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Standard Vanguard

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Standard Vanguard

Standard Vanguard
Manufacturer Standard Motor Company
Production 1947–1963
Assembly United Kingdom
New Zealand (Motor Assemblies)[1]
Predecessor none
Successor Triumph 2000

The Standard Vanguard was a car produced by the Standard Motor Company in Coventry from 1947 to 1963.

The car was announced in July 1947, was completely new with no resemblance to the previous models and was Standard's first post-Second World War car. It was also the first model to carry the new Standard badge, which was a heavily stylised representation of the wings of a Griffin.[2]

In the wake of the Second World War many potential customers in the UK and in English-speaking export markets had recently experienced several years of military or naval service, therefore a car name related to the British Navy carried a greater resonance than it would for later generations. The name of the Standard Vanguard recalled HMS Vanguard, the last of the British Navy's battleships, launched in 1944 amid much media attention, permission to use the name involved Standard in extensive negotiations with senior Royal Navy personnel.

The styling of the car resembled the pre-war Plymouth with a sloping "beetle-back", although the Russian media claimed that the styling of this car had been in part influenced by Russian GAZ-M20 Pobeda, which had been in development from 1943 and went into production in 1946. In 1952 The Motor magazine stated that the Soviet Pobeda "shows a certain exterior resemblance to the Standard Vanguard", disregarding the fact that the Pobeda had been launched a year before the Vanguard.[3]

Although it is often said the styling resembled a Plymouth that car was not slab sided like the Vanguard and the style of the Russian car is nearer the mark. Walter Belgrove was responsible. Early cars had long doors that blended into the bottom of the rocker panels.

Later cars had shorter doors and it was the first British car to be fitted with an overdrive. The Phase 2 car was available with the Laycock overdrive that operated on the second and third gears of the three speed transmission giving, in effect, a five speed gearbox.

In Scandinavia, Standard marketed the Standard Ten saloon as the "Vanguard Junior".

Vanguard Phase I

Standard Vanguard Phase I
Production 1947–1953
174,799 made
Designer Walter Belgrove
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door estate car[4]
2-door coupe utility (Australia)
Engine 2,088 cc Standard "four" I4
Transmission Three speed manual
Overdrive optional from 1950.
Wheelbase 94 in (2,388 mm)[5]
Length 166 in (4,216 mm)[5]
Width 69 in (1,753 mm)[5]
Height 64 in (1,626 mm)[5]

Chassis and running gear

The car used a conventional chassis on which was mounted the American-inspired semi-streamlined four-door body, which resembles a Plymouth. Suspension was independent at the front with coil springs and a live axle and leaf springs at the rear. Front and rear anti-roll bars were fitted. The brakes were hydraulic with 9-inch (228 mm) drums all round and to make the most of the interior space a column gear change was used.


The same wet liner engine was used throughout the range until the advent of the Six model in 1960 and was an overhead-valve unit of 85 mm (3.3 in) bore and 92 mm (3.6 in) stroke with single Solex downdraught carburettor. The compression ratio was 6.7:1. Wet cylinder liners were fitted. The engine was very similar to the ones made by Standard for the Ferguson tractor that they were making in large numbers.


The transmission at first was by a three-speed gearbox with synchromesh on all forward ratios, controlled using a column-mounted lever. The option of Laycock-de-Normanville overdrive was announced at the end of 1949 and became available a few months later, priced for UK buyers at slightly under £45 including purchase tax.[6]

Broadening the range of available bodies

'Beetle-back' Standard Vanguard Phase 1A

An estate car joined the range in 1950 and, for Belgium only, some convertibles were made by the Impéria coachbuilding company. The body was updated in 1952 with a lowered bonnet line, a wider rear window and a new grille featuring a wide horizontal chrome bar in place of the narrow more closely packed slats of the original grille.[7]

Road test data

A car tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 78.7 mph (126.7 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.5 seconds. A fuel consumption of 22.9 miles per imperial gallon (12.3 L/100 km; 19.1 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £671 including taxes.[5]


In line with the post-war British export drive, virtually the total output was exported for the first two years of production and only in 1950 did significant home market deliveries start. The Vanguard was intended to achieve export sales- with a particular focus on Australia. During the immediate post war period, cars were in short supply, creating a "seller's market". Restricted availability of the Vanguard helped attract willing buyers.

