VANDEN PLAS - 1870-2009: Vanden Plas was a Belgian carriage builder that supplied bodywork to car companies from 1890. UK operations began in 1913, catering for Alvis, Bentley, Daimler and Rolls-Royce. Belgian operations closed in 1934, but the UK business continued. Post-war, it was bought by Austin and produced the Princess, 1100 and Allegro VDPs, besides becoming a range-topping sub-brand for Rovers and Jaguars. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation; Jaguar Land Rover for the US market. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? Jaguar one day might bring it back for top-of-therange US models, but it’s unlikely.
JENSEN MOTORS - 1934-1976, 1998-2002: Jensen built specialised car and lorry bodies for bigger companies , including Austin, Ford and Volvo. Its first own-brand car came in the 1930s, but it was the 1952 Interceptor and glassfibre-bodied 541R that got the company noticed as a GT maker. The beautiful 1966 Interceptor and its advanced four-wheeldrive FF sibling were the crowning glories. The Interceptor aged well and was briefly returned to production in the late 1980s. A more serious revival came in 1998, when investors included Liverpool City Council. The promising S-V8 was launched in 2001, but only 20 were finished before the business went into administration. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? The Jensen Group, although the website is dormant… ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? Unlikely, even though the name remains a good one.
JOWETT - 1901-1954: Bradford-based Jowett Cars is considered to have produced Britain’s first Light Car(a category of small, simple, cheap car) in 1910 following four years and 25,000 miles of testing – almost unheard of at the time. The car’s robust reliability soon earned Jowett a good reputation, the company building a range around its robust flat twin engine. Ambitious post-war growth plans led to the development of the famed Javelin, a highly advanced flat four saloon, and the Jupiter sports car. Teething troubles, severely fluctuating demand and the loss of body supplies forced the winding up of car production in 1954, though. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? Jowett continued to manufacture aircraft parts after it sold the car plant to America’s International Harvester. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? None. The cars are too obscure and distant for there to be any reason to revive the name. Jowetts are supported by the UK’s oldest one-make car club, though, and have a keen following
HILLMAN - 1907-1976: Mass-market cars were Hillman’s specialism to successful effect for much of the 20th century. Bought by the Rootes brothers in 1928, it became part of a group that included Humber, Singer and Sunbeam. Perhaps its most famous car was the Avenger, a Ford Cortina rival. Another of its notable cars was the Imp (1963-1976), a rear-engined , rear-wheel -drive rival to the Mini. Chrysler took over in 1967 and replaced Hillman branding with its own in 1976, before selling the failing group to Peugeot in 1979. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? France’s PSA Group, which owns Peugeot, Citro ën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? Highly unlikely, given the active mass-market brands that PSA already has.
DAIMLER - 1896-2007: One of Britain’s oldest car companies, Daimler bought the UK rights to the German Daimler name. In 1902, it was awarded a royal warrant to supply cars to the monarchy. Its most famous sports car is the SP250 Dart. Bought by Jaguar in 1960, it was used as a range-topping brand until 2007. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? Tata Motors, via Jaguar Land Rover. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? There are no plans or rumours, but don’t rule out smallscale use. However, the parent company of MercedesBenz is now called Daimler AG so there is room for much confusion, which all concerned might wish to avoid.
AUSTIN - 1905-1987: Once one of the UK’s biggest makers, doing much to motorise Britain with the 1922-1939 Seven and later the 1959 Mini. Other big hits included the 1100/1300, Metro, A40 and A30/35, for which there’s still a popular one-make race series. A significant miss was the Allegro, and the name was discontinued in 1987, under Rover. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? There were rumours of a revival by SAIC a few years back, but nothing more.
WOLSELEY - 1901-1975: After some false starts, Wolseley rocketed to success, becoming the country’s best-selling brand in the early 1920s with cars like the Fifteen Tourer. Over-expansion – including the commissioning of the magnificent Piccadilly showroom that is now The Wolseley restaurant – led to William Morris’s 1927 takeover and the restoration of its upmarket position. Post-war models became badgeengineered BMC and BL products, though, and the last was the short-lived Wolseley version of the 1975 18-22 Series. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? Very small.
TRIUMPH - 1885-2004: Triumph made bicycles first, followed by the famous motorbikes and cars in 1921. It was renamed the Triumph Motor Company in 1930 and the motorbike business was sold off in 1936, with the car company going into receivership in 1939. Post-war, it was bought by the Standard Motor Company, which revived it with the Roadster, Renown, Mayflower and TR2 sports car. They all proved popular, along with Standard’s next small car, the 1959 Triumph Herald. Then came a range of Italian-designed saloons and sports cars such as the TR4, making it a BMW of the 1960s. The blight of British Leyland triggered a decline that ended with the ignominy of the Honda-based Acclaim. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? BMW, which retained it after selling Rover. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? There was talk of a rekindling in the late 1990s, but the chances now look minimal.
ROVER - 1878-2005: Another car company that began with bicycles, Rover eventually became a maker of high-quality cars that were often innovative. But because models like the P4 lasted so well, they were eventually seen as old-fashioned. In 1948, Rover’s stroke of genius was to develop the Land Rover, which became a powerful brand in its own right. Rover declined as a British Leyland brand, undermining the brilliant Rover SD1, but improved during its collaboration with Honda. BMW’s takeover produced the excellent 75, but after its sale, MG Rover went under in 2005. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? BMW wisely kept ownership of the name when it sold MG Rover in 2000. Ford exercised its right to buy the name from BMW, then sold it on to Tata Motors in 2008, along with the rest of Jaguar Land Rover. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? Negligible for now, but suppose there’s a market shift from crossovers back to cars?
RILEY - 1890-1969: Like many early car companies, Riley started with bicycles and motorbikes. Run by several brothers, the business was a major engine innovator and produced some fine sports cars, such as the 1937 Kestrel. Too many activities bankrupted it and William Morris bought it for his Nuffield stable of Morris, MG and Wolseley. Rileys were thereafter progressively badge-engineered cars, such as the Morris 1100-based 1968 Kestrel (pictured), before the brand’s extinction in 1969. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? BMW, which somewhat intriguingly kept the name after it sold MG Rover in 2000. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? Riley’s closest moment came in the late 1990s, when BMW seriously considered using the name on a model based on the Rover 75. The chances of a rebirth now are negligible.
MORRIS - 1913-1984: The 1913 Bullnose was a huge hit and Morris went on to hold a 42% UK market share by 1925. That fell away until a revival led by manager Leonard Lord, but his success led to a fallingout with Morris. Lord left to head rival Austin, exacting revenge with a 1952 takeover, despite the launch of the impressive Morris Minor four years earlier. Morris faded under BMC, British Leyland and Austin Rover. Its last model was the Morris Ital, a facelift of the 1971 Marina. WHO OWNS THE NAME NOW? Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation. ANY CHANCE OF A REVIVAL? An Austin rebirth is faintly possible, almost certainly ruling out a reborn Morris.
There have been plenty of attempts to revive dead brands in the past, most of them failing.
Revival is a difficult business, which is why plenty of other marques haven’t attracted any attempts at all, despite their one-time successes.
So which are some of the more intriguing brands to have disappeared, who owns the rights to their names and is there any chance that, one day, they could be revived? Have a look through our gallery above to find out.