Clyno Engineering Company
Clyno Engineering Company, then Clyno Engineering Company (1922) Limited, was a motorcycle and car manufacturer that operated in Thrapston from 1909 to 1910 and then in Wolverhampton from 1910 to 1929. During this time they produced over 15,000 motorcycles and between 36,000 and 40,000 cars, at one point becoming Britain’s third largest car manufacturer.
Founded in 1909 by cousins Frank and Ailwyn Smith they set up there original workshops in Thrapston, Northamptonshire
Moving to the factory formerely owned by their engine suppliers Stevens Brothers, in Wolverhampton in 1910.
They first exhibited at the 1910 Motor Show at londons Olympia.,
In 1912 expantion saw them take up the former Humber factory across the road from their Wolverhampton premises.
As with many manufacturers, the First World War was a time of prosperity for Clyno. Together with Vickers they created a motor cycle with machine gun attachment which was produced in large numbers. Clyno also signed an agreement with the Russian war commission to supply their army on top of their business with the British forces.
In 1916 relationships between the cousins became strained leading to the departure of Ailwyn. Post war motorcycle sales col
lapsed and Clyno’s Works Manager Henry Meadows departed the company to found his own. A large number of cheap motor cycles no longer needed by the army were sold, undercutting the prices of Clyno’s machines. There was also a shortage of materials with which to produce new models and to compound Clyno’s problems the Russians failed to pay for the motorcycles they received during the war which led to the withdrawal of financial backing. In 1920 the Clyno Engineering Company went into liquidation.
The company was resurected in 1922 by Frank Smith and concentrated on car production though motor cycle production also continued. Clyno debuted its first car at the 1922 motor show. The mainstay throughout their existence, the 10.8, designed by AG Booth had a 1368 cc 4-cylinder side-valve Coventry Climax selling at around £ 250. About 35000 are thought to have been made including some sports versions and de luxe Royal models. Other models followed and the company sought to make ever cheaper cars. By this time they had become Brittains third largest car company, and moved to new premises at Bushbury, Wolverhampton. But despite the sales sucess the companies finances were precerious, they were under capitalised and relying heavily on the bank. In an attempt to minimise costs, Clyno ended their agreement with their long term partner Rootes and stopped using Coventry Climax engines in favour of concentrating on the Hillman design and this hastened the demise of Clyno. The repercussions of these moves were seen in the failure of Clyno’s ‘Century’ model which effectively sounded the death knell for the company.
Shot at the VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone 20-21 April 2013 REF:90C-696
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