Closer to home, in the slowly recovering West German market the Standard Vanguard recorded 405 sales in 1950, making it the country's third most popular imported automobile, in a list otherwise headed up by much smaller cars from French and Italian manufacturers. In fact, the Vanguard sales in 1950 accounted for more than 70% of the British cars sold in West Germany that year, customers of other UK manufacturers having reportedly been caught out in the late 1940s by the lack of a dealer network and difficulties in obtaining replacement parts.[8]

Vanguard Phase II

Standard Vanguard Phase II
Production 1953–1956
81,074 made
Body and chassis
Body style 4 door saloon
2 door estate car[4]
4 door estate car[4]
2 door coupe utility (Australia)
2 door panel van [9]
Engine 2088 cc Straight-4
2092 cc Straight 4 Diesel
Transmission Three speed manual
Overdrive optional.
Wheelbase 94 in (2,400 mm)[10]
Length 168 in (4,300 mm)[10]
Width 69 in (1,800 mm)[10]

The Swiss importer for the Vanguard was an energetic firm called AMAG, which later took on the Swiss Volkswagen franchise. AMAG themselves assembled the Swiss market Phase I Vanguards,[7] and it was at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1953[10] that an extensive re-design was unveiled: the Phase II Vanguard was of a contemporary Ponton, three-box design "notch-back" design. Boot/trunk capacity increased by 50% in comparison to that of the Phase I, and visibility was improved with a further enlarged rear window.[7] Mechanically there were few changes but the clutch changed from cable to hydraulic operation and the engine compression ratio increased to 7.2:1. The previously fitted anti-roll bar was no longer used. Wider 6.00x16 tyres were fitted to improve road holding.

A car, without the optional overdrive, that was tested by The Motor magazine had a top speed of 80 mph (130 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 23.5 miles per imperial gallon (12.0 L/100 km; 19.6 mpg-US) was recorded.[10]

In February 1954 Standard became the first British car maker to offer a diesel engine as a factory fitted option.[11] The chassis was stiffened to take the weight of the heavier engine and performance suffered with 65 mph (105 km/h) about the top speed. Like the petrol engines, the diesel was a Standard-built "20C" engine developed for the Ferguson tractor. Whilst diesels fitted to the tractor were restricted to 2200 rpm and developed 25 horsepower (19 kW), road-going engines in Vanguards had no limiter and so produced 60 horsepower (45 kW) at 3800 rpm. However, they retained the tractor's "Ki-Gass", de-compressor and over-fuelling systems, all of which had to be manually operated when starting the engine from cold. 1973 diesel Vanguards were made.

In 1954 The Motor magazine tested the diesel version and recorded a top speed of 66.2 mph (106.5 km/h) acceleration from 0–50 mph (80 km/h) in 31.6 seconds and a fuel consumption of 37.5 miles per imperial gallon (7.5 L/100 km; 31.2 mpg-US). The test car, which had overdrive, cost £1099 including taxes.[12]

Vanguard Phase III, Sportsman and Ensign

Standard Vanguard Phase III, Sportsman and Ensign
Production 1955–1958
37,194 Phase III, 901 Sportsman, 18,852 Ensign and 2318 Ensign de-luxe made[11]
Body and chassis
Body style 4 door saloon
4 door estate car
2 door coupe utility (Australia)
Engine 2088 cc Straight-4 (Phase III)
1670 and 2138 cc (Ensign)
Transmission Four speed manual
Overdrive optional
automatic from 1957.
Wheelbase 102.5 in (2,604 mm)[13]
Length 172 in (4,369 mm)[13]
Width 67.5 in (1,715 mm)[13]
Height 61.5 in (1,562 mm)[13]

The Phase III was a radical change with the elimination of the separate chassis. There was an overlap in availability of the old model with the Phase II estate continuing into 1956.

UK fuel was no longer restricted to the 72 octane "Pool petrol" of the 1940s and early 1950s, and with the modest increases in available octane levels, the Vanguard's compression ratio was increased to 7.0:1. The 2088 cc engine with its single Solex downdraught carburettor now produced 68 bhp (51 kW; 69 PS).

The front suspension was independent using coil springs and was bolted to a substantial sub-frame which also carried the recirculating ball steering gear. Semi elliptic leaf springs were used on the rear axle. Lockheed hydraulic brakes with 9 in (229 mm) drums were fitted front and rear. The three speed gearbox had a column change and the optional overdrive was operated by a switch on the steering column. A four speed floor change became an option

The new body was lower and had an increased glass area making it look much more modern and the old two piece flat windscreen gave way to a one piece curved design. The wheelbase increased by 8 in (203 mm) giving much better passenger accommodation. The heater was now a standard fitting. Bench seats were fitted in front and rear with folding centre arm rests. They were covered in Vynide with leather available as an option.

The car was lighter than the superseded model and the gearing was changed to deliver better economy with performance virtually unchanged.

