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SNAPSHOT 374: 1920 Angus-Sanderson

The Angus family had been coachbuilders in Newcastle upon Tyne since the late 18th Century. Sanderson was apprenticed to the firm and eventually became a partner, adding his name to the company. The idea of moving into car manufacture started as early as 1905, when a Carlisle-based branch of the business built a few Aster-powered cars sold as the Sanderson-Aster. No more than three cars were made, however, and the make disappeared after 1907.

Angus-Sanderson planned once more to build cars before World War I, and prototypes were running by the end of 1918. These plans were ambitious: the car would be mass-produced from proprietary parts, including a 2265cc side-valve 4-cylinder engine (from May 1919 increased to 2306cc) from Tylor, gearboxes, axles, steering gear and radiator from Wrigley in Birmingham and frames from Mechins in Glasgow. A distinctive feature of the car was its use of disc wheels with a wavy pattern, supplied by Goodyear.

The radiator was designed by Cecil Kimber, later famous for the M.G. car. During World War I Kimber had moved first to AC Cars and then to Wrigley, where he made a large personal financial investment. That would turn out to have been an unwise move, as will be seen later.

The bodies were naturally made by Angus-Sanderson themselves, with wood from their own forests. There were three body styles: tourer, open 2-seater and closed 4-seater. Production started in 1919 in Newcastle and that summer moved to a much larger factory in nearby Birtley, suitable for making a projected 20 cars a day. Only 30 to 50 per week were ever built, and part-completed bodies and chassis hung around in the factory for over a year, waiting for the delivery of parts.

The optimistic advertisement in our Snapshot dates from October 1920, when the under-capitalised company was already heading for trouble. Wrigley in Birmingham lost a large amount of money on the contract to supply Angus-Sanderson; Kimber lost heavily on his investment, but took on a job at Morris Garages in 1921 as sales manager, from where he became managing director of M.G.

Angus-Sanderson was refinanced by the setting up of a new company in 1921 under the control of S.F. Edge. The firm moved to London, and a new smaller 990cc 8hp car was developed but never got beyond the prototype stage. More reorganisation followed and the company finally closed in 1927. Only 3,000 Angus-Sanderson cars were made, of which no more than six survive.

Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk


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