This year sees the 100th anniversary of the Trojan Prototype
vehicle. To mark the occasion the Trojan
Owners Club will be exhibiting a collection of vehicles at
this year's Ham Fair (June 8th, 2013). The story
of Trojan and the connection to Ham is told here.
The British motor manufacturer Trojan was founded by Leslie Hayward
Hounsfield (1877–1957). Leslie Hounsfield was a general
engineer who ran a small workshop called the Polygon Engineering
works in Clapham, London. With the birth of the age of motoring
underway Hounsfield saw the need for an efficient vehicle with
mechanical simplicity, low running costs and at a price that would
bring the vehicle to a wide market of potential motorists. He
began work on his design in 1910.
Hounsfield’s design ambitions were realised in the Trojan
Prototype that was ready in 1913.
'It had a two stroke engine with four cylinders arranged
in pairs and each pair shared a common combustion chamber - essentially
a doubled twingle engine. The pistons in each pair drove the crankshaft
together as they were coupled to it by a V shaped connecting rod.
For this arrangement to work it is necessary for the connecting
rod to flex slightly which goes completely against normal practice.
The claim was that each engine had only seven moving parts, four
pistons, two connecting rods and a crankshaft. This was connected
to a two speed epicyclic gearbox, to simplify gear changing, and
a chain to the rear wheels. Solid tyres were used, even though
these were antiquated for car use, to prevent punctures and very
long springs used to give some comfort.' (http://www.trojanownersclub.co.uk/page18.html).
The outbreak of war in 1914 meant that production of the vehicle
could not take place though two Trojan Prototypes had been built.
After the war production could start and in 1920 six cars were
built at a works in Vicarage Rd. Croydon, with the final production
version exhibited at the 1922 London Motor Show.
Hounsfield entered one of these vehicles in War Office trials
hoping this may lead to a manufacturing contract, but the authorities
were not interested deeming the car to be too unorthodox.
comes to Ham
In June 1920 Leyland Motors Ltd. purchased the Sopwith factory
in Ham. Leyland Motors showed an interest in the vehicles and
after extensive tests Leyland and Trojan made an agreement to
produce the cars. A 2 door 4 seat Utility design was to be built
and part of the factory was turned over for production of the
Leyland Motors Trojan Works in Ham 1928 - picture
Trojan Utility Car
The Trojan Utility Car went onto the market at the price of £230,
later reduced to £125 in 1925, which made it commensurate
to the Model T Ford. In the words of Leslie Hounsfield the designer
of the car, 'it's weird, but it goes'. The car was quite unconventional
in design as the car did not have what could be termed a conventional
chassis but rather a punt shaped tray. This tray housed the engine
and transmission under the seats. A chain from the transmission
was used to drive the rear wheels which used a a solid tyre. The
engine had a capacity of 1527cc, it started by pulling a lever
to the driver's right and achieved a top speed of 38mph.
car lived up to Hounsfield's concept of a cheap, reliable and
easily maintainable vehicle illustrated in the cinema advertisement
that promoted its economy with the slogan "Can you afford
to walk?" The ingenious advertisement calculated that over
200 miles it would be cheaper to cover the distance in a Trojan
than in shoes and socks. The car was guaranteed for 5,000 miles.
This review of the Trojan from
a 1923 (July 26th) edition of 'The Auto Motor Journal' gives a
very positive detailed analysis and road test of the vehicle.
The car was also a comedians delight as the solid tyres of the
Trojan fitted the standard gauge of tram tracks perfectly, leading
to the notion that once the Trojan was on the tram lines it was
forced to go to the tram depot.
The Trojan Utility vehicle was produced and a 2 door 4 seat Coupe
added to complement the Utilty vehicle and then in 1923 a 7 cwt
van. These 3 models were produced until 1925. As time went on
further variations and modifications were introduced to the range.
of the Trojan range
In 1925 modifications were made to the engine by fitting a new
redesigned balanced crankshaft which reduced the stroke of the
engine and the capacity to 1488cc.
The Coupe was dropped in 1926 and a 3 door Tourer was produced
which was slightly larger than the Utility vehicle, though it
had the same design chassis as the Utility, it had a longer body
allowing more room for the passengers, a rear 3rd door on one
side of the vehicle and was produced with a detachable hard roof.
A six wheeler also appeared in 1926 basically an
extended chassis with various additions including front springs
on the outside of the chassis to aid stability and was offered
as the Colonial Utility
The Utility was discontinued in 1927 when a 4/5
seat fabric saloon was introduced and now all models were offered
with pneumatic tyres as standard - the solid tyres now optional.
In 1928 the 'Achilles' was introduced, very similar
to the Tourer but with a degree of luxury as it boasted a well
furnished interior. The 'Apollo' a twin of the 'Achilles' was
also introduced but with a folding centre panel to the roof.
Meanwhile the Trojan Utility van had been great
a success making the Trojan a familiar sight on the roads. Main
operators of the van were the GPO, David Greig, India Tyre Rubber,
Shell - Mex, United Dairies, C.C. Wakefield and a major contract
with The Brooke Bond Tea Company who had purchased nearly 2,000
Between 1922 and 1928, 11,000 cars and 6,700 vans were produced
at the Leyland Motor Works.
In May 1928 it was announced that all Trojan production would
cease at Ham due to Leyland needing the room for other projects.
Trojan production returned to Croydon at a new factory in Purley
In Croydon, cars and vans were still produced though car production
ceased in 1937. In 1948 a new medium sized van was designed using
a conventional chassis and driveshaft through a normal gearbox.
In 1959 the Trojan factory was purchased by Peter Agg and a new
phase of Trojan began. This included distributing and manufacturing
Lambretta scooters, the license to build Heinkel 'bubble' cars
was obtained in 1962 and renamed the Trojan 200 and also in 1962,
the Elva Sports car company was purchased which would lead the
Trojan marque manufacturing racing chassis' for the newly formed
Mclaren racing team. Trojan vehicle production finally ceased
in the early 1970's.
Sources: Trojan Owners Club;
Trojan Museum Trust; The Vintage Commercial Vehicle Magazine;
1923 (July 26th) edition of 'The Auto Motor Journal'; Leyland
Seventy years of progress; http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw022854;
Trojan Motor Car Cinema Commercial 1920's - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dbFK2zOLHA