A car with overdrive was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956. It had a top speed of 83.7 mph (134.7 km/h), could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.7 seconds and had a fuel consumption of 25.9 miles per imperial gallon (10.9 L/100 km; 21.6 mpg-US). The test car cost £998 including taxes.[13]

Vanguard Sportsman

A performance model, intended to be badged as the Triumph Renown until shortly before launch, the Vanguard Sportsman was announced in August 1956 with a tuned 90 bhp (67 kW; 91 PS) engine having similar features to the Triumph TR3 sports car. These included an increased compression ratio to 8.0:1, twin SU carburettors,[14] and improved pistons. However, the Sportsman's inlet manifold and carburettors sit at a different angle from those of the TR3, and its engine has the same 85 mm bore as the Vanguard's,[14] not the 83 mm bore of the TR3.[15] The final drive ratio was lowered to 4.55:1 to give better acceleration and larger 10 in (254 mm) drums fitted to the brakes. The standard version had a bench front seat but separate seats were an option.

Just 901 examples of the Sportsman model were made up to 1958.[11] Sportsmans then became available to special order and around another fifty (mostly estate cars) were built between 1958 and 1960. A small number were built before the Vignale makeover in 1958.

A Sportsman with overdrive was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 and they recorded a top speed of 90.7 mph (146.0 km/h), acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.2 seconds and a fuel consumption of 25.6 miles per imperial gallon (11.0 L/100 km; 21.3 mpg-US). The test car cost £1231 including taxes.[16]

Standard Ensign

Standard Ensign estate

A basic model, the Ensign, with 1670 cc engine,[17] was announced in October 1957 and followed the Michelotti restyle. The Ensign shared its body with the Vanguard Series III, but had a cheapened specification in various respects, including a mesh front grille and a simplified instrument panel and dashboard. Despite the generally lower specification, the Ensign was the first Vanguard-based car to have a four-speed gearbox, the gear lever was moved from the column to the floor, and overdrive was optional. Many were bought for company fleets and for the armed forces.[18] 18,852 were made in total.[11] A de-luxe version followed in 1962 and 1963 with a larger 2138 cc engine.[14]

A 1670 cc Ensign was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1958. They recorded a top speed of 77.6 mph (124.9 km/h), acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 24.4 seconds and a fuel consumption of 28.5 miles per imperial gallon (9.9 L/100 km; 23.7 mpg-US). The test car cost £899 including taxes of £300.[19]

In January 1960 a Diesel engined Ensign was announced, featuring the compact "P4C" 1.6 litre four cylinder engine produced by specialists Perkins of Peterborough.[20] Claimed output was 43 bhp with fuel consumption stated as "about 50 mpg".[20] Those values, given the size of the car, suggest relatively modest top speed and acceleration figures.

Vanguard Vignale

Standard Vanguard Vignale
Production 1958–1961
26,267 made[11]
Designer Giovanni Michelotti
Body and chassis
Body style 4 door saloon
4 door estate car
2 door coupe utility (Australia) [21]
2 door panel van [22]
Engine 2088 cc Straight-4
Transmission Four speed manual
Overdrive optional
Wheelbase 102 in (2,591 mm)[19]
Length 172 in (4,369 mm)[19]
Width 68.5 in (1,740 mm)[19]
Height 60 in (1,524 mm)[19]

A face lift of the Phase III was designed by Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti and coachbuilders Vignale in 1958 and introduced for the October 1958 Earls Court Motor Show.[23] The windscreen and rear window were deeper and there was a revised grill and trim. A floor change four-speed manual gearbox was now fitted and the provision of a three-speed with column change offered as an option. An overdrive was also offered an option, as was an automatic. One automatic car is known to have survived - there may be others.

The car had bench seats front and rear covered as standard in Vynide with leather as an option on the home market and cloth for export. A heater and, unusual for the time, electric screen washers were factory fitted but a radio remained an option.

A Vignale with overdrive was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1959. They recorded a top speed of 82.8 mph (133.3 km/h), acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 20.8 seconds and a fuel consumption of 28.0 miles per imperial gallon (10.1 L/100 km; 23.3 mpg-US). The test car cost £1147 including taxes of £383.[24]

Vanguard Six

Standard Vanguard Six
Production 1960–1963
9953 made
Designer Giovanni Michelotti
Body and chassis
Body style 4 door saloon
4 door estate car
2 door coupe utility (Australia)
Engine 1,991 cc Triumph "Six" I6
Transmission Three or four-speed manual
Overdrive optional
Wheelbase 102 in (2,591 mm)[25]
Length 172 in (4,369 mm)[25]
Width 68 in (1,727 mm)[25]
Height 60 in (1,524 mm)[25]

Introduced at the end of 1960, the last of the Vanguards featured a six-cylinder 1,998 cc engine with push-rod overhead valves: this was the engine subsequently installed in the Triumph 2000. The compression ratio was 8.0:1 and twin Solex carburettors were fitted giving an output of 80 bhp (60 kW) at 4500 rpm.[25] Externally the only differences from the Vignale were the badging but the interior was updated.

