.

Austin Swallow Austin Swallow

Austin Swallow Austin Swallow

The Austin Swallow

In 1928 the company relocated to Coventry, as qualified workers were hard to come by and they needed larger premises. A larger vehicle was needed to complement the two-seater Swallows and in 1929 a batch of obsolete FIAT chassis were obtained and between 50 and 100 FIAT Swallows were produced. In the next years Swallow produced cars on Standard and Swift chassis.

In 1931 the sensational S.S.'s were launched. With a new chassis specially designed and exclusively built for Swallow by Standard, Lyons was able to design an extraordinarily low and dramatic body.

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