A Vanguard Six was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1960. They recorded a top speed of 87.2 mph (140.3 km/h), acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 17.0 seconds and a fuel consumption of 24.9 miles per imperial gallon (11.3 L/100 km; 20.7 mpg-US). The test car cost £1021 including taxes of £301.[25]

Replacement and end of Standard

Both the Ensign and the Vanguard were replaced in 1963 by the Triumph 2000 and the Standard name disappeared from the British market after 60 years.

In 1958 Standard divested itself of Massey Ferguson and used the money for the Triumph Herald. This left the slow selling Vanguard as the flagship. It was a 1954 design and was no competition for the Vauxhall Velox and Ford Zephyr. As a panic measure, the Herald was stretched and widened into a prototype Vanguard replacement. Then a proposal was made to American Motors to build the Rambler American under licence. Leyland took over Standard-Triumph in 1960 and the prototype Triumph 2000 progressed with new money; the engine being used by the Vanguard Six from 1961 to early 1963. The six was lighter than the old four and was a development based on the Standard Ten unit.

Vanguard Utility

Phase I Standard Vanguard Utility

Called a pickup truck in the UK, this version had modest sales there, but the main purchaser was the RAF, who had them in Phase I and II form.

In 1950, the Australian subsidiary of the Standard Motor Company introduced a Coupé utility version of the Vanguard Phase I. It was fitted with the same 2088 cc four cylinder engine as used in the saloon.[26] Utility versions of the Vanguard were produced in Australia over the following years[27] with production ending in 1964.[28]

A British Vanguard pickup can be seen in the film Hell Drivers and the 1960 Vanguard III workshop manual shows a Phase III pickup. The brochure from that time just shows a chassis cab with an Ensign type grill and some line drawings of a gown van and a wrecker.

Considering it was competing with the A40 / A50 pickup and the Morris and Commer and also that Standard already had the 6 and 7 cwt pickup it is small wonder the larger Standard commercial failed in the UK.

Die-Cast models

  • Dinky Toys made a model of the Phase I.
  • [29] Additionally, a Phase III saloon presented as a Royal Air Force Staff Car was available from 1958 to 1962 as model No 352.[30]


  1. ^ Webster 2002, pp. 71–72.
  2. ^ The Standard Car Review. January 1947. 
  3. ^ Clarence 1952.
  4. ^ a b c Sedgwick & Gillies 1993, p. 185.
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Standard Vanguard Road Test".  
  6. ^ "Standard Vanguard Saloon (with overdrive)".  
  7. ^ a b c Gloor 2007.
  8. ^ Augstein 1951, p. 27.
  9. ^ Standard Commercial Vehicles sales brochure (brochure), retrieved 26 October 2011 
  10. ^ a b c d e "The Phase II Standard Vanguard Road Test".  
  11. ^ a b c d e Sedgwick & Gillies 1986.
  12. ^ "The Standard Diesel Vanguard".  
  13. ^ a b c d e "The Standard Vanguard III".  
  14. ^ a b c Culshaw & Horrobin 2013, p. 287.
  15. ^ Culshaw & Horrobin 2013, p. 318.
  16. ^ "The Standard Sportsman".  
  17. ^ Culshaw & Horrobin 2013, pp. 286-287.
  18. ^ Robson 2011, p. 160.
  19. ^ a b c d e "The Standard Ensign".  
  20. ^ a b "News summary: Current events and recent announcements: New Diesel car" Practical Motorist, January 1960
  21. ^ Advertisement for Standard Vanguard (Vignale) utility, Australian Motor Industries Ltd, Australian Motor Manual (magazine), 1 August 1960, page 29
  22. ^ "Standard 1959". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "The Standard Motor Company. Lord Tedder Describes Expansion And Development" The Times (London). Monday, November 24, 1958. (54316), p. 14.
  24. ^ "The Standard Vignale Vanguard".  
  25. ^ a b c d e f "The Standard Vanguard Six".  
  26. ^ Australian Monthly Motor Manual: 834–835. March 1950. 
  27. ^ "Standard Vanguard utility images". Picture Australia. Retrieved 1 August 2008. 
  28. ^ "Australian History". Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  29. ^ Force 1991, p. 166.
  30. ^ Force 1991, p. 174.


External links

  • Standard Motor Club
  • Vanguard Phase III Owners club
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